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Trading Shoes: A REACH Update

By Katie, Team Ecuador

Katie and her team served at a foundation in Manta, Ecuador, helping to care for neglected and at-risk children and teens.


One day during rest time I was hanging out with some of the older girls in their room. I was sitting on a bed with my shoes off as we talked. Next thing I knew one of the girls put my shoes on and gave me hers. She wanted to trade. I was hesitant at first because she was giving me her new thick rubber flip-flops, while in return I had old flip-flops – so worn out that I felt barefoot in them. I knew I was getting the better end of the deal, so I tried talking her out of it – she couldn’t be convinced. She didn’t care that I was getting the better shoes, that’s what she wanted. I was certain that she’d want to trade back after she realized how truly worn out my sandals were. But no, she said she wanted to keep them.

I often look down at the shoes that were once hers and wonder about the life she’s had. What was her family like? Who was she friends with? When did she first hear about our Lord? What pains, fears, and joys make her who she is now? It makes me step back and love her in a whole new light. There is so much I don’t know about her and probably never will, but I can choose to love her as if I know every detail.

“So I will choose it, and see people not through my eyes or from my own shoes, but step into their shoes and love them how they need it.”At a study our team attended weekly, the leader asked us, “Is love an emotion or something you choose?” I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Yes, love is an emotion, but just as all other emotions, it fades. Not one emotion is in our lives constantly. But I want to live a life that is consistently loving, endlessly, even when I’m worn out. So I will choose it, and see people not through my eyes or from my own shoes, but step into their shoes and love them how they need it.

Our entire lives, all of our relationships, are based on us choosing to love. Not just hoping it comes or having it in a moment, but to CHOOSE it. When a kid is disobeying, do I respond with anger or love? When it’s 90 degrees and a kid wants to be held, do I respond with annoyance or love? When my shift is over but I’m asked to help a bit more, do I respond with selfishness or love? Love should become our routine play, not just something we go to when the game changes. Love, love, love, and choose to do it well.


Pray for Team Ecuador and the rest of the REACH teams as they are finished with outreach and adjusting back to life at home. Pray for smooth transitions and for the strength to choose love in every situation.