Our Sabbatical kicked off with a family trip around the world, following the theme of “serve, learn, play.” We started by flying into Nairobi, Kenya to stay with our friends Fred and Alice and serve alongside them for a week. This was my 4th visit, Lisa’s 2nd and our kids’ first visit. It was very important to us that our children encounter global poverty for themselves. As parents, we constantly battle the cultural pull for “more” in our own hearts and in our kids. We wanted our kids to see that our life in the west is somewhat of a “bubble” and to engage directly with kids their age who have nothing and who come from the most devastating of circumstances.
We were also keen for our kids to see what God is doing and can do though any of us in global friendship. Global poverty, is, as a whole, utterly overwhelming, but Discovery believes that churches should be on the front lines of addressing massive global problems, so several years ago one of our members, Kelly Little formed Light Up Hope – an initiative to address the cycle of poverty in Kenyan orphans. We first met these kids in 2009, so one of the great privileges of this trip was for our kids to meet Kenyan kids we’d known for several years. Two of the “kids” are now young men studying in University and absolutely thriving. They are a tangible example of how western/african partnership can truly break a poverty cycle as without our involvement, these kids would be on the streets, or worse.
Global poverty as a whole might be utterly overwhelming, but getting past the “issue” and focusing on actual people is key. Each kid is just a kid and when you engage them one at a time or ten at a time, you discover commonality and mutuality. Often westerners visit countries like Kenya looking to make a difference, but we try to go with a mutual mindset – we will be making a difference to each other. So much for share, so much to learn. Everyone in the west can make a difference in the life of one or ten people on the other side of the world and I highly recommend doing so through a trusted organization like Light Up Hope. If you are open to learning from some incredible people, you can also receive a great deal.
Our family primarily “served” in Kenya for 10 days and spent one half day “playing.” I preached 6 times in church and in two outdoor crusades, I also led two leadership workshops with Lisa for trade school students. Lisa also taught two women’s seminars and our kids played with and served kids pretty much every day.
Here is me preaching an outdoor crusade. I think the picture, particular the kid mooning the crowd accurately captures my crusade prowess 🙂
My favorite moments are easy to capture:
Lisa is a renowned kid magnet and has an incredible gift of connecting deeply quickly. The following photo sequence is as good a metaphor as any for who she is and how she operates. I took a picture every 30 seconds or so, and one by one, kids would come over to join in. I loved watching her at work. She is also responsible for the marvelous picture at the top of this blog post.
Watching my kids fully engage was also amazing. I could list many examples, but just to name three: Andrew went with Fred everyday to drop off and pick up his girls from school. Bryson and Ellis got down to serious business talking about girls, Kaylee and Riva spent the week playing and chatting.All three kids embraced the experience and connected with kids and adults with much laughter and play all round.
And of course, the kids carried on the family tradition of chook hypnosis. You always hope your kids will inherit your values as they grow….
Remi, one of the “kids” we’ve worked with since 2009 is now a social work student, funded through Light Up Hope. Here he is, patiently listening to me tell him an old “how many social workers does it take to change a lightbulb” joke, while standing under a lightbulb.
Lisa and Kaylee became the first human heads for hairdressing school:
We tried to take a census of donkeys, but after counting to about 400, we gave up, Remi summarized it well, “I don’t trust donkeys because I don’t know what they’re thinking.” Bryson and I did our best donkey impression:
Any trip like this does three things: utterly puts you out of control and invites you to walk by faith in God where you typically just stay in control, shows you how your money affords you basics that most of the world doesn’t have, and shows you that God is a big, global God doing work all over the world and if you are open to it, you can participate in what God is doing. Our kids embraced every aspect of the experience with a smile and I couldn’t be prouder of how they looked for ways to engage, serve and learn. I’m deeply grateful that our kids got to experience what Lisa and I have experienced many times – that we live in a wealth bubble in this part of the country and that God has people all over the world who have nothing but God – these are our brothers and sisters.
On the way back to the airport, we stopped at Lake Nakuru for a brisk 3 hour safari. For whatever reason, seeing wildlife is an act of worship for me and getting to see so many african animals with my family was incredible soul food. Its difficult to name my favorite moment of that whirlwind safari – either the giraffe crossing right in front of us, the lion cubs looking up over their mums as they were feeding, or the warthog family down by the pond.
We wrapped up Kenya with a red eye flight through Ethiopia, a few hours layover then into Rome by 5am. Next post: Rome.