One of the fundraising events I mentioned in my last post was a Christmas Blues concert. During the intermission between the opening and featured performers, I shared about the shoe project I was doing in Uganda and the opportunities available for people to help. I included an invitation to join me on my next trip the following month. A man named Mike cornered me at the end of the concert and told me how much he appreciated the work I was doing. I’ll never forget his next words. He said, “I can’t go with you next month because I am having knee replacement surgery, but I’m retiring in the Spring, and I will go with you next January.”
Because I have had dozens of people make the same pledge, I simply smiled and laughed. “No, I’m serious,” he said. “Something inside of me is telling me I am supposed to go with you. Give me your card, and I’ll be in touch next year.” I exchanged my card for a donation and soon forgot about the encounter.
As promised, Mike contacted me the following summer to let me know he was ready to book his travel to Uganda and begin raising money for shoes. Over the next five months, Mike and I raised enough money to purchase and deliver 1000 pairs of shoes. This was by far the largest single delivery of shoes I had ever made.
The morning after our arrival, we loaded up several vehicles with shoes and began the five-hour journey to Mbale in northeastern Uganda. About two hours into the trip one of the vans started to overheat, and we were forced to pull over in a remote area. Oft in the distance we could see the Minaret for a local mosque. We went there in search of the water we needed to cool our van. We were met by the Imam and his family who were gracious enough to help us. While we were waiting for the engine to cool, Mike complemented the Imam on his beautiful family and asked why his children were not in school. He told us that his oldest was in school, but the other four would have to wait their turn to go to school since they had only one pair of school shoes. When the oldest grew out of the shoes, the next child would be able to attend.
I looked at Mike, smiled, and told the Imam that we would be honored to help him with that problem. We were able to fit all four of his children with shoes so they could attend a school that very semester.