When people want to get away from Manila, one of the favorite places to go is Tagaytay where the Taal volcano is located. The air is fresh, which you greatly appreciate after the thick soup of Manila air. Aaahhhh! Among the many beautiful places and wonderful restaurants in Tagaytay, one of the most refreshing is Sonya’s Garden, a Bed & Breakfast. I had been there once before when we were in a wedding, but yesterday the special quality of the place took on new meaning because of the kindness of Sonya, the owner.
We brought a Ukrainian couple, Valentin and Katya, there to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. We planned it as a surprise for Katya, so she forgot to dress for the occasion. When we met Sonya, I asked her to show us a beautiful area in the garden where we could have a simple renewal of vows ceremony for the couple. We were expecting a small group of friends and Katya was suddenly embarrassed because she was dressed very casually. Sonya immediately offered for Katya to borrow her dress and asked us to follow her to her home. She directed us to a room there and brought in two white dresses and some beautiful jewelry. Katya laughed with joy as we transformed her for the special evening and brought her out to meet Valentin. The evening was memorable for all of us.
Before I met Sonya, it was apparent that every detail in the place was meticulously designed with the aim to please the senses and bring enjoyment and tranquility. Everything was arranged and decorated with excellence and the staff was hospitable and accommodating. But after having met the gracious and kind owner, I recognized her special touch in it all.
Everything we do, whether in a corporate or private setting, should be done with excellence and kindness. When someone walks into a place for the first time and everything is excellent, they are more likely to want to come again. But it is going out of the way to show kindness to people that really makes the difference. Excellence by itself can be sterile. But when you add the special touch of serving others in personal ways, it is like adding warmth to a cold room by lighting a fire in the fireplace. Even simple acts of kindness can have a tremendous impact. Sonya, thank you for your beautiful example of excellence and kindness.
On a personal level, I often find that when I make the step to get involved in the lives of others, I am greatly enriched by being a part of their lives. There have been times when I have wanted to give up on a person, but then God would speak something in my heart about how He does not give up on me. Going out of our way to show kindness demonstrates the love of God to people because it is contrary to the way in which the world usually works.
Reaching greater levels of excellence is for the sake of serving others better. Serving others better is for the sake of demonstrating the kindness and love of Jesus Christ.