This summer I traveled to Kenya for two weeks on a mission trip with Bayleaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. I traveled with three other rising senior girls to work with children at several schools across Kenya. I spent time at schools, visited some churches and farms and also some private homes.

I was asked to speak in front of the children at these schools which sometimes meant speaking in front of 1000 people. The trip was an amazing experience to share my life story and testimony with so many people and to hear the stories they shared with me afterward.

The trip challenged me in good ways like learning to speak in front of so many people or having to deal with different food which was difficult to get used to and how the power would constantly go off. When I returned I said I would never take good food, a warm shower or security for granted again but I would not trade the time I spent there this summer.

While on the trip, I realized what an amazing life I have. I realized how most Americans are not grateful for all that they have, and I became more aware of how lucky I am. I have the opportunity to live in the greatest country in the world, and I should be thankful every second for that. I also realized how I sometimes might complain about something but when I looked around me in Africa, those people literally had nothing and were still so happy and thankful for what little they had every day. I would someday like to return to Africa, and hopefully see some of the people again who made a great impact on my life. I realized how strong and independent I am because I had the courage to travel that far without my parents or anyone I knew well, and how I was willing to open up about my life. At the same time, I was willing to learn from someone else. I had to deal with some situations there, like even using the restroom, or taking a shower (there was never any hot water) or trying to get something to eat that would not upset my stomach. But all the hardships aside, I truly enjoyed my trip and all the people I met. I sang with them and realized how beautiful their language is and even learned a few words! They taught me to not be afraid and to be myself. I just let myself be open to experience all they had to teach me and share everything I had done and experienced. They are so loving and kind and happy that I realized there is no point in holding grudges and everyone makes mistakes. Forgiving others helps you live a better and healthier life. Africa was truly a life-changing experience for me and I cannot wait to see what’s in store next for me on my journey. I know because of these two weeks I will be more open to the next opportunity I have to experience something outside of my comfort zone. I am grateful for this experience.

Vaher Kenya Mission Trip 2018