Now I am not referring to the shortest book of the Old Testament, and who but biblical scholars even knows where it is? True Obadiah was a prophet and I had to go to the index to find his short little book. (Between Amos and Jonah if you are interested) Old Testament is actually a pretty good read.

But this Obadiah is not the prophet. He is a beggar who came to our house nearly every day. He looks worse this year than last and Sandy doesn’t think he will last much longer.

Remember, we were there in the dry season – they don’t have winter, spring, summer and fall. They have the rainy season and the dry season. In the dry season it is quite cool in the mornings and evenings and warm, even hot during midday.

Obadiah comes in the afternoon and I’ve never seen him in anything but a ragged wool overcoat, torn trousers, barefooted and with a stick and a filthy old bag. We gave what we had – a chunk of bread, a baggie of cooked rice, an egg, tomato and once I gave him some Knorr’s dry soup that had been left in our cupboard and of course he hadn’t a clue what to do with it. We tried to make him understand to mix it with water but I’m not sure he ever “got it.” Somehow, he knew my name for he would say “Tally” but Jessie and I both went to the door and both found scraps for him. Maybe he just couldn’t say Jessie. In all truth I confess that some days when we were busy at the computers or trying to take a little rest we would say to each other: “Oh, no it’s Shamba (his other name which I don’t get because Shamba means farm). There were times when we just wanted him to go away. It’s not easy to look at beggars. We are not saints, at least I am not, maybe Jessie is. But he would sit patiently on our porch muttering in Kiswahili, waiting us out and we would finally give up and look for something to share.

Obadiah/Shamba is also an alcoholic and it could well be that he sold whatever we gave him. Several times he would offer us a dirty, broken-down sandal (he only had one) and I couldn’t bring myself to even touch it.

Something happend on our last day though that humbled me and pierced my soul. I saw the image of a Christ-like figure and I hope this doesn’t embarrass Jessie. We had laid aside the clothes and towels that we were leaving behind including our athletic shoes. With the heart of Jesus, Jessie suddenly asked me: “Do you think Shamba could wear my shoes?” And with that she went back into the house and came out with her dirty running shoes. Now Shamba has a deformed hand but he sat down in the dust grinning his toothless grin to try to get them on. With that withered hand there was no way he could wrestle his feet into them, and then I watched my beautiful sister/friend bend down and force his filthy feet into her shoes. She did exactly what Jesus would have done ~ she touched a “leper.” Although I filmed it, it is a scene that is engraved on my brain and in my heart. I’ll NEVER forget it. I learned a lesson from Jessie at that moment. Those beautiful artistic hands that become poetic when she paints became the hands of Jesus forcing Obadiah’s feet into her shoes – feet that haven’t seen soap and water in heaven knows how long, if ever.

Maybe Obadiah/Shamba was a prophet after all for me. Everyone is sacred and should be looked upon with wonder and awe ~ everyone needs a “leg-up” or shoes put upon their tired feet even a filthy beggar. Maybe now, “all God’s children got shoes,” and Shamba didn’t have to wait to get to heaven to get his. Thank you Jessie, for opening my eyes.

You may have to wait for Anna Franklin Smith to post the pictures of this scene. Jessie may be a saint but sometimes even saints are stymied by technology.

Jessie is the sister of my choice ~ sisters examine each other so they can have a map for how they should behave.

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