{letting your dirty feet rub against the dirty feet of your neighbor.}

This post was written while in Tanzania, Africa. My husband and I were invited to travel with Compassion International to share from a personal experience the wonders of their child sponsorship programs. Compassion exists as a ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Each day in Tanzania was different from the next. As the evening came to a close I logged into my blog to share my experiences with my online community. Here is one of my posts…

i’ve been trying to find the perfect words to describe to you all that i see and feel and hear and smell and taste here in tanzania, but it’s taken a bit longer for my words to form. i think i’ve been trying too hard to describe all of these things to you ~ all at once, through a perfect post. have i mentioned perfection yet? i’m really struggling with that right now, but i think i’ve figured out how to share all of this with you by sharing a story from earlier today ~ one that really broke my heart.

here, let me explain :)

we were gathered around in a circle playing games: a vibrant mix of little boys and girls from the compassion program ~ dressed in their best clothes, along with a few program directions {remember how compassion works with the local church to create a child development center for the kids?}, and our team.

the beautiful african children were showing off their favorite games and the songs they love to sing. there was one leader in particular that i couldn’t stop watching. she was wearing a purple satin floor-length dress with a heavier, darker blanket wrapped around her tiny waist. she had her hair woven into teeny tiny braids, then pulled back into a ponytail. her voice was loud and confident as she spoke to the kids. even though she spoke in swahili and i couldn’t translate her words, i could understand her love.

at one point this leader separated the boys from the girls and they stood facing each other in a half-circle. she picked one child from each side, gave them both a small stick to hold, and told them to run around the opposite gender group ~ whoever made a complete circle first, won. the kids played a few rounds and it seemed simple.

super, super simple.

then the leader asked two people from our team to race. if you know how to predict scenarios you’ll know to put me down for the GIRLS team. she yelled something and i knew that was our cue to start the race. so off i want, running to the edge of the boys half circle and then behind them, quickly running across to the other side.

i could hear everyone cheering for us.

GO MAGGIE! GO MAGGIE! GO SCOTT!

i could feel my adrenaline building — i needed my legs to keep up with my brain, i could feel them starting to buckle as i turned the last corner to run home and my heart was pounding and the kids were cheering for us. their smiles were so bright they were practically glowing, lighting up the humid, sunny day a little bit brighter. {come to tanzania if you don’t believe me, wink!} i was so close to finishing first, to beating my teammate.

but i totally hit the dirt

i could blame it on the fact that my feet were sweaty inside my shoes and my legs were moving faster than my brain was spitting out commands, but know that’s not true.

i hit the dirt because God wanted to show me something. remember yesterday when i wrote that God has been trying to teach me that my earthly struggles don’t matter? He wants my purpose to be stitched up by Him. and yup, He’s still mending me.

earlier today he added another stitch to my heart.

back to the race, i was about to hit the dirt. and then i did fall ~ it happened so fast i hardly had time to process it. but when i stood up and saw the damage, i mean it was pretty hard to miss the dirt covering my arms and shirt and pants, i felt a teeny bit embarrassed. there i was, our day at the child development center had JUST begun, and i was covered in dirt.

everyone was so sweet — asking if i was OK and telling me how close to the finish line i was — telling me how great of a job i did. a few came over and patted me on the back, zack gave me a little wink to silently remind me it was OK that i just fell. {thanks, babe.}

my feelings had time to settle just a bit, but only just long enough to turn into a fierce embarrassment over how dirty i was.

that’s when my heart broke. i could feel my eyes starting to burn, a few tears filling up each eye. i turned around for just a second and acted like i was brushing the dirt off my pants. oh, my arms are filthy too, i better brush the dirt off my arms too while i cry with my back to the rest of the group. but after those few seconds passed the tears didn’t pass. actually, the burning in my eyes increased and those few tears turned into too many tears to count. but God was counting.

one of the little girls came over to check on me. she couldn’t have been more than four-years-old. she saw my tears and moved a little bit closer to me. then another girl came over and started brushing the dirt off my pants. a third came over and did the same to my shirt.

how can it be that the start of a second i’m standing here in africa, feeling so incredibly embarrassed that i fell — my once-clean outfit is now covered in dirt — and the end of that one second i’m feeling the love of Christ like i never have before?

these children don’t care about my clothes. they don’t care that my now-dirty clothes look just like their always-dirty clothes. why couldn’t i see that before?

we don’t speak the same language but my tears spoke to them quicker than the rate my tears were falling onto my cheeks.

they saw me hurting and they rushed to my side.

earlier this year, when i agreed to travel with compassion, i had absolutely no clue the lessons i’d be learning. i thought i was agreeing to travel to teach lessons. geez, how selfish does that sound?

