To be honest, I had no idea what to expect going to Kenya. I joined the trip last minute and had never done anything like it before.
I will share three most memorable times that stick out from my trip. The first was our time doing work crew at a young life camp. We got to see leaders, staff, and high school/college kids work so hard to make sure that the campers would have an amazing camp experience. It was so joyful to work alongside them; I had a constant smile. Our Kenyan co-workers would teach us Swahili, famous dance moves, ask us about life in the US, answer our questions about life in Kenya, and so much more. We got so close to some of the campers and leaders there. Getting to see their YL club was exciting, and the say-so where kids get to declare they started a relationship with Christ that week was so impactful. Leaving camp was so hard because I realized how much joy they had- it’s addictive to be around.
The second most impactful memory was going to Friends of Bernardo’s orphanage. We went to visit these kids two different times. The first was to get a tour and spend some time playing with the infants, toddlers, and go into the houses that would typically consist of one mom and around 15 kids of all ages. It was beautiful what these women were doing. The next time, we got to go on a Friday, which was a night called “fellowship at the orphanage.” A couple of Young Life leaders and staff run a Young Life like club for all the houses at the orphanage. They had some kids pretty much run the show from the orphanage, and it was so cool to see them get to have some ownership over the time they got to spend together. All these kids knew the leaders and would get so excited when they spotted them. It was easy to see that these YL leaders were lights to these kids. I am a Young Life leader, and I often think as leaders or being a part of any ministry in general, we sometimes take for granted the opportunity we have to love kids and allow God to work through us to change lives. For me, it even becomes a chore to show up to the school for dismissal, or run club, or drive kids around everywhere. My Kenyan friends showed me what it looks like to serve the Lord out of love and live in the joy and freedom that Christ reveals to us when we are serving him. That was a wakeup call for me.
The last moment that hit me was after spending two weeks with our new YL friends in Kenya; they wanted to show us where a lot of them grew up. It was a slum just a ten-minute walk down the road from where we were staying.
“We were told about the things that took place there, and it was difficult to hear. Arriving there was even harder. Our friends- our Jesus loving, servant-hearted, beautiful friends came from this slum we were walking through.”
We met some of their moms, siblings, and neighbors they grew up with. We met some people who are currently working for organizations to help the people and kids that live there. We sat in our close friend’s parents’ house in the slum and prayed over it. I am not much of a crier, but when no one was watching me during our prayer time, I lost it.
Walking out of the slum, I felt so encouraged. The beautiful people that have walked out of there and are changing the lives of so many kids, and even going back to that area to help find ways to better the slum was all I could think of. My new friends were even more awesome than I thought. I’m sure you can imagine how hard it was to leave them.
Kenya grew me in so many ways. I wish I could share every moment, and how it shaped my faith because it was a life- changing experience.