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At Rising Star Outreach we often bring volunteers to India to assist us in the work of caring for the leprosy-affected. Usually they have learned about Rising Star’s work and are eager to help lift those whose lives have been decimated by leprosy. But every now and then we receive a volunteer who is reluctant to engage.

“Lisa” was just such a volunteer. She had come to India with a group from her high school shortly after the devastating tsunami hit the coastline in India killing more than 10,000 people. Lisa’s school had raised more than $100,000 to help those victimized by the tsunami to start a new life.

With the money raised from the school children at the Bullis School in Washington DC, we were able to help purchase new fishing boats and nets for several fishing villages along the Coast that had been devastated by the tsunami wave. Lisa and thirteen other friends came to visit the villages and see firsthand what they had been able to do. Because of their generosity, several fishing villages, involving thousands of people, were put back to work.

The week was spent working with those affected by the tsunami, but then, with an extra day, we took the volunteers to a leprosy colony to visit some of our patients. The other students were very excited, but Lisa had real reservations. When she looked out the bus window and saw the leprosy patients gathering to greet us, she was struck by the fact that they didn’t have hands or feet. Some were blinded. Their faces were distorted by the disease.

Lisa was afraid to get off the bus. I put my arm around her and told her that she was welcome to stay on the bus. I had noticed earlier that Lisa had shrunk back in fear when approached by a leprosy-affected parent of one of our school children. Don’t worry, I told her—we’ll only be a short time.

While we were working with the people in the colony, I was surprised to look over and see Lisa. I was shocked to see her and the other girls busily braiding the hair of some of the female patients. Stunningly, there was Lisa in the midst of them, braiding a woman’s hair, named Saroja. She seemed perfectly at ease and was even laughing with Saroja. I had noticed earlier that Lisa was often braiding the volunteers’ hair while we traveled on the bus. I guess as she looked out the window and saw the others doing this activity, she gained the courage to venture out.

An hour later, as we were finishing up our work, I was one of the last to get back on the bus. Lisa was sitting in her seat crying. “Oh dear”, I thought. She must have gotten traumatized. I eased on to the seat next to her and put my arms around her. “Are you okay?” I asked rather gingerly.

She turned a tear-streaked face to me. Barely whispering through her tears she said, “Saroja gave me her blessing.” “How did she do that,” I asked. “She put her hand—actually it was just a little stump of a hand—on my head and gave me her blessing. I don’t know why it made me cry. Looking at her house I thought to myself. How can she give me anything? I could buy her entire house and everything she owns with just the change in my pocket.”

This conversation reminded me of a clip I had seen several years earlier of a person who had come to work with Mother Teresa. This man had made a similar statement about a person he served as the man was dying. As with Lisa, the dying man had given this volunteer his blessing. I smiled and said to Lisa, as I hugged her a little closer, and repeated Mother Teresa’s answer to the man helping to care for the dying. “Yes, my dear, but you couldn’t have bought her blessing. Only she could give you her blessing. No amount of money could buy that!”

There is a belief in India that it is a special blessing from God to receive the blessing of a beggar.   In this case, it was a special blessing indeed as the heart of a young woman was touched for life.

I personally believe that there is indeed a great blessing that comes when a beggar gives someone their blessing. It means that there has been an exchange of love. Someone has reached out to help them. They are grateful. Having nothing else to give, they give a piece of their heart.

I also believe that these acts are recorded in heaven. God, who sees the smallest act of kindness, does indeed bless those who stop to lift and help people who are helpless to help themselves. His blessings are no match for the gifts we give each other here on the earth. His blessings are great and eternal.

I also believe that every small act of kindness, reaps a blessing, whether someone actually utters a blessing or not. Each of us have the opportunity every day to reach out and touch someone’s life with an act of kindness. I believe these acts, small and large, are recorded in the heavens and will bring blessings beyond our wildest imaginations. These blessings come because as we have done kindness to someone else—we have actually done it to our Divine Master.

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