I know when you put it that way it sounds like a lot of time… but when you’re moving across the world for an entire year by yourself there’s a lot to do. Somehow the days just seem to slip away and the next thing you know I’m 3 weeks behind on my preparations checklist.
Perhaps we should back track to how I even ended up deciding to move and spend my next year living in Nairobi, Kenya. I’ve always felt an allure towards the continent, even when I was a kid. The animals, the geography, the heat (perhaps a little cub named Simba had something to do with it); Africa seemed like this magical place where only Nat Geo photographers got to visit. I know a lot of people have similar feelings towards different parts of the world; an inexplicable draw towards a people or culture. Thus one day 3 years ago, when a petite blonde stood up in front of my college and career fellowship and announced she wanted to lead a team to Uganda that year I immediately knew in my heart that I would be on that team. I made a beeline for her afterward and said, “I’m coming. Like seriously committed and positive I want to be a part of this.” Several months later 5 of us were journeying towards Masaka, Uganda for a month that taught us, above all, of God’s sovereignty.
As short as that trip was, I knew that I wanted to go back to the region (Africa is after all, a really big continent) and that I also wanted to be able to say I lived there. I didn’t want to visit, I wanted to be rooted and settled in and really experiencing (as much as an outsider possibly can) what it was like to be there full time; for my entire life to be a TIA (this is Africa) moment.
Fast forward a couple years and a Bachelor degree, I’m meandering through life unclear of what my next step should be, praying constantly for a plan or some sort of arrow pointing the way and on a random day in a very hot August of 2012 I remembered that an old classmate of mine had lived in Congo for a year doing missions. I also remembered that the agency she had went with was one of the only ones whose name I could remember from an annual conference on missions here in Vancouver, Missions Fest. Remembering their name is saying something as there are tonnes of exhibitors at this conference all catering to any passion, any place where you could possibly serve. So I sent out a “more information please” email and was put in contact with the provincial mobilizer. Originally, I had thought I wanted to go for 6 months give or take. Then during a phone call with the co-ordinator, I was asked why I wouldn’t go for longer and in a moment of glaring honesty I responded, “I’m scared.” That brings us to now, over the last year and a couple changes of plans and a lot of reflection and prayer, I’ve found myself an assignment in Nairobi, Kenya.
Here I’ll be working with another young woman, Hannah from the USA, on a project/program for young women who have come out of the orphanage system in the Kibera slum. We’ll be working on more practical things, like job skills and also emotional and spiritual health. Many of these young women have identity and confidence issues and we will be working hard to build them up!
So now you’ve caught up to T minus 188 days and I’m excited to share my journey with you as I make my way into the 12th largest city in Africa, to work in the continent’s largest sub-Saharan slum under the equatorial sun (which doesn’t hurt) for the glory of our almighty God!
Asante sana for reading,