How Africa Changed My Children

October 1, 2015 

This morning’s post is from guest blogger Kylie White. Lean more about Kylie and read her blog here

Y’all.  Life is busy. I get it. I have a 4, 6, 7, and 9 year old.

Two different schools, two different pickup times, two different sports, 4 different personalities that all have different demands from my husband and I. My to-do list rolls over each month as things get un-done, and I currently have 17 voicemails to return. Being a mom is a never ending job that sometimes can be overwhelming to try and do it all, especially to do it all “well”.  I realized this isn’t what I wanted to live for.  I didn’t want my kids to say, ‘we all got our to do lists done and then we graduated and left home’. 

My husband and I get away each year on a dreaming/goal setting weekend. From the year before kids were born – to the year when we had two babies 18 months apart – to the year we brought home 2 children from overseas: we had a common hope and desire for our family:

that we will raise loving kids who serve Jesus and others out of the overflow of his goodness and follow Jesus wherever he calls.

We want our kids to serve God by loving others no matter if that is in a hostile middle eastern country, a school in a suburban neighborhood, the bush of Africa, or the marketplace in a bustling city. So we thought, if this is our hope for our kids, we have to put a plan in place to allow these experiences to be exciting and even natural for them.

Also, around this time we read a book by Donald Miller (A million miles and a Thousand years) which challenged us to live a good story in our family, one that our kids would be pumped to get behind, otherwise they would choose a story the world had to offer.

Taking Time To Choose

So we journeyed for 4 years to find a ministry to partner with. We didn’t want to just write a check, our kids didn’t understand the weight of that, we wanted to give, gather, pray and go…as often as possible.  For us, God landed us right in the heart of Care for Aids. This ministry has prevented over 15,000 kids from being orphaned, it serves their clients holistically: physically, spiritually, economically, and in community.

It takes someone like an Aids ridden mother of 6 who is bed-ridden and trains her for 9 months how to manage her disease, learn a trade, get in a small group, plug into the local church, earn money to provide her children an education.

Then, We Went.

My husband took our son on his 5th birthday on a trip. A trip with Care for Aids isn’t a “mission trip” it is more of an impact experience. It is not “volun-tourism” or going over to Africa to ‘help someone’. This trip is to do life with the clients, learn how to cook a Kenyan meal with a family, go on home visits and hear the stories of what clients are learning in the program, witness a graduation when 80 clients complete their journey and testify to all they have learned and accomplished. It exposed our young son to life overseas.

It showed him not everyone lives in suburbia with all of their needs met, it gave him context to how much of the world lives and that people still have joy even when they do not have “material wealth”. I wish I had a video of my sweet boy running through the alleys of a slum in Nairobi, high-fiving and hugging kids, playing a pick up soccer game, and rolling out dough with a friend preparing our dinner.

We shortly went back and took our daughter on her 7th birthday. We then returned and took our two that had already been as well as our 6-year-old daughter who was born in the neighboring country of D.R. Congo.

Each time something shifted in our children. There were no economic or social barriers. They were just kids playing with kids. I could write 10 more pages about all that has come from those experiences for each child but I knew Reese, my 9 year old, would keep it concise so here it is in her own words…

“I love going to Kenya. I miss it there. A lot of people there really love God. Kenya is so pretty. My favorite part is going through the houses in the slum and meeting different people. I love playing with the kids and making dinner in a family’s home. I miss my friends Rosie and Jacinda that live there!”

Read Kylie’s full post and more on how you can engage your kids in service here