OH, it is so hard to not bring all of these children home with me. i mean, aside from how beautiful and spunky they are, they have so much to teach us…

like how life is SO not about how clean your clothes are, or what your house looks like, or whether you have to share a car with someone else in your family.

life is about loving on each other — all the time — in the name of Jesus.

matthew 25:40, The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

and letting your favorite pair of dirty bow flats feet rub against the dirty feet of your neighbor.

and feeling like you know your purpose.

because we all have a purpose, and it is beautiful.

click here to sponsor a child from compassion and allow them to help you see your purpose…

or click here to sponsor a child from the child development center we visited today.

♥ these children, my are they beautiful.
*supplemental photos by keely marie scott.

Comments

  1. 4

    says

    just wow.

    “these children don’t care about my clothes. they don’t care that my now-dirty clothes look just like their always-dirty clothes. why couldn’t i see that before?”

    thank you for sharing this post – beautiful words and a convicting message.

    [Reply]

  2. 5

    says

    oh sweet maggie- this is beautiful, simply beautiful. I love reading all about what God is doing in your heart. Sometimes He has to take us 1000s and 1000s of miles away from home to remind us that He is truly all we need.

    [Reply]

  3. 6

    says

    Ahhh my heart swells with PRIDE,AMAZEMENT,GRATITUDE,COMPASSION and AWE for you. You continue to teach me something all the time. Strangers you and I are but united in feelings and questions of LIFE.

    Thank you for bringing us on your incredible journey.

    hugs
    -missy-

    [Reply]

  4. 7

    Christy says

    This post touched my heart so much. Thank you for your honesty, and for opening your heart for your readers. This was exactly what I needed to hear today.

    [Reply]

  5. 8

    Laura says

    Wow – what an amazing post! Literally brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for letting is experience this through you. May God continue to bless your journey.

    [Reply]

  6. 12

    says

    Most beautiful post I’ve read in a long time. God and Africa both have a way of destroying our pride, making us realize how small we are, how big His love is, and much we need Him. Praying for you, miss Maggie.

    [Reply]

  7. 13

    Heather says

    That is my verse right now too….I stepped out and began a “Personal Caring Ministry” to hand out hygiene items to struggling families in connection with a local food pantry. Showing God’s love to these families teaches ME so much every month when we hold a distribution. Many have thanked us for just CARING about them!

    I am sharing your journey and your words with my hubby & three sweet kids (ages 8, 10 & 12) each night for family devotions. Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

    [Reply]

  8. 17

    Erin Smith says

    What an amazing story to tell! I have always wanted to travel to Africa to do alot of the things you guys are doing. So thank you for sharing because this is probably as close as I will ever get. This post brought tears to my eyes; what sweet children!

    [Reply]

  9. 18

    Cindy says

    I’m so happy to read this post. I spent time in West Africa with the U.S. PeaceCorps, you’ll never, ever be the same because of those children. I promise you that. Praying for you.

    [Reply]

  10. 19

    says

    Oh, Maggie. Just beautiful. I cannot stop the tears from trickling down my face right now! Yeah, I have those same bow flats and that last picture just ‘got’ to me…sigh, beautiful. Be blessed dear one!

    [Reply]

  11. 20

    Mama Gus says

    Awww – you are so precious and I “love you more”……. Hug each of those beautiful children for me!

    Hugs to you and Zack,

    Mom

    [Reply]

  12. 21

    says

    Oh, so many emotions on these trips. God is doing so much in our hearts and minds, it just bubbles over. What a beautiful image of Christ comforting you through the touch of little children.

    [Reply]

  13. 22

    Karen Stout says

    Oh, Maggie! I cried again today! I feel like I’m there with you! Your posts are perfect in every way…speaking to the hearts of us here at home. And as God stitches you up, we can see His mighty handiwork and it is beautiful. You are beautiful. Thank you for being a living testimony!

    [Reply]

  14. 25

    says

    My eyes just welled with tears as I read your beautiful words. Words that came straight from heart. The best kind of words there are. Oh, sweet friend – how I wish I was with you to experience a Compassion trip. The way He works through you and teaches things He wants you learn/experience in a way that only He is capable of.

