Washing dishes. This is how I remember Momadu. Washing dishes is a chore, you know. In the pre-dishwasher days in America, my Mom put 'wash the dishes' on her childrens list of things to do every day and we washed them, obediently though begrudgingly. Here in the pre-dishwasher days in Mali, though, we ask Momadu to wash the dishes and he washes them with joy.
How can he do something as mundane as washing dishes and do it with joy? Perhaps it's because joy is a fruit, a fruit that grows on the Jesus tree, the tree that takes root in the heart when someone believes, when someone who has ears that hear, eyes that see, and a heart that understands follows Jesus. Perhaps it's because Momadu understands.
I remember him wearing a tattered, blue t-shirt with an imprint from some Baptist church somewhere in Kentucky that some missionary gave him a long time ago. It was stretched at the neck and dotted with holes and made him look poor. Indeed, he is a peasant farmer trying to eek out an existence for his family and for himself on a harsh and broken land. He is a peasant parson trying to love the Lord his God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength, and trying to love his neighbor as himself. He is a peasant cook.
I remember his worn, dirty flip-flops on the ground in front of the door of our community house at the mission station. How much is his body like his flip-flops? It is worn from much serving, worn from trying to live out the second part of the great commandment. In Mali, flip-flops cost less than one U.S. dollar. That doesn't seem like much money to me. If my flip-flops were like his flip-flops then I would throw them away and buy a new pair. One dollar, however, can buy three days of vegetables to put into a family's sauce, so when Momadu's flip-flop strap breaks he repairs them and keeps on wearing them until they are worn out. In the same way, Momadu will keep on loving until his body is completely worn out. That will be his mark of Christ one day as he limps toward God, and God will hold him until he is healed and whole again.
I often wonder, "Who is a saint in my world today"? One time, my flip-flops were filthy dirty, caked in mud and tainted with cow manure. I took them off at the back door of our house and went inside to take a shower. After I dressed, I walked over to the window to watch the dusking of afternoon into evening when the sun hangs on the edge of the African sky like a giant, red-ripe tomato. As I looked at the sky, I lowered my eyes and saw Momadu washing my shoes. He was kneeling down beside our water spigot and washing my shoes with the simplest of elements, with water and his hands. I know for sure that Momadu is not perfect, but I know equally for sure that he is a saint. Jesus said, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God". That kingdom is in a good heart in Momadu's heart. That kingdom is in good hands in Momadu's hands. That kingdom is on good feet on Momadu's feet.
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