When I arrived at my little flat in Lilongwe, Malawi as a new missionary with new shoes and a fresh-out-of-the-MTC-let’s-get-to-work attitude, I curiously peered down at the rugged, hole-strewn shoes of the more experienced sisters and thought my shoes would never get to that point. I thought perhaps I was impervious to wear or I came a bit more prepared with the sturdiest shoes available.
As I got to know some of the missionaries in my district and zone I found that though many older missionaries were still zealous about the work after 15-23 months of service, some missionaries’ excitement level was directly connected to the wear of their shoes. Along with their rubber soles wearing thinner and thinner it seemed their souls were also getting tired. But in my bright-eyed, fresh missionary outlook, I thought it would never happen to me. I came a bit more prepared.
Many months have passed since I hugged my trainer that first night in Lilongwe and just recently I began to find holes and tears and wear in all of my shoes. Even my socks have turned to rags. My current area of Blantyre, Malawi is a rather mountainous city and with the combination of elapsed time and hiking miles a day to investigators’ houses, I find myself wondering if my shoes will last me the duration of my mission.
It has gotten to the point that even the cobbler who brings his stool and sits on a corner in our area every day knows me by name. To be candid, there’s something satisfying about working a pair of shoes right off your feet, but it’s disconcerting to find that along with faded shoes walking out the gate in the morning is a faded excitement about the work.