14 Oct BEYOND / Kindness of Strangers a Lesson in Generosity
A Story from the Birschbach Family
During June of 2019, I was travelling in Europe with one of my roommates. We paid for and planned the trip ourselves. It was to three countries: England, France and Italy. The entire trip was successful due to both the extreme amount of planning we did as well as the generosity and kindness of various people around us: friends, family and complete strangers. When traveling from England to France we took a ferry from Dover, England to Calais, France. We had no way to get to the ferry port and didn’t realize it until the night before we left. Our Airbnb host offered to drive us to the ferry port at 7:00 AM and made sure we got to the ferry safely and on time. When we were travelling in France, we stayed with my roommate’s former host family that she met in high school while on an exchange trip in France. They made sure we knew how to get around from their house to wherever else we wanted to go, invited us in for their family dinners, and made sure we were comfortable staying in their home. While travelling by train within France, we accidentally sat in the wrong seats and didn’t realize until people were asking us to move (in French, of course, which I don’t speak at all). Three women sitting near us defended us and took care of us, even helping us catch our connecting train that would take us to our destination. I’ve learned generosity through my family and especially through Good Shepherd. I have been a member since I was born and have participated in multiple trips to Pine Ridge as well as two of the ELCA Youth Gatherings that took place in Detroit and Houston. I was taught that when able, I should always do my best to share my resources (food, time, knowledge, love, etc.) with others. This lesson was truly shown to me in Europe where so many people took time and energy to make sure that I was okay. Nobody asked them to do it, but perfect strangers showed their kindness and generosity anyway. These are lessons and experiences I hope to pass on to others, both in a sort of “pay-it-forward” manner and also by being able to teach them about generous encounters and encouraging them to be generous with their resources. Good Shepherd has done a fantastic job of teaching lifelong lessons such as generosity to the congregation, through their actions in things such as helping the neighborhoods around the Madison campus, as well as teaching the younger people in church school and Amped lessons about generosity.
Hannah and her family have been members since 1995 and Hannah was active in many youth programs at Good Shepherd.