only a pair of shoes

I was in a flutter of hurry. With only ten days to spend in Romania, I wanted every second to count - I wanted to be very productive. I flew back and forth, getting the correct shoe sizes for the villagers. We had a huge line of people waiting and I had to hurry!

Suddenly I noticed that a young Roma (Gypsy) boy had come up to me and was jabbering away in Romanian. I stopped what I was doing and looked at him. Tears pooled in his dark eyes. I called for our translator, wondering what he was so discouraged about.

My translator listened for a minute and then announced, "He wants a pair of shoes."

I smiled. We had hundreds of villagers anxiously waiting in line for a new pair of shoes and socks. Some of the old grandmothers were actually fighting for a spot in line. Of course the boy wanted a pair - everyone did!

My translator continued, "He really wants some shoes, because he doesn't own a single pair."

I halted, my brain whirling. Although quite poor, almost all of the villagers at least owned those worn, flimsy flip flops that I had seen everywhere. But this little boy didn't even have flip flops? I glanced down at his feet. Open sores, combined with filth, gave away the fact that it had been a long time, if ever, since he had owned shoes.

The Lord touched my heart and I realized that in the busyness of it all, I was forgetting what was truly important - the people. I sent a prayer heavenward for forgiveness. With a quick breath, I did what I should have done in the first place - I put the boy's hand in mine and led him to shoes his size. Together we found a pair that fit him nicely. I looked down at his face and I felt tears gathering in my eyes. His face was glowing. I felt the corners of my mouth tug upward. I was so thankful for the Lord's prompt reminder of what was important!

On the van ride out of the village, I pondered the little boy and the joy he had over a simple pair of shoes. The only close comparison I could make would be like giving away $30,000 cars here in the States for free!

Suddenly I realized anew how much I truly take things like my shoes, my bed, my house for granted. I mean, as an American, whenever I get yet another pair of shoes, it's normal and somewhat mundane; however, this boy had none and was thrilled to receive even one pair.

And you know what? That little boy will probably never know that he changed my perspective on the world. But he did and God used him mightily in my heart.

And it all started with a pair of shoes.


  1. Wow, that's so wonderful! It definitely is easy for us to take what we have for granted. Thanks so much for sharing this with us! :)

  2. I love your missionary stories, Joanna! They are by far my favorite part of Bloom! Keep it up, it is so encouraging to read stories of hope in such a hopeless world.


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