The truth is,
No matter how cute your clothes are, or how great your hair looks, if your feet hurt...you're done!
So, it is in your best interest to invest in, and take care of your shoes.
Choosing the shoes that you take with you on your mission is one of the biggest decisions that you will make while preparing to serve your mission. The Missionary Handbook advises that, “Shoes should be practical, comfortable, and attractive.” As you begin to shop for appropriate shoes, you will find that this is quite a tall order! In a generation of cheap, disposable shoes, many are not used to wearing supportive, durable shoes. It becomes an adjustment, not just physically, but also psychologically. However, armed with the proper information (and motivation!), the adjustment is a little easier. The realization that, as a missionary, your feet are your most important physical asset, motivates us to find the shoes that are not only stylish, but also are the best for your feet!
But, don't think that just because you eventually) find the perfect shoes suited for you and your mission, that you don't have to worry about your feet for the next 18 months to 2 years.
If you expect your mission shoes to last your whole mission, the way you care for them matters!
Here are some tips to help you keep your shoes (and your feet!) healthy:
Condition and care for the leather of your shoes regularly. Leather is skin. When you care for the “skin” of your shoes it keeps them from drying out and cracking. Cleaning and conditioning between polishes will help the leather stay supple and strong, helping them to last longer.
Weatherproof your shoes. If you are serving in a humid or wet climate, using a water-resistant spray or beeswax conditioner to help keep the leather water-resistant. For suedes and nubucks, keep them clean and treated and they are “hydrophobic”. If your shoes get really wet (from the elements and/or sweat) remove the insole and the shoes time to dry completely. Also, if you care for the leather, it will help the shoes hold up better in wet climates.
Think of shoe polish like it’s “makeup” for your shoes. When you polish your shoes, you are covering up the wear and tear on them. Just like you wouldn’t put makeup on a dirty face over and over, and expect your face to look nice, don’t just cover us dirt and cracking on your shoes with shoe wax. Take time to clean off your shoes, allow them to dry, and then apply polish after conditioning the skin of your shoe.
Use the proper brush to care for Suede/Nubuck. Don’t be frightened of suede and nubuck finished on shoes. They can be very lovely and extremely durable for missionaries. Just make sure to care for them with the proper tools. This will make sure the nap doesn’t get smashed or burnished, and your shoes will continue to look new.
Rotate which shoes you wear from day to day. The materials in your shoes need time to bounce back and relax after a day of pounding in them. They also need a day to dry out. If you rotate your shoes, the support will last longer, and the leather and insoles will last longer. you will get more wear out of them. Two pairs of shoes will last longer if you rotate them!
If you find a style you like, get two! We have found that missionaries will favor the style they like, so don’t be afraid to get multiple pairs of the same shoe…
Don’t kick or push your shoes off with your feet. Take time to remove them with your hands. This prevents the extreme amount of pressure on the heel collar of the shoes, causing them to last longer.
Unbuckle, unstrap, untie, or unzip your shoes before removing. If you carelessly kick off your shoes to remove them, you will potentially wear out and ruin the closure of the shoe. It only takes a few more seconds to undo your shoes!
When praying, don’t put pressure on bent toes! This action is the #1 thing that will damage your shoes. A good walking shoe is NOT meant to bend and have your weight on it this way. Instead of sitting on bent toes, tuck your toes under and kneel up. It’s easier to polish a scuffed toe than to a split sole.
Take time to get shoes repaired if something minor happens. When something comes unstitched, a buckle breaks, velcro stops sticking, sole splits off your shoe…any of these types of problems can all be handled by a cobbler. That is what they do. They can repair your shoes for small fee.
Here are some recommended shoe care products:
Leather Cream: Conditions, weatherproofs and restores leather. Apply a thin coat to your shoes and experience protection from water, oil, and other potentially harmful elements.
Beeswax Conditioner: Combines unique moisturizing and waterproofing properties to preserve and protect smooth and oiled-leather footwear. By penetrating the leather on your shoes, and lubricating the fibers of the leather, this conditioner offers maximum protection and breathability.
Suede/Nubuck Block & Brush: This bar and brush set will help refine the natural nap of your nubuck or suede shoes. Simply use the bar to “erase” dirt and stubborn stains on the upper—and then follow with the brush to comb fibers back into place.