On to my journey….I am currently living in a small city just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Before arriving I was told I would be teaching, so naturally I thought that meant just the kids and I. I have very limited teaching experience and had not received the curriculum upon arrival, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the Sunday before school started that I would be assistant teaching, at least at first. Hallelujah!! Nevertheless I came prepared with donated school supplies and money from my friends, church, and others who have been to Kenya (God worked in a BIG way in this area). Upon arrival I also found out I would be leading a youth bible study during Sunday school on Sharing Your Faith Without Fear and preaching in the children’s service. All things I’ve never had the opportunity to do before. God is definitely stretching me, as on mission trips I’ve always performed a more behind the scenes role, but never teaching, leading, or preaching. I preferred to leave that to the more experienced Christians. I do ask for your prayers as I go on this journey. That I will be continually filled with God, and that Satan will take a trip out the back door!
However, this trip is not where the journey began. While I was in college my parents decided to go on a 10 – 11 day medical mission trip to Kenya, Africa. I remember being excited for them, but a little bit scared. I made sure to remind them not to pack their beef jerky near their clothes, as I didn’t want them to get eaten by a lion (little did I know they were in the rainforest, so it was unlikely they would even come close to a lion haha). After coming back they told me story after story about Africa. The next year my Dad went on the trip without Mom and again came back telling tale after tale. At the time I was in college. I was in my own little world studying and having a fun time with my friends, and to be honest I really just wanted to go to the beach. I just didn’t get it. I was away from God at this time.
Then the summer after my senior year I had the opportunity to go with them and we’ll just say the rest is history…as my group puts it “I was bitten by the Kenya bug.” While in my youth group I went to Mexico and Puerto Rico on mission trips, but they didn’t affect me like Kenya. There is something very special about this country and the African continent. I have an overwhelming love for the country, the culture, and the people, and if you talk to me for about 5 minutes in person you’ll probably find this out. By the end of my first trip (which is still my favorite trip so far…you can’t beat the exhilaration of experiencing something for the first time.) I was definitely ready to go home. However, when I arrived back in the states and had time to get settled back in Birmingham, Al (taking my last college class) I couldn’t help but think I want to go back for a little bit longer. I searched online for different organizations but never could find the correct one.
I continued to go on the medical portion of the trips (the first week a group does evangelism and the second week we do a medical clinic that includes evangelism) for the next two years, but my desire to go back apart from the group was pushed down, because I was pursing a career as a publicist in country music. You see country music is another passion of mine. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but when I finally decided at age 19 I had a one-track mind and absolutely nothing was going to stop me. However after working at two different PR Firms I finally agreed with God (he had been tapping on my shoulder for a while…nothing like an unrest given by God when you’re not pursuing his plan for your life huh) that entertainment pr is not what I need to be pursuing at this time. You see my job had become a stronghold in my life. I realized that it’s where I found my identity. In high school I was the goodie-two-shoes youth group girl, in college I was the sorority girl that had a lot of fun, and after college I was the publicist (albeit a God and Africa loving one). I also didn’t like the person I was becoming which was a selfish “me first person” who didn’t have time to help a friend in need, spend time with family, and who was always stressed out and feeling like I wasn’t doing anything to help the world. That my friends, is absolutely NO way to live.
So this past September I found myself twenty-six, living with my parents, with absolutely no commitments, and some savings (the plan was to save up and buy a house…funny how God changes our plans for the better). So I went on the yearly trip in October and after the last day of clinic I asked if they ever have people come back by themselves. The response was “come on we’ll take good care of you.” The result a mildly terrified Callan and later a couple of very terrified parents. So I sent an email in early November about coming back for a month. I got a response close to Thanksgiving that they wanted me to come in January and teach. I later found out they wanted me to stay for three months (I’ve never been away from home for more than a month). I have never been more excited and more terrified by an email in my entire life.
As always happens in life, and especially with anything in Africa, the plan changed. This time due to the upcoming elections and the potential for violence in Nairobi. The trip kept on getting postponed, and I found out 5 weeks before that I was clear to book my plane ticket for the first of May. I would like to say I patiently waited but that was not the case. When I originally asked about the trip money was not going to be a problem. However, I had a collision with another SUV. This resulted in my purchasing a new (used) vehicle. Money became an issue, but God has come through in this area. In addition to this and some other issues, my granddad is not in the best of health, and I was nervous he would not be there when I got back. So after some fretting and worrying and over analyzing about whether I should go or not. Here I am a bug fearing, clean (as in shower once or twice a day) clean freak, prissy southern girl a week and four days into the trip sitting in my hotel room listening to Dolly Parton sing “Jolene” over the loud speaker outside as I type this blog post as happy as can be.