And by much anticipated, do not think that I have such delusions of grandeur that I believe you've been on the edge of your seats waiting to read this. I simply mean that I have been both eagerly and anxiously looking forward to writing it.
There is always a degree of trepidation when one tries to pen an accurate account of something like a mission trip (or any other event that has a tendency to cause involved parties to see a distinction in their lives before and after). First of all, you want to do the experience justice, and usually feel that no matter your literary skills (or lack thereof), that feat cannot be accomplished. Secondly, each person on a trip may have had a completely different experience, making the writer feel the need to speak not in concrete experiences, but rather subjective ones. Third, there is a shared experience, and thereby culture, which everything is then filtered through. Participants often begin to realize this as they come back to their normative culture and find that no one else seems to "get it."
So with all of that said, I will say... it was too short. Most of you have heard me say this already, but it is honestly my number one reaction to the question, "How was it?" It is always particularly difficult for me to leave a place like that, because I see it as my future, and sometimes want to skip ahead to that point. But it is also very exciting for me to see the possibilities of what my future holds, and it allows me to come back to my current life with renewed energy to prepare myself for whatever future plan God has for me. But you probably are looking for a more practical account with less of my babbling internal thought process.
Basically, we played with the kids. We taught them kick-ball, duck duck goose, how to blow bubbles, crafts, and other things. It is impossible to be around this group of kids and not be smiling from ear to ear. They were so kind, welcoming, loving, and excited. My favorite part of the trip was when the rest of the group hiked a mountain, which I couldn't climb because of my knee. I was sad that I wouldn't be able to go. But instead, I got to just hang out with the kids for about 3 hours. They showed me around the whole campus, invited me into their dorm rooms, asked me tons of questions, told me their dreams for their lives, and stole my heart. There are not a lot of times in my life that I have felt an immediate sense of belonging. It speaks volumes to me, confirming what I believe to be my calling, that it's places like this where I feel that I truly belong. I will put up pictures of the kids that I spent that afternoon with soon, so that you can "meet" them. On a side note, these kids need sponsors to be able to continue in school and realize the dreams that they shared with me. It's only $28 a month. You can feed a family for only $8 a month. There are countless other ways to make a difference, which I think you will want to when you see their beautiful faces. If so, just let me know.
I was also so blessed to get to know the people on our team. Shane (the missionary in Kenya) suggested that we take turns sharing our testimonies in the evenings, and it allowed us to find out things about one another that I never would have expected. It's funny to me that the people I had only ever seen on Sunday mornings, dressed up (as much as we actually dress up at Providence), were now sitting in their pajamas with bare feet and bare souls, sharing with the kind of vulnerability that churches seem to aim for and miss. A trip like this shows you the faults of everyone there, but I can honestly say that I love each of them more now, knowing the scars and imperfections, than I did when I saw them as unblemished and unfamiliar. I hope they can say the same of me.
There are so many more things that I could write about, but this is already very long, and I have the sense that most of you have stopped reading (proper blog etiquette requires, by the way, that you leave a comment if you read). So, I will answer the questions that I haven't already touched on.
What was the funniest thing that happened? Hm... I think I'm going to have to go with a group of five ladies, John Miller, and a French guy who kept reminding us how big of a deal it was that he was helping us all pushing our van out of the mud when we got stuck in the game park. Quality entertainment (once we were out, safe, warm, and clean). Oh, and we bought a live chicken in the middle of a church service. That's a story for another time and another place.
When are you going back? As soon as possible, but realistically, maybe as soon as next year. It depends on a lot of things, including what my role with One Vision becomes in the next year.
What, is the circumference of a moose? I love my family.
Are you going to move to Kenya and care for orphans forever? Not today. That is still my dream, yes.
If you were forced to watch one reality show over and over, what would you pick? Hm... probably So You Think You Can Dance.
What was the most lifechanging moment of the trip? Probably a quiet time that I had at about 3am the second or third day we were there. Oh, or maybe the first night we got there. We stayed at a convent, and I was so absolutely exhausted from traveling and not sleeping in like two days or however long it had been. I crawled into bed with the mosquito netting floating gently and sweetly around me, feeling the breeze from the open window, smelling and hearing Africa outside. I laid there, drifting into sleep, and could not remember ever feeling as happy or peaceful in my whole life as I did in that moment. It was yet another confirmation that God gave me on this trip.
Do you still want to go back and live/work in an orphanage full time one day? Yes.
What was the best part about going? I learned so much about following God from this trip, from the way that he arranged for and allowed me to go, to the things that he taught me there through our experiences, and through Shane and his family. I think the things that he has been trying to tell me for a long time became suddenly clear in Kenya. And I was finally able to spend time in an orphanage, and see that what I've been dreaming of all these years is truly a reality, and a possibility.
Was there anything you missed? My puppy sleeping curled up next to me at night.
I wish I could write more about things like Chris and Eunice, both of whom came to know Christ through women in our group, but I have already written far too much. Thanks to all of you guys who support me, pray for me, and encourage me to follow Christ in my life. There is nothing better in the world than to know the joy that comes from knowing him and following him, and I just want to say thank you to those of you that have helped show me that over the years.