Kenya Youth Mission Trip Final Post
Kenya Youth Mission Trip Final Post by Susie Reeder
We have returned home from a truly amazing trip to our International Mission partner, Mission of Hope International in Kenya. 8 youth and 5 adults…so wish we had more, but it was a perfect group. Everyone got along and did their best to participate and learn. I learned on our first youth trip to Kenya in 1999, that yes, we go to minister, but we also go to learn. And learn we did! I asked each to share with me something that they learned and what was their favorite part. Here are their responses:
For Sophie Blankenship, she said her favorite thing was “seeing and interacting with the kids at Bondeni. You would never know the environment that these kids are living outside of school because of their smiles and the joy that they had.” She learned that “we need to be more grateful for the things that we do have and not complain because we don’t have something. These kids have almost no material items, but they still have so much joy and hope in the Lord.”
Heather Sapp learned “that Kenyas consider visitors as blessing/favor from God and that public schools in Kenya re not free for students and that students are so eager and grateful for the opportunity. The school we visited are very different from what we have in the US.” Her favorite thing she experienced “was the truly warm welcome and genuine smiles and greetings from the students and the people of Kenya.”
Kelly Blankenship learned “the power of contentment. The day we handed out 300 different sheets of scrapbook paper for the Bondeni kids to make a lantern and not one single kid asked for a different sheet of paper or complained about not liking the pattern they received. They were satisfied. In fact, they were happy with it.” Her favoite thing was “probably doing home visits in the slums…must be the old Scoial worker in me. Every single home was welcoming despite their living conditions. They welcomed us, shared, we shared, prayed, and had several accept Christ.”
Thomas Garlington “learned to really appreciate what we have with quality of life in the US. I also really learned that spirituality of a person has nothing to do with how much a person has. My favorite thing was playing soccer at Joska because that’s something I’ll never forget!”
Emma Claire Garlington learned that “relationships are more valuable than any worldly possessions especially when it is a relationship with God. The people in Kenya don’t have anything but are content with what they do have which is their families and the community.” Her favorite thing was “Noel and the rest of the girls learning from Hannah how to dance ballet styles and then them teaching us their styles and being able to perform at worship.”
Lauren Zuravel learned “that God’s blessings come in many different forms. In America we most often think of blessings in the form of material goods and wealth. However, visiting with the people of Kenya showed me that God’s blessings can be shown in more simplistic (and often times even more meaningful ways). If we were not distracted by all the things we surround ourselves with (ex. the most fasionable clothes, the newest electronics, and geeting the most views on social media), just imagine how much more would we have to focus on God.” Her favorite part of this trip was “getting to spend time with the kids, expecially in their classrooms. Their excitement for learning was contagious and I hope that their love of school and God will spread to people around the world!”
Davis Blankenship learned “how to be able to live in the moment and step out of your comfort zone this week.” His favorite things was being able to play wih the kids and see all the smiles on their faces.”
Ella Reeder said she learned “how to live more in the moment and enjoy the time I’m having with the people around me, not complaining as much because “I didn’t get what I wanted.” Her favorite thing was getting to know the girls while playing soccer to work more as a team and talking with the HS Seniors when we stopped by in their class.
Giles Blankenship was reminded “how powerful are hospitality and welcome in creating authentic Christian community rich in the grace and love of Jesus. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a more pure and passionate expression of this than in the community of staff, teachers, learners, administration, helpers, Pastors, and social workers of MoHI.” His favorite things? “Getting to reide up front in the bus with Peter, our driver. I felt safe and at ease, and if you know anythings about traffic and driving in Kenya, then you know exactly how talented Peter is.”
Hannah Reeder loved dancing with the girls from Joska. “The girls and I bonded right away. They are quick learners even though they were not used to the style. They watched my moments carefully while still just having fun. We were all on the same page and had fun communicating not through language, but through an art. In the slums I listened carefully to each circumstance while also praying for the people. Lots of problems were not with the living condition, but the prayers involved money for food to just survive that week and be able to send their children to school. There were mamy health issues as well. We may not have changed their problems, but they welcomed strangers in as simple and fast as breathing.”
Kaitlyn Zuravel’s favorite thing from the trip was getting to interact with the students of all ages and seeing their excitement about eduation and learning about the gospel as it was so empowering for me. I also learned that the majority of Americans take education for granted as for the Kenyans, they see education as a gift!”
For me, I always learn that God does not bless us with material things. The people of the Mathare Slum have none of that, but from my eyes, they are so blessed with God’s love and joy. We all could benefit from learning that. I hope that each of you will trust God and try to go on a trip…it is life changing and we all could use a little of that. My favorite part was watching our youth share their gifts with the High School students in Joska and watching them learn from their HS students in dance, music, soccer, and just talking with them. It was truly amazing to see our youth’s eyes open to the world around them. They will never be the same! Come open your eyes and see! God is working!