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I woke at 4:30 a.m., unable to fall back asleep. Our team was supposed to meet downstairs for breakfast at 5:30 before heading to safari, so I decided to go ahead and get up.

We woke at different times, but all got ready briefly. No fluff. No big prep. No unnecessary primping. Today was our last day in Africa. High maintenance and Africa are NOT synonymous.

Most of us skipped the hotel’s breakfast in lieu of a granola bar or snack from our backpacks. The hard boiled eggs were reportedly soft.

We stored all our luggage in a main-level room at the hotel, then hopped on two safari-style vans. A quick 15-20 minute drive from the hotel and we arrived at Nairobi National Park for our day-long safari.



Our guides popped open the tops of our two safari vans and off we went.

The safari was wonderful and surprisingly lasted most of the day, approximately 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We stood with heads popped into open air 95% of the time. Nate kept us awake and alive with his unique and incredibly funny sense of humor; there was quite a bit of laughter. Who knew a safari would be beautiful AND fun? We documented a page-full of animals we saw on the safari – a lion, herds of wildebeests, impalas, zebras and giraffes to name just a few. The animals were incredible. The trees, breathtakingly beautiful.




Halfway through the safari, around lunch time, we came upon the one and only rest area. We stopped, used the restroom, then made our way to a modest gazebo where an armed gunman and Masai tribesman were there to protect, answer questions and provide beverages for purchase.

We had a cold lunch of PB&J sandwiches, chips, Oreos and water out of the back of our safari vans. Then the Masai tribesman offered to take us on a walk down to the hippo pools. There was a small fee for the guided tour. Randy, our trip leader agreed to cover it. Our teams’ walking journey through the African bush was stunning. Breathtaking. Absolutely beautiful. A not-to-miss experience. The Masai warrior, draped in red, tire sandals, and beaded necklaces and headwear, showed us hippo tracks, rhino tracks, a giraffe who’d fallen in the water and died, a couple hippos hiding under the water’s surface and some oh-so-painful safari ants. Did I mention that the scenery was breathtaking? Wow. Amazing. God’s African creations are a sight to be seen.



After a group photo with the Masai tribesman, we got back in the vans and made our way back through the safari towards the entrance. We were so deep into the safari that it took 1 1/2 – 2 hours to get back out to the entrance. It was a good opportunity for conversation and a few unexpected afternoon sightings of giraffes against blue sky and green grass, as well as a domination fight between two male ostriches.

When we finally arrived back at the entrance to the safari, we rushed a bit as we were set to arrive at the Kibira Slums within a half hour. No problem. No worries. Hakuna Matata. We made it to the Kibira Slums right on the dot, right on time at 3:30 p.m.

Kibira slum is the second largest slum in Africa. 1 million people live in 1 square mile of space. Extreme poverty everywhere. Unsafe, unsanitary and highly underdeveloped living conditions everywhere. We left 95% of our bags and belongings on the bus at Randy’s suggestion. I didi wear my wedding ring, turning the diamond in towards my palm, and decided to bring my camera with bag strap shortened, and easy to hold close to my body up front. Everyone was wearing pants and tennis shoes. I had Toms on, so I added socks for an extra barrier between the garbage, mud, sewage and my feet.

When our vans entered the slums, Randy phoned Pastor Timothy, Kibira Slums resident and pastor at a church-school ministry operating in the slums. Randy connected with Pastor Timothy several years ago and has remained in contact ever since. As we drove down the narrow slum roads, Randy talked non-stop to Timothy on the phone, keeping him updated as to where we were and how close we were. There was a calm urgency in Randy’s voice. We needed to ensure direct and immediate contact with Pastor Timothy. He was our point person, our Kenya contact in these slums, and we wouldn’t do well here without him. Finally, there he was, in front of us with phone in hand, wearing a white plaid shirt and a great big smile. The drivers parked the vans right in front of Pastor Timothy’s church-school ministry building in the slums, they stayed to protect our belongings, and in we went.

