As many of you already know, I was part of a team that spent two weeks of January 2016 in Kitale, Kenya setting up mobile eye clinics. The idea of traveling to Kenya had been on my heart for years, and I was so excited/blessed/nervous to finally get the opportunity to be on my way there! I was blown away by the support I had from my friends, family, and community when they heard about the trip and our team’s mission; it was reassuring to have all those around me telling and showing me that they shared my excitement—that shared in my dream in some way. Part of me was paralyzed in sheer bliss, but another part of me was looking to the trip as some sort of inquiry: could I see myself returning to this place, and did I see the potential to become even more involved in the welfare of Kenya? Since graduating from college, I have had a desire to go somewhere to serve and learn. Working in tandem with this intense passion is my relative freedom to move from place to place; I am not currently in school, I have not yet found a career pathway that is screaming my name, and I have the fluidity of youth on my side. It would seem that this version of myself, at this specific moment in my life, is perfectly fit to jump into the wild world and see exactly what God has planned for me. I think I should also mention meeting a woman named Sammy during my last trip, as she has a quite a lot to do with where this story is going. Sammy is from Mission Viejo, has been going on trips to Kenya for almost 10 years, and has lived in Kenya full time for the past 4 years. She has started her own orphanage/school called "Precious Kids Center”, where she cares for and teaches 45 kids suffering from mental or physical disabilities. These kids are the most loving kids I have ever been around. I loved every second I spent at the center with these special humans who give so much love so easily, and are just as easy to love. As the week went on and I had more time to talk to Sammy about my desire to come back she told me, "You are welcome to return anytime you want, I would love that. And, the kids would love that”. As I went home, I reflected on the fact that a little piece of my heart was left behind at her center but also that an invitation to come back presented itself. When I got back to America, Kenya was constantly on my mind. I had the place to go serve, a heart ready to do it, and absolutely no clue how to make this ambition a reality. It is much easier to say you want to do something big than to actually pursue it. I've learned that God uses the process to shape us into followers of Him. How are we going to respond when He puts a big task on our hearts? I decided to give up on all of the swirling questions of "is this reallyyyy where God wants me to be”, "can God reallyyyyy use me in a place like Kenya”, or even "how the heck am I going to pay for a trip like that”. I abandoned self-doubt, and trudged forward ready to do anything within my power to make my return trip a reality. I prayed that God would close doors, rather than waiting for Him to open them. And then, just as He always does when we surrender, He showed up in a big way. A friend of mine was asking me about my desire to go back and I told him my next step was to buy a plane ticket. “It’s just a big purchase”. He told me that he had a bunch of miles that he would love to give to me for the trip. I was shocked at his generosity, and he insisted on not wasting time. We met for coffee five days later and booked my plane tickets.
All of this has been a long-winded way of saying, “Now it’s official!”. I will be going back to Kitale on May 15th to live with Sammy until September 14th. I'm so, so excited for this season of exploration that will take me back to a place that is still so foreign to me! I'm praying for more opportunities to say “Yes!” to Him as this journey begins, and i'm excited to invite you all on this journey with me. I need to raise $3000 to cover the cost of living expenses, food, transportation, and a plethora of other miscellaneous things (like health insurance, phone bills, etc.). I will also be starting up a blog that I will be updating about what i'm doing, and how the Lord is working in Kenya! Any support financially, prayerfully, or even just encouragement would be so, so loved.
Thank you for letting me share some of my story with you, and can't wait to keep you updated on this journey!