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Author makes new pair of shoes her mission

POSTED: January 27, 2014 7:18 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Austine Royer Smith of Rincon is offering a copy of her book “Boci’s New Shoes” to anyone who makes a donation toward her mission work in Haiti.

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Austine Royer Smith is accustomed to people leaving donated clothing on her front porch, to give to people she helps on mission trips to Haiti.


However, she describes the arrival of one particular pair of shoes as a “miracle.”


The shoes, given to an impoverished boy in Haiti who had never owned a pair, are the inspiration for Smith’s latest book, “Boci’s New Shoes.”


Smith said she has made “over a hundred trips to Haiti” since she began her mission work in 1981. She met Boci (pronounced “Boo-see”) while rendering aid in Thiotte, Haiti, in the aftermath of a hurricane.


“It is very heartbreaking to see thousands of homeless children and adults searching through the rubble for something to eat or use just to survive the day,” Smith said.


Along with his daily life in poverty, Boci was born with an affliction that left him hunchbacked and dwarfed. The medical team that accompanied Smith gave him a physical exam, along with medicine, vitamins, food and clothes.


Smith also took Boci to their makeshift church in the village. The missionary promised Boci that if he would keep going to church every Sunday, she would bring him a new pair of “church shoes” when she returned to Thiotte in two months.


Boci had never had shoes before — “only ragged flip-flops,” Smith said. She drew an outline of Boci’s feet so she could get the correct size, but was heartbroken as she headed home to Effingham County and realized she had left the drawing in Haiti.


“I was hurting on the inside,” Smith said. “I was saying, ‘Boci won’t ever trust me again,’ and, ‘If I take a pair of shoes, they won’t fit,’ all those things. I was filled with guilt.”


But then, as she returned to her apartment in Rincon in the wee hours of the morning, she saw a big, black trash bag sitting beside her front door.


It was about 2 a.m., and Smith was soaked from the storm that was hitting the area. All she wanted to do was take a shower and get into bed.


She just couldn’t stop herself, though, from dragging the bag into the house and drying it off with a towel. She opened the bag and, sitting right on top, was a pair of shiny, brand-new black shoes — just like the ones she and Boci had prayed for a day earlier in Haiti.


“We still don’t know who left it, after five years and me asking everybody,” Smith said.


When Smith returned to Haiti, Boci told her he had been to church every Sunday. He added, “Mama too!”


As promised, Smith handed Boci his first pair of shoes. Of course, there was no guarantee that shoes left on a doorstep would be the right size.


They fit perfectly.


“Boci was presented his new shoes and told how God had answered his prayers with a miracle for being faithful,” Smith wrote in the book.


“Boci’s New Shoes” is Smith’s fifth book. All the proceeds from it will go toward building and maintaining orphanages in Haiti, she said.


Smith wants Boci’s story to reach as many people as possible, especially children. So, rather than setting a price for the book, she gives a copy to anyone who makes a donation of any amount to her mission.


“They’re not for sale,” she said of the books. “People that donate get a book.”


“Boci’s New Shoes” is available at the Book Nook book store in Rincon, or by emailing Smith at austinersmith@aol.com or writing Foundling House Mission, P.O. Box 18114, Garden City, GA 31418.


At 78 years old, Smith has no plans on slowing down with her mission work — at least not for the next couple of decades.


“I’m gonna live to be a hundred. This is my plan!” she exclaimed. “I’m gonna do this until I’m 99.


“And then that last year, I’m gonna do all the stuff I’ve ever wanted to do and didn’t get a chance to do!” she said with a laugh.

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