Day 4- Wash my feet
The Sunday prior to my trip to Haiti, I was at my home church of River Valley. The sermon was related to Jesus being a servant to his disciples- illustrating the significance of him doing the job of a servant and washing the dirty feet of his disciples. I have always loved this story and have heard it used many times as an example of how leadership should look.
Thursday we had the chance to visit three elderly in the community. Two women and one man, ranging in age from 70-90 years old, which is exceeding the average life span of Haitians, which is around mid 60s. When I heard about the experience, I imagined bringing water and food to shut-ins; to be greeted by somber and tired faces.
We brought our guitar and drum, a bucket and towels to clean their feet and lotion to finish off the job with a massage. The elderly and their large entourage of grandchildren and neighbors met us warmly with hugs and smiles. We broke the ice with live worship music and got right to work- one person on each limb, and the rest playing with the children. At the first two stops I sat on my drum, keeping the beat alongside Jeff, our team leader as he strummed his guitar and sang even more energy and life into these homes. I liked my spot on the drum, contributing in my own way, and infusing my joy and personality through my hand movements beating against the drum. This drum was also my lookout spot. I took in my scenery and watched with pride at the hard work of my fellow friends and teammates, moved by their compassion and care with their soft movements over the bony, dry skin they were touching. They looked so natural, made the job look easy and enjoyable.
At the final home, I was encouraged to get off my drum and put my famous massage skills to work. As I crouched by the old man’s feet, it dawned on me that this would be dirty, smelly, rough...did I mention dirty? The laces were so stiff from dried dirt that it took work to loosen them. Dust was covering the entire shoe; there wasn’t a clean spot to hold onto. The old man was unphased- sat back and relaxed, thankfully unaware of the thoughts in my head about how I would get through the messy experience. As all this was going through my head, and as I continued to work on peeling off the dirty shoes, I was reminded of the sermon I had heard just days ago at church. This was the type of feet Jesus cleaned. Feet full of dirt, expected from the type of lifestyle and the area they lived in. I literally had to bring myself to the thought that Jesus- the King of the World, washed feet. I had to remind myself of the “amens!” I verbalized throughout the sermon about how I am the hands and feet of Jesus. It was convicting, to say the least. It was my turn to do the dirty work.
The old man thoroughly enjoyed his cleaning and massage. An eager team member graciously offered we could massage his back as well, and there was not a second of hesitancy from him. Thank you eager team member- cause guess who rotated to his back? Yes, me. Oh, did I mention yet that his hips hurt as well? He was ready for the full rub down, body massage. This old man was full of fire and FUNNY. We asked him how we could pray for him, and he closed his eyes, raised his hands in the air and started rattling off praises and worship to God for US being there. We then switched roles and prayed for him, asking for relief of the pain that agonized him all over.
The elderly were a blessing to us all. We enjoyed being immersed in the community and seeing into the homes and lives of some of the locals. They were easy to love on, and the life that flowed from their smiles was something we carried with us all day.