How does one put a life-changing journey of the heart into words? More specifically, how can you convey the beauty and generosity found in the most unexpected places, when you yourself are a grade-A ne’er do well, who regularly steals candy from babies?
The answer, dear readers, is slowly and carefully. Preferably over a long series of posts, each milking the click-bait that is the audience’s morbid curiosity whilst secretly taking glee in my assumed misery.
For those of you who are new to class, Yours Truly is a showboating scumbag who only gives into tip jars when the staff can witness it, and regularly crop dusts unsuspecting victims in public places. To put it mildly, I’m a Hugh Jassol.
Fortunately for me, I also have an uncanny knack for picking the most stellar people on the planet to align myself with. Where I’m a Jerk-o-Rama, my friends and family are all incredibly wonderful. The first in the coveted band of beauties is Lover Fo Life. L4L is an Eagle Scout with a heart of gold, who saw this coal turd in the rough, and helped it become a diamond. L4L and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary next month, and if he doesn’t get extra credit for being such an awesome person, it’s simply because he’s the one who blew the curve. Another couple of over-achievers in the humanity department are FabBab and the Maestro, FabBab has been a close friend of mine for the better part of 20 years, where the Maestro has been her beloved since they were in High School.
Several years ago, the Maestro (whose name is derived from his supreme knowledge of fine wine, he even makes his own brand,) felt a calling to support a growing Orphanage in the mountains outside of Nairobi, Kenya in a village called Gutundu. “I’m going to support that place and one day, I will visit it,” he promised himself. A few years ago, the Maestro made good by visiting Haven on the Hill, and was greeted with a heart swelling call to serve the Charity that built it, Through the Storm Ministries. Founded in 2000 by Phil and Janice Wagner, TTSM has built a beautiful compound that not only houses 25 abandoned/orphaned boys adopted from the Child Rescue Center (a place that feeds and clothes abandoned children found by police,) they have also built a clean water well for the entire village to use daily, complete with a solar powered pump to insure the clean water never stops flowing.
Anydo-goodingsaints, last summer the Maestro returned to Haven on the Hill, this time bringing his wife, and my friend, FabBab. To say I watched from the sidelines munching popcorn awaiting details from her sure to be “disastrous trip,” is an understatement. Fluctuating from disbelief that the youngest executive in Nordstrom’s history would rough it in Kenya, to absolute certainty she would die visiting Africa, I held vigil for FabBab’s safe return. And return she did.
Matter of fact, her 1st trip to the red-dirted hills of Gutundu, forever changed FabBab’s view on life. Upon leaving Kenya, she and the Maestro formed a charity aimed at providing school uniforms for the 300 Kenyan children who attended the local public school in nothing more than glorified rags. The original mission of The Plans HE Has for You Ministries was to raise $3000.00 for 300 NEW school uniforms at 10 bucks a pop.
The first day she was truly back, meaning jet lag wore off enough to have me over to drink all of her champagne, FabBab told me of her charitable idea, and I instantly hopped on board for the cause. We dreamt of various ways to fundraise, and before our conversation was up, I pledged to buy 50 of the uniforms. Much like the Maestro all those years earlier, I felt a magnetic pull to support my friend’s endeavor. L4L and I were the first to donate, both in person and online.
Because good often attracts good, FabBab and Maestro’s charity raised almost $8000.00 in its first year, not only was there enough to buy each child at the village school a new uniform, they also had enough to provide 350 children a backpack filled with school supplies. What a wonderful development, right?!
Well, yes…but, with more supplies, more people were needed to join them on the summer Kenyan trip to deliver them. See, internationally, you’re only able to have 50lbs per piece of checked luggage. The uniforms, sourced and purchased from two Village seamstresses, would be picked up in person, but the notebooks, backpacks, erasers, pencils, pens, books et cetera? They would need to fly with volunteers for the Mission.
Yes, these long-winded chronicles of Kenya in this series, all sprang from a logistical luggage packing need. Seems fitting when you consider I’m a real lug-nut who quite frankly, isn’t nearly as useful as actual luggage is, especially when tasks of physical labor are at play.
Consider the mighty luggage! While tossed around and useless 95% of the time, for that importantl 5%, luggage is a vessel to transport important and precious cargo. In the spirit of luggage’s redeeming 5% I present to you a series of Posts dedicated to my 2 weeks abroad, the new series is called, “Out of Africa.”
Stay Tuned for “Out of Africa, Part One: The Ugly American,” debuting tomorrow!!!! (lazy permitting)
I sincerely hope you enjoy, if even just for the serious eye-roll workout it’s bound to be!