“These are my nice shoes,” I said, just as my feet started to get wet.

Craig and Alie had just arrived in Romania from the States, and had returned from an “epic Ikea trip.” Sarah had driven them there, where they selected all the big item furniture that they would need in their new apartment. After everyone ate dinner together at the mall, there wasn’t enough room in Sarah’s car for her, Craig, Alie, 3 kids, and 2 strollers. So Craig and I opted to take the empty strollers on the metro while the ladies took the kids home in the car. (Marie had already taken our kids home via metro).

Oh yeah, it was raining.

For most of the half-mile walk back to the house from the metro, we were able to keep our feet pretty dry. The wind wasn’t forceful, so it was relatively easy to stay on course. Sarah’s stroller (the one I was pushing) is a double-stroller, but not the side by side kind, it’s front/back forward facing. It’s the length of a limousine. Pushing it empty in the rain and the dark was a challenge.

As we got closer to our destination, the hope for dry feet ended. The street was flooded from gutter to gutter. Of course we would have walked on the sidewalk, but cars were parked there. Where else should they park?

“I thought I might wear my dirty work shoes, but I wanted to wear nice shoes for dinner,” I told Craig. A nice couple from a church in Georgia was visiting Romania on their way home from a conference in South Africa. They chose to spend a few days serving with Anchor of Hope. I didn’t want to show up with nasty, muddy shoes, so of course I wore my nicer shoes that cost around 25 US Dollars.

And then we found ourselves ankle-deep in water. Or so we thought.

“This doesn’t smell like just rainwater,” I winced.
“No, it doesn’t. I’m going directly to the shower after we get home,” Craig replied.

I can honestly say that when I moved overseas as a missionary I never expected to be walking through ankle-deep nastiness pushing a gigantic empty stroller at night. But sometimes, this is was service looks like. Sometimes it’s helping a friend so they can get their kids home and in bed while you walk through some stranger’s bodily fluids diluted with rainwater.

I got home awhile later, and Marie was already dozing. She stirred when I peeled my wet, aromatic jeans off my legs.
“I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Just got home,” I whispered. But of course I had to tell her right away. “We walked through ankle deep water – I think my new shoes are ruined.”
“We’ll wash them, and they’ll be fine.”

And that’s the truth – spoken from my half-wakened wife. Sometimes you get dirty while serving others. Sometimes you smell nasty afterwards. This is the life of service we have chosen. Loving people is messy. It’s hard, nasty, and it smells. and honestly it’s a job we don’t always want. But luckily for us Jesus washes us. And you know what? We’ll be fine.

No matter how nice our shoes are.


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