As we continue our series we are excited to have Kaylee, our current Outreach & Marketing intern, share about her time in Kenya and the impact it has had on her life.
Who: Kaylee Schmitt Where: Kenya When: Summer 2010, 2011, and 2012
Many people have rightly said that Africa will steal a piece of your heart, and for me, I feel that I've left a huge portion of it there. The past three summers I've spent in Kenya have radically changed my life and set me on a path I would never have imagined would be my future. I’m overwhelmed every day at the grace and magnificent love of God to have such greater plans for me than I could ever dream of myself. In the summer of 2010, I went to Kenya for the first time when I was invited by a young missionary to serve with a local church in the small town of Murang’a. I was completely unaware of just how much the trip would change me. At a time in my life when I was doing things my own way, I was a bit apprehensive at first, but after seeing the miraculous way God orchestrated and provided everything in such a short time, I knew I was supposed to go.
I can’t explain how it felt landing in Nairobi that night, looking out the window and seeing so few city lights and noticing the exotic smells that met us when we stepped off the plane. And even though the lifestyle proved to be so different from our lives here in America, I immediately fell in love with every bit of the rich culture and history, the beautiful languages, and the genuine love people expressed for each other. I was so moved by the way the people worship so freely and unreservedly with dancing, shouting, and pounding of drums, with tears rolling down their faces in praise to God despite the hardships they were facing and the horrible things they may have experienced. Hearing some of their stories humbled me and each time I got to hold another precious child, I would fall in love all over again. I realized by the end of those three weeks that somehow and someway, I would get to see all my new friends again.
The next summer, I went back for three months by myself and was able to go and serve at many other orphanages and schools around the country, traveling all the way to the coastal town of Malindi for a week to spend time at an amazing children’s home there. The week spent with those inspiring kids created an intense passion in my heart to somehow make an impact in the lives of orphans in the country. That passion continued to grow and as I went to Kenya again the following summer with my sister and a few friends, it seemed God’s destiny for my life was sealed.
There have been many people in Kenya who've made an impact on my life. One shy young boy, John, has found a special place in my heart. He has lived at the orphanage in Murang’a for all his life and even though communication between us is difficult (since he mainly speaks Kikuyu), it is true that God’s love transcends our language differences. I’ve been able to watch him grow these past three years and I’m so excited for the young man he will become. His infectious laughter brings a smile to everyone he meets, and for now, he’s content to blow bubbles, color pictures, and take silly photos with my camera. I’ve learned that these fleeting moments with the kids are a small glimpse at the heart of God and the beauty that is always around us when we stop and open our eyes. John’s life is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to care for orphans and I am so thankful to be a part of his life.
This next year will be marked by big changes as I marry my best friend and move to Kenya to continue on the journey that God has set for my life but I will never forget the experiences and the amazing people that have changed my life along the way.