It’s now only 12 more days until my next visit to Kenya! I’m so beyond excited!
Two years ago, I went to Kenya for my first time and was so anxious. I had been on a mission trip when I was sixteen (I won’t comment on how many years ago that was!) and had traveled to Mexico and Canada, but that was the extent of my travel outside the US.
I remember that at this time two years ago, I had packed and unpacked my bag at least 5 times to make sure everything would fit. I had researched on Pinterest things to pack for Kenya, what to wear on a mission trip in Africa, what medicines to take, etc. I wanted to be prepared and had no idea what to expect. I had been working with Light Up Hope for 4 years already but had not yet been to Kenya to see first-hand what we were doing.
When we landed in Kenya it was dark; I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. The next morning, we toured Nairobi. Everywhere I looked there was litter; cows roamed freely on the dirt road; the mud I was walking in formed from the liquid coming from the buckets people were dumping out of their homes. I also showered out of a bucket. I was out of my element to say the least.
During my time in Kenya, most of the Light Up Hope students were in school. We visited a few of them. I knew that having never met them before in person, I was more like a stranger to them. We also visited the area of Kitale, held a one-day children’s camp at the orphanage there, and hosted a seminar with the guardians. By the time I left Kenya 10 days later, I was glad I went and at the same time, thankful to be going home to the comforts I missed. I thought I would never go back again. I realized that I was a spoiled American and convinced myself my work didn’t need me to travel to Kenya.
Then as months passed, Light Up Hope went through a major change with our partner in Kenya at the time. My heart was broken, and I didn’t know what the future of Light Up Hope would be. However, Light Up Hope made it through one of its darkest days and started a new chapter – an exciting one with our new partnerships in Nairobi and Kibingoti.
As things started to shift for Light Up Hope, things also started to shift for me. I stared to yearn to go back to Kenya. What was this? I would get envious when others would go. When I saw pictures from colleagues’ trips on social media, I wanted to be there. I wanted to celebrate our achievements with those in Kenya. I missed the red dirt, the Kenyan church experience, the participants! An opportunity came up for me to go and I jumped on it, much to my husband’s surprise.
This time is different, I’ll still be the spoiled American a little out of her element. But I’ve been in the trenches with Light Up Hope these past few years and helped navigate to get to where we are today and to generate the vision of where we plan to go. I’m excited to see in person everything we have fought so hard to build. I’m excited to be with the students we fought so hard to keep with us.
Kelly and I are going to hit the ground running when we land in Kenya. It’ll be dark, and I’ll be exhausted, but I’m excited for the days to come, the great adventure only Kenya can bring.