In addition to providing stateside support for Pastor Carlos' work, we have a newly-established tradition of making annual trips to Nicaragua. Being in community with Carlos and his team strengthens our ties with them. Together, alongside our Nicaraguan friends, we are working to provide support for the families with disabled children we call the "Mercy Kids."
In the following blog post, Abi Murphy tells the story of washing the feet of the mothers of Mercy Kids.
This spring, a team of eleven of us headed down to Nicaragua to serve in Pastor Carlos' amazing ministry. The impact this trip has had on my own heart is beyond description and the friends I made down there are ones I will never forget.
During our trip, I experienced so many different cultural things. Traffic jams here in America are cars piled up in the city. In Nicaragua? Cows, horses, and a chicken. My 6 AM wake up call came from a rooster, not an alarm clock. My meals involved beans and rice, no matter if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
But the most interesting,, memorable, and heart-filling thing I did while in Nicaragua was wash the feet of the mothers of the Mercy children. When our group's leader Mary asked us how we would feel about humbling ourselves, doing as Jesus did to others, I felt perfectly comfortable with it right then and there. I was honestly looking forward to it. I'm up for trying new things and washing feet seemed like an amazing opportunity to share God's grace in an amazing way.
Soon, the day arrived.
We went to go to the first group of Mercy children and their moms and Mary asked them if we could honor the moms, come before them, and serve them by humbly washing their feet as a treat for them. I watched some of their faces: some showed no expression when asked, others looked confused, and others seemed a little intrigued.
We led the moms into a separate room away from their children and asked them to take a seat. We had soap, hot water, lotion, a scrub for their heel, and our hands just as they were.
I remember kneeling before the kind mother of one of the Mercy Kids and just looking into her eyes. My first thought was, "Lady, this is as weird for you as it is for me." She seemed to feel the same way and I would have reacted the same way if I were in her shoes.
You could see it in her eyes. She had no idea what was going to happen and neither did I. I can guarantee neither of us had been through something like this before. I've never had a foot massage, nor have I given one. I've never washed feet and I'm sure she's never had someone wash hers.
I speak very little spanish and I looked up at her, said "Como esta?"
"Bien," she responded.
And that was the end our conversation. But as I began to clean her feet, I saw her smile light up and felt her foot relax. The awkward tension between us slowly disappeared. I would occasionally look up at her and she would give me a warm smile. She would look at the moms around her and they would laugh and talk. It was like our own little spa. It was a room where we could take the stress from the moms and give them a break. We could help them relax and feel blessed. We could show them that they are worth something and that we are here because God cares for them more than we could ever show.
Sometimes their feet smelled. Other times, they were covered in cuts and dirt. As I knelt before them, I thought that Jesus, the son of God – the one who shed His blood for me, for her, and for Mercy kids – did this. If a man so great could bring himself to such a low point to be as a servant to those who have so little, then so could I.
As I washed her feet I constantly reminded myself that this was not for me. It was for her. She stays up night after night to care for her child. She spends day after day never leaving her child's side. She cares for her little baby boy or girl even when her husband walks out. She supports her family as best she can even when little to no money comes to them. She has stress, fear, and she deserves this. I did this for her.
I remember clearly that, as I began to rub each mother's foot, started to scrub her heel and massage her ankles, she would lean her head back and smile. She would begin to relax. Sometimes at first when I would try to move the foot in and out of the water, her leg would tense up. Or she would look at me, confused. I knew she couldn't understand me but I would try to indicate to her what I was doing. It was a new experience for the both of us.
Mary sat next to me and I remember looking at her and saying, "Wouldn't it be funny if I came home and decided to become a masseuse?" We laughed about how good of a story that would be if someone were to ask why I went into that job profession. I could tell them I found my passion washing the feet of some of the strongest, kindest, and most determined women in Nicaragua.
Although I could say very little to the women, seeing their faces made me believe one thing overall: love needs no translation.
I truly learned that saying over and over again. The impact that Pastor Carlos, Mary, and everyone I went on the trip had on me was beyond words. We had many ups and downs. We cried, laughed, and got so tired we could barely function but we did our best because we knew it wasn't for our own hearts that we were doing this but for the hearts of His people.