“Even the smallest smile or act of kindness can make a big difference.”
This quote comes from one of my best friends. She wrote this to me before I began my missionary experience in Bolivia. She wanted to give me a reminder of what I learned during my service year in St. Louis. Through a smile, hug, or an act of kindness, anyone can change the world.
I thought of this quote as I was waiting to catch a bus that would take me to Yoga class. As I was waiting for the bus, I saw an indigenous woman and her baby. She wore a felt, knee-length skirt; her hair was long with two braids in the back; she held her baby in aguayo which is a type of cloth used by indigenous women to hold babies or other items. She carried another bag with her that was filled with newly bought items. Perhaps, she went to the Cancha and now, was looking for a bus to take her and her baby home. At the same time, she had this look in her eyes which indicated her tiredness from the day and frustration with the public transportation system at the moment. That night, every bus or trufi was filled with people. People were standing in the stairs of the bus or people were so close to each other in the bus that you barely had any room around you. I looked at her and her baby as I was standing and looking for a bus that had less people in it. I smiled and checked my watch because it was getting closer and closer to the start of my Yoga class. I was getting a little anxious about being late to Yoga. I did this a few times. Then something unusual happened. She asked me to hold her baby while she rearranged her aguayo. Her plan was to take her baby out of the aguayo and place her newly bought items into the aguayo. Then she was going to hold her baby in her arms. However, this action required additional help. And, this is my part. I reached out my arms and she handed her baby over to me immediately. I held her baby for less than 5 minutes and yet, it felt as though time stopped during this moment. She then finished placing her stuff in her aguayo. I gave her baby back to her. I found a trufi that took me to Yoga. She waited patiently for a trufi that would take her and her baby home.
This story is important to me because it demonstrates that a smile really can break the barrier between strangers. It dissolves potential fear and creates a relationship. Since a relationship has been created, a stranger is no longer a random person that you happened to meet in the street. This person is now part of your community and part of your life. We are part of a worldwide community that works to form relationships in the moment. So, we are all in this together now.