Every mission trip includes unforgettable moments.
A team of 13 high school students from Southeast Christian Church who visited Kenya July 15 to 28 this summer will never forget dancing with Kenyans to the beat of worship music, singing in English as the crowd sang in Swahili, praying with partners at Life in Abundance, playing with children or meeting a middle-aged Kenyan named Mary.
Some on the team knew Mary from previous trips. She describes herself as a teenager stuck in an old woman’s body. In Kenya, 65 is ancient. She is a leader in the community, a trainer of trainers who teaches others how to tackle issues.
One goal was helping local contractors build a tin house for Mary.
They worked all day fashioning the metal frame with windows and putting up a roof that will not leak. The one-room home is a priceless gift for Mary. As they worked, village children serenaded the group with “Jesus Loves Me” and waited behind the fence for teenagers to take a break and play games with them.
“This new house will shelter Mary on a daily basis,” said Alyssa Kane, a senior at New Albany High School on her second trip to Kenya. “She plays a big role in spreading the light of Christ.”
For others, favorite moments included interacting with children in villages, at church and schools, teaching computer classes, praying for a church member named Virginia and visiting with families in their homes.
There was a steep learning curve through the week.
Students learned to step up to pray, to tell their stories, to break through the language barrier by communicating without words, to pray for one another, to pray for Kenyans and serve. Nothing in Kenya revolved around them. Everything revolved around listening to God and serving others.
Kane said the trip helped her determine what is truly important in life.
“It has given me an eternal focus,” she said. “So many times I’m chasing after the wind.”
Madison Williams learned about being bold as she watched a little girl ramble through the crowd, asking everyone if they knew Jesus.
Sarah Boles, Emily Meade and John Thompson led the trip.
They saw many moments with teenagers that mattered. Play became a universal language as teens took time to play with kids. They learned that a soccer ball, a game, laughing and running is ministry, too. They learned that simply spending time with people is critical.
“Love is so simple,” said Madison Troyer, 18. “We make things so complicated.”
Boles said teens learned that they didn’t go to Kenya to solve problems—only to let people see the Lord in their lives. They learned to rely on the Holy Spirit when it came to praying and speaking. They prayed that God would take away anxiety and fear about speaking up—and He did time and time again as teenagers led in prayer and teaching.