Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Journey to Kenya

We are down to just over 3 months til Africa! Today as we met with our team and were talking about logistical items (fundraising letters) John suggested we have a blog to chronicle the adventure which we could reference in our letters so that all our wonderful supporters can keep up with us as we follow God to Africa and look to see what amazing opportunities He has for us and how we will be used by Him to further His kingdom.

I will let you all know when it is set up so you can bookmark it and follow it but until then I thought I would chronicle my own journey to Africa so far. Some of this may be repeat from previous posts but I like to hear myself talk about myself so you will just have to be patient with me.

It all started when Jake was about 5 years old, at the time we didn't think we would be having more children and we were asking ourselves what plans God had for us as a family of 3. One night as John and I were out on a date we got to talking about long term goals and dreams specifically as related to Jake. As we thought about him, what he loved, who he was and who we are we started dreaming of a trip to Africa someday before he graduated. Although we did not go home and start an Africa fund as would have been the smart thing to do, it was the beginning of a dream. I often thought about that dream and what we would do on our trip. The more I thought about it the more I realized I didn't see us on a vacation but working with the people, getting to know them, experiencing the culture, sharing our lives. This was going to be a mission trip. I began to take note of missionaries from Africa that would come speak at our church thinking that when the time came we could call one of them and ask if we could come and do some work with them.

Then 5 years ago God started refining the vision when we helped start an Anglican mission church out of Rwanda. Maybe someday we would go to Rwanda and work with the mission organization that gives oversight to our church. Then a couple from Kenya began attending our church and we (the church) began to work with organizations through her father, the Arch Bishop of Kenya, and it really started coming together. Then finally last year our mission team started talking about a mission trip and it REALLY started coming together.

Of course we need to revisit the fact that we did not start that Africa fund when Jake was 5 or a few years later when we decided to make it a mission trip. And now it isn't 3 of us it is 4 with the addition of Isabelle. And while it isn't too expensive to BE in Kenya, it is quite expensive to actually GET to Kenya. It only took me a few minutes to realize that if we were going to achieve this goal, realize this dream, then we were going to have to look at our finances differently and I was going to need to get a job. While we feel very strongly God's leading in this trip, very much that he has been preparing us and we are confident He will provide the means for us to go on this trip, we know that doesn't mean sitting back and waiting for it to come together. It means action. God led action. I was able to almost immediately find a perfect job in which I can bring Isabelle along. It isn't the job I would have wanted to do or the money I would have wanted to make but the experience has been wonderful in preparing me mentally and spiritually for the trip as much as financially. God knew what I should do. There have been other plans we have come up with for the trip that didn't quite pan out and there have been other goals we have had to set aside in order to pay for this trip. God has patiently led us through the process of following His plan for us.

Just to get you all on our financial page...

The trip is going to cost approximately $2700/person. That is $10,800 for the 4 of us. Also, John is self-employed and therefore doesn't get vacation pay so we need to raise money for our expenses as well. Since we will be gone almost all month we don't need our full budget but still it costs almost $3000/month just to pay our mortgage, utilities, cell phones, insurance, etc and eat a little something that last week of August when we return. So we are at $13,800. As it stands we will have about half of that in our savings account by August, $6000. You would think saving since last summer would have made us more but we had a rough fall financially and have really only been able to get serious about savings since January.

Because I knew we would need to raise more money than most of the other members of the team (although we aren't the only family going) I decided to volunteer to organize the fundraisers for the trip. The money we make from these events will go to lower the cost of everyones trip. There are approximately 17 people going on the trip and we have raised around $3000 so far which means that we can lower the $13,800 by around $700 so far. Hurray! This next week I will be spending every waking moment at the church preparing for and the working at our very first Church Rummage Sale. The people of Church of the Cross have been incredibly generous with their donations and I feel confident we will raise at least another $2000 but likely closer to $5000. That would take another $1175 off our total taking us to a much more reasonable $11,925. The sale will be the largest fundraiser but there are a few others going as well that will also make money so lets call it $11,000. I believe we will have around $6000 ourselves which leaves $5000 left to raise. Great news because I have been telling people and praying that we would raise $5000 in support through the fundraising letters we talked about writing at the team meeting today. See, God had it all worked out from the beginning.

OK you might not care about the financial aspect of this trip and think that was just a little TMI (too much information). Instead maybe you are wondering what we are going to be doing in Africa. Well I am starting to form the answer to that question. Today they gave us a tentative schedule of our week spent in the village of Kitui:

We leave MN August 5th (my mom's birthday) and arrive August 6th. After some recovery time and travel to the village.

August 9th we will worship at a church called "St. Paul's Syongila" where Christian, our pastor, will preach and a small group of musically inclined members of our church will sing. (John and I will not be participating in this but I think Jake will.) While we won't have any specific mission tasks that day ministry is very relational and we will be taking time to meet people and learn about them and share why we have come.

August 10th will be a market day where we will again have an opportunity to meet people and share with them in very informal ways while experiencing the culture. Also on the agenda for that day is climbing Nzambani rock. Don't know what that is but I suspect I should definitely not give up my work outs.

August 11 we will be doing construction projects. Rather than start a new project we are going to be completing some partially done projects. Other teams have come and built structures but they are in need of roofs so we will be doing that. Well John will be on that detail. I will likely be painting buildings that need freshening. That evening we will be doing a program for the children.

August 12th will be some door to door evangelism. More traditional mission work. And I would imagine finishing the construction projects. We have a great team but can they put a roof on in one day?

After that we will be spending a week in Nairobi where I believe we will be doing similar work, children's programs, visiting orphanages and experiencing worship at Arch Bishop Nzimbi's church. The third week will be spent on safari, a little bit of the vacation aspect of this trip we dreamt of 10 years ago.

And finally, we are working through writing our testimonies as a team so we are prepared to share with others as we meet people in Kenya. One of the big questions we have been encouraged to answer is, "why are we going on this trip?" While I could easily answer with the above story of the dream we have dreamt since Jake was 5, I think there might be a deeper answer to it. I think I am going to Africa because I want to experience another culture, I want to see a larger view of the world God has created and the people who live in it. I want to help those in need, make new friends and share God's love with them. And I want to return home changed, more aware of those around me and less consumed by the world of Melanie. I would love to tell you my primary motivation was for others but the truth is I am going to Africa for ME. My prayer is that God can use me despite myself and that I experience a greater understanding of who God is and come home a person more able to be used by God here.


  1. You are very inspiring my dear daughter. I feel blessed just reading this. You truly are a spirit filled woman of God

  2. I am so excited for you - I hope the couch and loveseat make a good showing at the rummage sale! I will keep your fundraising efforts in my prayers - make sure I get one of those fundraising letters...