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Since there are no stores around and no access to shoes, walking barefoot is the only way our tribal friends travel. This may sound romantic to some, but a quick glance at my friends’ feet would quickly make you think otherwise. Most tribal people have broken mangled toes, toenails that are missing, broken or busted, and lots of scars and sores from constantly cutting their unprotected feet. A lifetime of walking barefoot also creates wide feet and a very thick sole, up to over one-fourth inch thick! Unfortunately, the earth is punished and for our dear tribal friends, many days come with thorns and thistles, sickness, and pain.
Although their feet are rough, I am constantly amazed at how they travel over the rugged jungle trails. Walking barefoot allows them to be in touch with the earth and to feel every contour and texture. They can walk down slippery logs, gripping with their toes as they go! And since their thick soles act as cushioning, they can walk across jagged rocks not feeling a thing. Their splayed-out feet give them a wide base for extra traction and firm footing in the slipperiest conditions.
Their bare feet truly are the best footwear possible for this rugged mountain environment and that reminds me that God surely knew what he was doing when he designed the foot.
Over the years, our family has gone barefoot quite a bit. It is a wonderful sensation to feel the cool earth and damp moss of the jungle floor. A barefoot jaunt in the nearby jungle makes me feel connected to the good earth that the Lord has created for us. For my boys, going barefoot is usually the preferred way to travel, and they can get around pretty good.
I guess I am starting to get soft in my older age (or wiser), and after years of busting off toenails, stubbing and cutting my feet, I prefer to just wear flip flops around the village, and shoes if going on a long hike. I know I can attest for my tribal friends when I say that I look forward to the day when the earth will be restored anew with no more pain and suffering, and we can walk barefoot with all the benefits and none of the curse!
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