The Shoe Story

I think my first memory involving Africa is hearing my mom tell me to clean my plate because there were starving children in Africa. I didn’t really know where that place was but I knew for sure I didn’t want to go there. Our church sponsored missionaries to Africa and I remember sitting on a folding chair in our church basement listening to Marilyn Newman tell some rather disturbing stories involving tribal ceremonies and the blood of animals. This totally reinforced my earlier childhood decision never to go to such a place.

 

By the time I reached the 6th grade I was fairly certain that I would go to Switzerland one day but Africa was not on my radar. Imagine how thrilled I was to learn that Miss Stielstra, our new teacher had just come back from Africa.  The best part about her, in my opinion back then, was that she was easily distracted because she liked to talk about Africa. Whenever we wanted to get her away from a boring topic such as math, someone would ask her to tell us about Africa and she never disappointed.

 

One story she told us was about a very curious little African girl who seemed to be in awe of Miss Stielstra’s shoes. Miss Stielstra always wore sensible, black or navy low-heeled pumps. Apparently this little African girl had never seen anything like those pumps. Well, one day, Miss Stielstra happened to remove her shoes when she was with this little girl and the girl had gasped in surprise when seeing Miss Stielstra’s feet! Turns out that all this time she had imagined that Miss Stielstra had 6 toes on each foot instead of 5! She thought that the “heel” was designed for that other mysterious toe. Oh, did we all laugh and laugh at that shoe story! But when Miss Stielstra said she let the little girl try on her shoes… something transformed inside of me.

 

For the first time in my life I could picture myself doing exactly the same thing as that little African girl.  And just maybe, one day I would go there.

 

Thank you so very much, Miss Stielstra. I remember all your stories.

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  • The Shoe Story
    I think my first memory involving Africa is hearing my mom tell me to clean my plate because there were starving children in Africa. I...
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