Kizito

After two days of traveling and anticipation we were finally able to dive into a full day of mission work. And what a day it was! We spent the day at the Kizito child care facility. We were greeted in song for the second time so far in this trip (the first time being when the entire hotel staff sang a song of welcome when we rolled in on the buses at 10 pm). You don’t know what hospitality is until you have been to Kenya.

The plan was for today to be a “light” day, all we really had scheduled was for us to spend a couple of hours playing with and loving on these kids. But we are quickly learning that flexibility is the key to a successful mission trip. The fence surrounding the yard of the facility was old and falling apart. The staff told us that they had been intending to fix it for years now but their limited funds were going toward more immediate needs, like feeding the children. So as most of us played with, danced with, and got to know the kids, Wes and a few others went out and purchased some chain link, barbed wire and posts. Something that struck me as we were hanging out with the kids was the give and take of joy and love. Baylor Missions’ current definition of a mission is “People being transformed by people being transformed”. I saw this reciprocity in a big way today. We came to serve, but are getting so much more in return.

We were able to buy the supplies to rebuild an entire fence for less money than it cost to buy the supplies to make our lunches today. About three quarters of the team took the children to a nearby field to play with them while the rest of us went to work. Its amazing what can be done for comparatively little money and the effort of a few willing and able athletes. We tore down the old fence first, salvaging what we could of the wood. Then we put up posts, strung barbed wire, and put up the chain link ultimately constructing a fence that would provide these precious children with much more security than they had before. I think there were about five hammers among the 12 or so of us, a pair of pliers, a wire cutter, a machete, a shovel, and about three pairs of gloves that were circulated around to whoever’s hands were taking the hardest beating at the time. This was the first fence I have ever helped to build from the ground up, and these are by far the most welcome blisters I have ever earned.

I think we ended up spending about six or six and a half hours there, three times that which we intended. I am starting to learn that it is better to go into each day with no expectations but with an availability and attentiveness to whatever God has to show me and a willingness to serve wherever we find a need. I am so excited to see how God is planning on amplifying the rest of our plans in these next weeks the way that He did today.

Lisa Sliwinski

5/17/2011

Today was awesome. Felt SO GOOD to be back in Kenya. I’ve missed it so much. There’s something special about this place. Being here makes my heart feel so alive. And there’s nothing like the bright blue Kenyan skies…so beautiful, and the weather was nothing short of perfect today.

We were immediately greeted in song and welcomed by Juan Jovi (sp?) and his incredible staff, as they served us tea and African donuts (which one of the staff members had been up since 5am preparing for us). It was so neat to reunite with these people I had met last year—talk about servants of the Lord. Not only did they cook for us, serve us, clean our dishes, and then feed us more, they gave us their absolute best—all they had. The kitchen they used us so small and had very few supplies. The classrooms were tiny, and they had limited books and learning materials. They didn’t even have enough money to put up a new fence, yet they made sure they did everything they could to take care of us and make us feel welcome. So humbling…I just think of how many times I don’t share with others or keep things to myself, when I am living in abundance.

It makes me think of the story in the Bible when the rich people offer large amounts of offering, yet the poor widow only offers a fraction of a penny. Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you this truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44). Even when I give, I never really give to the point of sacrifice or pain, like these people, or this widow did. That takes incredible faith and seeing that today makes me want to stretch myself and reach the point of vulnerability of having to trust in God like these people do. Their faith is so strong and because of their poverty, they rely on God to provide for their every need.

That is something most, if not all of us, miss out on back in the states. We miss out on seeing what God can do because we put too much confidence into what we think we can do. We trust ourselves more than God. We think being stable financially is the most important thing, when in reality, it may be the most detrimental thing that could happen to us. I want to dare to live beyond the norm. Beyond what I’m capable of on my own. To take risks. To put my trust completely in God and be amazed at what He will do. So many of us claim to trust in God and yet never allow Him to fully take control in every facet of our lives. Is that really trust? It is a huge challenge for me to completely surrender to the Lord every day, but seeing the faith of the people here, who have so little, not only encouraged and challenged me, but also reminded me of who our God is—one who provides and cares for every need of His children who put their trust in Him.

Another truth God reminded me of today was the universal need for love. Between the language barrier and our differences in culture, there is bound to be some difficulty in interacting with Kenyan children, right? Wrong. God is bigger than that! He has designed all of His children with the same longings and desires that break through anything that may be considered a barrier. As soon as we arrived, the kids began to reach for our hands, jump on our backs, touch our hair, and feel our skin. There was not much talking going on, but smiles and signs of love and affection are enough to create bonds that last a lifetime. We played games with them all afternoon, made bracelets together, sang, laughed, danced, and shared the love of Christ with them without using many words at all. It reminds me of a quote by St. Francis “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Please tell me our God is not incredible!

It was so hard to say goodbye. The kids were so sweet and well-mannered, and like I said, bonds were formed for life. They showed as much love to us, if not more, than we showed them. I stand amazed at how God continues to humble me and change my heart by things that some may consider small, but it is the small things that God uses to show off His power and glory. And I am also thankful that He chooses to use small things because that means He is not above using me!

What a blessing it is to be back here a second year. It really is like a dream come true. Thank you to all who supported me to be able to come again, God has already done some incredible things on day one—I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for us! Thank you for all those who are praying for us, we covet your prayers and believe that God hears every one of them. We are praying for you all at home, too. We hope that you are as transformed as we are, simply by reading and hearing about our experiences here. God bless you all, we love you!

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dena on May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Just a thought and a question for Wes…..do you think for next year we could collect and mail tools to a secure spot and have waiting on you and the “crew”? We would be happy to help organize!!!
    So proud of all of you all! Keep the pictures and stories coming.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sam on May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    awesome, awesome, awesome!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Nicky on May 19, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Jambo all!!

    It’s tough to read these posts without getting teary-eyes (most definitely in a good way), it’s just so easy to remember all the feelings from a couple years back. I remember before heading there in ’09 that everyone kept telling us that “the people are the heart of Africa”, which i never fully understood until we arrived at Gracia House, and I see that you are all being showered with their pure, unadulterated hospitality. I am so blown away by the group that was called to this 2011 trip, I know so many of you personally and could not possibly be more excited by the representation of Christ and Baylor University present amongst you! Kenya will quite possibly be the most raw experience that any of you will have, so let it happen. As a group you will all share a common bond in this trip so let yourselves be vulnerable. Believe in the gratitude of the people, believe in the love and joy the children are so quick to display because it is REAL. Give each of those kids a hug for those of us who couldn’t be there-tons of love and prayer coming to y’all from The States 🙂 O and Carlie, I hate to rat you out but you guys keep an eye on her on the return trip, she is not above purposely missing the flight (that girl loves Africa more than anyone i know!). LP- remember, when in doubt, use the International IceBreaker. O ya, and everyone make sure that Wes only paints in ventilated areas (although he is quite funny when he doesn’t).

    Baraka Rafikis!! Can’t wait to keep following the blog

    ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news’ Romans 10:15

    Reply

  4. Posted by Donna Biddle on May 19, 2011 at 3:07 am

    WOW!
    How blessed we are to be a part of this!
    We are praying for each of you all day long, every single day!
    GOD HAS SUCH A PLAN FOR EACH OF YOU!!!!
    For I know the plans I have for you…….
    Love, Donna and Bob Biddle
    Hugs to Brookie!!!!!!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Craig Atkins (Leah Frazier's 2nd dad) on May 20, 2011 at 1:42 am

    So proud Leah is part of this mission. Be safe..Be blessed!
    Craig

    Reply

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