Friday, July 22, 2011

Uganda Stories: Beautiful Feet

Yep. I think it's high time I start sharing some more stories from our trip to Uganda (back in March...). Sorry for the long delay - I'm still processing the time we spent there. Not to mention I've had something(s) on my mind and growing in my belly that have served as a major distraction. 
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One very special night at Canaan Children's Home (the orphanage we lived at in Jinja, Uganda) was spent on our knees before some beautiful, precious kids.

A couple on our trip heard that many of the children living at Canaan did not have shoes for school. Most of them only have sandals and flip-flops (though the majority of the time they run around barefoot). This generous couple decided then and there to order enough black, patten leather shoes for each school-age child at Canaan to have their very own pair (and dress socks to go with them). This open-hearted act inspired our team to make a special evening out of giving the shoes to the kids - a way to bless the them beyond just a material gift (which was still a huge deal to them).  

So, during our last evening together, we gathered all of the school-age children in the open-air chapel. At the front we had a few chairs set up, along with basins of water and towels. As each child's name was called, they came to the front, received their new shoes and took a seat in one of the chairs. Our team members then washed their feet and helped them try on their shoes. You should have seen their beaming faces (the kids and the team members)! Pictures don't do the moment justice, but I'll share a few to try and give you just a glimpse.

Kneeling before those kids - holding and washing those dirty, scabbed, precious feet - was a very special experience for everyone involved. It was special for the children to be honored in such a way and an honor for us to be able to wash their feet and show them Christ-like love. 

My only regret (one shared by our team when we realized what had happened) was that, because some of the shoes had not been delivered in time, not all the kids got shoes that evening. But that is not where the real regret lies. 

Although the children with the missing shoes were assured they would not be forgotten, we did forget them in one way and it breaks my heart to remember. Not only did those kids not get presented with their shoes that night, they also did not get their feet washed. Why we didn't think to wash all of their feet - shoes or no shoes - I don't know. Perhaps we were just too caught up in our "assembly line" of name/shoes/wash that we missed the longing looks of the kids who didn't get shoes or the gift of having their feet washed. Perhaps we let our American "get it done and get it done right" mentality shadow this time of service. I'm not sure how it happened - but I wish I could go back and do it differently.

I share this not to ruin a sweet story, or to lessen our gift to these kids, but rather to show how easy it is to "miss it" - even amidst a loving act of service. No doubt, our hearts were focused on blessing the kids at Canaan, but we were also so focused on our "plan" for how to do that efficiently, that we completely missed out on blessing some of the kids who fell just barely outside of our well-laid plans. 

This saddens me to remember, but also serves as a reminder to not let my plans for serving others get in the way of truly meeting the needs before me.      

(We traveled with Visiting Orphans - an organization that offers multiple trips yearly and to numerous countries, all with one purpose - to love the orphan and care for the needy.)

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