Home Away from Home…

Here is a great story from one of our trip leaders, Traci Swanson, who just recently returned from leading a team in Kenya….

Our welcome party as we entered the community!
Our welcome party as we entered the community!

Home away from home is what comes to mind when I think of Kenya.  With less than a twenty-four hour notice, I was asked to lead a youth group from Birmingham to Kenya. Did I mention it was a team I had never laid eyes on before? God answered my heart’s longing to take another team back to Kenya, one of the most amazing places on earth. God truly has a sense of humor! When God calls us to act on his behalf, there is no other choice except to follow His lead. Several things had to be accomplished on my end before this fantastic request could be fulfilled, but with God on my side it was meant to be. God in His infinite ability to orchestrate the impossible “shined” His favor on me in an unspeakable way to make this trip possible. When it is truly God, He will move mountains to achieve His purpose.

I met my team in person for the first time at the airport before we headed out on the long journey. It was an instant connection. This group of 10 teenagers and 4 parents were the most amazing group of people. This was only a preview of the fun trip ahead of us.

Our journey took us to Kiria, a newer community for 410 Bridge. We were only the second team to spend time in this community. Kiria is described as very hospitable, but there is hardly a word that captures the spirit and generosity of the people in this fantastic community.

This was my fourth time to Kenya and each time has been a ridiculously amazing trip. However, my team and I were rendered speechless by the overwhelmingly emotional welcome we received as we entered the community. Our bus was about 500 yards out and at the end of the road was the entire Kiria Primary School consisting of about 150 kids, teachers and counsel members awaiting our arrival. They began moving toward our bus singing and dancing in perfect harmony until we were completely engulfed by their joy. It was the most amazing reception ever! At that moment it was as if we had been life long friends.

Our purpose in Kiria was to partner with them in repairing a main road into the community that was no longer drivable. Kiria is a community of farmers so without the road transporting their goods to market is a very difficult task. During the course of the week we dug trenches, moved dirt, sledge hammered boulders, enjoyed teaching in the classrooms, played games with the children after school, and spent time in specific homes in the community learning how to do life as they live it every day.  By the end of the week everyone on my team was given a Kikuyu (a major tribe in Kenya) name and was even honored by the community with having the road we worked on named after their state, Alabama. Very cool! As is always the case God showed up in fantastic ways to make our time in Kiria a permanent memory.

It is hard to imagine the emotion, joy and the impact pictures and stories from the journey will have until experienced first hand. If you have ever thought about going to Kenya but never have, it is worth the time away. Just do it!

~HIS~   Traci Swanson

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