The Photos Are UP

Between the piles of laundry and the preparations for our departure on Friday, I’ve managed to get some photos up on the Samaritan’s Feet South Africa website that I thought you might enjoy. We had the privilege of going back to visit Mirriam again last week while our friends were visiting, and to bless the kids in her care with a new pair of shoes, in a mini-distribution.

{To see the photos, click here!}

This might be my favourite…

At the end of the distribution, Mirriam and the children sang for us, and guys, it was like the time before when we first visited — such heavenly voices praising and glorifying the Lord. It was a humbling and inspiring gift. How this pregger lady didn’t bawl her eyes out, I’m not sure. I think I was trying to be strong, so I managed to quietly wipe away a few tears. My friend who was visiting was in tears, too!

To God be the glory, indeed!

And now, I better get back to the laundry… 🙂


The Boy is Back in Town

Hi Guys and Gals! Sorry I went AWOL on you for a couple of days. Hero Hubs returned safely, late Friday night, and I was pretty excited he was back, and my MacBook probably got a little jealous from the lack of attention. 🙂 There are tales of intrigue, stories of being “invited to leave” press conferences, evidences of a very watchful Central Intelligence Organisation and some good ol’ photos and captions to share the details of his Zimbabwean adventure, but we’ll have to take some time to think through what we ought to or ought not to post in this space.

The great news is HH has safely returned and a lot of very poor and underprivileged children were blessed with a new pair of shoes and encouraged to hope and to dream big. And, Samaritan’s Feet South Africa had the special privilege of being a part of the work that is happening in Zimbabwe, where people are daring to believe that Healing, Reconciliation and Integration can take place in a country where hunger, brutality and horrible violence were for a long time a fact of life.

Great things are happening there, but I sure am glad Hero Hubs is back here. The Bear really, really, really is too.

In another slice of news, he will probably have to return next month so, y’all pray for me.

More to come!


The Girl in the Pink Coat

A while back I talked about the impact the last scene of Schindler’s Listhad on me. In the final moments of the film, as Oscar Schindler looked at his pen, his car, his suit, his ring … his life, he suddenly wished he’d given up more, to buy more Jews to work in his factories so that he could save them from the Holocaust. What began as shrewd business dealing ended as a realisation that his list was, as his assistant said, life.

One of only four colour images in the black and white film is the image of the little girl in the red coat. The first time she appears, she is walking through the streets while the Nazis are clearing the ghettos, sometimes walking in line with the other Jews, other times, frightened and trying to find some place to hide. She escapes into a building, and the scene follows to watch her as she hides under a bed. Schindler is clearly impacted as he watches the cruelty of the Nazis unfolding all around this little girl, helpless and innocent.

Later in the film the Nazi soldiers are instructed to dig up the bodies from the Krakow ghetto so that the evidence of the atrocities can be destroyed. The decomposing corpses are trundled along on wagons, and Schindler catches a glimpse of a tinted red coat. Clearly, hiding under the bed did not save the girl in the red coat who’d caught Schindler’s eye weeks before.

A few weeks ago, at a Samaritan’s Feet Shoes of Hope Distribution, I was impacted by a little girl in pink. While most of the children at the school were wearing green, as part of their school uniform, this little girl was wearing a pink coat. She participated in the music and dancing that began the day with delight. I saw her make her way through the line, as she was one of the first to have her feet measured and be seated in front of a footwasher. Manny washed her feet, and I caught a glimpse of a few folks praying fervently for her after she was fitted with new shoes. I asked one of the teachers what they were praying about.

The little girl in the pink coat has brain cancer.

I could hardly begin to compute this. When you hear these types of things, your mind begins to scan through the possibilities. People beat cancer every day. But it is usually with early diagnosis and expensive medical treatment. For a kid whose parents work in the nearby wine and fruit farms, I doubt cancer treatment is in the budget.

Does this little girl have hope? Truly, I think her only hope is Jesus.

