These are the thoughts that cross through my mind as I sit in my favorite coffee shop and surf the Internet for tips on how to pack a bajillion things into two suitcases. Emily and I leave for Kenya, Africa in 12 days and we are beyond excited.
It was a year ago yesterday that my missions pastor at my church brought up the idea of doing mission work in Kenya for the year after I graduated high school. It was also a year ago yesterday that I called Emily and asked if she would want to go with me. The past year has been full of prayer, planning, and learning. Emily and I have seen how the Lord has prepared us for a trip that will change our lives, our hearts, and our relationships with Christ and each other. After nearly a year of planning and meeting with our missions pastor, Emily and I are ready (as much as we can be) to make the move. We are excited to grow in our faith, to be forced to trust God in new ways, and to walk with the students and children we will be leading and loving.
After our 24 hours of traveling and a good night's sleep in Nairobi, we will get in our awesome, green Land Rover (I think it's a Land Rover, but I know absolutely nothing about cars, so it could be something completely unrelated to a Land Rover, but go with me). We'll make the drive to Machakos, Kenya where we will be living with a lady we both think is super cool. Her name is Sha' and she is actually Wonder Woman. Sha' started a school in Machakos called I Can Fly High School. The school is home to lots of girls and a few boys from the surrounding areas, some of which have been rescued from sex trafficking and child bride situations. We can't wait to share stories of how the Lord is working in and through us in Machakos! Please join us in praising the Lord for the ways He has prepared us, the excitement He has given us, and the work He will do in Kenya.
However, as this incredible journey begins, another stage of our lives will end. I don't know if this is out of the ordinary, but I really loved high school. Like really. Emily and I have incredible families and friends here in Rals and leaving them is going to be incredibly hard. We know God has called us to serve in Kenya this year, but we are leaving a big chunk of our hearts here in North Carolina. Change is good, yes, but it is difficult nonetheless. Please pray for us as the next two weeks will be filled with difficult "see you later's" and changes. Em and I both worked at a summer camp in Raleigh this summer and watching it end and the campers go home was hard, to say the least. We find such a passion, excitement, and joy for Christ at that place and in the camp staff. But as we prepare for difficult, yet extremely exciting, changes, I remember what my friend Shelby texted me on my last day of camp:
"Happy last day of camp! I know this is also not just the end of summer, but the end of being at camp almost every day for the past 2 years (I've been there) and I know endings are sad and the worst and it's easy to get caught up in those feelings. But just remember that endings are necessary for new beginnings. And new beginnings means new adventures and people and memories and Jesus growing you in so many new ways. I've been learning that as much as I want to go back and redo seasons of life (like this summer with you), you can't. But! I think I've found that living today passionately and with eyes open for God's purpose, even though it'll never be the same as camp, you can find that same passion and excitement and joy. So give yourself time to grieve the summer, but don't forget to live just as passionately for tomorrow and be crazy excited for what adventure God has for you next."
So here's to passion and excitement and joy. Here's to our amazing and supportive friends and family in Raleigh. Here's to our new friends and family in Kenya that we haven't met yet. Here's to change and new adventures with Jesus.
Here's to 12 days.