The Stuff of Life

Wash You Clean – (Tori Haverkamp)


Sanctity of Life Month post #4 – I have known Tori for many years, but I would say we became friends when we discovered a common love of writing. We have spent some fun, yet out-of-our-comfort-zone time together at two writing conferences in Chicago where we learned the term “walking distance” is relative, and we contemplated our futures as writers for a home health aide magazine 😉 But seriously, I look up to Tori and soak in all the advice she can give me on parenting because she has done something right. She not only loves her own children, she loves those in need. You will enjoy this post she wrote after a mission trip to Africa this fall.

falls boys africa[7]

They followed us to the rocky falls, chasing after the truck, bare feet running, little hearts pumping—hoping for a chance to see the Americans.

The orphans, dressed in mismatched clothes, torn and tattered, just watched with their almost-black eyes, as we, the “mzungas”, took off shoes and socks and waded in the water. River water, to them, was a way of life, used for bathing and washing and cooking and drinking—nothing special. They seemed fascinated that we would think it fun.

When they did finally join us, they immediately began rubbing their dirty heels against the rocks—almost as if on cue. Seemingly trained for this task, I asked them what they were doing, but they just looked at me and shook their heads, unable to explain.

Seeing that their faces were also streaked with dirt from their journey, my friend Sarah asked me for the white handkerchief I kept in my backpack. When I had given it to her, she dipped it in the water and began washing the dust from their little foreheads…and cheeks… and necks. In a line they sat, so still, faces turned toward her, each one waiting their turn to be noticed, and touched, and loved.

As I watched them being bathed by Sarah, they seemed almost sleepy as she put the wet cloth next to their warm, musky-smelling skin. And I wondered if they would lie right down on the algae-covered banks where they sat. Then I realized that they weren’t tired, they were mesmerized by tenderness; intoxicated by human touch; overcome with the reality of their preciousness.

And I thanked my God, who is the God of Africa too, that Sarah’s hands had become His hands that day.

And I praised Him for letting me be part of it.

And I rejoiced in the glimpse of His grace He had given—through the children, and the water, and the washing—His intoxicating grace that promises Heaven to all who call on His name.

He is our Father, you know. We are His children.

He longs to notice…and touch…and love…YOU.

Because you are precious.

Let Him wash you clean.

Tori Haverkamp lives in Ames, Iowa with her husband and their four children. She yearns to go back to Africa someday and be God’s hands again. Visit her blog at (This story  and photo were originally posted on her blog.)


Author: Kim Harms

I am the wife of a guitar-playing, worship-leading, adventure-loving husband. I am the mother of three incredible sons: two of whom recently surpassed me in height, and one of whom I am going to pretend is still my baby. I am saved by grace; a daughter of the King who was and is and is to come. *** I am a regular contributor at Today’s Christian Woman, a monthly blogger at Inspire a Fire and have freelanced for a variety of publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts. *** The 500 Dresses ministry that I started with my mom in 2010 is our way of answering the call to serve those in poverty.

2 thoughts on “Wash You Clean – (Tori Haverkamp)

  1. Beautiful writing and a beautiful story!

  2. Loving human touch is so important in the development of children. It’s so important for anyone, though many might not admit it. I love stories about Africa and orphans – it’s amazing to see God using people to take care of those who have no one.

    Thank you for sharing your first hand account!

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