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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Clothes (11/02/12)

TITLE: All in the Mall
By Jack Taylor


All in the Mall.

Freda froze as she stepped into her first mall in four years. The giant graphic images of half-clothed youngsters brought an involuntary shudder to her gut. What had happened?

She sank onto a waiting bench and caught her breath again. Maybe a coffee would help. Coming back alone was hard. Shopping alone was a challenge.

As she sipped the brew with two extra sugars she began to scan those passing her by. Youngsters of all nationalities. Small mobs moving like amoebas past display windows. Lost in their own worlds.

Tattered, torn, ripped, or shredded? She wasn’t sure how to describe what she was seeing. Drooping, dragging, hanging, falling? Was there a reason for this fashion statement? Flimsy, revealing, showy, fragile? Did it really have to be this way?

In the name of Jesus she had been receiving container loads of gently used brand name cast offs for years into East Africa and every one of those items were modest, untorn, clean and free. She had worked hard to ensure the street boys and girls didn’t have to wear clothing like she was seeing on display all around her.
What was possessing this generation? Didn’t they care about anything? Anything seemed to go.

She looked down at her own mid-calf skirt and realized that she probably didn’t seem that out of place. Only last night she crept off the plane in her usual walk of shame reliving the horrific memories of her childhood when she felt so humiliated by the missionary fashion which would call forth another year of taunts from her classmates.

Cousins and church friends were kind enough to donate their extras to help bridge the gap but that usually didn’t happen before the verbal labels had been attached to her. There was no question she had done her share to modify her wardrobe to fit in better but there had always been limits. Now, there seemed to be no limits for this new generation.

A young teen with chartreuse pig tails and a green nose ring plopped down beside her slurping on an ice latte. Her baggy sweat shirt drooped far off one bare shoulder leaving her bra strap exposed. Freda wanted to quickly fix the problem to keep the girl from being embarrassed. Then she noticed other girls with similar styles. The short skirt beside her rode up far too high and the knee high leather boots didn’t seem to fit the style.

The ear buds from the teen’s iPod seemed to vibrate in her ears as she rocked to the music and lip synched along. As she bobbed her head back and forth one of the ear buds fell out and dropped onto Freda’s hand.

Instead of fleeing like she wanted, the missionary gently offered the small plastic nodule back to the teen. The girl nodded her thanks and took it back.

Then she spoke. “Nice rainbow socks. Where did you find those?”

Freda kept it short. “Africa.”

“Desperately brilliant,” announced the teen. “I saw this show once about African kids who lived on the streets and they had to wear all these Value Village clothes that came in containers from Canada and the U.S. So I got everyone in my class to bring all the stuff their grandmoms had given them and then the whole school thought this was great and we collected enough to almost fill a whole container. I could hardly sleep thinking that it must be like Christmas for all those kids.”

“It was,” Freda said. “I’m the one who gets those containers in Africa and I’m the one who gives out the clothes to those African kids. It was like Christmas. And one of those girls made these socks.”

“Freakin’ no way!” The chartreuse pig tails began to sway as the teen pulled out her phone and began texting. “This place will be swarming in a minute. Don’t move.”

Sure enough. A gaggle of teens in every fashion style imaginable began to sashay up to the texter. “What’s the call, Brit?” one of the newcomers probed.

“Remember when we emptied our closets for those street kids in Africa?”

“Speak it girl.”

“This is the lady that gets the containers and gives out the clothes. One of those kids made her rainbow socks.”

Freda wasn’t sure what happened at that moment but a wave of volume washed over her as girls shrieked and questioned and even hugged her. For the first time in her life she felt home.

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This article has been read 397 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/08/12
This was a pure delight to read. I think you did an outstanding job of nailing the topic. This piece has so many messages. I think the one that stands out to me the most would be that with a common thread we are all connected to one another in this small world of ours. The last line of your story was just perfect.
Noel Mitaxa 11/08/12
Wow! What a fantastic twist at the close - from 'concerned' criticism to being enulfed in grace and generosity. Should be a winner!
Noel Mitaxa 11/08/12
Take two, only this time let's try 'engulfed' in place of 'enulfed.'
Llewelyn Stevenson 11/09/12
A touching story. I almost gave up on it. Glad I didn't.
Randy Foncree11/11/12
Thanks for sharing this touching story...God bless you and keep writing for His glory...
Jana Kelley11/14/12
I liked this story! I used to wear hand-me-down clothes that did not match the style when we'd go back to the States for a few months! ha! I was totally relating as I read this story! I loved the twist and the positive ending.
Bea Edwards 11/15/12
I thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected ending and lesson about judging a book by its cover! Great job weaving your families personal missionary experience into this weeks challenge.
Margaret Kearley 11/15/12
A really great story and a strong reminder that outward appearance often belies the real heart. Great writing. Congratulations on your EC.
Wilma Schlegel11/15/12
I usually hate the mall. I'm very 'prideful'(!) about getting in and getting out and not being effected by what I see.

Your story is a delight and sheds a whole, better light on the mall in particular, and people groups in general.

I loved it!
Noel Mitaxa 11/15/12
Congratulations on your well-deserved placing. Great work.