By Lynn Leissler
How do I summarize ten of the most amazing days of my life? I’m home now, still jet-lagged, but Kenya remains on my mind – the warmth of the Kenyans, the ever-present smiles, the stark beauty of the land, the evocative singing, animals I don’t find in my backyard, the children and the people we met, our awesome team… Beauty and joy describe much of what we saw – the beauty of the land, the people, the language. I haven’t smiled this much in a long time, all in response to Kenyans who wave and greet you, stranger or not. Joy radiated, even in the most humble and despairing settings.
From our first greeting, I fell in love with the kids at Sanctuary of Hope – two dozen former orphans, kids to the core. They laugh and tease and jostle like any siblings. They know their God is their all-in-all and that education is power. They do sports and have some medals to show for their efforts. They dream big and have the plans in place to make those dreams come true. They have and are hope for the future – young men and women who can and will make a difference for God and for their motherland.
Our team blended quickly and seamlessly, some of us strangers who quickly became friends. We bonded through service, activities, shared stories, Paul’s thought-provoking Bible reflections, rides through Nairobi traffic, and a few rounds of traveler’s sickness.
And of course, Pastor and Mama Karau, two committed people who are sold out to God and radiate the love of Jesus through every word and action; whose faith, tenacity, love and courage have made a huge impact on the children’s lives. After ten days with them, we, too, were impacted and inspired.
Life moves on now, but I left a chunk of my heart in Africa.
Lynn Leissler is a freelance writer whose work mostly shows up as features and other stories in Southern Oregon Magazine, a quarterly promoting the region. She is also copy editor for that and a golf magazine. Lynn lives with her 12-year old granddaughter, a cat and maybe a bunny (if granddaughter has her way). She’s active in her church, and likes to quilt, read, travel and garden.