Monday, May 26, 2014

This Incredible Gift

I blog retroactively. I came back from Kenya two weeks ago and hit the ground running. So much planning and collaboration and face to face sharing. I haven't been able to nab a few minutes to recount things on here. (That plus the fact that we don't have internet...).

There is so much about East Africa that I love. In some areas, I love the limitless wide-openness of it, like the tumbling grassland could stretch on forever and never end. I love rural villages, intrinsically connected to the good earth and free of all the unnecessary technological clutter we tend to tangle ourselves in. I love the song and dance, I love how big the sky seems. I love the cities, the dizzying ix of traditional and modern, the collision of the corporate and informal business networks, the historic struggle between foreign influence and maintaining a distinctively East African identity. I love the innovation and resilience of people, and the joy that I have encountered nowhere else in the world.

I spent a very quick week in the city of Nairobi - Kenya's capitol. I spent the week with a ministry partner, Grace Covenant Church Community Based Organization. GCC-CBO is located at the intersection of some of Nairobi's major slum areas. UTST is working with them to provide holistic ministry to individuals and families trapped in extreme poverty in these areas. Our first goal together is to set up a microlending system that will essentially enable families to build their income generating activities and small businesses, and access a sustainable source of income with which to provide their children with improved nutrition and education. This means taht families will be less vulnerable to challenges such as illiteracy, medical emergencies, and will be less likely to fall into traps of exploitation. Future areas of ministry through GCC-CBO include a rehabilitation ministry for street children and community home based care for those living with HIV/AIDS.

I spent a quick week in Nairobi doing nothing but building connections and friendships. We also spend time collaborating with leaders, casting vision and planning, but the vast majority of the time was spent going from one tiny home to the next, visiting, sharing and laughing with many of the people this ministry will serve. I can truthfully say that I was brought into a community during the short week I spent there - where my needs became theirs and their needs became mine. Where we made jokes and gave each other nick-names, and shared countless cups of chai tea.

I came back to the US because I want very badly to invite you into this community as well. (Yes, you. Even if you're a friend I haven't seen in years, or if I haven't ever met you at all. I came back, yes, to raise support and find sponsors like mad, but also because each time I am in East Africa I find myself wrapped up in this incredible gift, and I want to bring you into it.

I made this video to introduce you to my community in Nairobi. The community I hope to be journeying with for a long time, and I hope you will choose to as well. If you really want to make it official, go to the "Get Involved" portion of our website and sign up for Community Connections or become a sponsor.!get-involved/c1scw

 Step into this incredible gift, my friends.

PS... Thanks to my epic friend, Sarah Julian (note that I never, ever use the word "epic," so I really mean it here) for travelling with me, making sure I stayed nourished, diving deep into relationships, making sure important questions were asked, helping keep records, late night brainstorming, and keeping us laughing 24/7. You're amazing.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Leaving for Kenya Tomorrow...

In the midst of endless to-do lists, fundraising, planning, etc etc etc, it just occurred to me that many of you may not even know that I am leaving for Kenya tomorrow. Oops.

It's important that you know, because it's an important trip, and we need lots of prayers.

I tend to dig in and try to get things done without asking for a lot of help. That's a weakness. And it's probably why I haven't broadcasted far and wide that I'm going to Kenya tomorrow. I need to be continually reminding myself how important it is to be surrounded by the support and accountability of my community (that means you).

So yeah, tomorrow I'm leaving for Nairobi, Kenya with my lifelong friend and adventure buddy, Sarah Julian. We're going to spend a week networking and planning with local church leaders in Nairobi, Kenya to launch Under the Same Tree's programs there. We're also going to be able to enter into Nairobi's vast slums and meet the families we will be working with in the future. Our future community, our future family.

It's an important trip because it is paving the way for everything that will be happening throughout the end of this year and into next year (and beyond). We'll be gathering the stories we need for fundraising, building the profiles we need for sponsorship, and building a plan with our leadership partners, all in one short week.

We need your prayers. Don't let me forget how important that is.
Pray for Sarah and I's safety and health, but more importantly pray that a strong foundation is built, important connections are made, and that a way is made to lead into the fundraising work we'll be doing throughout the rest of the year. Pray for the families in Nairobi. Soon, you will be able to know them by name.

I just sent out David and I's first monthly newsletter. If you're not on the mailing list and you want to be, let me know!