Breaking up the old Sidewalk
David wearing the Blue Tennis Shoes
David and Felix
Mixing the Cement
Felix smoothing the final section
The finished sidewalk
If you have read the other journal articles about Cuba, then you know by now that an average person earns $20-$25 dollars a month. Obtaining shoes is difficult in Cuba. Last year’s Adidas or Nikes go for around $120 dollars. New Balance or Converse sell for $80--$90. Leather, Italian, or Brazilian shoes go for $50-$130. Imagine saving ALL your money for four months so you can buy some new shoes…if you can find them. Handmade “economy” shoes sell for $12-$40 dollars. Typically the soles peel off in a few months, and the color washes out in the first rain.
Repairing shoes has become a widespread cottage industry. It is said that shoes have more lives than a cat! One cobbler said, “I’ve fixed shoes which their owners thought were lost cases. Poor people, which is the majority, try to have their shoes last, at minimum, 8 or more years—when their kids outgrow their shoes. I have yet to figure out a way to make them bigger.”
A Second Life
Before leaving for Cuba, our youngest son gave me an old pair of running shoes. They fit, and I needed some for the trip. It was their second life. I worked in them all week. Several days we poured concrete. The way I do concrete, there’s no way for me to avoid getting the stuff all over my shoes. It usually trashes them. So on Friday, I was surprised when they washed clean—I mean, no stains or clinging cement clumps!
All week I had been working with Felix. He was a young, tall, handsome, “ripped” (well built), soft-spoken Cuban who always seemed to have a smile. He lived close enough to walk to the church, and he oversaw the sidewalk project. On the last day of our trip, after finishing the mixing and pouring of 125 feet of sidewalk, that’s when I washed off the shoes for the second time. I walked over to Felix, and asked his shoe size. He said 8 and ¾. I looked at his feet and gave him a bewildered look. He did not have tiny feet! So, I showed him the tag on the inside of the tongue, and he pointed to the 28.75 and said, “Yes.”
Without thinking twice, I handed him the shoes—now entering their third life. He received them gracefully. I went back to the camp barefoot. Right now I think my feet are pretty cool. Not because I gave my shoes to Felix, but because of what God thinks about that sort of thing. In Isaiah , 52:7 it says, “How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”
I never thought that Felix walking in my son’s shoes would make my feet rare jewels in this world, but that’s how God sees it, and this world could use more beautiful feet! So, how do your feet want to walk the mountain and become beautiful? It’s a great question to ask God.