Pastor Timothy had told us the kids were off school, so he rounded up “a few” kids to sing and dance for us. “A few” was, perhaps, an understatement. There were many more than just “a few.” When we entered, there were at least 50 kids sitting waiting amidst the blue backdrop of wood and tin-constructed church-school buildings. Pastor Timothy introduced himself and greeted our team incredibly warmly and with great joy. He introduced PoPo, a former student of his who is now a leader in the church-school. PoPo said they had a few dances to perform for us. Boy, did they ever! Timothy made sure to let us know we could take as many photos as we wanted. Fortunately, three of our team decided to take the risk and bring cameras.

Oh. My. Word. The kids were incredible. They danced. They sang. They shared a verse. Then two testimonies. Amazing. I was deeply, deeply moved. It was so, so good. The joy on the childrens’ faces, despite their home in the slums and many of orphan status, was humbling and amazing to witness. What a fabulous ministry Pastor Timothy runs in the Kibira Slums. I stood next to him on the side as he proclaimed to me quietly and with all certainty…

“We have the children dance and sing like this and it draws in people from all over the slums. Then we tell them about Jesus, our one and only Savior.”

100% certainty was written all over Pastor Timothy’s face. I know, without a doubt, that this ministry is effective.

They invited our team to join them for several songs of dancing. What can I say? It was joy to the max, the Holy Spirit igniting and uniting us as one as we danced, all together, in the heart of the slums.

The Bible promises that in heaven there will be no more tears. Today, after this experience in the slums, I am certain there will be no more tears in heaven. All joy. All peace. All unity. All colors and all backgrounds. United together through faith.




“It was amazing to see Pastor Timothy bring hope to the poorest of the poor in the Kibira slum. Christ’s love shining bright! Hope for the hopeless.” – Randy Stensgard

After dancing to the point of sweating, our team shared some testimonies and Pastor Timothy gave us a tour of the building, which was followed by a group walk through the slums. We were each individually escorted by an older teenage boy from the church school. Pastor Timothy, a youth pastor and an additional group of older boys from the church school surrounded us to ensure safety.

As we walked through garbage, sewage, mud and overly crammed and populated streets of the slums, our team experienced a variety of emotions.







Inconceivable. Landfill. Miraculous. Joy and hope in Christ in the midst of a sewer.

My escort was wearing green. I stayed close to him the whole time and for some reason felt complete peace as we walked through the slums. I can’t say exactly why, but for some reason I felt God’s presence so clearly there. Perhaps my escort said it best as we chatted and made our way back to the church school.

“Some people think we’re poor. We have life. We have Jesus. We have everything we need.”

Wow. I think he’s right. Perhaps that’s why I had complete peace as I walked through the slums. Sure, we don’t live in the slums, but other aspects of our lives are undoubtedly slummy and incredibly messy and out of control. There comes a time when we must surrender and agree…if we have life and faith in Jesus, we have everything we need.

Life on earth never promised to be perfect. Life is life. It’s messy, slummy beautiful.



Our walk deep into the slums and back up again brought us back to our vans. A quick group photo and off we went to a quick stop to change, pick up luggage at the hotel and head to the airport for our departure.

What a journey this has been. Our 10-day mission trip to Kenya, Africa, with Love for Kenya, is near complete. A day and a half and THREE additional flights later, we’ll be back home in the USA.

Thank you for joining our journey. It’s been a pleasure, a true honor, to serve God and His beautiful people here in Kenya. God bless you all. God bless Kenya.

Amy & Team

Kenya_smallbuttonThis 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.


We met bright and early at 6:15 a.m. to watch the sunrise together one last time. We worshiped. We shared joys from yesterday. And we prayed over four team members. Randy briefed us on the busy day ahead. Then we made our way back to our huts to pack and get ready for the day. Time was flying already.

Most of us had an opportunity to connect with children at the orphanage before breakfast. We sensed, we knew this was likely one of our last best opportunities to do so.

How do you tell an orphan goodbye?

What do you say?

What do you believe in your heart to be true?

What if you truly loved, and are now at a loss?

We said good bye anyway. The kids played. We inserted ourselves in their everyday. Shared glances communicated without a word.

Do you see me?

Do you love me?

