And yet, this is precisely why I came.
Sharon came walking up to the house sometime last week. I was sitting on the porch, doing who knows what (after all, it was like, a year ago that this happened right?). Sharon had been out for a walk and she collapsed on the porch, and started talking.
"I feel so terrible."
Say something like that to me and you immediately have all of my attention. "Really now. Why's that?"
"These boys and their shoes."
Quizzical cock of left eyebrow, comical tilt of the head. "Huh?"
She laughs. "I was walking over on the hundred acres and I found a pair of soccer shoes in the soccer field. Man, they're just falling apart. I feel terrible, they're out there playing soccer barefoot because their shoes are falling apart."
I've watched them play soccer on their free time. I've wanted to play with them. But not barefoot. Ouch.
Sharon sighed. "I wish there were some way to fix them. Because I've found pairs of shoes in the trash can before."
I leaned back. "Yeah, get some duct tape and just wrap em all up good."
Eyes light. Face glows. "Hey...."
Sharon was dispatched from the porch. She returned with the same pair of shoes that she had taken to the dorm not 20 minutes before. The boys were all elsewhere. We talked and talked about plans, and then hid the shoes in my room.
They stayed there for about a week.
We gathered supplies and ideas in the meantime. Yesterday, Sunday, we were ready to tackle the job.
I came out on the porch, four rolls of duct tape on one arm, a hammer in the other hand. Paul Adams, sitting up here talking to Harvey, looked at me in surprise. "Wow, she's gonna tackle something."
Harvey laughed. "I think she's gonna nail somebody's toes to the floor."
I rummaged through a box and found a nail, then retreated back inside.
Sharon and I ended up on a mat under the house. We started to fix those shoes. The toes were completely detached from the sole, stuffing coming out, glue dissolved and gone. They were a mess.
As I crammed twine through holes in rubber and vinyl, I shook my head. "Who's idea was this anyway?"
Sharon looked at me. "Um....mine?"
Each stitch brought with it a feeling of accomplishment. "Ah hah! One more done!"
We worked for a few hours on those shoes. But at last they were finished.
I must admit, they look pretty classy.
I sat back and looked at the finished product. Sharon and I both laughed. “It seriously looks like something you could buy in a store!”
Now for reality. “You think they’ll like these?”
Well, one can hope.
A moment later. “Sharon, whose shoes are these?”
“I have no idea.”
When the worship bell was rung that night, I made my way down to the chapel with a paper bag in one hand and a handful of butterflies in my stomach. The words of the announcement were ringing in my head: “How many of you like playing soccer?...how many of your shoes are falling apart?...who is missing their shoes?...We’re sorry, but Tharamoo Sharon and I stole your shoes…”
We made an announcement to the boys, along with giving the boy whose shoes we’d absconded with back to him. We told them that if they had soccer shoes that were falling apart to bring them to Sharon and I and we would fix them. The yellow and red shoes made quite the impression.
After worship, I was ready to take Ningha and Juju home when I heard a voice behind me. “Tharamoo Heidi?”
I turned. AhMaySoe, one of the bigger little boys that lives in the children’s home. He pointed to one of his shoes, a regular, everyday croc. Near the toes it was torn bad enough that I was surprised he could keep the foam things on his feet.
“Teacher, when I run, my feet go right through.”
“Bring them up to our house tomorrow, and Tharamoo Sharon and I will fix them for you.”
Sharon and I got another pair of shoes this morning. No, not AhMaySoe’s, but another boy from the children’s home, whose tennis shoes are coming undone in a bad way. They’re in my room. We’re going to fix them today.
We probably will only have time for one pair of shoes per week once school starts, but since this is exam week, we may be able to fix a few pairs, if we get them. I do know that this afternoon, we’re going to fix one more pair at least.
I’m sitting in an empty classroom. I came down just after the second class period, and was swarmed with kids, wanting to know what to study for their English exams, which are on Friday. I answered all of their questions, and now I’m alone, waiting for the next question-asker to find me. Someone will eventually.
I look at the empty rows of desks. This…teaching…this is why I came.
I didn’t come to fix shoes with duct tape and twine, using a hammer and nail for needle.
And yet, maybe I did.
After all, I came for these kids.
And perhaps they need shoes more than English.
And maybe…just maybe…when we’ve been called somewhere, we are never only called to do what we set out to do.
Maybe this is why I’m here.
After all, it’s God who does the planning.
And He’s almost always got a different…and better…idea than I do.