It has been several weeks now since my return from Africa and I’m still not sure what my thoughts are. My greatest joy and heartache are one in the same: the people of Kenya. I love Kenya but it hurts. This was one of the best and hardest trips I have been on. I saw amazing people making hard decisions - who gets to eat and who doesn't. Everyone who we worked with came from an orphanage. Everyone at an orphanage knows a kid at a feeding station, and everyone at a feeding station knows someone who will not get to eat. The ones at the training center do get to eat and they learn that all of it is provided by God and people who love God.
After taking several mission trips to different parts of the world, the Lord finally laid Africa on my heart five years ago. May of last year I connected with Cherie Creech. Cherie has been working in Africa with orphans and widows for years and heavily influenced my choice to follow Christ years ago. I expressed my desire for missions in Africa and she told me there was a open spot to work with Kenya Widows and Orphans (KWO Ministries).
The hope of Africa became a reality.
After days of travel, mishaps, loads of snow, half of our team unable to come, supplies getting lost, we finally made it to Dirubi. We were staying in a small village where I believe the first KWO orphanage was located. On the other side of it was the two year old training center. When students turn 18 and leave the orphanage, they have the choice to come and study a certain trade for a year.
Each night we had different spiritual themes that we taught the students. Unity was the first. The students came from thirteen different orphanages, different tribes, different languages. One of our main goals was to teach them they have more in common that they realize, that Christ makes them one. We wanted them to learn how to work as a team. To protect each other. One day we spent talking about sex and how Godly men and women treat each other, as well as dispelling myths. We also covered God's purpose in there lives and how they have value. We helped them understand the impact they can have in the community. Each night we presented the topics, held small group discussions and even played games to better illustrate the ideas. We ended the camp with camp songs and a small dance party. It was a sight to see! Everyone was enjoying songs like the YMCA, Who Let The Dogs Out, and The Twist. The students had smiles on their faces the size of Texas, as did we.
The students were amazing, loving and willing to be open. Willing to share their lives with us and each other. Willing to be open about their hurts, their struggles as well as their hopes. All of them understand that they have an amazing opportunity, but are sometimes saddened because they know others who do not. They began to realize that they can take what they learned back to where they are from and make an impact on their community.
It was organized chaos, and not what we had planned but it was what the Lord had allowed, and that was good enough for me. We had a phrase that was said throughout the week and it holds true for all of us. Even though we don’t call them tribes, we all come from one. Be it families, schools, friendships, or hardships that we have suffered together, we come from different tribes, we have different stories some good and some bad. They make us who we are and do not change who our God was, and is and continues to be. One Voice. One Tribe. One people. One God.
I urge those of us who have the choice, to do things that make us uncomfortable, to go to places we don’t want to go. This doesn’t always mean crossing an ocean, but it can be. My hope is that we would not look at hardship as a wall God is setting up and saying no. It may just be that we must work harder and push past our comfort zone, and trust that God is working, and even though he doesn’t need us, he wants us. We will not always have a peace about the hard decisions in life, but they have to be made, and we must trust in God to work things out.