After working with children all morning, I was a little nervous about working with one of the mothers.
As I sat on the floor in front of her chair, I knew the only thing she could possibly say that I would understand was “Hola,” so I decided to be the first to say it in an effort to at least express friendliness even if I couldn’t verbally show it in any other words. She responded with, “Hola,” and continued with a few words of her own.
I looked around the crowded room and couldn’t find an available interpreter, so I held my hands palms up, shrugged my shoulders, smiled and said, “no Espanol.” I wasn’t even sure if I had said that correctly, but I knew she understood from her “ah” and nod.
I untied the laces of the shoe she wore on her right foot and gently removed her shoe and sock. Then I picked up the new shoes and started to remove the new socks that were stuffed inside. My first thoughts upon seeing those new socks were,
“I cannot give her these. What am I supposed to do with these things? She is not going to want them. Where is an interpreter to explain how sorry I am that this is what I’m giving her? I wish I had my own bag with me, so I could just give her one of the new pair of socks I had packed for myself.”
I now wish I knew how many of those silent thoughts she could see on my face. She hadn’t seen her new socks yet since I hadn’t completely removed them from the shoe they were stuffed into and unrolled them.
And I really didn’t want to show them to her.
I quickly glanced around the room again for an interpreter or someone who would hopefully be able to find me a new pair of socks, but no miracle showed up… or so I thought.
I know I must have worn a cringe on my face as I unrolled the pair of knee high striped socks. Oh, how I wished in that moment the only thing unusual about this woman’s new socks was the length and striped print! As I finished unrolling and separating them, she saw what I saw around thirty seconds earlier.
One sock had blue and white stripes while the other had green and white stripes.
Even that was not the most unusual thing about these socks. They had toes. Toes… like the socks I had been given years earlier as a gag-gift for Christmas. I was presenting this woman who was older than my forty-four years with a pair of socks that came to her knees, were different colors and had the toes separated.
I was expecting her to look at me with an expression that would say not only “no,” but “are you kidding me.” In afterthought, I think I was more surprised by her response than she was about the socks.
Here’s when I realized the miracle.
She just laughed.
She wasn’t upset. She wasn’t bothered in the slightest. She didn’t seem even the tiniest bit disappointed. She laughed and her smile showed as much in her eyes as it did on her mouth. Then her laugh became contagious. Neither of us could stop laughing as I washed her foot and put the sock on. We laughed even harder when we realized the toes on the socks were longer than the toes on her feet which made it even more complicated to make sure I had only one of her toes in each toe of the sock.
Have you ever tried a pair of toe-socks? They can be hard to put on your own feet. They are really difficult when you are putting them on someone else’s feet.
Eventually, we managed to get all ten of her toes in the correct places and I put her new shoes on. She expressed her thanks, left her seat and a child took her place on the chair in front of me.
The next hour or so was uneventful. I washed several pair of feet and replaced worn shoes and socks with new ones. As my team members and I were finishing up with our last few pair of feet, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to find the woman I had laughed with about her crazy socks. She embraced me with the biggest hug and again thanked me.
We shared another laugh and each went our separate ways knowing we will never see each other again, but I believe both of us felt a special bond was formed between us… over two crazy, miss-matched socks.
Our bond was formed on day two of a mission trip with Buckner International. My daughter and I were blessed with an all expense paid trip that I won through WAY-FM.
We spent one week in Guatemala teaching vacation Bible school followed by giving shoes to kids and a few parents and grandparents. We told stories, helped them memorize a Bible verse, made crafts, and played recreational games with more children and families than I could count. When those activities were over, we turned to the socks and shoes.
I have heard many people compare the foot washing we did to when Christ washed the feet of his disciples prior to His crucifixion, but I have a hard time making that comparison to my own actions.
As I sit here now in my seat on the flight home and think back on the last week, I feel more like Mary who washed Jesus feet while he was in Bethany; but instead of washing the feet of Jesus, I was washing the feet of His disciples in His physical absence. This woman, Mary, was not a saint. She was a sinner just like the rest of us.
“When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.’ “ (Luke 7:39)
She was also criticized for using valuable oil to wash Jesus’ feet. “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given the to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” (John 12:4-5)
The only One who could truly judge this woman was Jesus Christ, but He chose to extend the grace and mercy only He can give. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace,’ “(Luke 7:47,50). She couldn’t hide her sin, but she could rise above it. She could make the most of her resources to honor Jesus Christ, and for that, He praised her and her story was given an honored place in Scripture.
I am not looking for fame and honor or even recognition for participating in this mission trip. I, like this woman, just want to honor Jesus Christ in whatever way I can, and I want to spread His love around the world. If that simply means talking to my neighbors, my co-workers and other people who cross my path about what Jesus has done for me, I will do it. If that means putting a pair of crazy, miss-matched socks on someone’s feet, I will do that, too.
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