January 31, 2013

A New Year, A Life Changed Pt. 2

Oh Kenya...my first time back to my home country where I spent the first 10 years of my life. 
Our journey to Kenya started off with a bang. 
The entrance of Fiwagoh Children's Home
We waited in Jinja for another Visiting Orphans team to arrive. They would continue in Uganda with our transportation and we would go on to Kenya with their transportation. 
What we thought would be a 1 pm departure ended up being a 7pm departure. 
What we thought would be a 6 hour drive ended up being a 16 hour drive. 
Our dinner consisted of snacks: goldfish, fruit snacks, and granola bars. Lots of miss communication and paperwork wars, long visa lines, hot stuffy bus, made the visa process over the border long and daunting.
No one really slept, it was dark and quite frankly scary. There were lots of police stops, speed bumps and pot holes. 
But despite this 'adventure' we didn't anticipate it was incredible to watch the team come together. Some people experienced anxiety, some needed a shoulder to sleep on, some of the men sat near the door for safety, some needed food, and others needed a good laugh. We supported each other through a very long night.
We rolled into Nakuru headed to Fiwagoh Children's Home. It was Saturday, their sabbath. We were gearing up for a 3 hour service, with no energy, totally exhausted. But we prayed that it would not be our strength but God's. That our emptiness would be a perfect vessel for God to make us full. It had to be God because we had nothing to offer. It was a great place for the team to be. And it was an incredible day.

Fiwagoh is a home for about 220 children. Children who love God, know scripture and have so much hope. We saw grade school kids giving testimonies. 5 year olds singing hymns, a 14 year old preaching with power. It was energizing and inspiring. We then grabbed some sugar cane and a child's hand and walked 3 miles by Lake Elementatia. It was beautiful and relational - an afternoon stroll with our new friends. The team did not get tired until 5 pm, supernatural strength! I was so proud of them.
We are pros, no big deal.
Photo credit: Teryll Sacks
Faith and Lucy gave a few of us a tour of their garden. They are working towards being totally self-sustaining. It was a massive garden - mangos, pineapple, avocado, passion fruit, sugar cane, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, corn, and beans - to name a few. Any leftover food they had they would share with the neighbors. Lucy proudly showed me her plot of land. She is currently growing beans and corn. The seniors get a little strip of land so they can learn to garden as well. It was so beautiful.
On our tour.
Photo credit: Carla Geiser
My sweet Lucy!
Bread making.
Photo credit: Carol Duarte
 Look at those baby rabbits!
Photo credit: Carol Durate
More fuzzy animals!
Sugar cane!
Photo credit: Taeilorae Levell
One of my highlights was spending time with Teresah, an 18 year old nurse-in-training. Chelsea, Taeilorae and I loved setting in the clinic learning all about her natural remedies. 
For example: A common cold
Cut up red onion and garlic. Add to honey. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Remove the onion and garlic. Take 1 tablespoon of the honey like a syrup every hour until symptoms are gone. 
She was such a great teacher and took the time to really make sure we understood what she was saying. We were taking notes and learning so many natural tricks. She is also studying to be a midwife. When I told her that I was interested in the childbirth field she got so happy. It was a really special time. 
Teresah in her clinic
Teresah and Abby
Photo credit: Abby Kraft
The team also experienced a holy moment. 
We witnessed 3 new boys being welcomed into the family.
Here is what Carol wrote, their new sponsor mom:
"Meet Ian, Peter & John 2. They came to the orphanage the day before we left. They are 8, 8 & 6 and have been living alone in the streets for 6 years!! YES you read that right! Since they were 2 and an infant!!!! Their skin is like a reptile from lack of water and they have worms from scavenging pig scraps. The pastor that runs this place "Dad" & Michael bathed them with love. I cannot thank them enough for their loving kindness! Please pray for their health! PS this is an all too common story!"
Many times we hear these type of stories but we never see it. And then we travel to Africa and we see the children but at Fiwagoh they are doing so well. When we actually saw and heard where these children come from first hand, it really impacted us. The team was very emotional. It was heart-wrenching to hear how these children were left as infants to fend for themselves. And yet it was so beautiful and sacred to see how they were welcomed into their family, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Weren't we all spiritually orphaned once? What a beautiful experience. 
Sweet Ian, Peter and John
Photo credit: Carol Duarte
We slept and ate at Fiwagoh. It became our home while we were in Kenya. I loved the routine. 
Every morning and every night we would worship with the children. They were a family that cared for each other. The seniors took care of the younger ones and they were all so respectful. We loved sharing a meal with them.
Sharing meals
So much joy!
Photo credit: Carol Duarte
Friendship bracelets.
Photo credit: Carol Duarte
Michael and I with his buddy Jonathan
Michael and Jonathan
Pastor Benson and his wife Florence
Nahashun - the amazing 15 year old preacher! 
Some of the senior boys. Incredible men!
*We also spent the day at Haven of Hope and Amazing Grace. We had some great memories there and learned about two different types of ministries in Kenya. But for sake of not writing a book, I am only going to talk about the place that stole my heart :)

On the last day, we left Nakuru and made our way to Nairobi to catch our night flight. 
We stopped at an overlook of the Rift Valley. I could see the town where I was born. It was really special to share that with Michael. 
We saw giraffes, baboons, and zebras. I hugged and kissed a giraffe :) Just had to keep up with my fuzzy animal theme. 
Sweet Lynn
Photo credit: Sarah Crawford 
One of the most moving moments of the whole trip for me, was when the team spent 5 hours going through each team member and sharing our love for them. We uplifted and exhorted each person. It was the most beautiful way to end the trip. My family just got 23 people bigger and my heart got 220+ children bigger. 
Tender moment with the team...lots of tears.
Michael and I were reflecting on the trip and recognized how impacting these trips are. They are a catalyst for change in someone's life. They move you to do greater things. They push you to love each other better, to think beyond yourself and your 'issues'. Experiencing the third world, the joy of children, poverty, hope, lack of western conveniences, no agenda... it will change you forever. 

So to my team - May God use this trips as a moment in your life that radically changes your heart for greater things. In the weeks to come, may you encounter a taste for your role in the change this world needs. You all are so dear to me. Thank you for making these 2 weeks a momentous occasion in my life. You will always have a friend in Nashville. Can't wait to see what is next....
Best team in the world!
Photo credit: Carol Duarte


  1. My eyes are leaking! Ahhhhh! Love you so much <3 coming to Nashville in June!

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