Will you return?

Can we be together longer?

You are beautiful.

Joy was found in laughter, play, hugs, and quiet moments on the dirty cement surrounding the old boys’ dorm. Hands were held on one last long walk down the red dirt road to the other side of the orphanage.


Breakfast was delicious as usual. Homemade cinnamon pancakes and fresh-cut mangoes.

Then it was back to the other side to prepare for the arrival of 85+ widows served by Love for Kenya’s widows’ ministry.

Our team, along with orphanage staff, packed enough food bags for 93 widows. By the time we were done packing, many widows had arrived – some afoot from near and far, some made the journey on piki-pikis (motorcycles). Love for Kenya ministers to widows at Shangilia Orphanage every Friday. In Kenya, widows are considered outcasts, scum of the earth. But God calls us to serve and love on orphans and widows. Love for Kenya does just that.

Widows arrived one by one. Their familiarity with one another was evident in a second. They gathered in a large group on Shangilia Orphanage’s hills, sitting close to one another, hugging and chatting in community. Before long, they began singing, chanting, clapping and dancing. What a sight. What a sound. This was pure Africa. So beautiful.

Kehfa said some words. Pastor Randy spoke. Our team introduced ourselves one by one and greeted the widows.

We were welcomed and loved.

They were welcomed and loved.

Then they sang again. This time even louder. This time even more dancing. Our team dispersed among the widows, dancing and joining in their mother tongue as we were able. Then they called our team, one by one, up front and center to dance on display with the widows. It was amazing. Holy. Incredible. Completely joyful. A unique and powerful experience not to be missed or dismissed.

Song and dance slowly subsided after great, great joy.

Some of our team members joined widows seated on rocks or the ground, and connected more intimately. Hands were held. Friendships between widows and mission team members were forged in an instant. Relationship is key in Kenya. Going deep, seeing and listening long come easy to Kenyans. What a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Chai tea was served after a long period of community building between widows and mission team members. That gave us an opportunity to say more last good byes to kids at the orphanage and get food ready for distribution to the widows.

The widows got in line, received their food, placed it on their heads for travel and sang in joyful chorus all the way through. What a gift. What a joy.

When the line had cleared, the widows gathered near the gate and exited down the dusty, dirty red road that leads into and out of the orphanage.


It was time for a quick last lunch at the orphanage, then packing up our belongings from the huts. One load of our luggage and team into two vehicles, and off we went to the airport. We were running late, much later than planned, but no worries. Hakuna Matata. All was fine.

We arrived at the airport with 45 minutes to spare before take off. It was an incredibly quick turn-around, but we made it. Praise God. Hakuna Matata.

One short flight from Kisumu to Nairobi, and there we were, ready for one more night’s stay in Africa. We enjoyed dinner of pizza and chicken, debriefed as a team at our humble Kenyan hotel, then headed to bed.

Tomorrow we will safari and visit the Kibera Slums, 1 square mile filled with 1 million residents.  A very-late-night flight will take us from Nairobi to Frankfurt. Then Frankfurt to Chicago. Chicago to Minneapolis.

One more long day in Kenya ahead. Tomorrow. May it be blessed. May we be a blessing.

Amy & Team

Kenya_smallbuttonThis 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.


Anna and I have been roommates here in Kenya, Africa, in this turquoise and beige hut called home. Last night, we stayed up late talking into the dark of night. But mid-night, we found ourselves sleepless – one of us with a fever and sore throat, the other with a significant matter of the heart. Anna and I managed our ailments separately, independently, but both of us sought the same Healer, our Heavenly Father.

Mid-night revelations.

Mid-night healing at Shangilia Orphanage.

I slept little, but woke with energy. I felt renewed, restored. Another day, another love for the children, staff and mission team members.

Today was our last full day at Shangilia Orphanage.

Our last full day.

