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Market Colors is an online store and nonprofit organization. Our team collaborates with craftsmen in Africa and India to create handmade products that will sell well throughout the world. We exist to equip African men and women with a sustainable income, generated through the sale of their products.

Filtering by Category: Journals

Journals from Africa: Kaylee

Lizzie Wirgau

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.

 

Journals From Africa: Tim

Lizzie Wirgau

You may have noticed that we've been highlighting individuals who have spent time in Africa on the blog recently, like Molly and Amanda. Our newest story is from Tim, who shares a bit of insight with us from his time in South Africa.

Who:  Tim Bergsma Where: South Africa When: 2011

 What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels? The biggest thing I learned is that no matter what barriers and walls our sin puts up, God can knock them down. This became so apparent to be during one of the days. South Africa has a rough history when it comes to social justice with the apartheid ending during most of our lifetimes. This causes an unbelievable divide between the white South Africans and the black South Africans. Due to the generations of injustice by the political system, a white guy is not easily trusted in most of the townships. This barrier, however, was broken down by a simple soccer ball. God was able to use the game of soccer through my trip – to allow us to quickly earn the trust of the people in these communities, which in turn allowed us to spread Christ in the townships.

A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa, was this true for you? If so, how? I don’t think it is possible to experience another culture so different from your own and not be changed in some way. I constantly am reminded of how lucky I am and also how much stuff I have, especially in comparison. It is easy to get caught up in that, but where the real good comes in is not valuing my possessions, but rather valuing people. In South Africa, we were able to get away from all the ‘stuff’ of our culture and focus on bonding with people and loving and being loved. This is what sticks with me even now. Stuff is so pointless, but people matter so we need to use every opportunity to invest in people and sometimes that means turning off the TV, but other times it may be using the technology and possessions we have been blessed with in order to connect with individuals in ways we otherwise couldn’t.

Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you? There were many. We would run into kids who all taught me unique things, but the person who has had the longest impact in my life was a Afrikaner named Lourens. During my three weeks there, we became so incredibly close. I have never bonded with another individual as quickly as Lourens. He was the type of guy who had experienced it all and was so dialed in and on fire to serve those in his community and those less fortunate than him. He would stay back after meals and compile the scraps that were left behind to take to homeless people on the way home. He was always looking out for other people and always looking to make the most of every situation.

Interested in sharing about your time spent in Africa? Please email us at info@marketcolors.org. We'd love to hear your story.

Journals from Africa: Amanda

Lizzie Wirgau

Who: Amanda Brown Where: Kenya When: 2010

"The summer after my freshman year of college, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Kenya with SERV International. Never having partaken in a mission trip of this scale, it was a leap of faith for me to fly 18 hours and spend three weeks in a third world country. I left the States with bottles of bug spray, numerous shots and pills, my camera, and the words from a friend in the back of my mind. Her statement that “when you go to Africa, you leave a piece of your heart and you’ll never get it back” could not have proved truer for me. It has been three years since I was in Kenya and my time there still comes to mind every day.

Africa is a unique place. Something about its people, landscape, and culture embed itself in your heart. Like many others who have traveled to Africa, my life changed drastically. The most significant thing I learned while in Kenya was the power of love. I spent several days visiting IDP camps (Internally Displaced People) outside the isolated village of Lodwar, near the Sudan border. Pulling up in our Land Rovers, we approached what appeared to be a mound of rocks, except it was the people’s home. They lived on a hill of garbage under the scorching sun, taking refuge under several bushes, and yet they still loved their lives. And even more memorable, they loved God with a blinding passion. These natives had absolutely nothing, but they had not given up. They gave praise to God for every gift they received and every day they lived. The selflessness these people showed and the love they revealed to me, a white visitor who could not possibly understand their situation, made the biggest impact on my life.

While every person I met in Kenya made a memorable impression on my trip, there were several faces that still have a special place in my heart. I spent six hours with two girls, Sarah and Rose, in the slums of Thika, and to this day we communicate weekly through Facebook. They know my life, my story, my struggles, my friends, and my family. And then there was Nancy Amoni, a four-year-old native Lodwarian at the House of Hope orphanage. She spoke only Swahili and Turkana and had been scared of mzungu (white people), but managed to attach herself to my hip and reach deep into my heart. Nobody has ever affected me like she did, and telling her goodbye after two weeks may have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I learned that the Kenyan nation has a welcoming charisma that you cannot help but fall in love with. I saw the true nature of selflessness and how the power of a stranger’s love can embed deep in your soul for years to come. And no, I still have not gotten all of my heart back." 

If you'd like to share your stories from Africa with us, please email info@marketcolors.org. We would love to feature you!

