Stories
     
 

One good shoe story, One great God…
By Diana Thompson
Naperville, IL Following the burning desire in her heart to put shoes on bare feet and partnering with HIM to make it happen, one of our volunteers returns to Guatemala and is able to change thousands of lives with one simple mission… SHOES!!!!


This story takes place within one heart with a passion to provide for a need many folks living in the dump area of Teculatan in Guatemala seem to have. It’s the need for shoes. Walking away that day in June 2015, having distributed our last 12 pairs of shoes, leaving 300 families shoeless, my heart broke. I was now on a mission. My mission…to collect 1000 pairs of shoes for our next visit in June 2016. I recall sitting next to Karen from HIM on the bus who passionately promised that if I collect them she would send them. Little did I know what God had in store for me the next 9 months as I began my collection process. Once home, I began to question whether I have over committed myself, doubting my abilities. God was on the move. It was then during one of my morning runs that I came across a little baby shoe lying in the road. A God moment that wasn’t noticed until a few feet later, the match to that baby shoe was in my path. That’s when I realized this goal was not my own but His goal.

I’m not very good at asking for things so I was quite nervous. Again, little did I know that that one simple email sent to family and friends would filter into so many other hearts…family, friends, friends of friends, local stores, cub scouts, girl scouts, schools… word got out. Shoes from many areas in IL and MO started to roll in. Over 3000 pairs of shoes entered my garage within those 9 months. Sorted, washed and sprayed, over 2100 pairs of shoes were ready for shipment. The story only gets stronger…

For our next trip in June 2016, we were able to bring along 551 pairs of those collected. We had several places to distribute them. Our first stop was the dump. Somehow with shoes left over we continued to distribute throughout the week. It was like the loaves and fishes story from the Bible. God’s people had a need, and He provided.

Being able to provide a clean pair of shoes to a clean set of feet, was a dream I had from the very beginning.  I knew better that that wouldn't happen due to the lack of water throughout the areas of Guatemala. And so I settled with just providing clean shoes. Again, little did I know what God had in store.

With one pair left, I was worried I would end up with a shoe without a set of feet. It was like a Cinderella story in trying to find the right size for the shoe I had. Once again, I experienced a God moment. While not really paying attention to a gated area where children were standing, I was focused on a musical performance from Music in Motion. With a glance over at the gate, there was a little girl with her bare foot wiggling her toes through the railings. I took me a moment to realize that little girl may be the foot I needed. When I looked back she was gone. Chance lost. Why did I have to question something so apparent? I was so mad at myself. But once again, our good Lord spoke…a few minutes later, I looked over to find her again in the same place wiggling her toes as before.

Rushing to do a quick sizing up of her foot and the shoe I had, I saw it looked like the perfect fit. Hurrying to get the pair I had before she was gone, I had one of the HIM staff, Fernando, retrieve her from outside the gate. In doing so, we had her sit and when asked her name, she said it was Martha. As I began to brush off her feet, Fernando handed me a bottle of water, not knowing anything about my dream at the start of all the shoe collection process. At that time, with welts of tears in my eyes, I began to wash her feet. I cannot begin to explain the overwhelming sense of God’s presence at that very moment.
With clean feet, new shoes and a bag full of goodies, she skipped out of those gates as happy as she could be. That day, my new friend Martha reminded me once again of the power of God’s will for each and every one of us. To serve is a gift that goes beyond all measures. Don’t ever be afraid to get involve. Little did I know, that God had a plan for me sitting on that bus next to Karen, with the burning desire in my heart to collect shoes. I learned that what I thought was my plan was really His in disguise. God is good!                                                                               


Unforgettable Mission Trip
By Renee Fledderman

One of our volunteers elegantly writes about the uncontainable joy serving on a Mission Trip. Amidst the poverty, she describes the new friendships formed and the impact one can have by a simple gesture! 


Her Mission Trip To Guatemala
By Renee Fledderman

We may not be able to do it all, but at least now we’ve seen what needs to be done. We’ve gained an understanding that couldn’t be obtained any other way, and made the most beautiful friendships while doing it.”

