So this is my friend Keyasha in the foreground, who spent a day rockin' the foot scrubbing and massaging with me on the street in La Carpio. The team was to spend the day painting the room that we use for our Jobs for Life classes, but I figured the guys had a handle on that and us girls could bless the women happening by with free spa pedicures. We were also joined by April and Rebecca, not shown in this picture. We slapped a sign on the gate, "Free Spa Pedicures -- Today Only!" and started to get some incredulous looks and "Really?"s before we had our first "customer" within 2 minutes.
I have done many different things to serve in La Carpio to date, but few things I have seen open up the door to women's hearts like washing their feet and leaving them soft(er) and pretty with toenail polish. Why? Jesus was definitely onto something, and I think if his disciples had been women, he would have given them full pedis, too, instead of just washing their feet. I can just hear him now: "What color polish would you like, Mary? Perfect -- Aphrodite's Pink Nightie it is!"
My theory about why a pedi is so meaningful is this: women living in poverty have it ROUGH, and they spend their whole lives caring for OTHERS, frequently with no one who cares for THEM. Their feet are particularly abused... they spend their days in flip flops, towing kids around on their hips, cleaning their house, cleaning others' houses, and walking everywhere they need to get to. Yet, God has placed something in every woman that seeks to be beautiful. Here are some of the stories of the approximately 20 women we served that day:
None of these precious women have time or money to care for themselves, or spoil themselves with a little pampering. I am continually challenged about how easy it is for me to do these things, or think that I "deserve" them after some hardship or difficulty. A pedicure is a rare opportunity to focus attention on a woman and humbly serve her in a practical way. The smallest act of love, sacrificially given, awakens something in her. And the reversal of an erroneous, but assumed, superiority or power position (North American=rich and powerful, her=not), makes her feel valued and esteemed.
It also happens to be great advertising for giveDIGNITY. More than a few times, the women wanted to know what kinds of programs we offered and how to sign up for them. It starts relationships that get folks into our Jobs for Life program, bible studies, our early childhood intervention program (starting this month!), or our future scholarship program. And it's an opportunity to encourage others and share the gospel.
As we talked and joked and shared, a sense of community grew as more and more women gathered 'round to see what was going on. Guys walking by joked about whether they could get a pedicure, too, and the women gleefully shouted back that it was a service only for women. As we scrubbed, massaged, cut, filed and painted, one gal saw her husband walking home from work and said, "Oops! Here comes my husband -- he'll be wanting his dinner and it's not ready because I've been sitting here getting my nails done instead of cooking at home!" Girlish laughter rang out among us as we enjoyed a rare carefree moment of companionship among those who are frequently weary and heavy-laden.
Thank you for this gift of lightening our burdens, Lord.
Quote of the month
""At the margins is the only place the Church will have credibility."