    Keep savoring each moment with those precious kiddos as He continues to take you on this journey! Soak up their presence…just as they’re soaking up yours and getting to know your sweet heart.

    My heart was so touched by your words in this post, friend.

    Loving and praying for you from here!
    xoxo
    Jess :)

    [Reply]

  15. 29

    says

    I love this story gussy! It brought tears to my eyes. As I was reading this i got anxious when I read that you fell…I would have totally cried to! Something about the adrenaline and embarrassment…but yet it was so much more. So often this need to have it all together is all consuming. We fret over what people think of us. Yet the lord wants us to let it go. That perfectionism like you mentioned. I want to remember this as well. To allow others and ultimately the lord to love me just as I am. Dirty clothes and all. Xo

    [Reply]

  16. 30

    says

    Maggie this post takes me back like you wouldn’t believe, remember when I told you about the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, the tribe where they do not even name their children, when I arrived at their little island, something in their faces along with the incredible poverty knocked me off my feet and I lost it, there was no place to go, I tried to hide behind Kevin from our group. (It didn’t work) and those children had compassion for me……They live a life like we cannot even fathom and they felt sorry for me!!!! It’s unbelievable! Your doing an INCREDIBLE job sharing the story.!!!!!!Love you sweetie. Mom

    [Reply]

  17. 31

    says

    Oh Maggie, this post brought tears to my eyes and love into my heart. God is moving in mighty ways. Continue to seek Him, to be open to Him, His love covers all. Amazing how He shows up isn’t it? I had an experience like that on a Mexico trip to an orphanage. God broke my heart in a million pieces in such a good, good way. Continuing to pray for you, the team, the children. Blessings!

    [Reply]

  18. 33

    says

    Maggie, you are such a beautiful writer! Isn’t it AMAZING what we learn when we step out and say yes to God?!?!?! I learned so much with my relationship with Christ when I went to Haiti years ago. Enjoy, and look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip!
    xoxoxo
    Amanda

    [Reply]

  19. 34

    says

    oh my goodness, Maggie…this post almost brought tears to my eyes [and that rarely happens haha]. God has a funny way of teaching us things huh? just beautiful.

    thank you for sharing :) praying for your time over there!

    [Reply]

  20. 36

    says

    Beautiful.
    It is making my heart so happy to read these posts. Every person and every mission trip are unique and special experiences, but all the same, there is a kinship and understanding between those who’ve been called to this special journey. A familiarity… a soul recognizing the same heartbeat in another (is that completely sappy?).
    Praying your trip continues to be not only full of joy and blessings, but also full of whatever lessons and truth the Lord has for you, however hard.
    xo,
    Alanna

    [Reply]

  21. 37

    says

    Oh, we have so much to learn. I have so much to learn. Thank you for eating dirt and coming up from the dust to remind us where we all come from, and how love grows… so much goodness here. Just thank you.

    [Reply]

  22. 39

    Nadir@StitchSense says

    Beautifully said Maggie, I’m so thrilled ( a little envious) of how God is working IN you and THROUGH you in this trip. Praying for you & Zack & hoping that the Lord continues to show himself more through this experience of a lifetime. Blessings to you!

    [Reply]

  23. 42

    says

    You’re teaching all of us – so you’re still teaching someone! And I feel I have so much to learn too – thankful to be able to learn from you. This post is so beautiful and I don’t think I could say much more that hasn’t been said, just that it really is making me think and I appreciate that so much. Keep on sharing these lessons with us, we need to learn them just as much!

    [Reply]

  24. 43

    says

    Oh Mags! This is beautiful! What a sweet gesture from those little girls. That’s truly what love is all about. And being Jesus. You just thought you were the one to be Jesus to them, but in turn, they showed you Jesus too. Isn’t that amazing how the Lord works. So thankful you’re on this trip love! Enjoy!!!!!! Keep the stories coming!

    xoxoxo

    [Reply]

  25. 45

    says

    Oh, Maggie. I already had a good cry this morning when I picked up a vest that belonged to my grandmother and it smelled just like her. After six years it still carries the scent of my grandmother. Then I read this and I cried some more. Can I say I just love it that you’re wearing your favorite shoes on African soil?

    [Reply]

  26. 46

    says

    “earlier this year, when i agreed to travel with compassion, i had absolutely no clue the lessons i’d be learning. i thought i was agreeing to travel to teach lessons……….life is about loving on each other — all the time — in the name of Jesus.” – YES!!!

