It has been less than a week since our group has returned from Kenya. In that short time, I have recounted to family and friends all that I could about my incredible experience with the people of Kenya. I’ve been asked countless times, “How was your trip?” It seems like a simple question that should have a simple answer. I’ve found the opposite to be true. How do you describe a trip that has completely changed your perspective and outlook on life? How do you capture the emotions you felt and continue to feel? Do the words incredible, amazing, awesome, etc… even do justice in describing the trip?
As I look through the pictures that I took in Kenya with family and friends it becomes easier to answer. As they hear the stories through the pictures it becomes clear to them why I’ve had such a hard time giving a short answer to “How was your trip?”
Before leaving for Kenya I had memorized a short verse from God’s Word to help guide me in a particular situation. Psalm 37:5 reads, “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” (NLT) God continued to use this verse in my life as I traveled in Kenya. Our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world are living out this verse. The faith and trust they displayed was overwhelming to me at times.
We were very blessed to have Rev. David Chuchu guide us along our journey in Kenya. David is a man who commits everything he does to the Lord. He has a passion for many ministry areas in Kenya and he puts his trust in the Lord that His will would be done. It was an honor to walk alongside David and many other leaders in Kenya during our 10 day journey.
During the ten day trip our group traveled to numerous rescue centers, schools, and made home visits as well. As a Lutheran school teacher in America I found the visits to schools to be especially impactful. One day we visited a government run school which was being sponsored by the ELCK. At Chepareria Primary School they have 950+ students. The particular day we visited the students were taking exams but the teachers assured us it was no problem to visit classrooms. For close to an hour we were able to enter classrooms and interact with the students. I visited two class 5 rooms as well as a class 6. The first thing I noticed was the number of students in each room. Both class 5 rooms had close to 80 students. I found myself thinking back to America and the small class sizes we pride ourselves on having.
In a class 6 room I was able to stop and talk with three young boys for quite a while. They were so eager to learn about America and were quick to answer my questions about their life as well. One boy wanted to know how we get milk in America. Another boy couldn’t believe the students don’t go home for lunch but rather stay at school. I asked all of them how far they travel to get to school. Most of them lived 2-3 kilometers away. When talking to the head teacher of the school she mentioned to me that some come as far as 5-6 kilometers. To put that into perspective there are about 6 miles to every 10 kilometers. Some children who live too far away to go home for lunch just stay at school during the hour the others go home. For many kids in this situation they do not get a meal until they return home much later that day.
Early in the trip we were able to go on home visits near the Othoro Rescue Center. Our group of ten split up so that we could accompany the deaconesses to more homes. My group visited two homes that day and both were equally impactful. The first home we visited belonged to an elderly woman who needed help inside her home when we arrived. It was a joy to be able to present to her food that would help sustain her in the coming days. As we were visiting she mentioned how thankful she was for our gifts because she had to go without food the day before. I remember feeling complete sorrow for this woman as she told us this. Unfortunately, I’m sure this wasn’t the first time she has gone without food. All I could think of though is “How can I make that be the last day she ever goes without food?”
We also were able to see where she sleeps. She sleeps on the dirt floor with one blanket. The woman reminded me of my own grandmother in the last days of her life. She was just as frail as the lady and had difficulty getting around. I couldn’t imagine my grandmother sleeping curled up on the dirt floor as her body ached. We asked the evangelist how much a mattress cost. He said most start at 2500 shillings. That’s about $30.We spoke with David about this need and she will be getting a mattress very soon.
I could continue with stories of people and places that have truly touched my heart. One thing that I continue to think of is the joy the people of Kenya display. Everywhere we went there were beautiful smiles. They have thankful hearts that pour out love and compassion. They do not fret or worry, but rather they call upon their Lord. I felt God’s presence everywhere we went and as I looked upon the faces of my brothers and sisters, I saw Christ’s light pouring out.
Thank you my dear brothers and sisters in Christ for capturing my heart. I look forward to the day when we will meet again. Until then, I will continue to spread the message of God’s work in Kenya. It is truly amazing the work the LCMS and ELCK continue to do in unity to edify God’s Church.