Randy, Paul, Lacey, Matt and the other Randy felt called to go visit the 10-mile lady, a woman who walks 10 miles every Friday to visit the orphanage. She’ll be here tomorrow, but she might not make it before we have to leave, so this group felt called to make a home visit on piki-pikis (motorcycles) to her remote dwelling 10 miles from the orphanage. Their team returned for a late lunch; exuberance, amazement and the Holy Spirit was written all over their faces. Their time with the 10-mile lady was incredible. Hands down, totally worth it. Here are some words from team members who made the journey.



Going to visit Esnas, the ten mile lady who is 73, was an adventure in itself. She travels by foot, ten miles one way from her home down in the valley, to the orphanage when they offer supplies to the widows. The road is made of various size rocks with ruts from the washout, making travel by vehicle slow by foot. As we made our way down on piki-pikis (100 cc motorcycles) it was like a parade with children running out to wave and ask “how are you?”  They would shout Mezunga (white people) and point at us. As we got close to her home, we found the road under construction and not able to pass. That is, until Bongo made a small bridge out of a broken piece of concrete to get the bikes across the ditch.  The broken piece of concrete was not very big either, probably 12” x 30.”  We walked across while the drivers rode the bikes across, then we remounted onto the bikes. As we got about a mile away, the road turned more into an off-road course at best, and the children ran behind to see where we were going. Once we arrived at Esnas’ home with the cooking supplies, she broke into praise and dance thanking Jesus. Asante, Asante, Asante Jesus.  (Asante =  Thank you).  Her home had 4 rooms with a hall down the middle and a fifth room to put her cow in at night.  She kept her baby chickens under a large basket inside one of the rooms.  Between her bedroom and where she keeps her cow at night, was a tiny kitchen area. When I say tiny I mean 5’ x 7’ max. Her bed mattress rested on the floor, as the frame she had was for a larger bed and too big for her room.  She then took us outside and took pictures with her cow. For income, she sells sand, which she moves with a wheel barrow. – Matt

Thursday morning was an incredible journey for us to see 73-year old Esnas, the “10-mile lady.” Shangilia Orphanage opens its arms to approximately 80 widows in the village of Lusiola, and surrounding areas, every Friday. This is a time to minister to these beautiful women, build relationships and community, and show them Christ’s love for each one of them.

Prior to our departure from Minnesota, the 10-mile lady became a bit of a legend to all of us. Pastor Randy had told us her story, that she would walk ten miles of difficult terrain both ways every Friday. She would leave at six in the morning to make it to Shangilia by noon. Only to turn around and head home, making it an all day affair, but one she will not miss as it is a blessing a gift from God.

We had originally planned to go the day before but rain and other circumstances prevented our travel. It was apparent, and later even more obvious, that God’s timing for our visit was for today.

Five members of our team, along with two of our favorite Kenyans, Martin and Bongo, jumped on the back of piki-pikis for the ride to the 10-mile lady.  The road to her house is best described as challenging. Mud and dirt packed a land mind of obstacles including rocks and boulders and massive potholes.

It took about 30 minutes to arrive at her house. As we were close to her residence, we needed to get off the piki-pikis and walk the rest of the way. We started to gain a following of local children. First about five, and then 20 and then about 50 kids all following us.

We arrived at Esnas’ home, but she was not expecting us. She quickly invited us in and warmly embraced each one of us with a special embrace for “her son,” Randy.

She proceeded to Praise the Lord for about ten minutes. “Asante Jesu!” she proclaimed.  “Asanta Bwana!” with her hands held as high as her tiny body could reach.  Asante Jesu!”  “Asante Bwana!”  Bongo was translating her praises as she was saying, “Thank you Jesus!” “Thank you Lord!” over and over again.  Never have I experienced a continuous outpouring of gratitude towards the Lord for answering prayers. It was overwhelming and we all had tears in our eyes. What an awesome experience to see the Holy Spirit show up in a tin home in remote and rural Kenya.

We took a tour of her small home which included a room for her cow and goat at night, a basket to cover her chickens, a couple of pots to make up a kitchen and a mattress on the ground to rest her head.  We presented her with some supplies and clothes and she continued her praise to our Holy Father for the gifts. She took us outside and introduced us to her cow and goat and told us about other things she had been praying for, including a small wheel barrel to help her sell sand from her property and a bed frame so she didn’t have to sleep on the floor.

It was all beautiful and incredibly moving. Our hour with Esnas was short, but we needed to get back to Shangilia to spend our last full day with the children and staff.

We said our goodbyes and gave each gave her another engulfing hug before we left.

The journey back to Shangilia was once again challenging due to the terrain, but nothing was going to change our experience. We had just witnessed something none of us will ever forget…a personal interaction between the Holy Spirit, the 10-mile Lady and the five of us. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Lord!  – Paul

Jamie and Maggie felt called to stay at the orphanage and play with children. When we returned from our journey, they were engaging happily and casually with the children. I have yet to hear of their morning, but rest assured, any day with these orphans is incredibly beautiful and completely worthwhile.



Nate, Anna and I felt called to return to Salamba’s home, the man Nate and I visited a few days ago who has a terrible wound on the bottom of his foot. We brought John (a pastor and staff here at the orphanage who translated for us on the home visit a few days ago), Lonika (Kehfa’s wife and a medical professional), Rachel (Lonika’s daughter) and Eric (a dedicated volunteer here at Shangilia) with us to assist. Since Lonika has great medical background, we sought her expertise. She agreed to visit Salamba and take a look. When we arrived, Nate gave Grace (Salamba’s mother of great faith) a new Bible in Swahili as hers was incredibly worn and torn from a lifetime of use. We prayed over her, and journeyed next door to Salamba’s house. After examination, Lonika agreed that Salamba needed medical attention. We had gathered modest funds that would cover a visit to the hospital, so we all agreed we would hire a piki piki (motorcycle) to come and take Salamba to the hospital for examination. One seriously miraculous hike back up the rocky hillside with a cane, and Salamba was on his way to the hospital on a piki piki. We later discovered that Salamba needed to transfer to another hospital, then was seen and surgery was recommended. Since we are leaving, Lonika, Shangilia Orphanage, and the Love for Kenya will be working with Salamba to determine further course of action from this point forward. We are grateful we could love and provide some assistance to Salamba. Please pray for complete healing for his foot.


After another delicious lunch made by Grace at Kehfa’s house, we headed back to the boys’ dorm for distribution of shoes we brought for the children. Before we left for Kenya, someone provided funds for shoes for the children. Since we arrived, I and other team members have felt continually called to ensure the children get new shoes as many of the childrens’ shoes are incredibly, incredibly worn and garbage worthy. A few children have asked us individually IF and WHEN they will be able to get new shoes. Shoes have been in order. So today – praise God – we fulfilled that great need. We brought enough shoes to distribute to a portion of the children. For those who we couldn’t find a fit, they were sent to a line in which their name was written down. Several orphanage staff made a trip to Kisumu (a large, nearby city) to purchase shoes for the rest of the children this afternoon. Tonight, two large boxes of new shoes sit in the new boys’ dorm. They are ready for distribution. The children needed shoes bad. Tomorrow, they will ALL have new shoes. Praise God. This is very, very good.



Shoe distribution ended and was followed by a crazy big rainstorm in which we all had to take cover in the old boys’ dorm and new boys’ dorm. After the rainstorm subsided, 8 of our team moved forward with the day’s Vacation Bible School lesson on Esther. Randy met with Pastor Francis. And I fulfilled a promise to orphanage staff member and preschool/kindergarten teacher, Helen, to work with a group of children and share techniques for speech and language development. I caught the end of VBS; everyone was having a grand time doing crafts, singing songs and learning Bible verses, and practicing courage by trying blindfolded tastes of chocolate syrup and Ranch dressing.

Today, I sensed a familiarity between orphanage staff, children and mission team members. It is too soon to go, but as Helen said tonight at the good-bye ceremony, God has called us together, here, for this amount of time, for a reason. We trust His purposes have been fulfilled. For now we leave. Perhaps, God willing, we will return someday.





Vacation Bible School was followed by dinner of the most delicious homemade African stew, which was followed by one last night of worship together with all the children, all the staff on duty, and our entire mission team.

It was a beautiful last night together, a beautiful good bye. An emotional and Spirit-filled one at that. After songs, preaching by Shangilia Orphanage’s Pastor John, and speeches by Kehfa, Pastor Randy, a few Shangilia staff members, a few children who volunteered, and a few mission team members, all the Kenyans prayed over our team. It was beautiful. So beautiful. I held hands with my sweet boys, William and Juma, during prayer. Then our team spent 10, 15, maybe 20 minutes thanking and bidding the Shangilia Orphanage children and staff farewell.

Good bye.

God bless you.

Thank you so much.

I love you.

God loves you.

Amy & Team

Kenya_smallbuttonThis 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.


The floodgates opened Tuesday morning during worship with the the orphans, and didn’t begin closing until Friday morning when our team prayed peace over me. Just ask any team member and they’ll verify, I was a bit of an unpredictable emotional roller coaster for a few days in Kenya.

God gifted me with highly sensitive spirit. When I visit developing countries, my sensitivities are piqued to the max. On my trip to Haiti in 2014 and the Dominican Republic in early 2015, I definitely had days and times where I was particularly emotionally vulnerable. But in Kenya, the floodgates were open far longer than any other trip. I’m not 100% sure why. My only guess is that I went deeper with a much smaller group of people on this Kenya trip vs. in Haiti and the Dominican, I engaged with a broader group of individuals.

So I woke up feeling particularly emotionally vulnerable on Wednesday, so much so that I barely spoke during our team gathering that morning. I told the group I was feeling particularly vulnerable, and surprised myself with a bit of anger about the great love and loss I know is inevitable (for me) on these mission trips.

I moved through the morning despite my emotions.

Our group visited the childrens’ school and church. We stopped at the medical clinic operated by Love for Kenya, had an opportunity to walk through the heart of the village, and chatted and prayed for a few Kenyan women along the way.

It ended up being a good morning, but after lunch, I was feeling an odd mixture of vulnerable and frustrated. For some reason, I wasn’t feeling as connected as I wanted to be. In my heart, all I wanted to do was hang long with Kenyans and take special time with them, but instead, I was feeling disconnected. On top of that, the internet was INCREDIBLY, painFULLY slow. I’d finished writing yesterday’s blog post late last night so I wouldn’t have to spend much time worrying about it today, but when I went to send it to America this morning, the internet was ridiculously slow, so much so I couldn’t get anything sent. I had 9 photos I wanted to send, and Randy had an additional 8, for a grand total of 17 photos we wanted/needed to email to the United States with painfully slow internet. I wanted to fulfill my promise to blog and photograph our way through the journey, but I was also incredibly frustrated with the internet speed. I did NOT want to spend all day in Africa on the internet.

So Wednesday afternoon, I found myself BY MYSELF on the steps of the new boys’ dorm with a laptop in hand, attempting to send Tuesday’s blog post and 17 photos to America. I’d decided to forego small group time so I could get this “internet business” done, so I could enjoy myself, be free the rest of the day, and not have to worry about being on the computer all day and all night long. In my mind, it was now or later…I chose to do the work NOW.

But you see, I wasn’t having an easy time. At all.

I was so frustrated.

Did I mention the internet was painfully slow?

Everyone around me was in their small groups having fun and connecting with children from the orphanage. I was on the steps…by myself…TRYING to send a blog post and photos to America with very little success.

(Before I go further, I would like to note that I have NO desire to be a martyr in this story. I do not wish to complain or make it seem like I was a victim in any way, shape or form. I was the official blogger for our mission team, so I had wholeheartedly agreed to the responsibility of writing, taking photographs and sending it all back to the United States while we were away. But there was ALSO a lesson God wanted me to learn in the midst of blogging from Africa, in the midst of fulfilling my responsibilities. A lesson for me, a lesson for us all.)

I was so frustrated with the internet that I broke out my notebook journal at 3:53 p.m. and began writing whatever came to my mind. I wrote my frustrations in prayer form, to God. It was the best way for me to process.

I kept trying to send the blog post and photos, but the internet was slower than turtle slow.

“Lord, please make this fast. I am frustrated, Lord. Frustrated.” 

