African Sandal

I have two pair of African sandals.

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One is black leather with black and white beads.  One is brown leather with earth tone beads.

I love them.

I’ve recently noticed that my brown pair is not doing so well.  One was fitting very loosely.

This morning as I walked to work, with my brown sandals on, I passed a group of boda men (motorcycle taxi drivers).  One of them tried to greet me by yelling Kyomuhendo! (cho-mu-hen-do)  I corrected him by saying my name is Kyomuhangi. (cho-mu-han-gee)  They laughed among themselves as I continued on my way.

While walking, I could tell that my right sandal was on it’s way out, but I was able to make it to work.

As I sat in our first session of the day, I analyzed the sandal, and noticed that the strap was pulling out of the sole on one side.

After teaching a class, I realized that I needed to go home and get my camera for some work I needed to do and other activities in the afternoon.

I was not even halfway home when my strap broke–it came out of the sole completely.  I tried limping along with it for a few steps.  Finally I just picked it up and walked the rest of the way with one bare foot.

As I approached that boda stage (where they usually wait for customers), I overhead a few men sitting around and playing pool.  Without realizing I was coming, someone was sharing the story of what had happened when I had walked past a few hours before.  I heard them saying both Kyomuhendo and Kyomuhangi.  I called out to them, you are talking about me!  They turned, laughed, and greeted me, with the correct name this time.  I’m sure they noticed by broken sandal in my hand, which will only extend the story for the next audience.

I continued walking, being mindful of where my bare foot was stepping.

I was almost home when two people noticed me.  Without knowing English, they called me over.  A girl, maybe around 18 years old or so, was sitting on a bench with a boy who is probably about 16.  Shoes were scattered on the ground.

Do you want to fix my shoe?

I handed over my sandal.  Within two minutes the teenager had used his tools to cut the leather, fix in the strap, and sew it back together.  He handed my shoe back to me and got to work on another one in his pile.

I thanked them, and walked the rest of the way home with my new sandal fitting even better than the left one.

I grabbed my camera from my house, and a little money.

As I passed by on my way back to work, I took a little detour to chat with my new cobbler friend.  Well, chatting is limited with our language barriers.  Anyway, I thanked him and gave him 1,000 Ugandan shillings.  That’s about 40 cents…and I overpaid.  I’m sure he wasn’t expecting anything, but since I was already hoping to pay someone to fix it today, and I really appreciated that they noticed my need and so willingly called me over and insisted that they should help me by fixing my sandal, I figured I should give him a little something.

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Now, as I type this I’m feeling convicted…a conviction I didn’t even intend to include when I first started this post.

Often, maybe even daily, I see people who obviously have a need–the biggest one being the need for Jesus in their lives.  But am I so ready to call someone over?  To insist that I can help them by sharing Jesus with them?

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  I Peter 3:15

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