Love is kind ! Corinthians 13 v 4

‘We can’t all be clever, but we can all be kind.’ One of the many sayings mothers use to encourage their children to grow into decent human beings!

And I have for a very long time considered kindness of great value. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22), and the love chapter describes it as one of the attributes of real, godly love, Love is kind.

And recently my life was touched at a very difficult and upsetting time by random acts of kindness by complete strangers.

We spent Christmas 2017 in the French Alps with Jarrod, Vicky and Zachary. They were skiing; we were just there to be with them and to enjoy the snow and stunning alpine scenery.

We had an enjoyable week exploring the La Plagne area of the Alps and our family thoroughly enjoyed the skiing. The snow was plentiful and at regular periods fresh snow would fall. We regularly heard them avalanche blasting to keep the slopes safe.

The day before we were due to travel home, (we were on different flights to different destinations, but around a similar time), two things happened. Firstly I started with a sore throat and head cold, but more importantly, it began to snow heavily.

But the morning of our departure, Jarrod and his family were picked up on time and although there was a few hours delay, they arrived home safely and without mishap that afternoon.

We were due to be picked up 40 minutes after our family were and in spite of heavy snow, because all had gone quite smoothly for them, and because the French are so excellent at clearing snow, this was our expectation too.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but after standing in -12 degrees for 3 hours waiting for our coach, 8 hours to do a bus journey that should have taken 2 and a half hours, a night at the airport being supported by the Red Cross, 3 coach journeys, 4 airports, one flight and 36 hrs later we arrived in the UK!

I could tell you of conflicting instructions, deceit, manipulation, broken promises and disorganisation. I could tell you of armed French police being brought on the coach to force us to sleep in a freezing airport! But what I want to tell you is that the entire trauma we went through had the most beautiful and touching silver lining, – the kindness of strangers.

It was mostly, but not exclusively some Indian families, and particularly one young woman, who took us under her wing, never left us alone or without support for the whole 36 hours journey.

They helped us with food, advice, encouragement; they secured beds and blankets for us at the airport and constantly checked our wellbeing and comfort.

In the end, our older son in the UK, concerned by our plight, managed to secure us a hotel room, we think the last in Chambery. This young woman, knowing I was ill, urged us to take it, saying ‘I’ll text you the moment we have any new instructions, I won’t let them leave you behind!’

But we had also been told Chambery had no taxis available, they were all in the mountains! David went to ‘Information’ to ask how far away the hotel was. The man on duty told him, only about 15 mins and that he would take us! Refusing to accept even petrol money and staying with us to make sure the night receptionist spoke English, this ‘guardian angel’ turned out to be the director of the airport!

We had a warm and comfortable 6 or 7 hours in our lovely room drinking lots of hot tea to soothe my sore throat, until the text came through at 6.15 from our young ‘helper’, that we were to be bused to Lyon for a flight.

Now began the struggle to get a taxi back to the airport! The hotel receptionist was totally unable to find one and his advice was that we should walk the half a kilometre to the train station and try there. Doesn’t sound difficult, but remember I am ill, we are pulling heavy suitcases and the morning is dark and freezing. Of course David and I had prayed that God would provide a taxi, but God had other plans!

Even at the station there no taxis, so David ran across the street to a small bar/coffee bar to ask the barman for help. David explained our predicament and a young Muslim man sitting in the bar said, “Let me finish my coffee and I’ll take you.”

As we got into his well used car, so many thoughts were in my head! Mainly, is this safe? Well I may as well be honest, I texted his car number plate to our son! (I had done exactly the same the night before with the airport director!)

But as this generous young man dropped us at the airport, again refusing to accept even petrol money, saying ‘I did it for my God and my family’, we were totally overcome and realised, this utter kindness from complete strangers, very different to us on so many levels, had tinged this awful weekend with a touch of the Divine.

Let me finish telling you of these kindnesses, the hotel receptionist had said he would drive us to the airport but he was the only one on duty. But concerned for our well being he emailed Jason, who had booked the hotel, to make sure we were safe!  And our young guardian angel Ratna, texted us as we were driving home, ‘Are you home yet, it was lovely meeting you.’  It was lovely meeting you too Ratna, we really believe God brought you into our lives at this difficult time.

As we read our newspapers and watch the TV, like so many of you, I often feel I don’t understand, or at times even like the world I live in. I feel vulnerable and yes occasionally afraid. I can feel invisible and frail. But this weekend taught me afresh that, yes our world has changed, but there are many kind, good and wonderful people, full of love and respect from every race, nation and faith.

Colossians 3.12 ‘ Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’

Thank you to everyone who showed us such godly kindness.