This evening as I scrubbed the dirt from the day’s journey from my feet, I had a new appreciation for my rediscovered gleaming nails and clean cuticles. I began to see with new eyes the hospitality of footwashing in ancient culture. Footwashing is not just thoughtful and not simply hygienic; it’s an enormous relief and luxury to see the dirt washed away. I can only imagine entering the home of a friend after a long day’s journey, feet caked with dirt. But to be given a basin of water, to feel cool water wash over one’s feet – ahh, the sweet rejuvenation. My feet are beautiful for tonight… until the journey begins again tomorrow.
Early yesterday morning we discovered that the reason we had not had water for 24 hours was because someone had jumped the fence into our yard and taken the spicket from the waterline, effectively cutting off all water to the house. It was especially painful to wake in the morning with dusty bodies and dirty hair from the 12 hour journey the day before to realize we still had no water and would not have some until we could get a plumber to the house.
When we discovered the source of the problem, Jeff insisted on heating the stored water we had to wash my hair. As I knelt at the tub and felt the warm water wash over my head, I felt a new wave of love for Jeff. When he finished, I washed his hair and Claire Marin’s.
Although I appreciated the cleanliness, the beauty is in this simple and intimate act of kindness. These are the moments I cherish.
But the most beautiful moment since we have arrived happened yesterday afternoon at Tiwasonge Community where 70 persons with HIV/AIDS support and care for one another and others in the community when their families can’t or won’t.
After we learned the history and vision of the community, several members enacted a drama to demonstrate a home visit to a person bedridden with HIV/AIDS. I was immediately drawn in, rapt by this unparalleled display of respect, humility and concern. After receiving permission from the ailing woman’s parents, the caregivers knelt beside her to introduce themselves and explain that, if she was willing, they were there to bathe her. When she consented, they gently placed a plastic sheet under her in order to keep her bedding from getting wet and placed a cover over her that was never lifted. Before each act, they gently asked her permission washing her face and hair first, then her arms and legs, and her bedsores. They reached under the blanket, never seeing the woman’s body or violating her privacy. They personified compassion.
This simple bath was the most beautiful act I have witnessed. The Tiwasunge community steps into homes and lives where few will go. Sick and struggling themselves, they seek out those who need their sympathy and care. A mere drama, the actors showed us an intimate example of the healing work of God. Nowhere have I seen the beauty of Christ as I did at Tiwasunge.