Baylor Athletes Aid Jigger Victims On African MissionJune 23, 2010
Baylor soccer player Staz Salinas was one of 28 student-athletes who participate in a mission trip to Kenya at the end of the Baylor school year. It was a mission trip that used sports as a means to interact with people, seek to meet their needs, and share Christ with people in Nairobi and the surrounding countryside. Athletics chaplain Wes Yeary helped lead the group as it interacted with the needy in those slums, visited with the incarcerated behind prison walls, and touched people whose needs caused pain or shame.
Most people experience apprehension in a new culture, and around people whose circumstances are very different from their own. Yeary said the players were told about some of what they would see, but the extreme poverty and need is still shocking when presented in front of them in real life. They said there were many powerful moments: But one instance in particular stood out: washing the feet of Kenyans. Foot washing services are a staple in churches that many of the athletes had experienced. But the act takes on a new significance when those being served struggle for the most basic hygienic needs, and their feet are infected with jiggers, a common problem in that part of the world.
Jiggers are a major concern for young and old alike in rural Kenya. The insects bite the feet, causing itching. Then they burrow into the wounds and lay eggs, causing infection, swelling, discomfort, and sometimes shame for the suffering. Yeary said it was a mental picture that was initially difficult to process. It was an unpleasant image for the players, unaccustomed to the depth of physical need that is a reality for many. But the athletes said that an amazing transformation quickly took place as they applied water and a solution to treat the infection.
In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, an act of humility and servant-hood that Christians are called to emulate. It was a chapter made real for those on the trip by what they saw firsthand, said Chaplain Yeary.
Salinas was profoundly moved by the experience, saying the images and the people she met stay with her.
Selected pictures from the trip are available at kwbu.org, with a blog from the trip compiled on baylorbears.com. You can hear more about the Baylor athletics mission trip to Kenya this Sunday at 3 on KWBU Rewind. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.