New Shoes

I remember my first trip to Haiti and noticing the shoes on the children. Now, anytime I travel, I always notice the shoes. I know it sounds a little weird, but to me it tells a story. In Haiti, many of the children wore shoes that were mismatched, or too big or too small. For some reason this always strikes a heart chord for me.

Photo by Keely Scott

Photo by Keely Scott

In Kenya this last March we met our sponsored child Hannah. Hannah showed up in a nice skirt, a blouse and sporting high heeled shoes. I could tell that this dear child was not used to these shoes, but she had dressed her best to meet us. She reminded me of a little girl wearing dress up shoes with the awkward balance it takes to keep the shoes from slipping out of control. The funny thing was we spent the whole day walking through parks. I kept telling her she could go barefoot if she wanted, but no way, she kept those high heel shoes on. She was beautiful.

In my latest trips to Africa and India, I saw lots of bare feet, dirty feet, old shoes, big shoes, little shoes, torn shoes and occasionally decent shoes. For a woman like me who owns quite a few pairs of shoes, it reminds me of my wealth. Doesn’t every child deserve a pair of shoes? DSC_0379

Tracy is a woman who came to our church about 3 years ago and moved into our church recovery home. She had been homeless, living on the streets, and doing things to survive that would scar anyone for life. The only thing she owned were the clothes on her back. Her hair was a mess, and her clothes were old and torn. Her shoes were old Ked tennis shoes, torn up so badly that they were hardly shoes anymore. Despite her appearance, it was Tracy’s personality that I noticed. She was sweet, and incredibly grateful for the church. I met Tracy on a day I had dropped off some of my old and unwanted clothing and shoes to the church. We have a large room where people donate clothing items for others who need it. It’s called the Kings Closet. I ran into Tracy, and talked to her for awhile. She asked me about the Kings Closet and I told her to rummage through the clothing to see if there was anything she could use. She was so very happy that I had shown her the closet. She was like a kid in a candy store. I then left her alone to rummage through the assortment of old clothing.

Sure enough on Sunday, she showed up in new duds.

Tracy came up to me with a big smile, her hair all dolled up, wearing a beautiful dress and some new shoes. She was so proud of those shoes. She came over to me and said, “Patricia, look at the shoes I found in the King’s closet”. I looked down and there were my old shoes on her feet. My eyes watered up, I gave her a hug and just said, “I am happy for you.”

So much in life I take for granted. What seems so small and insignificant to me is something important to someone else. My old smelly shoes actually blessed someone? I was just cleaning my closet setting myself up for a new shopping trip, but God had a bigger picture in mind. He wanted me to appreciate my stuff. He wanted me to see how easy it is to throw something away when others have nothing. You know, it’s bigger than just shoes. I can throw dollars away on mindless small purchases, like Starbucks, IKEA, Target, even Walmart. Sure, there are things that are fun to get and blessings for the family, but how often do I purchase things that I may only use for a short while?

Am I appreciating all that I have? It’s my endless question.

God, are you messing with me?

By the way, Tracy flourished in her recovery and now is working full time. She can buy new shoes, she is living on her own, and she has re-united with her family. Most importantly, she found Jesus and it’s obvious by her joy.



4 Comments on “New Shoes

  1. This was a really touching story and so true. My trip to the Philippines has changed me forever.I wanted a latte this morning and I just couldnt do it. I have a bunch of shoes, some Ive never even worn….how a little thing to me is such a big thing to others makes me want to box up all my stuff and give it away!

  2. What a great story about the shoes. How awesome and what a good idea. I am going to share this idea with my youngest daughter. She has been trying to figure out a way to make a difference in the world after Kenya.

  3. This post really struck a chord with me. I’m a shoe person! I have lots of shoes. I stood in my closet this morning looking at them thinking I don’t wear half of them, and that I should just give them away. But then I thought who would want my old shoes? I’m packing them up tomorrow! Maybe a young girl could use them. I’m a size 5, which is what my daughter is wearing now too!

    I have another shoe story to share. My kids attend a small Christian school. My son’s second grade class has only seven students in it. At the beginning of the school year each class was to pick a service project they wanted to do. His teacher felt very strongly that every child should have a pair of shoes. So their project was to collect new shoes for orphans around the world. The kids were so excited! They made boxes and placed them in churches and businesses to help collect shoes. Those seven kids collected 88 pairs of new shoes! We were so proud of them! They also wrote a note and placed it in each pair for the recipient! Sadly, his teacher died of a heart attack and didn’t get to see the final outcome, but many were blessed by her heart for kids!

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