Sunday, September 29, 2019

Thank You, Strangers


We have been busily preparing for Wesley's baptism
and all the surrounding activities.
His birthday isn't until the end of October,
but our month is jam-packed with family events, so I am trying to get a jump start on everything!
Tonight I lay beside him as he excitedly finished reading The Book of Mormon
by himself for the first time,
and earlier today we went to the temple to take some pictures to use in conjunction with his baptism.

While we were taking pictures, a man arrived with an elderly woman (who I later learned was his mother). He asked me if I would take a picture of them with the temple in the background,
and he mentioned that they were tourists from Utah.
I asked him what had brought him to Memphis, and he explained that he had come to Oxford, MS for work, as he works for Governor Herbert (the governor of Utah), and he loves civil rights history so he had toured around the area a bit at the same time, bringing his mom along.
He was very kind and effusive, congratulating Wesley on his upcoming baptism and telling us more about their visit. He offered to take a picture of Wesley and I together in front of the temple
and snapped a few with my camera before he and his sweet mother headed off to the airport to catch their flight home.
As we parted ways, I thought to myself, "I bet he doesn't just 'work for Gary Herbert'...I bet he is a higher-up."
Sure enough, when we got home, I looked him up and found that he is the chief deputy of staff!
I told Sam I am awfully good at giving famous people humble pie, because I usually don't know who they are. ;)

The experience got me thinking about a couple of other recent encounters with kind strangers.
The other day I was riding my bike, pulling Maxwell and Benson in the trailer.
I reached a short but somewhat steep rise in the trail and pushed hard to make it up while pulling the kids behind me and, when I reached the top, a woman down the street started cheering me on, saying,
"That was AMAZING!!! That's a hard hill! You go!! You are amazing!"
It really wasn't anything to be proud of, but her comments to a stranger totally made my day regardless.

A few weeks ago I was in the store, roaming through the produce section.
A woman came through the door and, when she saw Maxwell and Benson in the cart, she stopped dead in her tracks and clasped her hand over her heart.
"I just...they just...I just...oh!!"
I smiled at her, expecting her to carry on her way, but she began to tell me a story.
She told me about how, years ago, her baby had died. She said she was angry at God but then, through the grace of God, she was led to a baby girl to adopt.
She felt awfully sick during the adoption proceedings and it wasn't long before she learned that she was pregnant! She gave birth to her son and had two babies together.
She explained that Benson resembled her son when he was a baby and how she only wished that she had had many more children.
"You're young, you're beautiful, and you can have more!" she told me.
She was rather shocked when I said, "Well, I already have five..."
We parted ways and I continued on with my shopping, when she called to me from across the fruit and vegetable stands. She walked resolutely up to me and extended a hand filled with dollar bills.
"Let me buy your bananas," she said.
I immediately protested. "I can't take this!" The $21 she was trying to give me was MUCH more than I needed to buy bananas, and I felt certain that it would be a sacrifice for her to give me the money.
"Please. I can't do this for my children--they live in Pennsylvania. Please take it."
I hesitantly accepted the money and marveled that, yet again, a complete stranger had just given me money.
It must be a Southern thing.

I just love interacting with friendly strangers!
My mom is amazing at making friends wherever she goes,
and she once told me that when she went into a store, she liked to find the checker who looked the grumpiest and try to make them smile before she left.
It may not be my default nature, but I've tried hard to take a leaf out of her book and talk to people wherever I go. It's amazing to see how the world can feel like such a friendly place when I let down my barriers.
Thank you, strangers!

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