You would think the life of a running shoe would be boring and I must confess I have a few friends who have spent their lifetime stuffed away in the back of a closet under a pile of other shoes, but boy do I have a story to tell. I started out like most tennis shoes in a factory in China molded and sewn together by the nimble fingers of a Chinese craftsman who turns out dozens and dozens just like me day after day. Once the last stitch was in place and my shoe laces traced my smile and I found myself nestled in a box, I was off on a great adventure…at least I hoped so.
Like most running shoes I found myself soon aboard ship heading for the good old USA. I am a size 6 so I hoped and prayed I would find myself in New York City or Los Angeles on the growing foot of an aspiring athlete. I could envision endless games of soccer in lush grass or running through Central Park nestled under the skyscrapers of Manhattan.
Of course I had little to say about that, my main objective was to survive the nearly month at sea trying to avoid being seasick or lost overboard. Once we arrived in port just outside of Houston, Texas, I realized quickly I was going to need to get used to the heat and humidity. I had heard horror stories about the impact of heat and sweat on socks and shoes.
I waited in a warehouse for what seem like eternity until I was loaded on a truck and shipped to the border of Texas and Mexico to a city called El Paso. Being from China I knew little about living on the border, but when I was placed on the shelf for display I smiled at every little boy who passed by hoping he would choose me to be his own, and that we could share the adventure together.
My wait was longer than I expected until a big red sale sticker was placed on my box. I must confess I was a bit embarrassed to consider myself a “sale item.” To make matters worse, instead of a young boy trying me on and picking me out. I found myself dropped in a shopping cart by an old man. He had to be in his 50’s. I knew immediately I was not his size, and besides he must have bought at least five or six pairs of shoes.
The sales clerk rang me up. Soon I was loaded me in a big bag. On the drive I hoped the old man had a grandson, but sadly when we arrived in the house there were no children there, just a couple of dogs who looked longingly at me.
The old man ripped me out of the comfort of my box. Tied my laces together, and put me back into the sales bag. I waited in limbo for a couple of days along with several other pairs of shoes, and we were all confused at the prospects of our future.
On Sunday, the old man loaded us and took us to church of all places. I heard about being “saved” but this was a bit strange for a shoe from China. To our surprise, the old man placed us in a corral at the end of a great hall under a big sign reading “Shoes for Orphan Souls.” I thought to myself, what in the world does that mean and where in the world am I going.
A few days later I was lovingly placed in a box with dozens and dozens of other shoes and we took off by truck to Dallas. I arrived at a warehouse with Buckner’s on the outside. From there I took my first flight. Yes, I flew by jet to Africa landing in Nairobi. We were driven to an orphanage filled with little bare-foot boys and girls. A volunteer took me out of the box and knelt down in front of a little six year boy who had just slipped on a new pair of socks. Then with a big smile on my face, the volunteer slipped me onto his little foot. I was the first pair of shoes he had ever worn. We ran, jumped, and danced together. We went everywhere together. We went to school, and to church. I need not worry about being lost in a closet. We are inseparable.
Who would have known a running shoe could change someone’s life! Don’t forget to bring tennis shoes for our “Shoes for Orphan Souls” drive. Boys and girls around the world are counting on us.