Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Write Stuff

I ran across some thoughts I wrote down after a mission trip to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico with Mission Kids International, an organization that promotes family mission trips. It came at a time when I was making the transition from journalism to writing my first book. And writing was becoming quite an obsession. This trip really put things into perspective.—Linda Kozar

Is it possible that one RV could hold so much stuff? Like a clown car at a circus, I was amazed to see a seemingly infinite supply of food, clothing, luggage, supplies and people poured from it.

Everyone worked hard to do their part and beyond. As a first-timer, I was both worker and witness to this concentrated effort. I didn’t know what to expect when we first arrived, so I focused my efforts on working and praying through each situation or person I came across.

The children at the orphanage seemed lonely and desperate for affection. In a conversation with another volunteer, she commented that the children would, after a long day of work and play, disappear into their living area. A pitch-black series of rooms—dark for lack of light bulbs, the children had to find their beds by feel and crawl into their cots to sleep. Unlike our children, there were no lullabies or stories or tender kisses on the cheek to send them off to blissful rest. Although these children had need of the physical resources supplied by our group and others like us, I realized they needed our love and the love of Christ most of all.

Our day at the Colonias was a busy one! I was assigned to “foot washing.” Neatly gloved with a clean white towel on my shoulder, I began to gently wash the feet of a little boy in a pan of shallow soapy water. He was at first, embarrassed by his dirty shoes and socks and that a woman he didn’t know was washing his equally-dirty feet. I noticed that the skin on his feet and shins was tough, dry and parched. I cleaned his shins as well and wished that I could clean his whole body! Though tense and uncomfortable at first, he began to relax slightly and after I towel-dried and motioned for him to follow me to the turf mat we had set up. I placed the towel down under his feet, squeezed a dollop of lotion into my hands and began to massage his right foot. He looked at me and smiled broadly, two rows of white teeth against the dark skin of his face. When I massaged an area that hurt, he smiled even more. His feet definitely enjoyed the attention!

My oldest daughter, Katie who was also assigned to foot washing, came to sit beside me briefly and watch. Before we left on the mission trip, the two of us were struggling with “teenager issues” and constant arguments. Now she sat beside me and we exchanged glances. We smiled at each other, a knowing smile of realization that this was bigger and far nobler than any petty argument or dispute we had exchanged. When I finished massaging the little boy’s feet he was still smiling. I slipped some clean white socks on his feet and noticed how relaxed his body had become. He left with that broad smile still on his little face.

There were many more children, so many faces, so many feet! And more smiles. But this one little boy remained on my heart more than all the rest. His smile changed my life.
Linda P. Kozar is the co-founder/director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild, the 2007 recipient of ACFW's Mentor of the Year award, and the president of The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW--Writers On The Storm. She's the author of several books, including: Misfortune Cookies--HP Mysteries, 2008; A Tisket, A Casket--HP Mysteries, 2009; Dead As A Doornail--HP Mysteries, 2009; and Babes With A Beatitude--Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009


Marcia Gruver said...

A sweet, thought-provoking post, Linda. Thanks for reminding us to look past the tough skin and grimy feet and straight to the heart.

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

What a beautiful post, Linda. Thank you for this tender reminder!!

Linda Kozar said...

Thanks Marcia and Elizabeth! My youngest daughter just got back today from a Youth Mission Trip to Mexico, so I thought it fitting to look back on our very first one!

Janelle said...

Hey Linda, this post reminds me so much of a message a former paster taught one Sunday. He handed each of us a small piece of towel and asked us to keep them on our key chains. Then he taught a message about the time Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. The theme: We are here to serve, not to be served. I haven't been able to look at a towel the same way. Your post is yet another reminder. Thanks for serving.

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