Assignments that mean something.
The sound of speaker systems blasting “Ebenezer” a little too loudly rings in my ear as I spin around dancing on my tiptoes. The cold grass and mud beneath my feet allow a soft landing from jumping and stomping to the beat. Two little girls are holding my hands and two more awkwardly grasp my arm in hopes for it to soon be their turn to intertwine their tiny fingers into mine. The air smells of diesel fuel and corn being blackened on the barbeque. I turn my sight to the people behind me where I see thirty or forty Kenyan people stopped to watch the “Mzungus” dancing to a song about Jesus. “Mzungu” is Swahili for a white person, and in this moment I was embracing my superb ability to dance as many other white people find themselves more than capable. Perhaps it was the time difference or lack of sleep messing with my mind, but in my opinion I could have challenged Beyoncé in a dance off and victory would’ve been mine. Either way, I was in Africa, and I was having the time of my life.
For about four years I had dreamed to go to Africa on a missions trip. I had an unexplainable yearning, a wanderlust for Africa and I didn’t know why. It was something about the faces of African children that simply brought joy to my heart. I knew that someday, somehow I would go to Africa, and I would do whatever it took to get there. I had been on mission trips before, so I knew that helping people and experiencing cultures different than my own was something that I was passionate about. I had an idea in my mind of what going to Africa would be like, but my actual experience was something far beyond any of my expectations or dreams.
I had been attending Life Pacific College when I first found out about the opportunity to go to Kenya. For the entire year I met with the team, planned, prepared, and fundraised the full $3000 I needed in order to go. After what seemed like an eternity of preparation, May 7th finally came, and fourteen of us departed LAX for our adventure in Africa. The traveling aspect of the trip was interesting to say the least; I can’t say that 20 hours on a plane is enjoyable for anyone. However, when we finally landed in Nairobi and started the long drive to a village about five hours away called Naromuru, it finally dawned on me that I was in Africa.
Looking back on my time in Kenya, the entire two weeks are a blur. We worked with local churches from early morning to late at night, spent hours in medical clinics treating hundreds of sick patients, and put on Christian crusades in abandoned lots downtown. Sleep was limited, and the food was less than preferable. I had never seen so many bugs in my life, but I was not about to let that hinder my experience. So, every night I slipped into my blue mosquito net and listened to the monkeys outside my window. The entire trip was uncomfortable as it pushed me out of my comfort zone and into an unknown culture with a confusing language, weird food, and traumatizing bathrooms (or should I say holes in the ground). However, it was the act of removing my pride and comfort that really allowed me to grow as a person and allow God to work through me. I learned to deny myself every morning, and only then could I fully embrace my experience in Africa.
The small, unexplainable dream of someday going to Africa became a reality that exceeded my expectations and taught me more than I can even comprehend or explain. I learned about the power of God’s healing through prayer and faith as I witnessed healing and chains being broken. I experienced Him providing financially for myself and other team members beyond the imaginable. I cried as I shared my story and prayed with Kenyan people to receive Christ into their lives. Beyond all of these, though, I watched God take a small desire that I had in my heart, and I saw Him bless it.