The Kindness of Strangers

“Excuse me,” she said. “You speak English?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Would you like me to to move a chair over so you can put your foot up?”

The woman, older than me, very stylishly dressed, and speaking perfect English, could see I was struggling to figure out what to do with my foot. If I put it down on the floor, I might experience more of the shooting pains that had brought me to the emergency room. I had seen the doctor and had settled into a plastic chair in the waiting area, while Joe settled the bill with the receptionist.

“You’re so kind,” I said, “I’m okay.” I had settled on sticking my leg straight out.

“I’ve had those. They’re marvelous,” she nodded at my crutches. “They’re so lightweight. The only problem is that they don’t really stand up if you lean them against something.”

“Any tips?” I asked.

“I suggest setting them down on the counter, for example. Otherwise you may have to pick them up off the floor. But they’re very good.”

Joe came out, we said goodbye, and we made our way to the parking lot, me practicing my new crutch-walk, while we waited for the Uber.

“Do you need a lift somewhere?” the same woman asked. She had come outside. We were standing in the sunshine under the gorgeous blue sky. We told her we had called an Uber.

“Are you sure?” she asked again. “They sometimes take a while.”

We assured her we were fine and thanked her again for her kindness.

We’ve just marked our first anniversary as Episcopal Volunteers in Mission. (April 1!) I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m learning from this experience.

Yes, of course, I’m getting to know myself better. But way more important, and way more exhilarating, inspiring, and hopeful, is getting to know more about God and the ways God shows love in the world.

And at the top of my list this morning is through the kindness of strangers.

Like the woman who was in the emergency room for her own reasons, but took the time to try to help me in my awkwardness.

Like the nurse and the doctor and the x-ray technician who helped me and made a diagnosis. They were doing their jobs, but did them with gentleness and offers of reassurance that this isn’t something serious (a bone spur) but will just take time (and some anti-inflammatories) to heal.

Like a whole host of people since we arrived here who haven’t had to help us but who have.

The man who caught up with Joe and me while we were walking home from the gym to return the gym pass I had dropped, who, along with his family, have become dear friends.

The gym security guard who flagged down the man and asked if he could try to catch up with us to return my gym pass.

The people who have spoken more slowly, answered questions, given directions, made suggestions, introduced us to people, made connections for us.

Not to mention the people who are working on the water crisis where we live in Makhanda/Grahamstown, drilling for water, trying to figure out longterm solutions, and praying.

I’m sure I will spend a little time later crying about the inconvenience and loss of not being able to run for a while and needing to use my spiffy new crutches to get around until I start feeling better. But right now my tears are for the love of God shown through the kindness of strangers.

  1. The help you have received from strangers and have become friends of your is the norm in Africa, I think.

    On Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 2:26 PM Amy and Joe Go to Africa wrote:

    > Amy Richter posted: ” “Excuse me,” she said. “You speak English?” “Yes,” I > replied. “Would you like me to to move a chair over so you can put your > foot up?” The woman, older than me, very stylishly dressed, and speaking > perfect English, could see I was struggling to ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if you have come across this prayer from Common Worship:

    Jesus, our companion,
    when we are driven to despair,
    help us, through the friends and strangers
    we encounter on our path,
    to know you as our refuge,
    our way, our truth and our life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dearest Amy and Joe. I am so sorry that you both have had these orthopedic issues that interfere with life and running. I remember crutches that were heavy and hard to manage. These sound better. I love your words of gratitude for all of the kindness shown to you. I have always loved these words fromPs 27. “I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. When I took the grand daughters to San Francisco and Carmel we kept that on our hearts. We did see God’s kindness I so many ways. We used this verse for the Women’s retreat in Rehoboth. I thought of you often as we were there. Jess came with us and it was a joy to have her. She spoke of her dream to come to St Annes because of all she heard about it from MaryStanley (think this is right Name ) who washer mentor and your friend. Sending you and Joe much love and prayers for healing and rain. You were so thoughtful to cut your hair to save water. It looks good on you. Thank you for your blogs.Jim andDeede

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Deede and Jim! What a beautiful Psalm verse to hold close, and how appropriate wherever we all go. What a blessing that the goodness of the Lord isn’t just ahead of us–it’s with us now too. Thank you for that. And thanks for the compliment about my hair. That’s sweet and reassuring! Love and blessings to you and all your beloved ones! Amy (and Joe too)


  4. Dear Amy and Joe,
    How sorry to hear that you, Amy, are now in pain and having trouble walking. Isn’t it wonderful that your care was so good.? Thinking of both of you and hoping all feels better in a short time. Take care and we miss you all. Judye

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh no! So sorry that you have this injury Amy! And so delighted that God has sent angels to you to remind you that you are loved and that relationships have such therapeutic power!

    Liked by 1 person

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