“Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.” - Steve Maraboli
I love to give. I love to give my time- through volunteering and Coaching people for free. I love to give- by buying food for the homeless people of Trier, something I do regularly. Each time I give, I feel more complete.
Today I'd love to share with you a story. It's a story about why I give. It was an experience that happened to me 3 years ago.
I was staying in a place named Hanmer Springs, on the South Island of New Zealand. I'd been backpacking around New Zealand for 9 months already, having the time of my life but now something was missing.
Something very crucial. Money.
Before arriving in Hanmer Springs I had been living on the road in a small Camper van, exploring the South Island with two friends.
The experience was amazing but had wiped out all of the money I had saved.
I mean, I literally had 20 dollar to my name when I arrived. I had arrived in Hanmer to volunteer at a Forest Camp which was a few Kilometers outside of the town, working a few hours a day in exchange for a place to live. The picture below shows the long but beautiful road from the Forest Camp into the town.
Back to the story. It was a cold Winter's day and I'd been in Hanmer Springs for about 10 days. Walking the long road back to my accommodation, I had a small bag of shopping in each hand, purchased with the last few dollars I had in my account.
I wasn't in a good place mentally. My mind was racing and my heart began to sink. Starting to worry about what would happen if I couldn't find paid work, I was scared.
I felt very alone staring ahead at this empty road, with the forest towering over either side. The shopping bags were becoming heavy and snow began to fall from the sky.
A car pulled over and the driver smiled at me. The driver was a man in his mid 30's. Winding down the window he shouted ''Hey, do you want a lift? Where can I take you''? I'd hitchhiked quite a lot in New Zealand and I consider myself a good judge of character so I thanked him and took him up on his offer.
''Put your bags in the back and you can jump in the front with me''. I crossed the road and put my shopping in the boot before walking around to the passenger seat. Once sat in the Car I was greeted by a smiley face and a hand. I shook the guy's hand and he told he was name was Simeon.
The drive to the camp only took about 3 minutes. Simeon asked the usual questions: Where was I from? How long had I been in New Zealand? What was I doing in Hanmer? I told him that I was volunteering up at the Forest Camp and that I was looking for work.
''So what are you doing for money'' Simeon enquired. ''I'm living on savings currently'', I replied. I didn't tell him that I had just spent the last of my money but I felt that he could sense that I wasn't rolling in the green stuff.
For the rest of the short journey up the camp I asked Simeon about himself and he told me he lived just outside of the town, he had a young family and that he too had traveled abroad when he was younger.
The car pulled over to the side of the road just outside of the Camp, I remember shaking his hand and thanking him for the lift. The snow was coming down thicker and quicker by now and the sky was turning darker. I collected my shopping bags from the boot and reappeared at the passenger door to thank Simeon again for his kindness.
Simeon was rummaging around in his bag.
I wondered what he was searching for.
He pulling out a $20 note, looked up at me and smiled.
I was confused.
Wasn't I meant to give him some cash for the ride?
Why was a near total stranger giving me money?
Simeon chuckled at my confused face and said 'Hey, Will. I want you to have this. It's not much but I know what it is like to be living of savings'.
I was shocked at his kindness but told him that I couldn't accept the money.
He continued 'God has blessed me and I'm very fortunate now, this isn't from me, it is from Jesus Christ'. He looked at me as if he wasn't going to take no for an answer.
He waved the note and placed it into my hand and wished me a great time for the remainder of my time in New Zealand.
I thanked him again for the lift, and now for the money, before the man drove off, smiling and waving as he looked back.
This man's kindness made a lasting impression on me. His gesture came at a time, when I felt very vulnerable and worried for the future.
Being on the other side of the world, with no money and no income is scary. Luckily, a week or so after this meeting with Simeon, I was offered a job and had an income again. This $20 the man gave to me, helped me a lot over the next few days as I was able to buy some more food which tide me over until I got my first paycheck.
The money was one thing but what really touched me was this gesture of kindness, from someone who had only known me for a few minutes.
This gesture made me feel loved and it showed me that no matter how tough life gets, there are kind people in the world who will help.
This experience changed the way that I live. I understand the power in giving, whether it is giving money, time or something else.
Everyone experiences moments where they need support and love and Giving is the perfect antidote for these moments.
Thank you for reading,
With Love, Will
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