Kenya Experienced (by September Team Member Anne Rex)
October 1st, 2015 by Steph Whitacre
Our September team to Kenya had the privilege of being led by our friend Anne Rex. Anne has traveled to Kenya several times and, as you will read, has an overflowing heart of love for the people of Turkana and the surrounding regions. Anne, thank you for your commitment to serving others, and for sharing your stories today:
It is not what you do in Kenya, it is what you experience. The feel of the breeze, the heat of the sand, the expanse of the stars, the beauty of smiles, the curious eyes, the gracious hospitality, the new food, the simplicity of life, the care for one another. Each day brings a new opportunity, a new experience.
It is hard to put into words all the thoughts and feelings that go through your mind during a trip to Kenya, and even more difficult to explain the changes that occur in your own life as a result of the experience. But I will try, by sharing only two of the 1,000-plus moments I experienced during the September trip.
Water. Water is life. Water is a scarce in the northwest corner of Kenya, about 40 miles outside of Lodwar. Women walk sometimes over 9 miles one way to get water, even though they are never sure what the quality of that water will be. When you see their faces, hear the stories, feel their desperation, watch their excitement when you hand them a two-liter bottle of water, you know you must help them get water. You will never view water the same way again.
SERV raised the $30,000 required to put a well in the village. On my return to the same village, the people were different. Their faces were bright, smiles were easy, their stories were about how community was closer, growing, and about how accessible water has made life easier. There was no feeling of desperation, only one of excitement and of new possibilities. When a two-liter bottle of water was offered to a villager, the response was, “I don’t need that anymore!”
My tears fell easier than I thought they would. I was overjoyed to be with my brothers and sisters as we celebrated together the water that changed their lives in 1,000 ways. Water has given them life.
Love. I saw and experienced love everywhere I went. But let me tell you about the children at House of Hope. Children who have been orphaned, like many other children in Kenya, but by God’s grace have been chosen to have a forever home at the House of Hope.
While at House of Hope, we had the honor of bringing 5 new children into the House Of Hope. Most of these children were being taken care of by extended family members, who were also taking care of many other children and finding it difficult to feed and cloth those in their care, let alone ensure their safety and continued education.
Now living at the House of Hope, each of these children are safe, fed, clothed, and education is a high priority. I could tell you many stories about picking them up, buying clothes, their first impressions, and what it was like to watch the kids experience the first days of a new life. But what stood out above all was the love they received from the 40 children currently living at the House of Hope. Each of those 40 children took part in making sure that each one of the 5 new children were so loved that they knew they were home.
It was amazing to see how caring came easily to them – no one told them what to do, they just did it. These 40 children taught me about love. They showed me how easy love is when we make it about someone else and not ourselves, and how language is not a barrier when love is your first language.
Kenya has pulled my heart in ways that are unexplainable. It is not something to be done or checked off a list, it is something to be experienced.