Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Talents, Gratitude & Lessons Learned

TALENTS: I was really concerned about A LOT of things going in to this trip, but one of the main things that weighed on me was this: I wanted to be able to use my talents as a photographer, without spending my whole trip hiding behind a camera and not connecting and making relationships with the people I met. God showed up in a big way on this one! I made sure to not pop my camera out immediately upon arrival at any given place, but when I did, I discovered literally hundreds of kids who had probably never had their picture made before, and many who had never actually seen themselves in a mirror before, and were literally meeting themselves for the first time through my camera. Kids who are not prone to smile (this did take a little coaxing), came out of their shells as soon as they knew that my camera was not going to hurt them. I could show you hundreds of pictures like these:

These are some of my sweet friends from Pillars of Hope. Street children. But smiles so big, that if you can just get them to come out, it will forever change your heart.

I can't exactly call being a single mom a talent, however, God still used that facet of my life to give me great opportunities on this trip. I alluded to that in my post about the Karamajong women, but that was not the only time I was able to use that part of my life to demonstrate God's faithfulness and give hope to some very sweet single mom's.

The Karamajong women
My first ever sermon-all about being single moms
Teaching them how to make bracelets
When we were able to serve alongside the women at Fiwagoh, I was able to chat with them while we scrubbed shoes and floors etc. They were all stunned to find out I was a single mom just like them. I think these African women have a picture in their mind of what a single mom is, and lets just say I don't think I am in that picture.....they are. Women like them, not women like me. So when they found out that we shared that, I would hear them whisper to the other ladies "she is single mother....yes her! This one right there!". It blessed me in such a big way to be reminded that God can use whatever He wants to....anything in our lives, for His GLORY.

GRATITUDE: As you know, the other thing that weighed heavily on me was missing my kids. I was just sure that every baby that I held would remind me of my kids and break my heart over and over. It was my number one prayer request that I would be able to be present and let my heart be open to these kids, without the constant reminder that I was missing my own babies terribly. But, because of all of your prayers, I was able to do the work God called me to do in Africa, without the heavy burden. Yes, I missed my people, but I was covered with a sense of peace that can only come from God. I am so very grateful for your prayers. They worked. :) 

LESSONS LEARNED: Here are some lessons I learned while in Africa, that I shall now bequeath upon all of you. You are welcome in advance.

With the proper medication and equipment, you can sleep for many hours on an airplane.
Orphanages don't have wi-fi. Or hot water.
Lots of missionary type chick have tattoos. I like that.
You can go for up to 3 days without showering and not smell too bad with the correct usage of baby wipes and strategically placed baby power.
Granola bars and dried fruit can take the place of many meals.
Wild kittens are scary.
Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them.
Songs from Sister Act 2 are applicable in many situations.
It is winter in Kenya.
You can shower with only scalding hot water, only cold water, water that comes from below and water that comes from above.
Tiny travel towels are super absorbent, quick drying and convenient, but your friends will make fun of you.
Squatty potties are for the birds.
Cows and goats that are free to roam, don't pay no attention where they poop.
Kenyans really can run fast.
Sometimes you just have to pee in the woods....or on the side of the road.
If you are a coffee drinker, bring Starbucks Via packs with you to Africa. They are expensive, but they will save you from being really gumpy.....and they can be used to bribe your friends.
Buses in Africa are built out of magic. They can go through mud, over huge bumps, and turn on a dime.
In June/July, it is WAY hotter in Alabama than in Africa.
African people are amazing and resilient. Americans are lazy.
Through prayer, a pack of 48 flushable wipes can multiply and last 2 weeks, with enough to share.
Don't eat any sort of meat on a plane.
Don't try to use your Southern manners in the Kenyan market. They don't care, and it takes too long.
If you don't want to buy it, don't make eye contact.
If you use the wrong the wrong combination of power adaptor/convertor, you will set stuff on fire.
Video taping friends while they sleep on a bus is funny.
Febreeze comes in a travel size and can work wonders on already worn clothes.
One person CAN make a difference. I have met many such persons.
African children's voices raised in praise to our King will bring you to tears.
A child who has nothing can still have great joy.
God cares for the orphan and the widow.
Bring many types of medications when you go far away. You and others will likely need them.
Hanging out with a bunch of 20 somethings will make you feel pretty old.....until you remember that you are old, but still awesome.
Man can live on bread alone. At least for 12+ hours on a plane.
It rains between 2 and 3 pm in Kenya this time of year every day. Like clockwork.
African women are born with a natural ability to make all things crafty.
You should never mess with women's intuition. Seriously. Don't do it.
When 22 women travel together to Africa, your bus drivers become your best friend. Abus and Daniel are the man....s.
African people think blonde and gray hair is hilarious.
Children in Africa can create games and entertainment out of literally nothing.
I think I am going to have to make a sequel of "Lessons Learned" because I could go on forever!

I am going to make a VALIANT effort to post pictures here every day to go along with the written blogs I did for each day of the trip. I took soooooo many pictures that it is hard to weed through them all, not to mention that I have been jet lagged, super sick and Ella broke her arm....again. :)




  1. Reading about your journey is blessing me in ways that only God can do. You are making me laugh & cry, I am a tiny bit jealous (ok lots) & look forward to what each new day of your adventure will bring. I ask for you to pray for me & my 2 boys, we are going through a lot of difficult things right now. And you inspire me woman, plain & simple. Would love to get together with you one day soon, the kids could have a play date. Brody also has a broken arm right now.

  2. I LOVED this post Jenny!! You make me laugh!! :)

  3. Hmm....what are my favs? All of them really but the ones that I laughed out loud:
    Kittens are scary
    Via Coffee
    Living on bread alone (I think it was at least 20hrs for me) bad plane rolls!
    Magic African buses
    Being old to the 20 yr olds! We are soooo cool!!
    Granola Bars and dried fruit - soooo over those!
    Alabama/Tennessee hot and Africa hot are not the same!!
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face and reliving some great times. Miss you!