What if the ordinance of washing feet wasn’t an awkward remembrance of the acts of Christ but a natural part of the rhythm of life?
I got to see that this past weekend.
We went with our church on a multigenerational mission trip to Puerto Penansco (Rocky Point). Better known to most Arizonans as the closest beach, affordable condos, and a place to hold epic parties for those in university life. We saw a different side of town.
Camping in the “yard” of a local Christian activist, Tony. (Yard is a term used loosely as the entire neighborhood was sand and soft dirt without the benefit of the beach.) My girls were giddy with this being their first time in a tent. They seemed unphased by the ramshackle housing all around with scrap wood, metal, and cardboard tied and nailed together to create homes.
In the midst of building a modest house for a single dad, “W”, and his 11yo daughter “A”, my girls became filthy. Not typical kid dirty…more like roll in the mud, sticky, wet sand in ears dirty. “A” was amazing. She held court caring for and playing not only with my children but all the kids of the neighborhood who came for the sake of curiosity and stayed for the joy and play they found while adults poured foundations, framed and stuccoed in the background.
At one point they grabbed a bucket of water and a few cups to make a sand/dirt castle. By the end they were all covered with sand and dirt and more than a little wet. The sun was strong and my girls were beginning to burn. Their newfound friend noticed the heat and sun taking a toll and decided it was time to head to the shade of a trailer. First, she carried over a chair, a fresh bucket of water, the only soap she and her father shared and a clean, dry towel. With gentleness and ease beyond her years, she placed my girls on the chair, removed their shoes and poured water over each foot followed by gentle rubbing with soap, a second rinse and careful drying as the towel was draped over her shoulder taking care to not let it hit the dirt spoiling her work of cleaning the girls. She then told them in Spanish (while pantomiming) to sit still until she could carry each to shade and the only non-sandy location on the entire lot.
It was a picture of beauty and humility. It was a picture of service she never intended for anyone to see, rather it was simply a part of the fabric of who she is. My girls were grateful and called me over to see how clean “A” had made their feet. They also talked of their new “best friend” with whom they shared many activities and few words. Later that day, my oldest remarked it was just like when Jesus washed feet. In this one small act, a relationship was solidified and a lesson lived.
The organization we partnered with is called i6eight. They live in the community and go beyond a service project of building homes. The real focus of building is on relationships and community of Christ. I can’t guarantee every experience with these amazing people will bring about a young girl being the hands of Christ, but I can promise that the experience is worth your time and will teach lessons that most of us learn in sterile settings bringing new life as they are lived.