POET team members return to Kenya to work on new construction projects
FINDING COMMON BONDS WITH THE KENYAN PEOPLE: ‘THEY ARE EVER HOPEFUL’
by Lauren Studer, POET Biorefining - Laddonia, Laddonia, Mo.
When I first considered taking this trip I heard many variations of the following: "It’s going to change your life," "You think that you’re going to give them so much, when really you’re the one that will be receiving a gift" and "The plane ride sucks, but it’s worth it." Those statements are the ones that propelled me to go on this trip; a chance at a change. A chance for those people to be right, and right they were.
The plane rides and travelling were horrendous: 19 hours on a plane not including layovers and hours driving on the Mombasa highway where the people not only drive on the "wrong side of the road," but they drive on all sides of the road, and shoulders, and dirt paths surrounding the highway.
Horrendous, but all of that discomfort and displeasure was washed away the moment I got to watch 150 girls open the bags we prepared, and their faces light up with absolute joy when they dug out Jolly Ranchers, nail polish and other items. That moment made the next 36 hours getting back home sitting in the middle seat between strangers I didn’t know undoubtedly worth it.
Through morning walks in the village, sharing meals and tea times, working side by side with the girls and fundis [construction workers], and afternoons playing games and doing crafts, I had the opportunity to really meet the Kenyan people. They’re humble, hospitable and at times downright hilarious. Each day in their lives they go through unfathomable struggles. They wonder where their food will come from, how they will get water and if they’re going to have enough money to pay for their child’s education. Through all of this, they continue to place their faith in God and believe that no matter what, He will provide for them. Even when they have continually been beat down by life, they are ever hopeful.
Getting to know these girls left me with a few new insights on life. No matter where we live in this world or what we look like, we all have similar fears and insecurities. We all have dreams of becoming a better person tomorrow than the one we are today. We all aspire to be something more in this world. We are all just trying to figure out the steps to get there. Those things — our fears, our insecurities, our dreams and our joy — those are the things that bind us together as people. Those are the things that we will remember in our lives: our experiences we share with people. Not the things that we own or the food that we ate, but the moments that we spent with the people who made us feel. Those are the things that continue to live on.
A CHANCE TO FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN LIFE
by Sasha Roth, daughter of Deb Roth, POET Research Center, Scotland, S.D.
Mission Greenhouse at Travellers’ Oasis Centre (TOC) is a trip that I will never forget. It was truly a life-changing experience. Mission
Greenhouse has made a huge impact on TOC, but going into this, I never would have imagined the impact those girls would have on me. From the welcoming ceremony, to dancing and singing our hearts out with the girls, and doing crafts with them, and getting to know a little bit about each of them, they have opened my eyes and my heart.
Their strong faith has inspired me. Their caring and loving hearts make me want to be the best person that I can be and to help others any time I get the chance.
We even had the opportunity to work side-by-side with the girls during our time at TOC. They helped us pick up sticks, move rocks and dirt, and help make cement! They enjoyed helping out, and we loved getting to spend more time with the girls!
I was blessed to be able to go on this trip with my mother, Deb, and my younger sister, Cheyanne… Some people don’t have their loved ones around to share these amazing opportunities together, so we did while we had the chance.
They have so little over there, and it almost makes you feel guilty because of all the stuff we have that we take for granted. But that’s just it — stuff. Sometimes we get so materialistic, and traveling to the other side of the world to see how people live over there opens your eyes. We are living in luxury compared to them.
But then when you really think about it, they are the lucky ones. They don’t have all this stuff to fantasize about, so they focus on what’s really important: their relationships, their faith and everything that God has put in front of them. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to go on this mission trip — not only to help them, but for them to help me. To put the stuff down and focus on what’s truly important in life.