Have you ever tried to speak something in a different language and not get it quite right?
I know I have. I know my brother has too. A native English speaker, and Catholic priest, he started learning Spanish long ago, feeling called to begin an Hispanic ministry in his parish. At his first Spanish baptism, so the story goes, he guided the parents to be good potatoes! In his defense, it was an understandable mistake, "the potatoes" translating to "las papas", and "the parents" translating to "las papás".
Not all translation snafus are off the mark, and they still manage to convey the appropriate meaning.
Fast forward to London about ten years ago. I was walking home from work and saw a woman standing still and looking around. I asked if I could help, and in her broken English she told me she was trying to find the address written on the piece of paper in her hand.
It was not even a five minute walk away, but a convoluted one, and I told her with my words and gestures that I would show her, that it was no problem at all.
As we walked this way and that, I learned that she was from Albania, here visiting her son. She was so little, I felt almost protective of her.
When we arrived at Sutherland Avenue, I looked again at the address, and pointed to the left, saying it would be right there. She looked at me with gratitude and relief, gave me a big hug, and said something I'll never forget:
"Very very thank you!"
Simple encounter. Magic moment. Love wins. I walked home with a huge smile on my face and a big space in my heart.
The next day, running late, I took a taxi to work. As we headed down Warwick Avenue, I saw her walking along on the pavement (sidewalk). I wanted to tell the taxi driver to stop. I wanted to roll down the window and yell "Hello my friend!" I wanted to offer her a ride.
Instead, I just took in the sight of her, thankful for our connection the day before, and wishing her love and happiness.
Do you have unexpected encounters that put a smile on your face? Do you have those that put a smile on someone else's face?
This week, I ask you to do something. When you encounter someone new, whether in person or on the phone, find out their name if you can, and use it... people love to hear their name spoken. If/when they ask how you are doing, answer the question, and ask them (by name) the same question. Smile when you say it. And mean it.
Trust me. You just might make that person's day. It will definitely make yours.
Very very thank you!