Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa
Sometimes little things mean a lot to people. The small details. Things you do that you don’t really see making a tangible difference, but they wind up making a big difference to those people sometimes in ways you don’t even see. Sometimes these sorts of things are helpful, others hurtful.
At work today, I had one patient ask me for her pathology report for her family doctor. Apparently this physician keeps getting his mail mixed up with another physician of a similar name, and often doesn’t have information he needs or wants in his office. He didn’t have the report, even though it had been available for weeks. Other than the obvious system flaws that should be remedied, I was struck by this woman’s helpfulness in offering this service. This summer, I spent 8 weeks in rural family practice and we were forever missing information, but thankfully had access to an electronic medical record that could fill in some of the gaps. Here though, there is no such option for physicians out of the city. We were grateful when people brought us information from specialists. I can imagine that this physician would, as well.
Another patient today came in bringing some of his left over wound care supplies that he no longer needed. He was asking if we knew of anyone who could use them, as they would expire in a few months and he did not know what to do with them. Ironically, in the room next door, someone who had a large tumor removed from his shin and was now dealing with post op wound infections. He was using some of the same materials this other man had brought in. He asked the nurse if he could get any extra supplies, as his homecare nurse had not brought enough for this next week. This saved someone from inconvenience and cost.
Last week, Jag (our car) was in getting fixed and took longer than we had anticipated. Patrick had to take a taxi to work (which costs a small fortune) and I had to get from the hospital to the car dealership in rush hour the day after a snow storm. I called a taxi and was told it would be at least 20 minutes. While waiting, the resident I was working with came out of the hospital and asked what I was still doing there. I told her I needed to get the car and was waiting for a taxi. She volunteered to drive me, despite the traffic because it was only a few minutes out of her way. She saved us $20 and me a bunch of time.
Our small group did a study almost two years ago now (wow, time flies) called “The Good Samaritan.” It was all about being a good Samaritan based on Biblical principles. The lessons are universal. Loving people no matter what. Doing the big things, but also taking care of the little things. Not just in your home or work or school. Not just in your immediate community or country. Not just with a global focus. Love is not always evident in our world today. We see many hurting people. It is easy to get bogged down with it all.
Patrick and I were talking today about different cities and stereotypes. Newfoundlanders are prototypically friendly, people from Toronto less so, etcetera. Those are just stereotypes. I have met dreadfully mean people from Newfoundland and delightful and joyful individuals from Toronto. Similarly, professions are stereotyped. Religions are stereotyped. We like to put people into boxes. I love boxes and categories. Sometimes these boxes and categories prevent us from loving people the same way we should. Sometimes they distance us or give us a false sense of security. We need to look beyond stereotypes and guard against actions that hurt people, stereotyping included.
My question in life is how do we truly show love to people? I have been hurtful in the past and I am sure I will be again in the future. Lately, I have been reminded that sometimes the little things, the things we don’t even consider can tip the balance.
Sometimes, I feel if I can’t do the big thing, maybe I just shouldn’t be involved. I will pray, but really, I am not involved otherwise (prayer IS involvement, don’t get me wrong). But, lately, I am remembering that little acts of service, prayers and even offering a helping hand to those involved in outside ways or with outside things can be a help.
International Christmas (http://www.totallyinternational.com) is an event put on by InterVarsity groups across Canada. The goal is to bring International students out to camp and have them experience a truly Canadian Christmas complete with trees, a turkey dinner, carols, skating and the true Christmas story. The main goal, however, really, is to show Christ’s love to students who may not have heard the Christmas story before or who are alone and scared in a new country. It is a beautiful thing, International Christmas. Canadian students and volunteers run the program and befriend students. They have a talent show and an international meal to share cultural norms and dishes. There is opportunity for conversation and growth and long-term relationships. It is part of a bigger ministry to international students that seeks to support them emotionally, socially and educationally, to show Christ’s love and to help them truly experience Canadian culture.
I have never actually participated in International Christmas, though I have always wanted to. Scheduling never really worked. I have prayed for the event. This year, Patrick is going to go, as he is stuck here while I am home for a rotation. It is very exciting. I wanted to help and didn’t know how. But then, my opportunity arose. They decided this year that it would be nice to give each student who participates a gift. A scarf. Many students when they come to Canada don’t have appropriate clothing for our winters. This is practical. It is also kind of symbolic. So, I am knitting a scarf. A lovely brightly colored scarf. I hope it becomes someone else’s “little thing.”
The scarf 3/4 completed.
On a somewhat unrelated note, the pattern for this scarf is quite easy and available online at: http://knitting.about.com/od/knittingpatterns/p/farrowscarf.htm.