As many of yall know I had the opportunity to experience life in a place that was completely foreign to me this past August. Growing up I had always dreamed of going on mission trips, and Africa had always been my top choice. The trouble I always had was wrestling with myself and others on why I would go so far away to help when I could help here. I know many people have this view still to this day and I am here to speak some insight into that.
On August 29th, the night before I was supposed to leave I tossed and turned over the idea of a 15 hour flight with people I barely knew to a land I knew nothing about. It was slightly overwhelming, but I was so unbelievably excited at the same time. I think that is when you know the Lord is in your presence when you are uncomfortable, yet oh so curious.
I boarded the flight and was so very excited to continue with my trip, until my plane started to drop and the turbulence made the plane feel like it was a big bag of popcorn being shaken. This was the beginning of my trip, the beginning where The Lord was present, but Satan wants to convince you otherwise..it happens all to often.
We landed in Kenya….did I say Kenya. People I, me, Paige, has been in KENYA. To this day I just cannot contain my excitement, that I got to go to Kenya. So if you ask me about Kenya and I do a giddy laugh or I run and jump, just ignore me I will be glad to tell you all my stories.
Now when I say Kenya, I am not speaking of what you see on the news of sadness and desolation, I am speaking of a place that the word beautiful cannot even describe well enough. A place full of relationship, beauty, and poinsettias that are literally trees. For example, You see here in the US the conversation of hey, hello, how are you, is such a stale way to make someone think you actually care about them. In Kenya, when you say how are you, they stick around to truly hear about how YOU are…not scurry past to their next function, or event on their oh so busy schedule. It was neat to see just how many connections and friendships could be made in such a short time without my phone attached to my hand, a computer in front of my face, and the TV blaring in the background.
What many of you all do not know is that I was only in Kenya 9 days…9 days, that is enough time to finish a show on Netflix or to take a vacation to Colorado, not halfway across the world. Many think that a short term mission trip has no impact, and you do not really get anything out of it, but I am here to tell you that is such a terrible acquisition.
Let me tell you what my 9 days were full to the brim of.. I fed monkeys with my bare hands, came face to face with a raging elephant, was literally five feet away from a cheetah, and saw giraffes in their natural habitat. I learned how chapatti was made, discovered that Kenyan tea may be my new favorite thing, and that being a Mzungu(white person) had its drawbacks. I saw children in a desolate place thirsting for some kind of hope of a different life, realized that I could be surrounded by nature and people and be perfectly content, and realized that riding around on Kenyan roads really strengthens your arm muscles because your constantly preparing for the next bump in the road. I saw the love of God in 59 children whose life’s changed from a life of no hope and desolation to one where their joy for life overflows, and I discovered that being called auntie is almost as great as receiving a little bear hug from a swarm of children.
My favorite story was when we visited an IDP camp(internally displaced person) that is full of families that fled the city for safety during post election violence. On one Sunday we drove down to this IDP camp not really knowing what to expect and pulled up to tents that were tattered and torn surrounded by kids running around with not the cleanest clothes and dirt everywhere you turn. If you keep driving amidst all of these tattered tents you suddenly see a building. The crazy thing about this “building” is that after 6 years of living in tents the people of the IDP camp were asked if they would want homes built. After almost no thought they responded that before anything else they wanted a church. A Church. These people have nothing, and they asked for a church. If that does not explain to you the character of these people, I do not know what will. Here are people with nothing so their only hope is in the Lord, their faith is so evident in every conversation, every song, and just how they live. Attending their church service one Sunday I was quickly convicted and began to examine my own faith and if I truly have complete trust in the Lord or if I like to control it myself and let the Lord come in every so often.
Besides uncovering and reexamined my faith I also discovered new passions for kids who have nothing and need to hear how they are loved by a King who is so much greater than anything on this earth. I gathered so much information about the culture, the way of life, and Kenyan friendships that my views about the scary Africa were completely rewritten to ones full of joy. I learned what it truly means to sit in silence and be directed by the Lord. I was in Kenya 9 days and I will forever be changed by my trip, by the people I met, and by the lives that impacted mine forever. So when you begin to think of a short term mission trip as nothing short of lame, think again!
Where the Lord leads you..go, no matter who is behind you judging you, there are that many more people supporting you, you just may not know it yet. Be Brave and take that step of courage, it will not let you down. Let this world that the Lord created be so much greater than our little bubble of assurance and safety and lets break outside those lines to find our true courage and be brave.