Saturday, August 4, 2012

T-Minus 5 days until Ah-frica


I have seen Africa written and referred to like that in the many books I have been reading and movies I have been watching about Kenya and Africa leading up to this trip. I love the way it looks and sounds because of what it means…no rush, no time frame, no deadlines, limited internet, cell phone, noise…Ahhhhhhhhhh. Simple living – I can’t wait.

For those who do not know the detail of our trip, I will give a brief synopsis here. Matt and I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua last year with St. Greg’s Youth Ministry, and it is an understatement to say that it forever changed our lives. I won’t go too much into it, but what we saw there was strong families, strong faith, a lot of love…and a lot of poverty. Upon returning from that trip, we decided after much prayer and reflection that we wanted to do more, and for a longer period of time. Matt and I were accepted into the Vincentian Lay Missionaries program in January this year. We happily accepted the offer, thus beginning months of prayer and preparation for our month-long trip! There are nine of us going to Kenya, split between three different locations. Matt and I will be going to Chepnyal (waaaay up in the mountains!) with two grad students from St. John’s University, Raelynne and Nick.

What will we be doing there? Well, this trip was especially appealing to us because it allows us to use many of our talents to help others. Running a summer camp for kids is part of our time there: doing crafts, sports, music, and other fun things with them while they are out of school. I feel pretty prepared for this aspect (special thanks here to Matt’s sister, my sister and brother and their spouses for having so many kids), although, the language barrier will give us a good challenge (Side note: I am fully prepared, as is Raelynne, to dance, sing and make random hand/arm movements to get the kids moving though, so I think that should translate well, right?).   The other part of our time there will be spent helping women with small businesses, i.e. writing business plans, business skill training, and consulting with them about their production units. So basically putting our UB MBAs to work!

Here we are, five days before we leave and everything we need is finally purchased, most of the clothes are washed and everything is ready to go into the suitcases. Next challenge: getting everything we are bringing into four suitcases and make sure they do not exceed 50 lbs. Yikes!

Things I am grateful for on this 90 degree day in Buffalo:
  •  Everyone who supported our decision to do this: our families, friends, co-workers, parishioners at St. Gregory’s, and the workers at Jo-Ann’s and Party City who asked why I bought so many silly bands and craft supplies and were genuinely supportive and excited for us.
  • The Daughters of Charity and the Vincentian Lay Missionary program.
  • The opportunity to use my talents to help others build sustainable programs.

 St. Therese, pray for us!

Here's our Chepnyal group in (what I call) the Mirror Bean, Chicago, IL after VLM Orientation in June.

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