The little girl in the pink coat played with me today. She humoured my humble best attempts at Afrikaans, chatted with me, and introduced me to friends. If they were too shy to answer my poorly spoken “What’s your name?” she’d excitedly tell them to answer. After a big hug, she began playing with my hair and asked her friends to come and do so, too. Soon several kids were gently stroking my fringe (bangs) to one side, neatly tidying the hair that falls near my cheeks, and twisting and curling the long layers around the back into twirls and shapes I wished I had a mirror to see.

When it was time to go, I went back to say goodbye to the little girl in the pink coat. I’d taken a picture where I could see myself in her eyes, but I wondered what she really saw when she looked at me.

I am glad someone prayed for her that day. I am glad someone told her that God loves her and she is special.

I’m aware that for some of these kids — just like for all of us — tomorrow isn’t certain.

The girl in the pink coat definitely has more hope for a future than the girl in the red coat did. But sometimes the countless deaths due to simple and preventable disease (not brain cancer: I’m talking about malaria, malnutrition, even diarrhea) feel like a holocaust.

The world keeps spinning, day after day, even though thousands of children are dying needlessly. Are we turning a blind eye to the poverty holocaust? To the HIV holocaust?

For many, the girl in the red coat represented the six million Jews — many unknown and unnamed who died during the Holocaust. The world eventually intervened … but the loss that took place before we did is almost inconceivable…unspeakable.

For me, the girl in the pink coat represents the millions of children in poverty that might feel forgotten. I am thankful that the kids we visited on this day were not in abject poverty, but it is clear that a lot of them have life really rough. The lives of so many children around the world are full of suffering. Sometimes they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Do they wonder if the world doesn’t know, doesn’t care, or thinks it can’t do anything to help?

Surely if we know a holocaust is going on, we’ll do something about it…right?


Travelling Tuesday: A Primary School Near Rawsonville, South Africa

Happy Tuesday!! Hope your week is off to a great start! My Mom is HERE and I am LOVING LOVING LOVING IT! Will have some fresh Travelling Tuesdays for you coming from the adventures we’ll have together over the next two weeks! Whoo-hoo! And thanks for your prayers. She and all her luggage arrived safely, and we easily found each other at the airport and I am JUST SO GLAD SHE’S HERE!

I am delighted to share some shots with you from one of the Shoes of Hope distributions we did with the missions team last week. We were at a tiny primary school near Rawsonville, which is about forty-five minutes east of Cape Town. Does telling you minutes instead of miles make me a city girl? These kids live in a wine region, so most of their parents work in vineyards nearby. Situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by stunning mountains, if you visit, you’ll find the juxtaposition of breathtaking landscapes and heart-challenging poverty. It’s like the poverty is surrounded by beauty, but there is beauty in the poverty, too.

See what I mean?

We arrived a while before the rest of the SF missions team. The arrival of their massive charter bus did not go unnoticed…

The morning commenced with some beautiful singing and some impressively coordinated dance moves.

But not everyone was sure they were up for singing and dancing…

Can you guess who wanted to join in the fun?

The Bear was aptly dressed in school colours and occasionally hard to spot! He seemed disappointed that he didn’t already know the dance moves.

But when it was time to sit quietly he thought a game of duck, duck, goose would be good…

After story time, it was time for the footwashing and shoe sizing to begin!

One of the teachers added some hot water to warm up the water basins, but I think she forgot one…

Can you believe these precious feet belong to a little girl who probably isn’t nine yet?

This is the “I’ve Got Loooove” dance move…but I’m afraid I can’t remember all the lyrics for you. Peace and Joy made an appearance, too.

I peeked inside a classroom and afterwards wished I’d taken more photos for you! (That’s Afrikaans.)

Oh, look! One of the banners HH and I designed has been conveniently placed for a photo op! Yay, sweet banner! We’re proud of you!

I thought this fella had a sweet smile.

This little girl’s story will touch your heart. I will share more about the Girl in the Pink Coat soon.

