Fresh Eyes for Africa

March 19, 2012

Today I’m writing from London’s Heathrow airport, halfway home from my first visit to Kenya since moving back to the States last summer.  It was a phenomenal trip – full of hearty handshakes and back-slapping welcomes, jaw-dropping beauty and exciting adventure.  The part that will stick in my mind most, though, might well be the experience of seeing Kenya and CARE for AIDS through eyes that have become accustomed to America. 

I realize now that months on end of seeing poverty and hurt, along with growth and hope, had made me callous to both the bad and good sides of Kenya.  After nine months in America, though, I feel like I came to know Africa all over again during this trip.  Free from “compassion fatigue,” I found a refreshing ability to focus on the individual stories that were right in front of me without getting lost in the macro-level issues, and I was incredibly encouraged!

 

Cornel with Jane and I and my parents at the celebration in Kisumu

Cornel with Jane and I and my parents at the celebration in Kisumu

A key part of this fresh take on CARE for AIDS, specifically, came on Friday evening.  Our group of family and friends had spent a full day in Kisumu, visiting clients in the morning and relaxing with Cornel’s family after lunch.  By mid-afternoon, the entire CFA team (with their spouses), each of the five partner church pastors, and many of the Kisumu church committee members starting trickling in for a celebration.  Soon we had a giant circle of fifty or so people, sitting outside under the shade trees sharing a feast of fish, nyama choma, chappatti, and all kinds of other Kenyan favorites.

Fish buffet - Kenyan style!

Fish buffet - Kenyan style!

While the food was amazing – and enthusiastically devoured – I was far more moved by the community.  Seeing so many people together because of CARE for AIDS, all excited about the opportunity to be connected in any way with this vision, was incredibly humbling.  After speeches, prayers, and hugs that went on well after dark, I felt extremely blessed to have the chance to play a role in the bigger picture of what God is doing through the Kenyan church and families affected by HIV/AIDS.  Sitting at a desk in America, it can be hard to remember why we do all of this, but hearing from a circle of people under a shade tree in Kisumu, it all seems remarkably clear.  It’s so refreshing to see numbers take on smiling, grateful, Christ-following faces!  I’m thankful for the part that I’m able to play in helping each one of those fifty people in Kisumu pursue their passion, and I hope you are too.  Over and over I was told to pass on appreciation to each of you reading this from the States, so please know that there are hundreds of lives in Kenya that will never be the same because of you part that YOU are playing!