If you go shopping at Aldi store, you have to pay a quarter to get a shopping cart. Your quarter is returned once you put cart back. Once in a while, I go shopping at the Aldi store at the corner of Beechnut St and Bissonnet St, Houston. Since I rarely bring coins with me, my legs, hands and arms become my “ shopping cart”. Several weeks ago, I did not have to do so because I met a quarter angel.
As I approached the entrance of Aldi that day, a gentleman in his seventies (I guess) turned to me and said, “You can use this cart. The quarter is yours to keep.” “Are you sure?” was my automatic response. “Sure”, he said, “I come to this store often and I give people quarters all the time.” “It is very kind of you. But why do you do this?” “When I was a boy my mom told me to be nice to strangers. If you do it often you may someday entertain angels unknowingly. I still believe it to be true.” I should have asked him, “Do you think I am the angel you are waiting for?” However, I know for sure he was my quarter angel. Before I left parking lot, I passed the cart and quarter to another shopper.
Teaming up with Freewheels Houston and Refugee Services of Texas, Faith Lutheran hosted a “Bicycles For Refugees Picnic ” on November 11. Twenty five adults and children from seven resettled refugee families were transported by Faith volunteers to Faith campus. They recently arrived at Houston from three countries: Afghanistan, Congo, and Eritrea. We shared food and stories together under the warm sun and blue sky. When our guests left, 18 bicycles went with them. I gave rides to two gentlemen from Afghanistan. Both are singles and in their thirties. One is an electric engineer, the other is an electrician. They feel blessed to be able to come to America, they told me. But finding a decent job is a big concern and challenge to them. I could sense their loneliness and anxiety. I hope the time they had spent with us that afternoon helped ease their sense of isolation. I hope the bicycles they received made them feel at home in their adopted city and country.
Dr. Zhen Zhou and I attended an Inter-faith Thanksgiving Service in the evening of November 19 at Rothko Chapel. Representatives from nine religious traditions reflected on the theme of “Helping One Another”. It was a humbling experience to listen what other spiritual representatives had to teach us about being kind and helpful toward others. I also felt honored to share the Christian perspective on the topic. Dr. Zhou read the story of Good Samaritan in Mandarin Chinese. I gave a three-minutes talk on the meaning of this story. According to Jesus, I said, compassion and kindness toward others, especially strangers and aliens, is at the heart of true religion. Everyone near and afar is our neighbor and therefore deserves our compassion and sympathy, regardless of that neighbor’s religious and cultural backgrounds or economic, social, or immigration status.
Christmas is just around the corner. We often hear stories of generosity and kindness on TV or radio during this season. Let us remember that the Savior and Lord of the world came into the world as a needy, helpless, and vulnerable babe. Let us remember Mary and Joseph’s loving care for baby Jesus. Let us remember the shepherds’ joy over baby Jesus. Let us remember the Wiseman’s devotion to baby Jesus. Let us member the magic of the Christmas season is inseparable from divine love and human hospitality. Let us remember “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” (Mother Teresa).
(This article was written for Mountain Mover [December, 2017] the monthly Newsletter of Faith Lutheran Church https://faithbellaire.org/about-2/mountain-mover-newsletter)