Digging my fingers in between the squishy heel of a pair of Nike tennis shoes and the tiny brown foot of an 85 year old Guatemalan woman, I heaved with tearful, uncontrolled laughter. The heel of the shoe kept bending over and rejecting her poor foot – coated with dried mud from the day’s activities and wrinkly with experience. And the woman’s reaction? The loudest, most genuinely adorable laugh I have ever heard in a while – causing me to immediately join in. I kept telling her in Spanish, “I hope I’m not hurting you!” or “Almost there!” and she would just hit me on the back, flat-out cracking up. She hugged me when we finally got it, saying how thankful she was for her new shoes, and then continued to crack herself up, blabbering incomprehensible Spanish to all of us and then bursting in laughter. Seeing me laughing with her, Kait asked, “What is she saying?” I replied, “I literally have no idea.”

 
That was at the last village we visited, when I had already found out what it was like to make someone’s day with an article of clothing or create a lasting connection in one precious moment. Before that, we spent a few days returning to the village of Pueblo Modelo, getting to know the children there, providing medical and dental care, building bookshelves, bunk beds and chicken coops, and donating clothing and supplies. Pueblo Modelo was my first peek into the poverty of Guatemala – and what a shock it was. Some “nice” houses were made out of cement, others just had the dirt ground as their flooring. Some were made out of pure trash or sheet metal, and the contents were just nothing. These people don’t have toothpaste, they don’t have refrigerators, they don’t have socks. In one of our group discussions we talked about how these people are experiencing poverty of material things, but they aren’t lacking in very much else – spiritual and emotional wellness, community, family strength. Their pure admirable happiness and pride makes them richer than most of us.

 


Where is God?
By Jeff Kenton
This beautifully written narrative begins by questioning where God is, only to see that God is right beside us every step of the way.


It is really a dump. Broken glass, trash, filth, stench.
Fires smolder throughout the pile of waste.
A 10 year old girl expertly breaks a garbage bag looking for a way to support her family.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”
Do hospitals like this really exist in 2013?
It is hot and dirty and old. Babies, only hours old, rest unprotected next to their exhausted moms.
We invade their privacy and it gives me a sick feeling.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

We would never put a child in this daycare center.
But, we don’t wake at 3 am to pick cantaloupes for 17 hours.
It doesn’t seem fair that these kids have to live like this.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

I have never seen a mud wall in a real house.
It was the strongest wall. Stronger than the plastic bag or sheet metal posing as the other two walls.
Nine people are living in this lean-to hut.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

The floor of this hut is mud. 
It rains most every night this time of year.
Can you imagine being 8 years old and having mud course thru your house almost daily?
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

They keep a fire burning in this hut.
It is supposed to keep the mosquitoes away. It doesn’t
It does take your breath away and make you gag for air.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

There is no running water.
There is no electricity.
The river water functions as the tub and the toilet.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

I see children run and jump and fall.
They run barefoot over broken glass or burning concrete or jagged rocks.
They must be in pain, but they never cry… never.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

I had never seen a baby that was so malnourished that he couldn’t keep his head up.
I can’t say that anymore.
Babies shouldn’t have to fight for nourishment.
I ask myself, “Where is God?”

At the end of this long, difficult week; I sat down with tears in my eyes and shame in my heart.
As I sat, dirty, stinking and exhausted, I bowed my head.
I prayed out loud, “God, where were you?”

As God always does, he responded to me.
He spoke to my heart and said, 
“Jeff, I was you and I was every member of the team”.

It took me a few minutes to comprehend God’s message, but then peace came over me…
Our smiles that brought hope to the residents of the dump – that was God.
Our eyes that brought compassion to the new moms in the hospital – that was God.
The encouragement we gave the kids at the daycare – that was God.
The strength in our muscles to build a new house in just five days – that was God.
The hugs we gave the hundreds of children – that was God.
The love in our hearts to nurse babies back to health – that was God.

 


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