Blog, Travel

Gifts, Dancing & Giraffe Kisses

Last summer I had the opportunity to go back to Kenya for a second time. I went with a team from my church as part of an organization called World Hope. I am wishing so bad that I would have written this all out back then right after I got home. Sometimes I think when you experience something so outside of your ‘normal’ it kind of feels like a dream when you look back on it and some of the details get a little blurred. However, some of the events of this trip I can remember like they were yesterday because they changed my heart and had such an impact on me. So while this may have been better written six months ago, I want to tell you about it now.

I should start by saying how much I love World Hope. I can’t remember a time before my family was involved with this organization. God has used them and blessed them so much and I’m lucky to have had even the tiniest role in just witnessing it and going on some of the trips.
While at the Hope Center it isn’t uncommon for the people who work there to stop and just tell you how much they love World Hope and how it has changed their lives forever. If you’d like to know more about what they do, check out their website here.

The Hope Center is set right in the middle of the second largest slum in Africa. The name describes perfectly what goes on here. It is a center for hope. Kids who otherwise would not have gotten an education are receiving a really great one because of people like you and me supporting them, and a church is reaching people and helping them grow in their faith.

The Hope Center:

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The slum:

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I love the above pictures because you can see that just outside of the walls is the slum, but inside there is so much hope.

On one of the first days that our team got there we were treated to the coolest performances by the students of World Hope Academy as a ‘thank-you’ for coming. I wish I could explain to you the overwhelming feeling I had when I walked into the school that day. I was one of the first people to actually walk in and see them erupt in applause and cheering over their excitement to see us. It made me immediately burst into tears while I was being led into a huge dance party. So I was this mess of laughing, crying, and dancing. It’s one of my top 10 favorites moments in life so far.

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Something that I wish everyone could see about these people is the way that they worship. It is the number one thing that I have taken away from being there. It does not matter what the circumstances are, when they worship it’s as if God has entered the room and you can feel Him all around you. That kind of closeness to Him is something we can all strive for. The humility and love shown by everyone there is what changes me more than anything. It’s humbling to be reminded of how blessed we are and how big God is. On the other side of the planet He is taking care of people who’s lives are so different from ours and He loves us all the same.

Another thing I love about this trip is just getting to play with the kids and bond with some of them individually. Glenn and Malcom are two boys who participated in the performance. They did this adorable dance and a few days later I had them teach it to me. They laughed at how horrible my attempts at dancing were and I laughed at how they kept trying to teach me anyway. I’m not sure if we’re allowed to pick favorites, but if we are then they are two of mine. Two of the silliest and most fun kids I’ve ever met.

Malcom and Glen
Malcom and Glen

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Another little boy who I have to tell you about is named Dennis. Dennis and I threw a frisbee back and forth for an hour one afternoon. On the day we left he gave me a gift. He handed me a bracelet perfectly wrapped in notebook paper. I was so humbled by it. How can people want to be generous to others who they know have so much? It’s a reminder to me that gifts should never be about how much or little someone has. I say a prayer for Dennis every time I wear this bracelet. I can’t wait to hug this little boy and tell him thank you again.

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The major reason that a team is sent every summer is to conduct a Medical Clinic for the students and the people in the community. Some people had donated all these glasses and equipment for this particular trip, so we were able to give people prescription glasses. We watched some of them see clearly for the first time ever. It was the coolest thing to see. Literally.

Rahab in her new glasses.
Rahab in her new glasses.
My dad and this cool kid in his new glasses.
My dad and this cool kid in his new glasses.

We were able to give medicine, glasses, vitamins, and even a hearing aid to a little girl, Sophia, who was deaf from a very young age. Those several days of outpouring God’s love onto people were some of the most fulfilling days I’ve ever spent.

Me & Jon being sassy at the clinic.
Me & Jon posing at the clinic.
My cousin, Ladonna, and the little girl who was given the hearing aids.
My cousin, Ladonna and Sophia, who was given the hearing aids.

Now I can’t talk about Kenya without mentioning all the animals. We did get to go on a safari, and I did kiss a giraffe.

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Here I’ve added a few more pictures from our trip just because:

Our team!
Our team!

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I'm in love with this picture of my mom. She's just being silly but the one kid's face is priceless.
I’m in love with this picture of my mom. She’s just being silly but the one kid’s face is priceless.
Breakfast at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel.
My favorite travel partners.
My favorite travel partners.

Our church is sending the next team this summer. June 15-24 . I can’t miss out on being a part of this again this year. One of the biggest miracles that we get to experience every year happens before even boarding the plane. The expense to get there is big, but God makes it happen every time. If you’d like to help my fund my trip, I am so grateful. I’ve placed a link here.

If you’re considering coming on this trip with us, do it. If you feel like it’s what you’re supposed to do then come. When it’s meant to be then the money will come. Let God show you that miracle.

If you’re not coming along then stay connected: donate, and pray for us. When you hear all the stories of what happened afterward you will wish you had been a part in some way!

Special thanks to Chris Creed and Ashley Buchweitz for letting me use so many of your pictures!

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