Saturday, July 08, 2017

Katya's New Shoes (Wes Force)

Tonight's entry is by Wes Force, one of my favorite students ever. He came from a wonderful family in Valdosta, Georgia. His dad was my optometrist and prescribed my first contact lenses! In this devotional, Wes chronicles a touching story from his recent mission to the Ukraine. Pray for me as I landed in Vietnam today!
Katya is as shy as she is sweet and beautiful. She likely wore her best as she came into the classroom on the first day of our mini camp in the village of Staryi-Lysets, Ukraine; a lovely dress with a modest black sweater. She was rather quiet, but was very attentive to the lessons I presented, and she always displayed a smile when we made eye contact. She sat by herself in the front of the class.

After about two hours of classroom time, we released the students to the school’s playground for some outside time. Katya seemed quite content, but kept to herself as she sat and watched the other children play. I attempted to interact with her, but she insisted on simply smiling and looking away.

Later in the day, we returned to the playground for games and other activities. Once again, Katya was sitting by herself while the others played. However, something was clearly bothering her. I was watching Katya from just behind her, and noticed she had one foot on top of the other as if fidgeting with her shoes. Immediately, it became clear to me that her left shoe was literally in pieces. It would be impossible for her to return to the classroom with her shoe intact. I alerted my friend, Ksenia, of the situation and whispered, “What can we do?”.

In just a few moments, our camp director, Michael, appeared with some tape and proceeded to repair Katya’s shoe. Although unavoidable, the situation was clearly upsetting to Katya as she quietly sat and shed tears. This quick-fix might hold up long enough to make it back to the classroom, but a more permanent solution would be needed before the end of the day. It was quickly decided that Ksenia and another Ukrainian would head to the village market to purchase a new pair of shoes. We presented the shoes to Katya after the other students left for the day. She quickly exited the classroom with a quiet smile on her face. Later that evening, we purchased an additional pair of sneakers for Katya when we returned to the city.

I texted my wife about the day’s turn of events. She quickly replied, “That’s what it’s all about!”. She was right! Our mission trip was clearly about showing the love of Jesus to the people we were serving! The most effective Bible lessons are often best taught without the use of the Bible. Proverbs 14:21 reminds us – “It is a sin to hate your neighbor, but being kind to the needy brings happiness.” (NCV)

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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