It's obvious by now that you know I love to travel, but for what...why do I travel? Like many of you it used to be just for fun-- a time to get away from the daily issues at work and relax on a beach with a drink, am I right? For a while that was my main reasoning for traveling, it was all focused on me. It actually wasn't that long ago when I finally discovered my purpose and changed my reasoning for traveling. Which is "To bridge the cultural gap between Americans & other nationalities, to venture beyond your comfort zone in order to gain knowledge about a different culture, and ultimately learn to accept, embrace, and love others as ourselves because we are all the same...human".
With that being said besides moving to China and immersing myself in their culture, this past September I took the ultimate and probably one of the most life changing trips. This trip wasn't for personal gain, fun, relaxation, or to get away for the world problems. It was actually to get involved in the world problems...to put aside my wants for enjoyment and rest to serve the needs of others...it was for a purpose bigger than my own. It was for a Missions Trip to Kenya.
Since I came back everyone has asked me this one question--"How was it?" My answer? Simply life changing. But to be honest words could never describe the experiences I had while serving in Kenya, or the pain I felt after I came home. But hopefully these pictures can give you an idea.
Thank you...to everyone who prayed for me & my team, those who supported my dream, those who encouraged me, to Zion for presenting me with this opportunity, to my awesome 2018 Mission Team, to the beautiful people of Kenya and Grace House Resorts, to all of those who donated to my trip, and finally to the anonymous donor, from the bottom of my heart thank you. God told me that my trip would be taken care of and I wouldn't have to worry and He used your faithfulness to answer my prayer and to help fulfill His promise and purpose in my life. God used every single one of you to support my purpose & for that I am forever grateful. This blog is dedicated to you...Enjoy.
Day 1: After a long 17 hour flight from D.C. to Kenya our team got straight to work by packing 600+ bagged lunches for the community. And these weren't your typically bagged lunches with a sandwich, chips, and drink. No, these were grocery bags each filled with 1lb. of wheat, and corn mill, .5 lb. of sugar, rice, and cooking oil.
Day 2: We went to visit II Bissil Boarding School. The students here are so bright but the harsh reality is that majority of the students were rescued from child marriages, vaginal mutilation, or poverty. Our purpose for visiting II Bissil was to tour the campus, interact with the students and staff, and present them with gifts such as uniforms, school supplies, and food. Note: most of the photos below were taken by a young Maasai girl, a daughter of one of the staff members. I noticed she kept staring at my camera and I decided to teach her how to point & shoot. For the entire time we were there she held on to my camera just snapping away. To be honest usually I would have easily gotten annoyed about the amount of memory she was using on senseless pictures or concerned about the possibility of her breaking my expensive camera, butI wasn't. If anything I was filled with so much joy just watching her explore her world through a lens. Knowing that me giving up my camera brought this little girl so much happiness was priceless & was one of the best moments of my trip.
Day 3: We went to an awesome worship service at the World Hope Center. After service we met with church members who give us a tour of the community and to meet some of the individuals whom my church Zion sponsors. In my head I just thought we would be walking through the community to meet and greet the locals but the first home we entered was of a young man who had been with our team for the past 2 days. This was a man whom I had interacted with the first day in Kenya, whom I literally stood next to in an assembly line while moving bagged lunches. I had no idea the hardships he faces, but yet he was still so joyful and beyond thankful and content with what God had blessed him with. Born with HIV & epilepsy he was abandoned by his parents at birth. With all odds against him by Gods grace he is now in his second year of Graduate school studying architecture.
Day 4: We spent the entire day playing with some amazing kids. Mrs. Rea, the owner of Morning Star Orphanage grew up in a missionary family so it was no surprise that she became one herself. But what was surprising was that at the young age of 21 her husband who was a Kenya citizen died suddenly shortly after opening the orphanage. And to make matters worse Rea was pregnant with her first child. The sponsorships & local funding which had been promised to her late husband had all been denied because no one believed or trusted that a 21 year old pregnant white female would actually stay in Kenya to run an orphanage. But again through God's grace He opened doors and provided miracles for Rea to push through and create a successfully, thriving, and self-sutaining orphanage that now houses close to 60 children.
Day 5: Consisted of the Medical Clinic at the World Hope Center, & a welcome presentation at the Hope Acadamy. We started bright and early, setting up the different stages that would service 100 families. These stages included: evangelism, a doctor consultation, a pharmacy, an eye glass center, a balloon station for the children, and finally a food distribution section. Although we were representing God and Zion the entire time we were there this was the first day we actually participated in "hands-on" service. I was apart of the eye glass distribution section & my job was to test individuals vision and proscribe them reading glasses if needed. To be honest I was a little nervous because I have 0 background or knowledge in vision so how would I be able to 1. properly communicate a vision test and 2. give them the correct proscription? In the end it all worked out and I learned that day that you don't have to be qualified for God to use you the way He sees fit.
Day 7: Was an event-filled day. We had our second medical clinic at the Global Worship Center, visited a Maasai village, toured Zion's sponsored water treatment facility, and ended our evening with a formal banquet at the Hope Center.
Day 8: Was our last day in Kenya, it was also our free day, which meant SAFARI! There was no way we would travel all the way to Kenya and not go on a safari, which is surprisingly nothing like you would usually see on tv. We spent literally 4 hours driving around the Nairobi National Park, stopping and waiting just to catch a glimpse of a lion. Among the giraffes, rhinos, gazelles, water buffalos, and herd of zebras time felt like it actually stopped when a lion casually strolled passed our van. We ended our free day at the markets where we shopped for souvenirs and practiced are bargaining skills.