This tough cookie had a blistered spot on her toe so awful looking I am afraid some of you couldn’t handle seeing it. One of the volunteers cleaned it and carefully put ointment on it and dressed it after letting it soak for a while. She didn’t seem phased in the slightest, and I began to think these children must get used to being in pain.

As usual, I’ve saved my favourites for last. I took lots of this gang and will have to share more! They were so great! (And patient as they were the last group to have their feet washed and receive shoes!)

Here are the preschoolers! I’m not sure where they’re headed…

Ya know friends, each of these opportunities seems to be such a learning experience for me. I find things I would never realise I’m taking for granted to be luxuries beyond the means of many. The words “want” and “need” are constantly finding clearer definitions in my vocabulary. And in light of the simple joy and peace I see on these kids’ faces, I am continually recognising my own discontent, and enjoying the challenge to find wholeness apart from the kind of wholeness that we Westerners might tend to think comes from a store. So I’m thankful again this Tuesday. For what I have and what I don’t. For what I’m seeing and how it helps me see myself.

And I hope you can take a moment to be still this Tuesday and find thankfulness in your heart, too.


Want to join the Travelling Tuesday fun this week? Link up right here! Whether it’s last week’s trip to Walmart of last year’s week at the beach, I’d love for you to share! Please just link back here somewhere in your post, and make sure you give us the link to your post, and not your home page.

Every Person Has a Story :: It’s Not About The Shoes

Last week HH and I were sitting in a meeting with volunteers and staff from a ministry we’ve been partnering with here in the Western Cape called Living Hope. A friend of ours is helping us evaluate our ministry’s effectiveness, and we were asking about the volunteers’ and staff’s experiences of the Shoes of Hope distributions we’d hosted together. Where could we stand to improve? What success stories were there? Have any kids been put in danger because they received shoes? We want to take the time to reflect on our work to make sure unintended consequences are avoided whenever possible, and to look at ways we can potentially improve our work.

We began to discuss positives from our recent distributions and one particular story came up, which is a story that needs to be told.

At our Shoes of Hope distributions, there is a special one-on-one moment, when a volunteer washes a child (or adult’s) feet and fits them with a new pair of shoes. We see that moment as an opportunity to connect with the person personally, and we usually ask two simple questions:

1. What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you?
2. What is your greatest dream?

During our meeting, a volunteer shared that one little boy was impacted in that moment in a significant way. Usually the most disruptive of the kids in their after-school club, after he’d had his one-on-one moment with a volunteer who washed his feet, at least for a day, he was a completely different little boy.


When he was asked What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you? he decided to open up and share, with a complete stranger who’d only been volunteering at Living Hope for a week. He shared the worst thing that had ever happened to him: he’d been raped.

I can scarcely imagine the horrible, soul-destroying, terrifying experience of being raped as an adult, and it brings me to tears and breaks my heart to know that it is a common part of the story of children in poverty. It’s estimated that the average young girl growing up in a township in South Africa has a better chance of being raped than of learning to read. Substance abuse, child abuse, and poverty seem to walk hand in hand.

But for a brief and shining moment, this boy was heard. He shared his pain, and it impacted him. The volunteers at Living Hope will follow up with him, in hopes of helping him work through the pain of his experience. They now have a better understanding of why he has been the most disruptive of the club’s participants all along.

In a perfect world, this would never, ever, ever happen to a child. The unfortunate truth is that in our world, it is happening every day.

As we train volunteers in preparation for a Shoes of Hope distribution, we try to make it a point of saying It’s not about the shoes. The truth is, these Shoes of Hope are shoes of opportunity. They create a moment for someone who is in need, who may be hurting, who might be crying out just to be heard, to be prayed for, to be honoured as a fellow human being, worthy of love and dignity.

Every person has a story. We just need to take the time to ask, and to listen.


*I’ve also shared this story today on the blog at Samaritan’s Feet South Africa. Many thanks to those of you who through prayer, giving, sharing and encouragement are helping make our work possible.