One thing Jesus is continually revealing to me on this journey in Haiti is that I need to let go of caring about A WHOLE LOT of things, for example, dirty clothing, a dirty water bottle, or dirty hands.
Despite being raised to try to keep a clean presentation by changing my clothes if I do get stains on them or by avoiding dirty situations in nice clothes in the first place, I am now realizing that having filth on my clothes is something that I imagine is pleasing to the Lord. If Jesus were walking around here today, He would not have sparkly clean clothes or clean hands. His hands would be dirty from working. He would have dirt on his knees from kneeling to pick up a sick child. His clothes would have all sorts of dusty little hand prints all over them. He would have blisters on His feet from walking miles on the rough, rocky, mountain roads. His shirt would be torn because He would have used the cloth to bandage an injury. His clothes would be sweat stained because He would work hard all of the time (and because Haiti can be stinking HOT). So the days when I have extra dirt on my clothes or my hands, I imagine Jesus smiling. Yes, having dirty clothes can be a pain because honestly my hand-washing laundry skills do not measure up to how good washing machines and stain-remover are at cleaning clothes. Having to scrub dirt or a stain with a bar of soap until it disappears sometimes takes longer than what I have the patience or hand strength for. This is just one of the reasons why I have so much respect for Haitians. Americans could learn a lot from having to wring out jeans after hand-washing them (quite a difficult task!). Anyways, the grime is so worth it. Instead of being disappointed in getting my clothes dirty, it makes me happy that someone most likely contributed to the dirtying of my clothes, most likely one of my little friends (since I seem to have a whole lot of friends under the age of eight at this point in my life).
One day I had a larger than normal amount of mud on my jeans, because one little girl fell on the playground and scraped her face. I carried her to the clinic to try and clean the wound despite my lack of actual medical knowledge and her shoes rubbed all over my legs. But getting to see her smile under the tears with a band-aid that was way too big for the occasion (just a tiny scratch under her nose) and that kind of looked like a mustache was all worth the mud on my jeans. Another day, I noticed my white shirt was really dirty. I remembered getting a great big hug from one little boy who decided to also use my shirt as a napkin to wipe his smiling face on. A favorite part of my day is always having a child sitting on my lap for the drive up to the school. Every morning, we drive one road into Pétionville to pick up a group of teachers. Then we turn around and continue that road back up the mountain picking up extra teachers and students on their way to the school. The other day we had seventeen people in the car (four of which were little kids, but still! Talk about car pooling and being environmentally efficient!). It is always a fun ride when there are that many people joyfully packed together early in the morning. Almost every morning though, we squeeze another kid in the car who will end up sitting on my lap. Having their dirt-covered little shoes on my pants ends up being the last thing that crosses my mind when I get to wrap my arms around an amazing little child of God sitting on my lap, leaning against my chest, and relaxing before a day full of learning and energy burning at school. I could not count how many small hands touch my hands every day with all of the high-fives and hand holding that goes on, but using a little extra soap or hand sanitizer is worth it also. Even getting to let the kids share my water bottle at the end of a hot day and seeing their smiles was all worth the extra cleaning I had to do that night.
I am grateful for these lessons the Lord has been teaching me. Dirtiness is not always a bad thing like it is made out to be in the United States. There is a story or, in my case, a face behind every dirty outfit, a loving gesture behind the dirty hands, and a sweet moment of community behind the dirty water bottle.