This past June, I left the United States feeling confident and excited about spending the in Ethiopia and Kenya with both Young Life Expeditions teams as well as local Young Life staff, volunteers, and club kids. You see, I am a huge extrovert and I get excited to meet new people. This is especially true when everyone is involved with Young Life, an organization that has made such an impact on my life. But what I did not expect was to be uncomfortable while I was in these countries and I was shocked that I felt anxious and out of my comfort zone only a few days into the trip. As I was taking cold showers and sleeping under mosquito nets, I realized again that the Lord works in me in big ways when I feel most out of my comfort zone.
While at camp, I was witnessing kids meet Jesus for the first time and leaders pour their whole hearts into loving their high school friends. It was truly unreal to serve on work crew in these countries with my Expeditions teams and club kids from local Young Life areas. In Ethiopia, we would carry over 400 chairs from the club room to the dining hall and back to the club room. We would carry the chairs back and forth six or seven times a day and it was exhausting. My back hurt and my legs were tired, but it was also so beautiful. Campers were feeling loved by us and by their leaders as they saw us do manual labor for them. It was such a new experience to labor for the Lord in such a physical way, but motivating because as we moved each one we would pray over the kids that would soon sit in the chairs. We would pray that they would know Jesus deeper and more fully and in this, I found myself seeing the Lord love His children.
Several weeks later, near the Kakamega Rainforest in Kenya, a few people on my Expeditions team as well as a few local volunteer leaders traveled to a village and walked to different huts to visit and pray for those involved in the ministry there. It was so incredible to see how gracious, kind and welcoming everyone was. I distinctly remember one woman, the mother of a Young Life Campaigners kid, who gave us a chicken as a thank-you for coming to her home and praying for her family. It was so abnormal for me to be given a chicken in return for praying for a kid and her family, but also so kind and again I could feel the Holy Spirit working in me.
I know I am completely insufficient without the Lord. However with Him, I believe that we were able to help show this woman God’s love, mercy, and grace.
Later that afternoon, our Expeditions team and the all of the local Young Life staff met up to climb a mountain in the rainforest. Once we got to the top, we started to sing songs of praise to the Lord. It was beautiful. It was majestic. I was in awe. I could hear people singing in English, Swahili, and some other local language that I had no idea what it was.
When it came time to leave Kenya and board a plane back to the States, I was filled with all kinds of emotions. Sadness as I was about to leave so many new friends. Amazed by everything that I had seen the Lord so clearly do. But I was also filled with joy and comforted by the fact that the Lord would continue to use this journey and work in me after I return