If My Crocs Could Tell Their Story, It Might Sound Something Like This
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What – If My Crocs Could Tell Their Story, It Might Sound Something Like This
Well, it finally happened. I guess deep down I always knew this day would come. My faithful pink and white Crocs, shoes I’ve taken on EVERY trip to Africa, finally gave out. Ironically enough, after all I’ve put them through in a decade of use, they simply split walking around my kitchen. I was immediately flooded with emotion, something resembling the scene from Cast Away where Tom Hanks loses his trusty friend – the volleyball “Wilson” – to the ocean. I actually threw them away and then pillaged through the trash can to get them back out. All that these Crocs have seen, heard and experienced proved too much to send to the dump.
As I paused from cooking dinner to reflect for a moment, I uttered these words to my son: “If these shoes could talk, wow the stories they would tell.” And I realized my sturdy Crocs would be the inspiration for this week’s blog.
If my Crocs could share their life story, it might sound something like this…
How can I possibly sum up ten years worth of memories in a few short paragraphs? I’ve carried Angela into Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya, and that’s just on the African continent. I’ve stepped where Jesus walked in the Holy Land and been dipped into the Jordan River. I’ve been her companion on family vacations to sandy beaches and Smokey Mountain cabins. I’ve been lovingly tucked away in her suitcase countles times, traveling through more airports than I can remember. But once the red clay of Africa embedded herself into my treads, I knew I would never be the same.
I first touched down on African soil in 2007. Since then, Angela and I have made more than 15 trips to the continent she loves so much. Every day of every trip was an adventure. I’ve stood on makeshift soccer fields where boys kicked a ball they’d made out of twine. I’ve walked across real soccer fields preparing for open air crusades to share the Gospel in Daboya, Ghana. I’ve witnessed thousands upon thousands of people make the arduous journey in their own worn sandals to hear the Gospel shared from Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda in Liberia.
I’ve stood in schools where hundreds of women from across Northern Ghana crowded to hear life-giving messages. I’ve danced in a tambourine circle at one of those services. I’ve visited orphanges that broke Angela’s heart and observed the dedication of Haven of Hope, a home Angela helped to build for widowed pastors wives and orphaned children in Malawi. I’ve been in Pastor’s homes and remote areas of Kenya and Ghana where Angela brainstormed and strategized about the best ways to provide business enterprise options for deprived pastors wives. I’ve walked dusty village roads to visit some of those very women in their homes.
I’ve been covered with glitter and paint from craft activities at Kids Camps. I’ve held Angela up as she shared gospel illusions and Biblical stories with thousands of children across the continent. I knelt down with her in the huts of African chiefs and laid gently next to her cot as she slept in a mud hut. I’ve been her bedside friend as she laid ill in a hospital bed. I’ve walked across flooded streets as she resolved to make it to Soboba to visit a community she had blessed with funds. I remember vividly the children welcoming us with chants of, “You are welcome, you are welcome.” I’ve dug through muddy village streets as she went to a late night church service in Yendi where village members braved torrential rain to thank her for donating chairs. I’ve been washed off by a young boy as Angela stood on the muddy riverbank where both children and cows drank from the same water.
I’ve stood in corn fields where pastors had planted life-preserving crops from funds. I’ve walked across swinging bridges and through the hallowed halls of slave castles. I’ve watched thousands of women stand for hours in the pitch black to hear Angela share a message when the electricity went out in an outdoor conference.
I’ve stepped into jeeps and felt the tall grass of the Ruaha Game Reserve as Angela rested. I’ve walked Angela through Bible college campuses, including a week she and her father ministered side by side in Tanzania. I’ve made the trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro and waited at the base as she climbed in her hiking boots.
I’ve held her as she squatted down next to Maasai women selling wares and village elders presenting Angela with chickens they killed for our meal. I’ve ridden in countless vehicles across the African countryside, stopping occasionally for bananas on the side of the road.
I’ve struggled to hold her up when mobs of children pushed her up against a van as she handed out candy. I’ve nearly been carried off by an unexpected rain storm flooding the market as Angela rushed to get out. I’ve stood in churches as Angela prepared to speak or lead worship.
I’ve helped her into a canoe as she crossed the river to get back to Daboya where they planted a church. I’ve seen the inside of tents, the ceramic tile of guest homes, the halls of hotels and the mud floors of huts. I’ve listened to women’s stories; stories of heartbreak and loss and faith. I’ve bent as Angela sat cross-legged in the dirt to hold a child or tell about Jesus under an African tree.
And I’ve felt the gentle fall of her tears. Sure, I’ve been washed with spickets and hoses and buckets and water bottles and even muddy water drawn from the river. But Angela’s tears have washed me the most. We’ve been through a lot together; shared more memories than most people do across ten lifetimes. And maybe, even though I can’t carry her another step, maybe she’ll carry me in her suitcase, just to see where the next God encounter will lead.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What