Grandpa’s Shoes

One special memory and experience on this trip was during our second home build day. We arrived at a hillside and saw the “goat path” trail that led up a steep hill with our building site at the top. This trail reminded us of Matthew 7:14. But the pathway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

This home was for a widowed mother, Estella, and her 3 children. Also at this home site were Estella’s parents in a small home. Ironically, I said it should be a light day with only 1 house build on the schedule. Boy was I wrong! The elevation and the grade both made for an exhausting start of the day. We proceeded to carry all the building materials up the steep grade to the top. It took many, many trips. I was preparing to carry my last load of five sheets of tin that I carried on my back. I was taking a minute to catch my breath before climbing when I heard an old man talking to me in Spanish. He was grabbing for a few sheets of my tin. I figured it was a local wanting to help out to make a few Quetzales. I was looking down when he spoke and the first thing I saw was his feet.

He was the father of Estella. He was so excited to help with the new home for his widowed daughter. He was probably 65, but looked 85 from the hard life he had led. His feet truly told the story. The project progressed quickly. Grandpa, as we referred to him, was so excited and happy to help in any way possible. At one point John gave him a pair of gloves. He accepted the gift happily, but it was almost comical. He had absolutely no idea how to put the gloves on. We realized he probably had never owned a pair of gloves. Wow! Once he had them on, he looked like he had won the lottery! I recall throughout the work, I kept looking at his feet. They were so weathered, in his makeshift flip flops. The shoes were several sizes too small for his feet. We broke for a lunch of ham sandwiches, chips and my favorite Guatemalan cookies…CHIKYS! (love those things!)

After lunch, I wanted a photo with Grandpa. We stood by the woodpile, a great backdrop. In typical Guatemalan fashion, Grandpa would not smile. I had my arm around him for additional photos. So as my wife took another photo, I tickled his ribs. He busted out laughing! I can probably guarantee you Abuelo had never had an American tickle him! The project wrapped up, we dedicated the new home and prayed for the family and we were preparing to leave.

God then laid it on us to get Grandpa some shoes but we realized that through the week we had given out all the shoes we had brought. Prior to the trip, my daughter Taylor had bought a new pair of tennis shoes with the intent of giving them away to someone. With this being near the end of the trip, Taylor had resigned herself to the fact that she was probably not going to find a girl who could fit into her size 9’s. But guess which team member’s shoes were the perfect fit for Grandpa Taylor’s! The look on Grandpa’s face was priceless when he tried them on and they fit perfectly! We then had Chris of BMI explain to Abuelo Noe that if he would follow us down the trail to the van, we would give him the shoes and Taylor would return to the hotel barefoot. He was happy to oblige. It was extremely touching to watch as Taylor removed her bright blue FILA shoes from her feet and stand in her socks on the road as she fit Grandpa with his new shoes. It was a beautiful gesture that I will never forget! It reminded me of the humble act of the washing of feet in the Bible!

Grandpa’s shoes were homemade. The soles were from an old pair of tennis shoes and the strap part of the flip-flops were made from car innertubes. Note in the photo the heels of the shoes… or lack thereof! There was a hole in both shoes that a golf ball could pass through! When asked, Grandpa said he had worn these shoes for 10 years! What a selfless guy. When he needed new shoes, he opted to just keep his old ones and use the money for food for the family!

Submitted by Rick Fulton

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *