I’ve been strong, rested and composed most of the trip so far. But I knew there was a breaking coming, a breaking of all emotions, of all composure. That breaking happened today.
Today was dedication and move-in day for the new boys’ dorm. I think we all agree; it was incredible.
When we agreed to join this mission trip to Shangilia Orphanage in Kenya, Africa, most of us didn’t know we would be here for the dedication and move-in day for the new boys’ dorm. In fact, we didn’t understand the full extent of this significant event until we were already on our way to Kenya.
I remember asking our trip leader, Randy, for double verification. ”So we’re going to be there when the boys move into their new dorm?” “YES,” exclaimed Randy.
I couldn’t believe it. The team was ecstatic to hear the announcement, and has been honored to help with all the preparations needed to get the dorm ready for today’s dedication and move in.
Today started with some last-minute preparations in the dorm. Moving supply bags and garbage out, hanging handmade name signs on the doors of each room, washing windows, wrapping a bit of garland around the entrance for decoration, and finalizing a few surprises for the boys on their beds (toothbrush, toothpaste, beanie baby, and one small trinket toy like a matchbox car).
Before long, special guests were arriving. Old friends from afar. Love for Kenya’s Pastor Francis. And all the Love for Kenya staff.
The children arrived early, eager to begin celebrating. Before I knew it, Miss Maggie, another team member, was calling me out of the new boys’ dorm. “Come Amy, you have to see this! The kids are all singing together and it’s really cool.” I didn’t know what to expect, but followed Maggie anyway. She was clearly VERY excited!
I arrived on scene to find this sweet surprise. MOST of the 70 children in the orphanage, along with most of our team and three guitar players were gathered tight for outdoor worship under a canopy of trees. What a sight. What a sound. This was the most beautiful thing I’d heard and seen, perhaps all year, perhaps in many years. Definitely one of the most holy moments of my life. Could we ask for a better start to this dedication and move-in day? We had the whole morning planned, but this UNPLANNED worship was the best of all.
The children and three guitar players sang and played and sang some more, as much as their hearts’ desired. Words don’t suffice to describe the scene. But one thing’s for sure. It was incredibly moving. One other team member told me it was his most emotional day of the trip so far. I agreed. I was a basket case, an emotional wreck, with this outdoor orphanage worship.
The Holy Spirit was present and moving in our midst. It was a gathering of kindred hearts and souls. Every fiber of our being told us – THIS is what heaven will look like, smell like, taste like, feel like, sound like.
I sat to the side in all my emotion for quite some time. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t hide it from some of the older girls, though. After a while, they sent my sweetie, William, over to get me and bring me over to an open chair amongst the group of singing orphans. Oh my. I was unglued. My sisters and brothers were singing over me, with me.
Nate. Randy. Jamie. Lacey. Maggie. Matt. Later, the other Randy and Paul. And Anna was playing guitar. It was SO beautiful. SO precious. SO incredibly moving. These orphans? They know how to bring the heavens down. Amazing.
After what seemed like forever in a good way, worship ceased as we were called over to begin the new dorm dedication.
First off? A greeting from Pastor Randy and Pastor Francis, followed by distribution of Love for Kenya shirts to each staff member, followed by a scripture reading and foot washing for ALL staff and ALL children on the soccer field. Like the rest of the morning, it was an incredibly holy moment, one to be treasured always by all who attended.
Next up? Dorm dedication. Pastor Randy and Pastor Francis stood on the steps of the new boys’ dorm. The boys gathered close up front. And the rest of the children, staff, mission team and special guests gathered around the perimeter. Francis said a few words, followed by Randy. Both leaders prayed, and there was even a ribbon cutting to top it off.
Shangilia Orphanage’s new boys’ dorm was officially open!
Pastor Francis and Randy went in first to pray over the building from the inside. Shortly after, they invited our mission team and some Love for Kenya staff in so we could prepare for the boys’ entrance. The boys got in line outside. Room by room – in groups of three to four – the boys were called and came in to find and see their room for the first time. Each group of boys was prayed over by Randy, Francis and mission team members when they first entered their new room. Then they were set free to choose their beds and acclimate to their new surroundings. Just like that – one holy moment after the next – and all the boys were finally into their new home.
We took a whole lot of photos and video for those of you back home, so get ready for some looking! This new dorm dedication and move in day was fabulous, incredible, holy, special and life-changing for these sweet boys. This new dorm is a blessing and dream come true for the orphanage.
After all the boys got into the dorm, we spent some time distributing a few special gifts to the girls so they could feel special, too (toothbrush, toothpaste and beanie baby for each girl). Everyone was happy, pleased, joyful, and tired.
We ate lunch together, which was followed by another incredibly enjoyable round of Vacation Bible School (VBS). Nate, Maggie and I acted out “The Good Samaritan” scripture with four groups of children…let’s say about 30 times accounting for all the children who wanted to act it out?! It was surprisingly fun and appropriate for all ages, preschool through high school. The other groups colored and did mazes, learned “The Good Samaritan” scripture, and sang songs.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was quiet and relaxed. Everyone was exhausted from all the preparations, dorm dedication and move in. We played. We hugged and loved on kids. We fixed a couple boo boos. We helped the kids in their new rooms. We walked slowly, holding hands down the long, dusty, red road between orphanage sites. We ate dinner and chatted some more. Then most of us concluded our day with a special movie night with the children, complete with a bottle of soda pop.
Yes, it was a VERY special day, indeed. A blessed day, indeed. A holy day, indeed.
Amy & Team
This blog post is part of a series I’m writing about my journey to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in the fall of 2015. Click here and you’ll be directed to the landing page where you can read ALL the posts from the series. If you haven’t already, read the post I wrote when I announced the trip. Otherwise, scroll to the bottom and you’ll find ALL the Kenya posts listed and linked for your reading enjoyment. Thanks for joining the journey, friends.