What was your first journey to Africa like?
I was asked by a dear friend of mine to join a Young Life Expeditions trip to Tanzania in 2013, and having felt called to venture to Africa for quite some time, I simply couldn’t say no.
On that trip, we served the Young Life staff in Arusha by rebuilding one of their boarding school’s recreation centers. This space was ultimately used as a Young Life Club room and area for the school to host events, meetings, classes and things of that nature.
From there, we set off to climb Kilimanjaro – a truly awe-inspiring place in which I have never experienced the Lord in a more physical way. Manifested in the porters and guides was a literal embodiment of Jesus himself climbing alongside our group. They went before us. They helped us up when we would fall. They bore the burden of our heavy packs. It was incredible to witness them serve as Jesus did, and was a picture of Heaven I’ll never forget.
An interview with Kaitlyn Frysztak, Young Life Zimbabwe Regional Team Member and two-time “Young Life Africa expeditioner” who recently traveled to RIKA, an annual Young Life training session for new leaders from all over Africa. Here, she provided operational support to help RIKA run as smoothly as possible, prayed over and with the leaders, and built relationships with YLA staff and leaders.
What was returning home to the States like?
When I came home after that trip, what I would call the ‘Africa heartache’ definitely set in. It essentially felt like a longing or deep ache you’d associate with loss. But this longing wasn’t necessarily to go back to Africa immediately but rather, a desire for a place that was not of this world. It evolved into a hope for somewhere that is greater than where we are today, a place where all brokenness will be made new.
Ironically, I went through an emotional heartache immediately following my return home, so to be able to reference the climb and know the Lord is always there with us through suffering and pain, both physically and emotionally, was a gift I never would have even known to ask for. It made it easier to trust Him and His timing, especially given the rest I could draw from in the memories made on Kilimanjaro.
Why did you go back to Africa?
Despite it only being a few years between trips, it felt like it had been a lifetime. Knowing what a deep impact my initial expedition had on my life, I couldn’t help but say yes when asked to return in 2015. This time however, I’d be returning to Zimbabwe.
The second trip was very different than before, full of new experiences and a lot of firsts. While we went on safari and saw one of the seven wonders of the world (Victoria Falls), praying with leaders at Morning Star and being a part of a Camp on Wheels (COW) Work Crew was unworldly. Returning to take part in more of the African lifestyle, rather than an adrenaline pumping adventure gave me eyes to see the world anew. Getting a glimpse into what day-to-day life is like, and building relationships with kids and leaders in a camp setting was transformative, for kids’ lives and my own.
Tell us more about your experience at RIKA this January.
Well, it would appear that my call to Africa has been quite frequent and distinct. At RIKA, I realized the importance of acknowledging the Holy Spirit as a crucial part of my life, one we seem to easily forget about in the US. The Spirit brings the Word to life, and allows us to meet God in a way that abandons our previous assumptions about Him, and teaches us who He truly is. When we have eyes and ears to recognize how the Spirit is working in our lives, we can no longer be passive participants in the life He’s called us to lead.
How would you describe your experience in Africa as a whole?
I found myself embracing patience and growing in understanding of what it means to take things one step at a time. What it means to take life one experience at a time. What it means to love others one relationship at a time.
There’s a deep sense of joy that comes with spending quality time with those you love when a bus breaks down, or the camp kitchen is chaos. It’s been such a blessing to observe the African way of life, and I look forward to living each day in assurance that these expeditions weren’t the end… they were just the beginning.
Why should people go to Africa to experience Young Life?
I’ve pondered lately over how our society has seemed to make a habit out of choosing passive contributions to this world, instead of taking an active part in helping restore it. But going to Africa is unique in that it brings you alongside the ministry physically – you make personal connections with the kids and leaders who are utilizing the resources they’ve been given. It’s one thing to know of someone serving the Kingdom abroad, and a whole other level to put a face to the name of those doing the tough work of bringing kids to Jesus. Witnessing and building those relationships firsthand are worth more than any dollar amount, digital communication or static image could buy. They enable you to be an active investor in the Kingdom and witness the eternal, global impact of Young Life.