Then this…

“Open the eyes of my heart. Give me peace. Help me connect today. I haven’t connected as much as I want, Lord. Help me. Soften my heart. Grow me in this, through this. Why? What do you want me to learn this day?”

I kept trying to send Tuesday’s blog post.

I kept trying to send the photos.

One by one.


Painfully slow internet speed, to the point I desperately wanted to throw in the towel.

I was getting so irritated that I decided I had to do something else. I had to feel connected. I had to take action in some other way.

“Lord, I am worshiping you through photography. Help me see your joy, your answers to prayer.”



I watched Lacey and her small group.

I watched Maggie and her small group.

I observed their joy, their freedom, the connection I so long(ed) for.

I was frustrated. Yes. Incredibly frustrated. But I knew the way out was to WORK through it, to WORSHIP through my lifelines of photography and writing.

More than an hour later, I’d successfully sent SIX photos to America along with Tuesday’s blog post. No matter WHAT I did, I could NOT get the seventh photo to send. The computer literally SHUT down at number seven.

Seven. The day of rest.



Seven. Say it again. The day of rest.

Even God rested.

But me? I was forcing it, forcing the work, forcing the productivity, even when I was in Africa, even when it was CRYSTAL CLEAR it was NOT going to work.

As I was sitting in my fury of photo seven not loading or sending, my sweet Juma boy and his friend, Douglas, came out of nowhere, sat down next to me on the boys’ dorm porch, broke out the deck of Uno cards and said “Let’s play cards.”

Oh, sweet relief. Thank you, God. Thank you, Lord!!! I needed an intervention and God sent it just in time.

Juma and Douglas. Thank you for the invitation.

I pushed my laptop to the side and began playing Uno with the boys. Before long, other children gathered to play, for a total group of SEVEN children in the end.



Lacey joined shortly after and asked, “Is this your group?”

“No, it’s God’s group,” I replied. After all, I, quite literally, didn’t have a group. God created a group for me, just the way He liked it. I was SO grateful for the reprieve.

After I finished a few leisure rounds of Uno with seven children, I took time to write my learnings in my journal so I wouldn’t forget…

Decrease productivity.

Increase rest.

Increase relationship.

Increase prayer.

Increase listening for God’s voice and timing.

An hour and a half after I first sat down on the boys’ dorm steps to begin journaling my frustrations to God, it began to downpour the heaviest rain we’d seen on the trip…by a landslide. We were forced inside.

My small group of seven dispersed among the larger group of children.

I took a moment to try to send photo number SEVEN, and it actually SENT. Hallelujah.

After I sent photo number seven, I closed the laptop and gave it back to God for the day. No more internet. No more surrendering connection and relationship for productivity. No more.

At dinner, I handed the laptop to Pastor Randy, our group leader, and told him I’d sent Tuesday’s blog post and seven photos, but internet was too bad to send the other 10 photos. I just couldn’t. He’d have to give it a try.

I gave myself the evening to rest. I gave myself the evening to connect and be in relationship with others. I gave myself freedom to sit and be and process all the emotional vulnerability I’d been experiencing.

It was good.

I needed that so bad.

As I was getting ready to head out to worship the next morning, I found Randy outside our hut with the laptop. The internet was FASTER than it had been since we arrived in Africa! It was as fast as it is in America. He was sending ALL the photos we wanted to send and more!

I was amazed. In awe.

God provided. For me. For Randy. For our entire team and those following our journey back in America. We just needed to rest. And wait. On His timing. His perfect timing.

God’s in control. Our lives are in His hands, friends, whether we like it or know it or understand it at all.

It’s high time to rest, to leave it to Him, to surrender it ALL to Him. God most high.

He wants so much more than our productivity, friends.

He wants humility.

Rest. Relationship. Commitment to connection.



And trust.

That’s all, friends.

That’s all.

Amy & Team

Kenya_smallbuttonThis 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.


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

Kenya_smallbuttonThis 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.

  1. Tanya Pearson Pietz says:

    Amazing…how wonderful! The dorm is beautiful…what a safe, and loving place for these precious kids!

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