Keighty and I watched her race like hawks, learning everything we could. In the process a friendship developed not just between Katie and I but between Keighty and Katie as well.
Katie is home from her race and continues to serve God with her life and words. As she processes what she experienced, stories leak out. Today she is sharing one of those stories on the blog.
Welcome Katie Axelson!
Every day I walk past a dumpster that wreaks something awful.
The first few days I figured it was the wind. But the wind shifted and the smell never did.
So I started holding my breath.
But the walk was too far.
So I strategized where I could inhale the final time to get the least of the stench stuck in my nose.
Then I covered my nose with my hand… my glove… my sleeve… my anything that would cover the stink.
It was nasty.
I mean this dumpster is awful.
It’s worse than garbage dumps.
I’ve been to garbage dumps.
They smell better than this dumpster.
I have a respectable job, live in a good community, and still breathe in garbage every day.
Hear the entitlement? Hear the arrogance?
He protected my nose.
So I asked Him to do that here too.
“What if instead of praying for your own nose as you walk 20 seconds through a stink mine, you pray for the people whose noses are immune to stink because
they’re living in a garbage dump.”
Ouch, Jesus. Those words hurt.
But they’re true.
I’ve seen the people living the garbage dump.
I’ve cooked rice and spaghetti for them.
I’ve looked into their eyes and tried to bless them.
I’ve held their hands.
Talked to them.
But I’ve never smelled what they’ve smelled.
I’ve never walked alongside them.
I’ve never lived where they lived, worked where they worked, and struggled where they struggled.
I was just a visitor for a moment.
A few hours at most.
At the end of our time together, when my host said so, or when I got uncomfortable, I got in my 15-passenger van and left.
At the end of the day, I went home.
Home to the safety and comfort of my bed.
Home to a sink, a shower, a washing machine. A toilet.
Home to a hope and a future. A different story.
Home to the smell of my dumpster—the one I just have to walk by not live in. Not find food in.
That’s about how long it takes to walk by a smelly dumpster.
I wish I could say that’s how long I pray.
But the prayer remains in my heart long after the stench vacates my nostrils.
Because the smell is just the reminder.
A reminder of how big God is.
A reminder of how good God is.
A reminder of how much He cares.
He cares about both my stinky dumpster and my friends in the dump.
The smell is just a reminder that I am no better than them, no more deserving of blessings, and no more loved by God.
No matter what.
The smell is just a reminder that someone’s worth doesn’t come from how much they make or where they live.
That includes me.
Our worth—those of us living in a dump and those of us just smelling it—come from Christ.
It’s His blood that gives us value.
His sacrifice gives us worth.
The dumpster smell is a reminder of His mercy because I all too easily forget.
What reminders has God put in your life?
They’re everywhere if you know how to find them.
If you’re willing to see them. Taste them. Hear them. Feel them.
I still don’t enjoy the smell of garbage every day. But I’ve come to find joy in it.
Joy because it tells of His goodness, His faithfulness, and His mercy.
His love for me and for His children abroad.
The dumpster is one of many reminders He’s hidden throughout my life.
That’s what happens when you’ve traveled the world.
That’s what happens when you’ve encountered Him.
When you’ve let Him reveal Himself to you in the oddest ways.
You become wrecked.
And there’s no way to return to who you were.
So you embrace what you have, who He is, and what He’s doing in and through you.
And you appreciate dumpsters in a way you never have before.
If you want to hear more of Katie’s World Race stories, head over to her blog and sign up to get her free ebook: Jesus Shoes: Following His Footsteps Through the Latin American Mission Field. Jesus Shoes tells 11 stories, one from each of the countries on Katie’s World Race route, that will move your heart to see, feel, taste and even smell who God is and what He is doing in our world. Once you have read Katie’s stories, tell someone else about them.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—