...currently writing from: Covina, CA
Seven years ago, God placed a desire in my heart to visit Kenya.
Now in 2016, I will be returning for my third and longest trip to rural western Kenya. As a requirement for my Masters of Public Health program, I am required to participate in an internship/fieldwork experience that will allow me to use what I have learned in the classroom and apply it while out in the field.
I landed an amazing opportunity to assist with a research study in the realm of HIV prevention, starting in June and going through September of 2016. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I found out that my trip will not be funded as I had previously anticipated. So here I am: one month out from an awesome trip to return to a country I love, but without the support needed to keep me out there.
First, let me back up and recount my previous trips to Kenya.
In 2012, I was part of a group from Calvary Chapel Rivergate that went on a two-week missions trip to Mbita, Kenya.
It was a trip three years in the making, and I was finally going to visit the country I desired to visit... but had no reason yet as to why.
Landing in Kisumu after two days of traveling, we began our journey to Mbita — which entailed a two-hour van ride and a one-hour ferry ride. We arrived near the busy market in the town’s center and finished our trip with a short ride to SEEK (Suba Environmental Education of Kenya).
It was at SEEK that I had to face my fears of running to the latrines in the dark, overcome my fear of seeing snakes, spiders, and other predators; it was the place I laughed, cried, worshiped. It was the place I learned that time is not counted by minutes, but by full, meaningful conversations. It was the place where I was filled with joy each night, recounting the amazing, moving events that happened that day.
We built latrines, (outhouses) and tippy taps, (simple devices for hand-washing.) We played with the children in town during their recess. I was able to put my biology degree to work and teach about hand washing in the primary schools.
It was on this trip, that I begged to visit the town’s clinic and was moved by the inadequate resources and staff. It was then that my heart became broken for Kenya and filled with the desire to help out in some way. Little did I know that this trip would plant a seed in my heart to pursue a public health career, and that this trip would not be my last.
I felt led to return with another group from CC Rivergate to SEEK in 2014.
It was energizing to go back to a place I loved so dearly and to see the friends I had made on my first trip out there. It was as if no time had passed; we were able to jump in and help right away, disregarding the fatigue we felt from our two-day journey.
Once again, we built latrines and created wood lots, (a designated area where trees can grow fruit or be cut down to sell wood,) for widows. We played with children and planned a children’s march for Jesus.
Thankfully, I was able to teach hygiene in the schools again and spend time with the beautiful children. But something changed inside me during this trip. I was at a crossroads back at home, trying to decide what career to pursue and whether I should return to school.
One day, after praying and speaking with patients at the local clinic who were waiting to pick up anti-retroviral medication for treatment of HIV, I came to a conclusion:
I would return to school to pursue a career in public health.
One moment during the end of this stay at SEEK has been keeping me going ever since: During our tearful goodbyes to the SEEK staff, Rose,(one of the cooks) told me that this was not goodbye and that she would see me in "two years."
Now in May 2016, I am gearing up for the end of the first year of my public health program and getting ready for my third trip to Kenya.
I know God has been calling me to return, and I am determined to NOT let this bump in the road concerning funding shatter the peace that I have in knowing that this is what I am supposed to do. When fear strikes me and I begin to wonder how this is going to all work out, I am reminded that I am not in control and I might fail sometimes, but He never will.
To give to my trip, click here, and it will lead you to my funding page. Already I feel tremendously loved and supported in my endeavors, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
I hope that you will pray alongside me for not only funding, but for guidance, protection, and strength. I know that this trip will be a stretching experience, but I am choosing to be faithful and patient through the process.