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                                                                           RECIPE FOR KINDNESS

There I was watching TV getting up to the sound of our door bell. I always know when our door bell rings instantaneously because of its instrumental musical sound. I sprinted down, turned off our electronic security system, unlocked the door and opened it. As soon as I opened the door my dad came rushing over. I saw a pale man along with who seemed like his son. The man had a small bushy beard, Pinocchio shaped nose but much smaller of course, and he looked like he was approximately in his mid-forties. The young boy looked like about my age and he was moderately tall with a pleasant smile on his face. They both struck me as being of Mexican descent. Curiously, I wondered who these people were. Right away my dad asked them to come in. They introduced themselves. As they walked in, I could not help but notice their worn out shoes and what looked like frequently worn clothes.

When they took their shoes off and sat down, my dad started discussing what he needed done in our garden. Then it hit me that those people were here for gardening. Although I knew our garden is in a messy unkempt state, I had no clue that gardeners would be coming to fix it at this time. In the garden, there were dead flowers everywhere with shards of pine trees on top of the already rotten mulch. To add to that, there were weeds causing rather large cracks on our driveway due to weathering. When we moved in to this new home about a year ago, my sister and I had asked if we could have landscaping done to the shabby garden.

I remember my parents saying “We will do it eventually. We just bought the house, let us first settle in and then think about the garden”. From then on I have been waiting for the day that our garden would be one of the greener and more vibrant gardens with abundant colorful flowers, beautiful maple trees and a mini vegetable plot. When the adult gardener and my dad finished discussing inside for what seemed like an hour, both the gardener and the young boy went around the house to inspect the condition of the garden. Afterwards, they suggested to my dad on what needed to be done and he whole heartedly agreed with most of their ideas.  The gardener seemed to be confident and experienced in his line of work. He along with the boy he was with went back outside to their truck. As they began to unload their vehicle, I saw just how bone breaking lifting a few heavy tools was. They were starting to dig out the old rotten mulch.

They began to load all of that old soil into a wheel barrow which they unloaded onto their truck. My dad asked me to go outside and watch what they were doing so I could learn. My guess was they would eventually dispose of the mulch and soil using proper state regulations.

As the young boy was walking towards the truck, I politely asked him, “What is your name?”

He calmly replied, “I’m Juan.”

        I asked him, “What grade are you in?”

He replied, “6th grade.”  From seeing the look on his face, it made me think Juan liked school better than what he was doing now at our house.

Then I said jubilantly, “Me too. I’m also in 6th grade.”

Gleefully, he said, “That’s very interesting. Although I like school, math homework is very challenging for me.”

My first reaction was that I should help him because I am doing advanced math and math happens to be my favorite subject. I told him “Maybe tomorrow you can bring your math homework along with you and I will try to assist you.” That short assurance made him smile as wide as he could. He then said, “Ok thanks. I will.” He then went back to his work diligently. They finished up their work for the day and took off.

As I was going to bed that night, I felt pitiful for him because he would go to school in the morning and then in the evening come help his dad do his job. But at the same time, I felt that I was becoming his close friend. The next morning when I woke up his dad was already working with some other helpers. I assumed this was because Juan could not come as he was about to attend school.

They started cutting out weeds and putting them into a machine that fills up a bag of miscellaneous objects to be trashed. Because it was a rather warm spring day, they were trying to get as much work done before it would start raining. I had to get ready and go on my school bus. After coming back from school I was hoping to relax by lying down and watching TV. However, all the shrieking sounds of wheelbarrows, shovels and metal tools kept distracting me from doing anything fun. As I looked out of the window I saw another car pulling into our driveway. It gave me the impression from a distance like someone was driving Juan here. I was right and upon seeing me, he waved at me and I waved back!

I invited him inside to do his homework but he politely declined for he wanted to first help his dad and then do his math. As I saw him begin the tedious job of shoveling out old mulch, I could not believe that he was doing such an arduous job at such a young age right after school.  And I felt ashamed that I was complaining about the garden noise being hard to deal with. After a couple more hours of strenuous work, my dad invited all of them in for a meal. We served them rice which I thought was a wise choice considering their Mexican heritage. Along with the rice, we also gave them yogurt and green beans. After they finished their meal, I thought they were all energetic to work again!  They all went back outside to recommence their work. Juan however stayed in and he requested me if he could now do his homework with me. I respectfully agreed and we started on the first part which was based on fractions. He worked on multiplication and division of fractions with my support and that boosted his confidence.

After we were done, I took him up to my game room and we played many games on my Xbox One. He faced some obstacles in controlling but it was a lot of fun. I then showed him my room. He remarked that his room was smaller than mine and he had to share it with two of his siblings. For the next two days we had this routine where he would work and then do homework and finally play Xbox. Eventually, the work was done and our garden was looking brand new with fresh flowers and brand new red mulch. While they were leaving, Juan asked me to come to his house someday so we could hang out. Although he seemed shy and timid to ask, I readily accepted.

The next weekend, I had my parents drop me over at Juan’s house. As I was pulling up to his house, it looked rather like a mid-century ranch style home. The outside had brick walls that were in relatively poor condition. From the outside, it looked like a small house for the size of his family. His garden was particularly small but very well maintained. As I walked up to his house, his family opened the door and welcomed me. Even though the house had some nice finishes, it was still cramped and I felt claustrophobic.

When he showed me his room, it was just like how he had described - just enough to fit two small beds and a desk with very little closet space. We spent some time talking and playing soccer outside. His mom called us in for dinner and she served tortillas with bean and rice along with some vegetables from their own garden. I willingly ate the authentic Mexican food hot on the plate which I was so graciously provided. As night was soon upon us, my parents came and picked me up. Juan’s family was happy and my family and I were very thankful to them for being such marvelous hosts.

               That night, the truth struck me like a bolt of lightening. Juan’s family may be poor but they are very kind hearted. Because of that visit I realized that everyone deserves to be given equal opportunities to prosper despite their living conditions. I did not count differences between our two families out of pride or arrogance but felt rather sorrowful and heavy hearted for how his family had to live on a day to day basis. I found that visit to his house to be an eye opener that would help me in my future endeavors.






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