When I was a teenager in Virginia, my father befriended a group of Latin American immigrant workers.
They hardly spoke a word of english, so my dad, along with a group of other volunteers, cretaed an ESL program and worked to teach them english. A lot of my dad’s free time went into helping them learn and a close friendship quickly formed. He affectionately called them “The hermanos” (the brothers).
The hermanos and their families back home had very little. After covering their basic expenses, any money they made was sent back to their wives and children.
I remember my mother and father once hosting them for Sunday dinner. I headed to the cupboard to take out the plates we sometimes ate dinner on--a random variety of beat up plasticware. In my immature teenage mind, I thought whatever plates we had to offer would be acceptable, especially to the hermanos. My mom stopped me. “No, please get the nice plates.”
I didn’t understand why we would do this, but mom knew better. She knew the importance of offering your best to someone, especially to those who were less fortunate.
Dad knew this too. In order to help the hermanos have a bit more independence, he gave them his car.
Acts of kindness like these make an impression on someone, even a light-minded teen. And as I age they become even more meaningful.
Remember the importance of giving your best to others, not simply what would be “acceptable.” It can change and truly bless them, and it may make a lasting impression on an outside observer as well.