The Immersion

muddied feet were bare
river Crossed on stepping stones 
she waited on me.

My friend Chip just recently returned from a remote village in Haiti.
He and his daughter (and about 17 others) spent a week sleeping on cots in a cinder block building.
Every morning they would pack up and clear the area to make way for their makeshift clinic.

When I was growing up in the Philippines I knew some people that really immersed themselves in the lives of people they wanted to help.
They believed immersion to be a necessary step for helping impoverished areas.
They found it more effective to  first build relationships with a community by living with them and then working side by side to improve a situation.
When Chip described their accommodations in Haiti, I got reminded of this word: immersion.

Chip told me a story about how one hot afternoon he and his group were walking from one village to another, through the heat and harsh terrain.
Not an easy trek, their varied capabilities ambled on a couple of miles.
Tired, thirsty and deliriously sticky they came to a muddy river crossing.
They removed their shoes to cross over.
One of the local villagers walking with them waded into the waters beside the rocks they were on.
Tucking her long flowing skirt into her waist band, she gestured and spoke Creole-French and beckoned each one to her so that she could wash their muddy feet before making it to the other side.
I asked Chip if it was possible to have declined the foot wash? (I was imagining Steve in this situation, wondering what Steve's options would have been.)
Chip said,  "She compelled you."
This woman did her own immersion.
It was such a humbling act of love and service--
As I listened to this story I could not help but think of how symbolic and Christ-like this woman's actions were. (John 13:14)
I was awed.
As they were giving, they were given.
They experienced church,
in the river crossing somewhere in between two remote villages in Haiti.