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A Pair of Shoes

January 6, 2011

A few days ago my wife, Noit, was at the market and her eyes spotted a pair of shoes.  These were no ordinary shoes, though they looked cheap.  It brought back a flood of memories.  In 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia my wife was only 11 years old.  The Khmer Rouge destroyed the whole country and forced everyone to work as their slaves.  They made them wear black clothes and if a person wore shoes they had to be made out of left over car tires.  For 4 years my wife wore her own homemade Khmer Rouge sandals.  They never wear out, but sometimes the straps break.  They are immensely uncomfortable and were so heavy, so it was easier to walk barefooted on long marches.

After surviving the Khmer Rouge, everyone discarded their sandals as soon as possible to rid themselves of the memory of the past genocide.  It brought back too many bad memories.  For years my wife only had one shirt, one pair of pants and one pair of Khmer Rouge sandals.

Khmer Rouge Sandals

Tomorrow marks the 32nd year of the liberation from the Khmer Rouge.  The Cambodian government counted 3.1 million people killed or died of starvation under the Khmer Rouge.  It was a horrible time in Cambodia.

Today, 32 years later, is a new day.  The pain of the past is distant, but the desire to make a difference in a new generation of Cambodians has not faded.  Currently Noit is helping to raise 125 children here in Cambodia through Imparting Smiles.  Each year Noit buys the kids new shoes; every year!  In fact, she probably buys 500 pairs of shoes a year for those kids.  None of them are black and none of them are made from old car tires!

Kids shoes: a beautiful sight!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011 9:40 pm

    Oh Steve~
    I am sitting here, weeping. Your wife is precious as well as your family.
    The sweet spirit that shows through your everyday life is wonderful to experience even through your written words!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Monica :)

  2. January 6, 2011 10:08 pm

    Steve , that is a very touching story. I was a member of Immanuel Baptist in Cedar Rapids for a few months from 97 to 99 and feel like i know you from the members there. I admire you and your committment to God. Tell Noir that i love shoes. I was very poor as a child and went barefoot much of the time and still do when i am at home. Needless to say i have lots of shoes now.

  3. Bruce Thompson permalink
    January 7, 2011 12:32 am

    Steve, Isn’t it great how our GOD provides our partners. Noit is a special person and because of her you are a better person. See you soon

  4. Sandy Westervelt permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:04 am

    Thank you Steve for sharing with us a little more of Noit’s life story. I will never forget our drive from Phnom penh to Poipet as you shared how Noit survived the Khmer Rouge. She is a beautiful picture of how the Lord has redeemed her life. Her smile and joy gives no hint of her past.

    Love the comparison of the horrible black tire shoes vs the bright colorful shoes Noit buys for the children!!

    Sandy W.

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