    Beautiful story and a lesson we can all learn from. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  27. 47

    molly says

    You two belong there learning and teaching. What a great job you are doing. Bring it home to us too. God bless you both.

    [Reply]

  28. 49

    Nadine says

    Absolutely beautiful! Tears, a heart bursting with love for those little girls and a new understanding of how God really sees us. Thank you! You have spoken HUGE volumes to my heart today.

    [Reply]

  29. 50

    says

    goodness, that was so beautifully said. my sister in law is Kelli and I am so happy to meet you via her! blessings and thanks for sharing the inner recesses of your heart with us.

    [Reply]

  30. 51

    says

    They just love. Perfectly. Simply. Purely. And its these children that bring us to His feet. You going may feel like He’s doing more in you than you could ever do, but your telling of this story touches so many other lives in such powerful ways. No matter what, you’re sharing His love! Rich blessings of new discoveries of His love for you, Maggie.

    [Reply]

  31. 52

    Maggie says

    From one Maggie to another… I’m devouring these posts and wanting so badly to follow in your footsteps. When you have a moment, could we email (or perhaps meet – we’re both Minneapolis girls, after all!) about how you got connected with this trip? I’m feeling a pull. Like that’s what I should be doing as well.

    God bless, I hope your trip is more wonderful every day!

    Love from,
    Maggie

    [Reply]

    joann Reply:

    Dear Maggie, Thanks so much I sponsor a child in Tanzania. Her name is Fatuma. She is beautiful. From tears in her eyes (the first photo I received through sponsorship,) to smiles two years later. GOD IS AWESOME!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story…..SIMPLY AMAZING!!!!! GOD BLESS!!

    [Reply]

  32. 53

    says

    Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing what YOU are learning and letting us live your mission trip through your eyes and experiences. YOur post brought tears to my eyes because I have known that feeling of trying to wipe away tears that refuse to stop. The compassion of children is amazing. Am so glad you are having an enriched experience. My daughter came home from her mission trip (to Chicago) last summer and was completely overwhelmed with everything she learned from the little kids at the school they were helping. She wants to be a teacher now and is going to New Orleans this summer on a mission trip. You are truly blessed to have this experience! Looking forward to reading more!!!

    [Reply]

  33. 54

    says

    Maggie, You’re doing so great. I’m excited to see how God is changing you. I’m so into your stories, keep the great posts coming. :) xoxoxoxo

    [Reply]

  34. 55

    says

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Maggie. You really touched my heart. Please let me know if you meet Luluena. She’s the little girl I sponsor and she’ll be five on the 12th. It would be so wonderful to hear from someone who has met her.

    [Reply]

  35. 57

    Donna says

    My family sponsor two children in Tanzania. A little girl named Mkwaya and a little boy named Hazeili.
    Thank you for posting your stories and pictures. It helps us gain a better perspective of what their lives are really like and how our letters and money each month help to make their lives better!

    [Reply]

  36. 59

    Chris Seidl says

    Maggie,
    This is such powerful stuff! Makes my small problems even smaller. All is well
    on the home front. Lots of rain and the grass is greener than green but I keep looking for Bauer and forget about you being gone. Keep up the good work. You are such a good soul!

    [Reply]

  37. 61

    says

    So perfectly written, Maggie! I know these posts are sooooo hard to write—the emotions, the lack of sleep, the lack of showering… But you’re doing beautifully. Praying for you.

    [Reply]

  38. 63

    Amy says

    Maggie
    I came across your blog tonight and I was blessed by your stories from Tanzania. My family sponsors an 8 year girl named Maria in Bolivia through Compassion. I hope to go on a mission trip before long. Thanks for letting me be blessed by your stories. God is so good!
    Amy

    [Reply]

  39. 64

    says

    Thank you for sharing! Amazing….. cried with you. I love reading the stories. Makes it so much more real. Hope to meet my sponsored children one day!

    hugs

    [Reply]

  40. 66

    says

    I don’t know how I am on this post… a mutual friend tweeted about you having a baby today and I clicked and clicked a few more times and here I am! Tears were just rolling down my face as I read this – just so beautifully written and, yes. Very convicting. Off to follow you on Twitter etc. but for now… congratulations on BABY DAY!! I have three boys and my first was 13 days late and had to be induced as well.
    He’s 17 now and still always late. :)
    Hugs, Claire

    [Reply]

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Compassion bloggers are in Tanzania this week, and you do not want to miss their posts. This post by Maggie is absolutely beautiful, as is this post by Kelli (I highly recommend following every [...]

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