Christi Nolan was on our Mocha Club trip to Kenya from May 29 – June 11, 2010. She has graciously and eloquently given us a peek into her trip.
Before I began this trip, I wasn’t very religious or faithful. I was raised Catholic but rarely attended church. I had a few apprehensions about going on a mission trip. I knew that the people I was going with were fairly religious. I don’t know why this scared me so much. I didn’t, however, expect myself to be so moved, and at times, shaken by the faith that I witnessed.
One of my concerns was our team. Two weeks with a group of almost 20 strangers? Would we gel? All sorts of questions were running through my mind. Every doubt I had was erased by the first day. We were a family. After each day, we would all meet and debrief. We’d go around in a circle and share our high and low points of the day. We laughed, we cried, we prayed. We bonded.
Going into Nairobi everyday and witnessing the poverty and despair was hard. The Kibera slum was the worst display of poverty I’ve ever seen. Some days, I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. Seeing so many kids, most with no parents, just roaming around, covered in filth will haunt me forever. Hearing stories of girls being raped and beaten on a daily basis. Seeing sewage running alongside the houses. This is what I struggled with on a daily basis. I’m cranky in the morning if I don’t have my coffee at a certain time. How can I justify that? Nobody can. Nobody should.
At New Dawn School, we had a chance to sit down with the grade 10 students in groups of about 8. I got asked all kinds of questions about my life, career, and school. I learned about these kids. It was my job to try to inspire them, to convince them to stick it out. What could I say that would make any bit of a difference? My life compared to them seems so easy. Sure I’ve had to deal with difficult things, but nothing like what they go through daily. Turns out what really needed to be said was that ‘I believe in you’ and ‘never give up’, sayings that in our culture are so clichéd. Cheesy indeed, but it’s what they needed to hear. That we believe in them. That we are praying for them.
I have been tested. I’ve been challenged. I’ve had to face some pretty difficult emotions. It’s been 2 weeks of the most intense and beautiful experiences of my life. It has knocked me down. It has lifted me up. It has taught me faith. It has challenged my faith. It has inspired me. It has shown me my true purpose in life. It has made me stronger. It. Has. Changed. Me.
The work in Nairobi is far from over. The task is daunting. Take a lesson from the Kenyan people: they don’t look back. They push forward. With hope. With faith. I hope after you read this, you become part of the solution. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. No more sitting back.
Join with Christi to support the Kitui Orphan Project and other Orphan Care projects throughout Africa.