Yesterday morning we left our Nicaraguan friends in Nawawas and drove back to Managua. The drive was very long and hot. We did stop at a school along the road and visit with the kids there for a little while, which was fun, but the other truck had a flat tire and we had to drive very carefully after that to make sure the spare didn't get blown, too. Today we spent the day shopping and just enjoying our last day here. I got to experience a couple more new things today, both really cool and sort of related.
This morning we visited a pottery shop where they let a few of us try our hand at the pottery wheel (pun completely intended). It was a lot harder than it looked, and in the end I had a somewhat decent looking pot with a strange pattern on the inside and a wobbly looking rim. Another girl did a great job but accidentally cut the bottom out of hers. After this we looked around in the store and bought some pottery to take home with etched and painted animals, plants, fruits, and other things Central American. I think we appreciated the art so much more having tried to do it ourselves, and also knowing that it takes up to three months for them to make each piece. I paid about $11 for a beautiful serving bowl, knowing that it didn't happen overnight, but with the patient, skillful work of a master potter.
Then came the most humbling experience, and at the same time the most uplifting, of my life. After dinner tonight, Loren and the boys directed the ladies outside to the patio, where they had a circle of chairs waiting. We took our seats and read aloud from Isaiah 53 while the guys proceeded with my first "foot washing" experience, with Karen playing piano and singing from inside the house. First they put an unfinished, ugly pot in the center of the circle and smashed it with a baseball bat. "...he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him... but he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities..." We were each given a small painted jar filled with oil, and one by one they washed our feet. "...with his stripes we are healed... we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all..." Each foot was then bathed in oil and each person prayed for. "...he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors..." It was at this point that I began to weep. My throat had clenched at the sight of the shattered pot, knowing that my Savior's death was so much more violent. My eyes had filled with tears as Loren washed my feet, knowing that they were so dirty and that my heart was even filthier when my Savior gave Himself for my cleansing. But when he began to pray, to intercede for me, I almost thought I heard the voice of my Savior pleading before the Father for me. This man who knows me only from two short trips, who has no way of knowing what is going on inside of me, prayed for the exact things that have been heavy on my heart. In the midst of his prayer I heard my Father whispering to me, "Don't worry, child. I know your needs. I care for you. I hear you." I believe that when the heart is heavy, it is full of tears that need to be released, of things that need to be given over to God. So tonight in a metal folding chair, as I soaked my skirt with catharsis, my heart lost a few pounds.
It was an ironic gesture for the men to wash the women's feet (aka "serve us"), since we all know they have worked the hardest in so many ways this week. Sometimes I have to be reminded that there is a very godly and tender side of these goofy guys (and men through and through) who are my friends. But more than that, I saw how God knows and covers every part of my life. He hears me when I cry out to Him, and even when I don't. He can guide the prayers of others who barely know me, and He listens. Christ intercedes for me in groans deeper than words. He was my Savior on the cross, He was my Savior when I gave my life to Him, and He is my Savior every day.
Sometimes I need to be reminded that the Savior of Nicaragua and of the nations is also the Savior of me.