Where can you even start with such an amazing experience? The Kenya Mercy experience was a wonderful trip to say it shortly. As a group I know that we took away so many lessons and experiences from this opportunity. But as an individual I can say that I am still thinking over all of the things that happened while in Kenya and I am still learning from the experiences and the people even though we are no longer with the Kenyans. I am still very amazed at how great all of the people treated us while we were on our trip. They were always happy to do whatever they could for us to make us feel at home. And somehow they did manage to make us feel right at home even though we came from completely opposite sides of the world, from very different cultural backgrounds and we all stuck out like crazy. It was very moving to see how great of lengths they would go to provide us comfort and food when often times they may not have even had enough food to satisfy their own families. They were truly examples of how we should all put others before ourselves. I am also very glad that we had some time to visit the rescue centers, specifically the ones that were up and running with children. The children alone made me want to stay even longer. At one rescue center a little girl (maybe 3-4 years of age) was peeking through the door at me, and after a couple rounds of peek-a-boo and some smiles she came in and sat on my lap. She didn’t even think twice about it, and throughout the rest of our stay she was close to my side and holding my hand along the way. I don’t know how it happened but somehow this child crawled into my heart and showed me a wonderful picture of how we should love. I really did have a hard time leaving her behind because of how attached I felt to her even only after a couple short hours with her. I pray that she will be safe and stay close to her faith. A picture of this little girl should be included in this entry. Through this small child as well as the other children at the rescue centers I could now see what it meant to have faith and love like a child. These children often times had no parents, and basically only had what was provided at the rescue center, but we could still see such thankfulness and joy that would come from theirs hearts and smiles. They were a huge inspiration to me to be thankful in all situations. After seeing the running rescue centers it gets me very excited for the rescue centers that are to come in the future. We also had some time to visit with some of the Deaconesses and follow them around for some house visits. I know this was also a huge experience for many of us because we really got to see into the lives of some of these people. One lady we visited lived alone in a two room mud hut that seemed like it was only a 10ft X 10ft building. This poor woman who was well over 70 years of age had only a blanket to sleep on even though she could hardly get up off the ground by herself. She also mentioned to us that she had not eaten the day before because she had no food, so I was very glad that we brought her some. This lady (as well as many of the other Kenyans) was one of the strongest people in faith I have ever seen. In the eyes of the world she may have had nothing, but I am very convinced that in the eyes of God she had everything. I was blown away as to how she was living and how she reacted when we gave her the food we brought. She was very happy and glad for everything we brought, and she praised and thanked God for these blessings that have been laid upon her. She did not even directly thank us for the gifts at first, she went directly to thanking God for bringing us to her and for using us to help her. Listening to her say these things was something that really made me think, and also showed me more about how important it is to love and to give our lives for the glory of God. I will say that before the trip started I was very curious as to how the group would get along and how our personalities would flow, but I am very glad to say that I feel like I am very good friends with them all and I will be glad to keep in contact with them all in the future. This was an extremely shortened version of all my thoughts and experiences in Kenya, and many things are missing, but this is a little more convenient than a 3 night trilogy of stories and pictures like I had to do for my family in order to tell them about everything. In the end I think it is very safe to say that even though Project 24 and these trips are designed to help our friends in Kenya, the Kenyans have helped me and the travelers in so many more ways then what we have done for them. The things that we have seen from them and learned from them are of a value far above any material thing. I am very glad for the LCMS and ELCK partnership and continue to pray that God will continue to change our hearts and lives through our experiences with the Kenyan people. Even now I am left with many questions running through my mind such as: Why aren’t we always praising and thankful for the small things like they are? and Am I really living my life totally for God, or am I just lukewarm? Sometimes I think that in America we can get caught up in being able to provide for ourselves and take pride in what we can do for ourselves to live our American dream. Blessed are the people of Kenya who do not have the distractions of things and worldly dreams and are able to totally rely on God for all of their blessings in life. Thank you Kenya, and Thank you Yesu (God) for teaching me so many things on this trip.
About The Author
Rev. Bernhard Seter has been a Pastor in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for over 42 years. He served on the Board of LCMS World Relief and Human Care for ten years and is now the Chairman of the Board of International Missions. He has been privileged to travel around the world and see the churches' mercy work in action. He is convinced it is not only what we are "compelled" to do because of Christ; it is what we have been baptized for. Christ's love compels us, constrains us, and sends us forth.
March 19, 2016
April 26, 2019
August 22, 2020