What Africa Taught Me

I took a little break from blogging last week. After writing for 31 days straight, I just needed some time to re-gather my thoughts and find the inspiration again.

One of the things I missed the most from blogging 31 days about building your dream home, was getting to share more personal insights, daily life and more ‘real-time’ {not scheduled} posts with you.

While I love talking about designing a home and have mostly enjoyed the building process {not going to lie there are moments I have just wanted it to be over}, what I love more is sharing more personal things with you guys.

Dental Team

As you may know, my husband and I recently traveled to Kenya for a medical mission trip through our church. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to process everything we saw and did and try to put into words what we experienced.

Our church does two medical mission trips to Kenya every year, each with a different team of doctors and volunteers. My husband has been twice before and it’s something we’ve always talked about doing together.

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The neat thing about these trips is that we partner with the local churches there and the pastors from around the country. While we are seeing patients and treating people, the local pastors are the ones talking with people in line and they minster to them while they are waiting.  By providing medical care as a team with the Kenyan pastors, this allows the local church to build credibility in the community and allows the pastors the opportunity to follow up with people.

The local team of people is the same every trip so real relationships are formed between the U.S. team and the local Kenyan team.

There are so many different stories and things we experienced there, but there are a few things that Africa taught me that I wanted to share.

Kenyan Service

We worship the same God

Regardless of where you are from, the language you speak, the clothes you wear or the color of your skin, we all worship the same amazing God. The church building, roads, landscape and way of life might be different, but we all have one common love and common faith in Jesus Christ. We had the opportunity to attend church service at a local church one Sunday morning and I was taken aback by the similarity in the songs we sing. We may be worlds apart physically, but  the ways in which we worship, how we worship and who we worship are the same.

Lunch

Hospitality is universal

Just like we welcome our friends and family into our homes, the local people there welcomed us with open arms. They welcomed us into their congregation and their village. They offered us a warm meal for lunch everyday during clinic to give us energy and sustain us for the work we would be doing the rest of the day. They made us Chai {it’s a local drink that’s like a creamier version of tea} and showed us how they made Chipatti {another local dish that’s like a thin type of naan or flatbread}. They also embraced us with warm smiles and greetings everyday when we got to clinic.

Kenyan Patient

I have nothing to complain about

We all complain from time to time. It’s easy to do and in some cases is a natural reaction. But, Africa taught me that I have nothing to complain about. I am blessed to have a car to get me from point a to point b, running water, a stove, and clothes and shoes to wear everyday. This list of things I just mentioned, a lot of people don’t have. Most people walked to our clinic everyday on dirt roads, some without shoes. In most homes in the rural parts of town where we were there’s no running water or electricity which means there no stove, refrigerator or shower. Witnessing and seeing this in person really gave me perspective for the silly things I have a tendency to complain about.

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Less is more

We’ve all heard this phrase muttered. Despite having less: less material possessions, less food options, and less means of travel, the people we encountered were full of joy and I dare to say happier. While we are blessed to have everything we do here in America, I think having too much ‘stuff’ can be a bad thing at times. Having ‘everything’ makes us entitled, makes us want more, and causes us to be jealous and always unsatisfied. I think in a lot of ways having less distractions, less choices and less ‘stuff’ can make us more joyful and content. It’s a challenge to me to live my life more dependent on God, like they do, and less on myself and not put our hope and worth in material things.

Burlesons

Africa taught me so much more too about myself, our marriage and about God and His faithfulness.

Here are a few more of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Kenyan Kids{The littlest girl in the picture’s name was Precious. She was super cute but never cracked a smile. Always very stoic.}

People Waiting{There was always a line of people waiting outside when we arrived at clinic everyday. Those that got seen were super grateful, but unfortunately not all could be seen each day.}

People Praying{Cool moment with some of the local pastors praying with someone who had come to be seen.}

FullSizeRender copy 11{Every day a group of kids would walk home from school near our outdoor dental clinic. }

Whole Team{Part of the full team involved, both the U.S. team and the local Kenyan providers and pastors.}

434{Me and the hubs in front of a cool looking tree at Sweetwaters tented camp where we stayed the last night of the trip. Your tent is right near a watering hole with wild animals.}

Safari Ride{Me and the girls sitting on top of our safari van taking in the views.}

All Wildlife{We got to see all kinds of cool animals while on safari.}

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Giraffe

Big Elephant

Our church also partners with a local school there called Happy Day Academy. Several church members sponsor a child at the school who is considered OVC {orphaned and vulnerable children}. They are either being raised by just one parent, grandparent, etc. Their families aren’t able to pay for their schooling and the financial support provided pays for their schooling, uniforms, etc. We started sponsoring a little girl there last year named Cynthia. We got to meet her on the last day of our trip which was such a cool experience.

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It’s a trip and experience I will never forget and I hope to be able to go back one day. I pray that what I saw and learned will stay with me and that my perspective on life and God will forever be changed.

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