Several friends have recently returned from short-term trips to Kenya. This time, I get to hear them from the other side. It is good to hear things moving on, changing, growing.
A few weeks ago I was able to connect with friend-turned-sister, who I worked and lived with in Kenya. We remarked that the world we left there will not be the same when we visit in the future. At Missions of Hope, things change quickly. It is hard to keep up with how many kids are in school, how many schools are open, and the stories of hope and transformation they are host to.
But one of the strangest things about leaving Kenya was the open-ended stories. The hard ones. Those who are still in the process of transformation, as we all are, but who are choosing to walk away from hope rather than towards it.
Wangare* is one. It came out, after several times of running away from school, that she had been a street child. Rehab worked for a while, and she was released to return to school. Refusing hands that reached out to help, she fell into the arms of street life again. Street life has a powerful strand in the web of poverty that is easier to prevent than to break.
I think of her now. I wasn’t able to say good-bye – “see you later.” I remember watching her walk out of the doors of the school, pleading with God to take care of this girl. I saw her as I was driving out from work before we left. I spoke some words, with no response.
Hope reaches out, but it must be grabbed onto.
Her friends are still in school, and I was able to spend a few moments with them before leaving. Girls who are motivated to learn, and have dreams of things they have never seen. And they are being trained, day by day, to be faithful in developing virtues and obedience to God. Because these are the things that are going to change their world.
One of them may be President some-day (I can’t wait to see it!), but others may simply get jobs and be part of society. A hopeful part, that greets people with a kind word. That sits with one another in brokenness. That raises a family to honor God. That works in a career to see that their family and others are taken care of.
This is why education is a key to untangling the web. To empower with tools to make good decisions. To empower people to be able to live out what Christ has already done.
Now, moving forward to new space, I carry the glow of hopeful stories and deep etches of hard in what we have left behind.
With a peace that it is a new season, and an excitement for faces yet to be known, I do what we all do, and take another step.