The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers

This month marked the end of winter vacation and the long trip back to North Asia. While saying goodbye to family and friends is never easy, I was excited to be heading back for second semester. For this post, I’d like to talk about a very special experience that occurred within my first few hours back in China. Read on to find out about my incredible encounter and how God works in mysterious ways.

Packing never seems to get easier, February 12, 2017
Traveling over the Arctic ocean! February 13, 2017

After arriving in China, I had one night to spend in Shanghai before traveling back to my own city by plane and bus. I figured what better place to spend the night than at a jimjilbang. I mentioned in a previous post about the wonders of Korean spas. Perhaps one of the best things about them is that you can spend the night. Shortly after arriving at this particular Korean spa in Shanghai, I found out that spending the night wouldn’t be an option. As I took off my shoes and approached the front desk, I was given a sign that said non-Chinese are not allowed to spend the night at the Korean spa, as it is a Chinese law. I rolled my eyes and thought to myself if only you had posted that on your website! A *woman who was leaving the spa overheard my questions about hotels in the area. Realizing that the employees couldn’t understand anything I was saying, she commented, “Excuse me, you can use the wifi here at the spa to look for a hotel.” I appreciated this information greatly, especially since the employees didn’t understand the term, “wifi.”
For the next hour, I searched the internet, looking for a reasonably-priced hotel. Finally, I found one that I thought would suit my needs. Only problem was, it was located on the other side of the city, which meant I would have to go back across town with all my luggage. As I scratched my head at this sad prospect, a woman from the front desk came over and motioned for me to take the phone. Wondering who in the world could be calling me, a woman said, “Hello, I’m the woman you spoke with at the spa earlier today.”
“Oh, hello,” I said. I had no idea where this was going.
“Yes, were you able to find a place to spend the night?” the woman inquired.
“Well, I’ve found a youth hostel I’m going to go to now, thank you for asking,” I said.
“Well, I was going to call you earlier but got busy doing something. I was telling my husband I’m very concerned about you. Would you like to spend the night with us in our home?”
Now right about at this time, my American rugged-individualistic side was rearing its ugly head, and I respectfully declined. But as she insisted that she and her husband wanted to host me for the evening, I took a deep breath and realized that God was at work here. So I kindly thanked her for her offer and told her I would be happy to pay them for their trouble (although they wouldn’t hear of taking my money). “Please wait there,” she said,” I’ll call you right back.” The next thing I knew, a man walked up to me, introduced himself as the woman’s husband, and helped me get my luggage into his SUV.
“This is very kind of you and your wife,” I said.
“Oh it’s no problem. My wife is a Christian and I am myself a Buddhist. We are Taiwanese, not from China originally. But my wife loves to help others,” the husband said.
“After she called, I had a feeling you two were Christians,” I said.
For the remainder of the evening, the wife, husband, and daughter (whose English for an elementary school student was excellent) were very kind and gracious. They cooked a fantastic meal, engaged me in great conversation, and were very kind hosts. Their apartment was beautiful and comfortable. I told the woman how sorry I was to impose on them on Valentine’s Day evening–of all evenings! She said it was no trouble and they were happy to have me.

Breakfast and a snack bag–so thoughtful! February 15, 2017

The next morning, the woman made me breakfast, helped me get a taxi to the airport, and told me I was welcome back anytime. I thanked her again, gave her a hug, and told her she was a such a blessing to me.
As I rode to the airport that morning, I couldn’t help but think of the awesomeness of Jesus. Truly, if anything had gone differently—if the woman had been in the locker room when I had arrived at the front desk, if I had arrived five minutes earlier or later—this act of kindness would have never occurred. Throughout my travels abroad, I have encountered friendly people, but this was certainly an extreme act of good that I will never forget. Surely, God works in mysterious ways!

Early morning Shanghai, February 15, 2017

*Names of people mentioned in this post are not mentioned for respect of their privacy.

7 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Sierra – So glad I decided to check your blog this morning! What a great story! Sorry we didn’t get a chance to connect while you were home. Hopefully we will on your next trip. Continued blessings to you!

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