Why did I become a part of CARE for AIDS?

I wanted an adventure. In complete honesty, I didn’t get on a plane to Kenya after my college graduation in 2009 because of a heart for the continent or because of a lifelong desire to be a missionary. I didn’t sign up to work for CARE for AIDS because of a rooted interest in HIV/AIDS or a deep conviction about poverty in Africa. I didn’t even choose this job because one of my best friends was devoting his own life to it. I became a part of CARE for AIDS because I wanted to go somewhere exciting in the world and live an adventure. What better place than the “dark continent” for mystery, unpredictability, and excitement? What better opportunity than an organization that was young, growing, and would give me the freedom to innovate, experiment, and lead?

At the rehearsal dinner for my wedding this past July, I found out that most of the people in my life have identified my thirst for excitement. My parents told stories of how I pushed the limits of our collective comfort zone on roller blades, ski slopes, and anything else with an element of danger from the moment I was big enough to get in trouble. When I launched into my four years at Vanderbilt (recovering from a severe concussion at the time), the desire for adventure led to a reputation for taking my friends out of theircomfort zones and into road trips and mischief all over the country. I was blessed to spend time in Central America, East Asia, and Europe, where I discovered that being far from America presented a wealth of exciting opportunities.

Thankfully, I was learning through this same time that living an adventure could dovetail perfectly with a growing longing to produce an impact for the Kingdom of God. John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart” philosophy resonated strongly with my desires, and I began to search for a post-college opportunity where I could change the world and get my adrenalin going at the same time. After coming face to face with the vision and the people of CARE for AIDS in Kenya during my spring break in 2009, I knew I’d found the answer.

The two years I spent in Kenya did include quite a bit of adventure, adrenalin, and excitement. They also held a great deal of learning and maturing. In future posts, I look forward to sharing about both of these aspects of my first two years with CARE for AIDS. Though I went to Kenya, in many ways, for what the experience could do for me, I soon learned that God’s incredible work there was much more about Kenyans. I was there to enable Duncan, Cornel, and the rest of our staff to live out their passions and change their own country, and now I am doing the same thing from the other side of the ocean.

I’m looking forward to this blog as a venue to share stories and lessons from my life in Kenya, to talk about the collision of development and ministry, and to discuss in more detail the reasons that I continue to be a part of CARE for AIDS here in the States. At first, it was about the adventure, but now it is about the vision. You might find that the vision plays out in ways that could take you out of your own comfort zone, and I hope you will join with me in exploring those together.