A Response to Kindness

I’ve been thinking about my previous post, “The Transparency of Kindness” since I’ve been in the Dominican Republic, and I’ve seen yet more evidence of the goodness in this world.

It’s always a difficult process to switch from a place where you’ve felt comfortable to a place where you’ve never been, and you don’t speak the language. By the end of my three months in Guatemala, I felt like I could pretty much understand every conversation, and I could communicate myself fairly well. But, my first night in the DR with my new family, I felt like I knew zero Spanish. Between the accent and speed, my comprehension suffered greatly. I felt like an outsider again.

Like most difficult things, it got easier, and just a few days later, I started to have an ear for the accent and the speed. The Moreta Family helped me out tremendously. They fed me dinner even though I arrived when they were going to have a meeting at their church. They slowed down their conversation so I could understand what was going on. They gave me a room. They said I could set my stuff down, and they said that it was my place to rest.

I think about how strange it has to be for them to open up their house to a foreigner. They gave a room to someone they’ve never met. They let their kids crawl over this stranger and they serve him first at the table. So strange and so amazing. It’s this transparency of kindness that I have grown to love since I’ve been traveling. I feel like I am able to see it so clearly now, and I want to savor it as much as I can. I know that while I’ll be here for quite some time, I will eventually return to the states.

Does that mean I will lose the ability to see it?

I mentioned before that I believe that you don’t need to leave the country to see the goodness of this world, but I wonder if I will immediately fall back into my old mindset? I would like to believe that there are some things in this world that permanently shift the way you think about your life and the world you live in. There are some things you’ll never be able to turn your back on.

Hmm . . . will I turn my back on how people have helped me in each country I’ve visited? How easy it would be to say thanks and move on. How easy it has been to sit at the family dinner table and walk away when I’m finished eating. I guess I’m alluding to a fundamental question: does kindness demand a response? Is it enough to just be able to see the goodness of this world? Is it enough to say thanks? Is it enough to take a few photos and write a few posts about my gratitude?

I believe kindness begets kindness. And maybe, I can’t turn my back on my experience.

Oddly enough, as I was writing this post, the family came and told me that they had picked up my pile of laundry and they planned to do it with the rest of the family’s clothes. They just didn’t want me to be alarmed when I went back in my room and didn’t see my pile of dirty clothes. In the barrio in Santo Domingo where I’m living, the water and the electricity goes in and out, frequently, usually everyday. Rebeca mentioned this to me when she apologized for grabbing my clothes, “When there’s water, we’ve got to take advantage of it.”

At first I thought, “Well, that was nice of them.”

. . . Haha, is that all I’m going to think?

Sometimes kindness is clarity. Antonio was an orphan that probably would have died if the family didn’t provide for him. Today, if we didn’t do the laundry, we might not have the chance to do it for awhile.

Sometimes, it’s clear that kindness demands a response. If this family is going to feed me and give me a room, then maybe I can help them do laundry. After all, with two young boys, there are always dirty clothes to be cleaned. Rebeca knows this because she comes from a family of 11 siblings, and Federico from a family of 14 siblings. There was always laundry to be done, and you had to do it when you had the opportunity.

. . . I walked upstairs to hang up some clothes, end of story.

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