I do not know what I expected when I began looking for a coffee shop in a small Emirati town next to the sea. Earlier, we left Dubai and headed north. The last tall building or major boulevard was several hours in the mirror. I did not expect any coffee chain outlets where we were. One might suggest we skip the opportunity, but energy levels suggested this was not an option. The best option available was a mobile map search and random pick.
As we approached the mark on the map, even though I was driving slowly, I almost missed the shop. As we looked at the dirt parking area, our conversation shifted to the discussion of safety, going in or staying in the car, and even what we would find. Looking back, I wish I had recorded our conversation.
Turning right, I gently pulled into the open space in front of the shop. My fear began to grow as I looked right then left. I was the only car. I could see two individuals look up and then reach for a tray. Everything which followed was a surprise.
A smart looking young man emerged with a tray and menus. As he walked up to the car, his smile and welcoming eyes invited us into his space. With a quick glance in the windows, he passed two menus.
“Take your time.”
The menu had all kinds of coffee and tea options plus a wide range of fresh snack foods. As we placed our orders, his simple response was “Thank-you.”
Moments later, fresh coffees and hot snacks in hand, we were enjoying a high-quality experience and excellent service in an unexpected dusty parking lot. My doubts and fears were confronted by kindness, acceptance, and community. Old words shaped my morning lesson; “If you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” (James 2.13).
With my hand on my chest, a word of thanks, and a generous tip, we were counted as a new believer.