I felt the anticipation of Christmas morning, my stomach flipped somersaults while I figeted through breakfast.
Today was the day we had traveled across the world for; day two of teaching the brilliant and exceedingly respectful students at the Ngchi Primary School outside of Gatundu, Kenya. Not only were we wrapping up the yearly VBS, we were passing out Uniforms and Backpacks filled with school supplies.
This moment marked the culmination of Robert and Barbara’s entire year of preparation. The previous year, FabBab taught her first VBS at Nduchi, and upon seeing her students in threadbare garments of varying degrees of condition, she felt a call to provide new uniforms for all 300 students. A year later, FabBab looked out upon our group of 16 Missionaries from The Plans HE Has For You Ministries, and began debriefing us on our process for the day.
“Good morning my lovelies! Happy UNIFORM Day!” Our group excitedly assembled and eagerly listened. “Ok, we have to haul these uniforms up to the school. The duffle bags are too heavy to carry alone; you’ll have to double up. Don’t forget your water bottles, and take breaks as you need them.”
Lover Fo’ Life and I stood by our massive duffle filled with
rocks school supplies and waited to begin our relatively short walk uphill to the school. The sun was astounding in its brightness, it felt as if the sky had been scrubbed clean. The glorious weather provided a beautiful backdrop as we made our way hauling hundreds of pounds in supplies, huffing and puffing at 8,500 feet. “So help me, I’m going to die on this mountain,” I breathlessly bellowed to L4L, “Well, at least you’ll get some points with God for trying,” L4L joked. Finally, after 2 water breaks and 10 solid minutes of gasping like a fish out of water and muttering to myself, we arrived.
Like the day before, the children met us at the gates. Their cheers and smiles were contagious, my grin became wide and steady, later our cheeks would cramp from the undeniable JOY plastered on our faces.
Beatrice met us once again in our classroom, “Ready to spread more of God’s wisdom, my friends?”
“Yes ma’am let’s get this show on the road!”
Our second day went even smoother than the previous, the lesson focused on overcoming fear and the uncertainties that life held. Stickers were handed out, eager students shared answers, and the humble classroom once again transformed into a garden of radient smiles.
While L4L, Ms. Beatrice, and I enjoyed our rotations, several others in our group were in the midst of an overwhelming task to measuring the students and then handing out the appropriate uniform. FabBab, Roxie, and Cindy among several others, spent a grueling 4 hours making sure each and every student left with a properly fitting uniform and new backpack full of school supplies.
I wasn’t able to witness the moment FabBab’s year-long dream of clothing the entire school come to fruition, but I imagine she was overwhelmed with JOY. Barbara, my most fashionable friend, met her goal of providing uniforms and had enough left over for backpacks and school supplies. This woman was a miracle worker, nand managed to inspire ME. For those of you late to class, I’m a first-class jerk, who’s incredibly shellfish. The fact that Barb was able to drag this xenophobic spoiled piece of crap knapsack to Kenya where I was HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE and felt inspired, was a miracle in itself.
After VBS ended, we stayed for an hour to clean up, and help mind the kiddos as uniforms were still being handed out. While visiting with the children, I sang every appropriate song I’ve ever known while several cuties insisted on showing me their goody bags, squealing with delight over erasers and pencil sharpeners. As we visited with the students, I began glancing at their shoes. Several children had walked to school in nothing more than rags on their feet.
I felt a hot flash of shame, a lump began to build in my throat. “What’s wrong muffin?”
“Just a little overwhelmed.” I squeaked out to L4L, “We have so much in the states, yet I’ve never seen such gratitude and true appreciation for what one has. These kids don’t even have real shoes, yet they are so happy and content. Today has forever changed my definition of the word grateful.”
“Aww, come give me a hug.”
We packed up the wheelbarrows and left half of the team at the school for the additional hour it would take to finish uniform/ backpack distribution. While walking back, I reflected on the life-changing morning. Somewhere in the frenzied and loving mob of humanity; I felt a magnetic pull inside my soul. Like Barbara, AKA St. FabBab, the patron saint of sassy friends, I departed the school with a newfound calling. HIS plan for me became crystal clear and completely attainable.
Next July, not only would I return and teach, we would provide each child a new pair of strong, durable shoes. Once back at Haven on the Hill, I’d talk with Robert and Barbara over lunch and start the process to procure 300 pairs of Kenya’s finest uniform shoes. WE CAN DO THIS! My entire being hummed with purpose; I was a bright lightbulb plugged into the universal power of JOY.
Today, I’m proud to announce that The Plans HE Has For You Ministries is over 1/3 the way to the goal for 2017’s summer mission supplies. In addition to more new uniforms, backpacks, and school supplies, we will be providing all 300 students a pair of heavy duty shoes made in Kenya. These shoes not only will last, they will be passed around the children as they outgrow pairs and take on new sizes. A pair of the sturdy shoes is a modest $16.00, an absolute bargain if I’ve ever heard of one. For the price of Taco Bell and Movie for one, you could see to it that a village of schoolchildren has shoes for years to come. I’m just sayin’.
Oh don’t worry; I’m not hitting you up for money…yet.