Laura Rennie

manis and pedis under a mango tree

Laura R.1 Comment
two of the Imani women during morning worship

The tears come out of nowhere. Yesterday morning I bent my head over to blow-dry my hair and all of a sudden I started sobbing. I'll be in the car, doing the dishes, playing with the dog... then BAM! Tears. My body is tired and confused and my mind is scattered. I hate it, but at the same time I hope I never fully "recover."

We did a lot of neat things on the trip, but one of my favorites was giving the Imani women manicures and pedicures. There are ten women who work for Imani making paper beads and fashioning them into bracelets and necklaces. Some of the women have been bought out of prostitution and now make their living from the jewelry. Others are still in prostitution but trying to get out of it. Each day they walk to the counseling center to work on their jewelry, carrying babies on their backs. Their children get free daycare while they work.

One of our team members had the brilliant idea to bring items we'd need to wash and massage the women's hands and feet and paint their nails. We had the women sit in a line under a mango tree and worked in teams of two - two people washing, two drying, two massaging and two painting. I painted. 

The women were deeply touched. Some cried. I probably could have cried, but I was so happy! These women have never experienced being pampered before, and I felt beyond blessed to be a part of it.

It gets even better... later that morning I was chatting with Lucy, the daycare teacher. She began gesturing at her feet and saying "please, paint." She wanted pretty nails, too! I got my hands on a bottle of bright pink polish and set to work. As soon as I was done she put her hands in my lap and smiled brightly. She would frown and point if I missed a spot. I understood. I'm very particular when I get my nails done, too. When I was done she laughed and laughed, admiring her hands and feet. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, little girls appeared in front of me! They practically climbed on top one another to shove their hands in my face. All morning I painted - hands, feet, boys and girls. I showed them how to gently blow on their nails. They took it very seriously for about ten seconds, then they took off running to show their friends.


When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

John 13:12-17