give shoes, give life. {Rwanda week}

{one of my favorite pictures I have EVER in my life taken}
{photo by Jenn Verme}

It’s memories and stories like this that make my time with my orphan friends so real.

{pic by Alison Holcomb}

{photo by Jenn Verme}

The first day at Noel, as you’ve heard, my friends Justen and Evoriste became quite attached to me.
They were always right by my side and I loved every second.
That morning they had put on a gymnastics show & all had matching jerseys and shoes and then after lunch, I peaked out of where the team was eating and saw Evoriste hobbling around.  At first I thought he had hurt himself in his performance, but then I realized it was just because of his shoes.  He was wearing flimsy flip flop shoes and one of them was torn on the toe causing him to drag his foot along.
You see pictures of this sort of thing, and hear about it but being there and seeing your sweet friend dealing with this problem, you get a sense of urgency to help them.


These boys, who have no mother or father & not many possessions to their name, simply want a good pair of shoes.  You wouldn’t imagine the lack of confidence Evoristes shoes gave him.  I literally could tell that something was wrong.  He sort of walked with his head down.
Often times when you go to orphanages, the kids ask you for things.  They ask you to be their sponsor, they ask for your watch, your bracelet, your water bottle, gum, etc.  But when an orphan asks for a new pair of shoes, man would you do anything to help them.  To give them confidence.  They don’t want out of want like we want a new pair of shoes- they need!  They aren’t trying to be cute & have something from you to remember you by, they simply want the dignity of owning a good pair of shoes.

{photo by Alison Holcolm}

The momma bear in me wanted to do anything I could to get those two boys a new pair of shoes.
Jenn & I schemed and tried to figure out what size they were & see if between her, me & Chris we had shoes we could give them off our own feet.  Alison was ready to give up her shoes too.
But these boys have big feet!  (I tried to nonchalantly put my foot next to theirs to see what size they were)
So that day after we left Noel, was the day we went to the market!  The market was full of beautiful fabric, knick knacks, fake nice sunglasses, etc but I headed straight for the shoes! Luckily I had some experienced Rwandan mission trippers (thanks Glenn, Frank & Katherine!) to help me pick out a size, a shoe & negotiate the price.  Turns out I’m not that great of a negotiator but it didn’t matter the cost – I wanted my boys to have new shoes!

{photo by Jenn Verme}
The next day I couldn’t wait to give them their shoes! I needed and wanted to find a secluded place to give the boys their shoes.  I wish I could have bought all 600 kids a new pair of shoes, but I wasn’t going to let that deter me for doing for two what I wish I could do for all.  But I didn’t want the others to get jealous, so I talked to Tara and found a time where I could take them to her house & present them with their shoes.  I was praying they would feel loved, to know that God loves them and He was the one that has blessed them, not me.  I got butterflies in my stomach, but I finally found the boys and told them to meet me at the guest house.I am thankful Innocent was there to translate, Tara was there to explain and Jenn was there to photograph! I have never been more excited to give a kid a new pair of shoes.  And never has a kid been more excited, thankful and felt more loved all through receiving a new pair of shoes.  It was like my very own TOMS shoe drop 🙂

{photos by Jenn Verme}
They even switched shoes half way through to see which one fit which boy better – didn’t fight over color 😉 They looked so cute in their new chuck taylors.  Lots of “thank yous”, “I love yous” and “very good” words were exchanged.  They walked with a new sense of pride and dignity from that day on.
The next day when we went back to get Tara, they both came up to me for one last hug and I loved seeing them in their new shoes.  I’m not naive – I know they will guard those shoes, keep them in a special place & bust them out for special occasions.
{photo by Jenn Verme}


{photo by Alison Holcolm}


Happy boys!!!
I hope when they wear them, they think of me and know that that week God sent me to them and blessed them!  

Hey, I'm Wynne!

Hi, friend! First, I truly am so giddy that you are here. I want you to know I believe in you and all the ways you are growing towards living a more intentional life.  I genuinely hope you are encouraged from our time together here.

A little about me, I’m a type 7 on the enneagram, a total extrovert + people lover, entrepreneur, connector, storyteller, people gatherer, and passionate wife, mama + friend. I feel most alive when I’m exploring new places and surrounded by people I love. Give me a day in the outdoors disconnected from wifi, and I am a happy girl. I run on oat milk lattes, Jesus, gratitude journaling and kitchen dance parties with my four kids.
Welcome, come on in!

let'e be friends

  1. larisaa says:

    Love this! Those pictures are so amazing. And their smiles are so real. I love giving shoes. Shopping for shoes? Not so much. What the heck is a size 32?! But giving them? Good golly. Best.

  2. Allison says:

    I’ve been following, but this is just so darn cute & authentic & awesome, that I felt the call to tell you. I’m very glad to know you. I’m so happy for you. And, I’m jealous. I wish I was there doing what you are doing. God bless every step. I can’t believe I ran into you briefly and have been so blessed to see this year you’ve experienced. God is so good like that!

  3. Rudy says:

    I really loved what you said. nike zoom hyperfuse 2011 is also a good recommendation.Very much advocated.

  4. It’s amazing how something like shoes, which we take for granted in North America can mean so much to someone else. I love just because you can’t help everyone doesn’t stop you from helping those you can. God bless you Wynne!

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