When I think about the very first acts of kindness I can recall, I think about my mom. I remember her teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in our small town. How scary it must have been for her students to move to a new country and not know how to communicate. My mom felt their apprehension and gave them her language and her heart. In exchange we often had beautiful handmade gifts or delicious treats in our home that spoke of deep cultural roots.
Sarah Tachon, grew up, just like me, watching her mom live out kindness. She still remembers one story in particular.
“My mom’s name is Karen, and she is Chinese from Taiwan. She and my dad met in the Peace Corps in the ’70s in Malaysia where he was teaching her English. They fell in love and moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he finished getting his PhD in Water Chemistry.
When I was about 10 years old, my mom took us to an Asian grocery store to buy some food you can only find there. My sisters and I were waiting in the car. The next thing we know, my mom comes back to the car with a tall Asian man. Mom told us his name was Yu. She had just met him in the checkout line and was giving him a ride home.
At the time, this didn’t seem too strange. We were used to mom doing things like this. She was often giving rides, bringing food, visiting people who were house bound and helping families navigate the cultural differences here in America.
We visited Yu in his student apartment, where we also met his wife, who was Chinese and a magician. As a kid, I remember they made us some weird food and she showed us cool tricks. Neither of them spoke much English, so there was a lot of head nodding and smiling.
Yu was a music student at the University of Wisconsin. He had moved here from China with his wife to get a degree and build a better life. Yu and mom stayed in touch even after he and his wife moved to Florida to continue his studies.
One night, Yu called my mom in a panic. His wife was pregnant again and they were certain they couldn’t afford a child. They didn’t know what to do and were considering aborting the baby. Mom talked Yu and his wife through this scary situation. She told them about God’s love and plan for this baby and urged them not to have an abortion. She also connected them with a Pro-Life group in their area.
Yu and his wife listened to my mom and welcomed a baby boy into the world.
Mom just showed me a picture of the beautiful family, and I think the son just graduated from college. It is an amazing story of God’s work that started with an act of kindness to smile, say hi and give a stranger a ride home.”
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.