I’m still processing this entire trip. For me, the journey to Nairobi, Kenya was a grind – four flights totaling over 23 hours, not to mention the four-hour layover at Los Angeles International Airport, the 10-hour stop in Atlanta, and another eight-hour break in Amsterdam before actually landing in Kenya.
This was my first mission trip so there were no predetermined expectations as I desired to have an open mindset. Vividly, I had already seen the Lord at work two days before the departure date. The USG travel folder, containing important documents, had been mailed to my address weeks prior (Thanks Seth!). However, a mix-up with USPS had prevented me from accessing my mailbox so I had been panicking and anxiously waiting for a new key for weeks. It wasn’t until less than 48 hours before my flight that I finally received the mailbox key and saw God’s sense of humor as coincidentally there was a USPS carrier parked outside my residence that day.
Knowing that the Lord will come through in His timing is a lesson that many can certainly resonate with. It is something we have to recognize when we wake up and when we end our day. In Proverbs 3:5-6, it says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” When we meditate on these words, we realize that God is not only ultimately in control of the bigger picture, but also in the micro instances of time.
For myself, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel internationally to multiple continents such as Asia, Australia, and Europe with my family. Yet, I had never stepped foot in Africa before, so I knew this was going to be an eye-opening experience, nonetheless. The idea of serving on a mission trip was initially brought forward by USG staff member, Noah Weiss, on one of our video calls. This was over half a year away from the actual date so there was plenty of time to engage in prayer and talk to my circle. I had pursued a few summer internships, but after those fell through, there was certainty as the Lord had established the next steps to go on this journey. I’d say I’m an opportunistic person and relish taking advantage of what God has placed in front of me.
I wanted to attend the mission trip to broaden my spiritual horizons in a way where serving takes us outside of our comfort zone and challenges us to be bold about our purpose and how we proclaim the gospel. Further, I was excited about gaining novel worldview perspectives as well as building community and engaging in teamwork. I was grateful for the opportunity for the Lord to mold and use me however He pleased for His mission.
Our team went through a Bible study titled Marks of a Disciple – Six Measurements for Growth by Dean Inserra and did popcorn prayers during the trip. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth of our discussions and how the topics set the table for living a lifestyle of humility before God beyond the trip itself. One of the biggest spiritual lessons I learned was how joy is a choice that one can make daily and how joy can be cultivated through satisfaction in the Lord. John 15:11 states, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Whether it was kids, local Kenyans, or service workers, I was able to witness the abundant joy that glistened inside the hearts of individuals amidst hardships or mundane situations. It reminded me of James 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Further, seeing how the joy translated to worship is something that I will remember – worship predicated on spirit and truth and not restricted by flashy lights or vibrant surround sounds.
While there were so many highlights associated with the trip such as connecting with kids during the sports camps at Huduma School, engaging in street evangelism in Kawangware, and hosting a coaches clinic in Kariobangi, I was grateful to see how surreal it was when the Lord brought our team together and called us to unite in impacting His Kingdom. Whether it was the walk to the local gas station for coffee, Stoney’s, Dawa, or snacks or the night session of Five Crowns, a card game that I am still learning, I appreciated the laughter and fellowship we all shared.
Thank you to USG for the opportunity to go on this mission trip! Thank you to the USG staff for taking care of trip logistics and investing in our spiritual walks with the Lord! It was a life-changing experience to see God work through our team and how His name and impact revolve around the globe. Indeed, we do worship the same God. Throughout the trip, I was able to hear the Lord’s voice and learn to be more still in the moment. He yearns for us to have a missional heart wherever He has planted us and to not be complacent with our time here. My prayer is that we would be intentional in our relationships, careers, and platforms to continue to become more like Christ and shine a light for His Kingdom!