Over the Christmas season I visited my local nail salon. I love this little place, it is a family business, they make excellent vietnamese tea and coffee and I always learn a lot about culture, politics during my treatments. This time I had a new beautician. My nail tech Anna (not her real name) who was doing my pedicure was chatty and pleasant, she had a pierced tongue, a young child and a dog and clearly enjoyed her work. We exchanged pleasantries about dogs and the weather. Anna was young with a one year college diploma and I did not expect much in the way of a deep or profound conversation.
This is a very unusual nail salon. I almost always have a deep and meaningful conversation but I was sure that this time would be an exception. My server was pleasant and wore clothing a little too tight and expressed some unsophisticated opinions. As I moved on to have my nails done, I was the only customer in the shop. Ling was doing a complex french manicure Anna told us an amazing story.
She had two other girls saved some 75k over a period of years and build and founded an orphanage in Vietnam. Ling who is Vietnamese had tears in his eyes and I was speechless. She was not wealthy, nor particularly well educated but was moved by the plight of abandoned babies.
She then revealed that she and her husband have similar plans for an orphanage in Africa. They gather donations, never really advertise and somehow the miracle happens. Her husband came in to have coffee with her. He was a very young, modern looking man but not wealthy. He was teaching ESL in a local school to adults.
What struck me was the modesty and yet the immense scale of what she had done all on her own. While many of us who are in more fortunate positions whine and complain about the state of the world, Anna and her friends all of whom are of modest means actually did change the world, one baby at a time.
"Why don't you tell the world" I said to Anna, excited by her mission and very excited. Anna told me that her mission employed a widow lady who otherwise would be destitute and she runs the orphanage. Anna does not want publicity, it is known to a few. She does not want it to be too big. Anna went on to say that she does not tell people what she does and few suspect it, but decided to share it with me.
I found myself thinking of the Christmas story. This was announced to a few shepherds, it was a very low key event, much like Anna's miracles. I left the little salon with pedicured feet and pretty snazzy nails but also with my heart warmed and my spirit tremendously humbled.
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