Tuesday, January 17, 2006

an act of kindness-January 17, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006
The most beautiful cappuccino – Baked Heaven Café – Auckland, NZ
It’s funny that my first writing on this trip around the world is about coffee, but it struck me so much when my first cappuccino in New Zealand was so beautiful, yes, beautiful, as well as being very tasty, I was compelled to write about it. Last night after we went to eat on our first evening in New Zealand, I noticed the Baked Heaven Café on our walk back to our motel. I mentioned to my family, “Oh, this looks like a good breakfast place.” Kate and Matt agreed as they looked at the pictures through the window of the dishes they might want to order the next morning.

As I walked on, I thought to myself, I hope they have a good cappuccino. I had been so impressed with the ones I enjoyed in Australia the previous two weeks that I wanted to compare them. Now, I don’t get one every day, but when I do splurge, I like to make sure it’s good. For those of you who don’t know what a cappuccino is (like my husband), let me explain. The ones I order typically are made with whole milk and are frothy, creamy and yummy, with just the smallest amount of espresso coffee, making it less caffeinated for this lactating mother! A chocolate powder is then lightly shaken on the top. In the states, I would typically add natural sugar to sweeten them, but here, since they are so good, I just drink it without any sweetener.

I don’t know if it is because we are traveling, and ordering a cappuccino seems like a luxury, something to savor and enjoy, but I tell you, they sure taste better to me than the ones I have ever tasted in the states – Starbucks and all those coffee shops could learn something by the way the Aussies and Kiwis make and serve their coffee.

Anyway, let’s get back to why this cappuccino was so beautiful. The man who owned the restaurant worked with his family and they were from Cambodia. I had that impression before I asked his wife where she was from when we saw a beautiful painting of Angkor Watt hanging on the wall (this is one of the sacred sites we will be visiting in Cambodia on our journey). This man (I wish I got his name) took my order for a cappuccino and said it will be “straight up.” When I was given my beverage in a lovely cappuccino cup, one that was quite large (about 3.5 inches in diameter by 1.5 inches high), I was amazed by the design he had drawn on the frothy milk using chocolate. It was a simple flower that covered the entire surface of the frothy milk in the cup. I actually laughed with delight and quickly brought it back to our table to show the family. Everyone got a kick out the flower and I was touched by the thoughtfulness of this man to draw it. We were so impressed that we took a photo of it so I can post it on our website!

I reflected for a moment on how just this simple act of drawing a flower could bring such joy and delight to others. This act of kindness reminded me to take time in my day to do something special for those I am with, and it also reminded me how seemingly small and simple acts can bring joy and delight to the receiver as well as the giver. How thoughtful and ingenious we can be with simple, sweet gestures!

After we finished breakfast, I went to the counter to thank this man for what he had done and to tell him how much I appreciated it. He blushed and looked down shyly and said “you’re welcome.” I asked him if he does this to all the drinks he made, and he said “no, but I do it sometimes for tourists.” I showed him the picture we had taken and told him I was going to publish it on our family website. I had brought attention to his act of kindness, and he seemed a little embarrassed, but grateful to have been noticed.

I truly believe that the way we speak to others and how we treat each person we come into contact with will be reciprocated. It all comes back and we will receive that which we give to the world.

There’s a bumper sticker that I have seen in Santa Cruz that says, “My religion is kindness” – a truism for me and something that Gabriel and I strive to teach the kids. My friend Chuck, who is married to my cousin Nanie, said in his e-mail to us when he heard that we were going to travel around the world, “Enjoy it, make friends, be diplomats and have fun.” I clearly see that the world needs more diplomats (not politicians) and if we can do just a little of that, maybe it can be healing for the planet. Not to mention healing some of the sentiments that people in other countries feel about “those arrogant Americans.”

Speaking of acts of kindness, I want to thank all of you who have taken time to write us e-mails. Your e-mails have been inspiring and provide us with further impetus to make this trip more meaningful and sacred. God bless you!


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