Kayla Bacon for Mahogany Workplace
World Views

Dirty Shoes and a Healthy Heart

By Kayla Bacon

I stood next to her, silent, trying to grasp what happened. While helping lay stones for a road, I had stepped in a foot deep pile of mud. A teammate laughed at my shoes and said, “Well, they used to be pink.” Magdalena led me to a stone tub. She scrubbed and scrubbed at my shoes, and she wouldn’t let me help. This woman — who goes through so many struggles every day — served me and didn’t want anything in return.

After my shoes were “mas bonita,” Magdalena led me to a backyard of coconut trees. Her sister Maria (picture below left) cut open a coconut with a machete and motioned for me to sit in their hammock. We talked about our jobs and families. Me, with broken Spanish, trying to get my point across. Maria, with her soft-spoken, patient spirit, laughing when I couldn’t understand.

She finally got a translator. “She wanted some help so you could talk about more important stuff easier,” laughed Genesis, our translator. The first thing she wanted to talk about? “I want a job. I want to work. I want to help provide for my family.”

Kayla Bacon for Mahogany Workplace Ben Higgins

Humanity & Hope United Foundation partners with the incredible Honduran villages, like Maria and Magdalena’s, to provide them with resources like jobs, clean water, and electricity. Over and over (and over), we keep hearing the women want jobs. How sobering is that? I started my own business a few years ago, and providing for my own needs brings me so much joy and fulfillment. I can’t imagine not being able to do that.

Maria and her story touched me. I soaked up the rest of our conversation and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

re·la·tion·ship: the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

Connection. What a powerful thing. Maria put forth the effort to say, “Something is in the way here. Let’s break down this surface-level barrier and build a relationship.” I’m humbled by this. How many times have I faced a situation where things stayed surface level? What if I took the time to serve, whether that means buying someone a drink or praying with them?

Dirty Shoes and a Healthy Heart by Kayla Bacon

Relationships are crucial to the human spirit. They help us feel supported and connected. Here are three things I’m committed to work on to build up relationships around me. Join me?

  1. Ask hard questions. Questions like, “What’s the road map of your life? What stop signs and freeways have made you who you are today?” Once you start asking the hard questions, the barriers start to come down. True connection can form.
  2. Do one thing every day for someone who may need it. A new friend recently sent me a letter with some of the kindest words I’ve ever heard, and I’ve thought of it ever since. Send a friend a text about how you admire them. Give a $10 Target gift card to a new friend so they can treat themselves. Just do something for someone else.
  3. Show up. In some way, in lots of ways, every day. Find a cause and work toward it. The work you do is powerful. I should know; Maria and Magdalena showed up for me, and here I am, still trying to wrap my mind around it.

What is one way you can show up for others?

Images by Kayla Bacon

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