 

Journals from Africa: Mollie

Lizzie Wirgau

 Who: Mollie MitchellWhere: Namibia and Malawi When: 2002 (Namibia); 2009, 2011, 2012-present (Malawi)

What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels? During my first trip to Africa as a seventeen-year-old, I was struck by how, at the core, people are the same no matter where they live.  Before traveling to Africa, when I had only read about and seen pictures of people in African countries, I tended to put Africans in a box of being completely different from me.  As I spent time talking to and serving alongside Namibians in 2002, I saw clearly that, no matter what country or culture we are from, we all have hopes, disappointments, fears, challenges, and a desire to know that we are loved.  Now that I have been living in Malawi and working at a high school for the past six months, it is more apparent than ever that teenagers everywhere desire to be known, want their friends to like them, act silly and love being crazy while trying to appear cool, and are trying to learn how to make their own choices for their lives.

A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa.  Was this true for you? If so, how? When I was in Namibia, I realized in a new way how important and powerful prayer is.  When I returned to the US, I committed to getting up early each morning to spend time in prayer with my mom, who had also been on the trip to Namibia.  To this day, prayer holds a very important place in my life. 

Ultimately, my trips to Namibia and Malawi led me to fall in love with the African culture and people. I decided to dedicate a year or more of my life invested in an opportunity that melds my love for Africa with my heart for education.  Presently, I am living in Malawi, serving as an education consultant with Children of the Nations.

Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you? There are so many children and adults who have impacted my life, especially since I have been living in Malawi long-term.  However, my heart will always have a very special place for my sponsor son, Alfred.  While I was preparing for my first trip to Malawi in 2009, my seventh grade students in the US decided to help me sponsor a ten-year-old boy.  Together, we supported and prayed for Alfred.  When I travelled to Malawi, I had the opportunity to meet Alfred, give him letters from my American students, and tell him how we were praying for him.  Now that I am working at a Malawian high school and see first-hand what a difference education makes in the life of a Malawian child, I want so much for my sponsor son to have this opportunity.  I am praying for Alfred and encouraging him to do his best in school because one day I want to see him graduate from college.  

If you'd like to keep up with Mollie's story while she is in Malawi you can also check out her personal blog.                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journals From Africa: Grace

Lizzie Wirgau

We have started a new blog series entitled Journals From Africa. These blogs will highlight stories from men and women who have spent time in Africa. These stories will come from those who have lived there, travelers who have visited on a mission trip, and others who’ve worked overseas.

Who: Grace Ingram (Market Colors Intern) Where: Malawi When: June 2011

 

What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels?

That I have a heart for Africa. Since middle school I had felt God calling me toward missions, and I had two opportunities to do work in the Dominican Republic. Although both of those trips were meaningful for me, when I went to Malawi it felt like my second home. I didn't know I could feel so completely comfortable and experience such a sense of belonging half way around the world, but that is exactly what happened. This trip helped shape my career goal, to work for a nonprofit that battles hunger and homelessness in Africa. Working with Market Colors is such an honor because I see it as an opportunity to use my time and talents in a way that makes an impact. I don't know what my next step will be career-wise (I've just graduated from UCF this past December and currently hold two part time jobs) but I am excited for the possibilities and open to what God has in store.

A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa, was this true for you? If so, how?

I learned so many things through my time in Malawi but one that was immediately obvious upon returning home was how materialistic our culture is compared with the Malawians. Initially, it was hard to come back and consider spending money on anything that wasn't a necessity because I was so aware of how much I am already blessed. Malawi's culture is also very relationally-based and it made me acutely aware of how much a role technology plays in our communication here, often allowing us to skip the face-to-face. Having been back a year and a half now, I recognize that God has blessed me greatly and I continue to try and use the resources he has given me in ways that honor him. I have also come to value time spent with people more, and intentionally create space for that even in simple ways, like having a cell phone free lunch with a friend.  

Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you?

Every day on our way to Children of the Nations school in Mtsiliza, we took a bus through the village. As we drove we would pass the market, then streets of homes before finally making it to our destination. As some of you may know, Malawians (particularly children) use the term 'mzungu' to refer to us "white people". Although we were greeted by many loud, happy children yelling this when they saw us, there was one little boy in particular that my team and I looked forward to passing every day. As we'd round the last curve before coming to the COTN school, there would be a little boy no more than two years old playing in his front yard. As soon as he saw our bus he would start yelling, "Mzungu! MZUNGU!" and waving at us. The joy of this child and his welcoming nature at such a young age touched my heart and that of my teammates. He reminds me now to reach out with love and warmth to those I meet and that it only takes a small gesture to make someone feel special.