I just got back home after an extended Thanksgiving vacation in so-sunny, so-warm So-Cal where I finally got to deliver gifts from Thailand and Vietnam to my generous friends who helped support my trip there. While I stopped in the Coffee Bean in Del Mar to meet a friend, the girl who took my chai latte order commented on the shirt I was wearing with the Chang beer logo on it.
She loves elephants and, therefore, loved my shirt. I told her I had bought it in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I visited while I was volunteering in the country, and how she should go there to experience the Patara elephant farm where I took care of an elephant for a day. She was so excited, she told the next customer in line about my trip. That customer’s name is Pat Feldman and we were meant to meet. She told me about her son at the University of San Diego who would love the opportunity to teach English in Thailand. Not only that, she started her own website – http://kindnessbank.com/ – that shares stories of kindness and humanity in a time when despair, selfishness, violence and corruption seem so prevalent. On her website, Pat shares how she was one of 7 kids and grew up on welfare. But no matter how little they had, her mother taught her the gift of kindness through a life lesson she’ll never forget that involved a coveted toaster – I’ll let you read the complete story on her website.
Pat told me how she featured a story on her website about a group of people who gather in the parking lot outside the Dream Dinners in Poway to package food to ship to people in Tanzania. Ironically, the person who owns that Dream Dinners, runs those food packaging events and leads groups to volunteer in Tanzania is Phil Harris, the pastor and director of Friends and Family Community Connection who led multiple trips to Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina hit – including my first volunteer trip in September of 2006. Pat and I were both so blown away by this serendipitous meeting in a random Coffee Bean I’ve never been to in San Diego more than two years after I moved away. It’s a small world after all.