Well folks, we are at the end of our voyage. As I sit here in the Kisumu airport waiting for our first of 4 flights, I have mixed feelings.
I knew this would happen. We would make friends, come to love the children, and be captivated by the natural beauty of this place. We would become well known to the community members and start to learn their stories. We would see joy and hardship in equal amounts. I knew all of these things going in, but that does not make saying goodbye any easier.
I was not prepared for church this morning. It did not really hit me that we were leaving today until John and I were sitting in the very front pew at church. We were singing “Come We That Love the Lord,” and I realized that it would be the last time I heard that song at Point of Grace. On a good day, the sheer enthusiasm and talent the children pour into this hymn would bring tears to the average person’s eyes, but I was not your average person today. I was someone who just realized they will be hearing it for the last time. What followed could be described as a tear-filled attempt to finish out a church service with some semblance of personal dignity. By the time the service finished and we shook the hand of every student and parishioner in attendance, I can say that I had come to the full realization that today was the day we had to say goodbye.
Goodbye is not a word we have heard very often during this mission. When we first arrived, I found it slightly unsettling that not only children, but the adults in the local community would go out of their way to wave and shout greetings to us. Everywhere we went we would hear “Hello, how are you?” or “Jambo!” would be shouted from the roadside or from the children at the school. I was not used to the attention, and the stares and overt social interaction was new to me, but today was different. Everywhere we went we heard people shouting, “Goodbye” and it was equally unsettling and new.
I was not prepared for the “Goodbye.” I did not know going into this that I would feel the mixed emotions that I feel right now, in this small airport. I am ready to head home. I miss my family and friends and some of the luxuries of home. In equal parts however I will miss them, the children. They cannot jump on a plane and head to a safe and comfortable country. It is up to us to carry the mission home so they can have a better life.
Here is where you, the reader, come in. I have already wrote about how talented and deserving these children are. I hope we have shown you through this blog that this mission is so much more than a two week trip to Africa. The children are real with real needs and real aspirations. They want to be doctors, teachers, and engineers. They would be your children’s classmates, teammates, and friends. What a different future they would have if they were born in a different time or place. What a difference they could make if someone cared.
I write this not to condemn them, but to convict you. If this blog resonated with you in any way, please prayerfully consider how you can serve them. Whether it be through our church’s “Days for Girls” program or fully sponsoring a child, your contributions mean a new life for these children and their community. If you are currently sponsoring a child, write to them! We have seen firsthand how much they want to hear from you! Every bit counts, and as I have wrote before, they never ask for more than they need.
In the next several weeks we will be planning a presentation at Emanuel highlighting this mission trip and all that we have learned and experienced. I will update this blog with more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, thank you for your part in this journey. Your donations have made it possible for us to fulfill our mission and we could not have done it without your support. I also encourage you to contact Shirley Deitz or one of the mission team members for more information on sponsoring one of these incredible children.
With that, I will wish you all goodnight. Please pray for our safe travels, and we will see you all very soon!