The problem is there is no universal definition of what makes a sock unwearable. How big of a hole in the bottom before it needs to be thrown away? How many holes? What if you are attached to that particular sock?
In Papua New Guinea, most people do not have the luxury of socks. Socks wear down quickly, and there are few options to buy replacements. Most people either walk barefoot or with cheap flip-flops. I have discovered that on many bush trails it is easier to walk barefoot than with shoes due to the increased grip achieved with toes. It is a common complaint at Kudjip for a patient to have a foot wound, abscess, or a piece of wood imbedded deep inside their foot.
Due to the scarcity of finding socks in PNG, questions regarding when to toss them are at the root of many disputes in our household. It is not uncommon for me to be reprimanded for wearing something that is “trash” or “needs to be thrown away.” It’s even more likely that I find what I believe to be one of my perfectly good socks (perhaps with a “slight” blemish) while I’m taking out the trash.
Over the past few months, I haven’t posted many stories. There are multiple reasons for this, but I’ll mention two. First, I’ve been covering as medical director while our main medical director (Dr. Erin) is back in the U.S. on home assignment. Second, these past few months have been quite stressful due to national PNG elections, several hospital issues, and doctor shortages.
Despite the seemingly irreconcilable differences regarding socks in our marriage, during this trying time my wife Tammy has kept me grounded on what is most important. Things such as: living with patience and persistence amid trials, loving people despite the pain they may cause you, and most crucially, trusting God in all things. She has encouraged me to keep going on many occasions when I felt like I had had enough. Tammy has reminded me to turn to my Bible and pray for strength. Thankfully, God has supplied the strength I need.
When we go to the U.S. every two years or so, we end up purchasing clothes for the next few years. Due to their growing bodies, the kids usually fill a suitcase with clothes for the next two years. Tammy usually picks out a couple things, but finds it problematic finding appropriate clothing for PNG in the U.S. My contribution involves buying packs of undershirts and, of course, some precious socks. For my birthday, Tammy wrapped up a pack of socks I had purchased 14 months earlier and gave it to me as a present. It was one of my favorite birthday presents.
As I sit here and look at my feet, I am thankful for my clean, hole-free birthday socks, but I am thankful for so much more. I am thankful for a wife that keeps me focused on the goal. To keep striving to love and serve Jesus, and to love people as He would love them, even if they have imperfect socks.