In the whirlwind of humanitarian aid, it usually feels like we’re moving from one crisis to another. Sometimes the need seems so dire, and we race from one project to the next in the hope of providing support and bringing comfort to people in desperate circumstances. However, it’s also important for us to look back and reflect on the goodness of God and the people he uses to accomplish his work.

In that spirit, I want to extend such a deeply grateful thank you to everyone who partnered with Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls® and gathered shoes for children in Guatemala. At the beginning of the year, filling a 5,000 shoe shortage seemed like an insurmountable task, but we had so many people respond to this need by hosting shoe drives, donating online and also praying for God to meet this need. At the beginning of April, all 5,000 pairs of shoes needed for children in Guatemala were shipped out. They will be received by our staff in Guatemala later this month and distributed to children who need them to attend classes this year.

It’s even more personal for me, as I met many of these children on a shoe delivery trip to Guatemala last summer. I remember how shy they were at first and how their sweet faces lit up as we played games and enjoyed spending time together. I also saw how proud they were to trade their old, worn, ill-fitting shoes for a brand new pair, selected just for them. What a privilege it was to be able to tell them, “Someone in the U.S. bought these especially for you!” and to see them march off with confidence, not only in their new sneakers but also in the knowledge they are seen and loved.

So often poverty isn’t just material. There is also a poverty of spirit in being forgotten or feeling helpless in your circumstances. A pair of shoes isn’t going to immediately fix everything in a child’s life, but the hope that is conveyed there can be an important step to wholeness. We know the work we do isn’t going to eliminate material poverty overnight, but I believe the relationships we form do have the ability to alleviate the poverty of spirit, both for us and the children we serve.

So, all I can say is thank you, even though it doesn’t seem adequate. Thank you for rallying and collecting shoes. Thank you for caring for orphans and vulnerable children, and thank you for working with us to shine hope into the lives of children in Guatemala. One small pair of shoes may not seem like much, but to a child who needs to know they are seen and loved, it can mean everything. Thank you for providing that for thousands of children this year in Guatemala.

—Rachel Wallis, director of Shoes for Orphan Souls

We would love for you to join Buckner in delivering shoes in Guatemala or other countries we serve. For more information, please visit buckner.org/missions.

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