The New City
Michael flew to Kenya straight from a business trip, so I came in alone. My mother dropped me off at the airport and as she hugged me goodbye it all came to me. This thing that had been so surreal hit me like a brick wall. I was moving to Africa.. For who knows how long, and doing who knows what. I sat all alone on my 19 hour flights wondering what in the world I was doing with myself. I was excited, but I was also really nervous. Nervous that this idea I had in my head of going to Kenya and serving
I met up with Michael and we stayed with a friend for a few days. I was so anxious. I wanted to start what we were there to do. I wanted to get to the children’s home and start serving and making a difference in the lives of all those children. I wanted to be useful. So finally, on our second year wedding anniversary, we moved into Happy Life Children’s Home. We packed our many bags and our friend drove us to this place we’d never been to do work I knew was going to be live-changing. I sat in the backseat of the car, so nervous and so anxious. And we finally pulled off the highway. But we couldn’t find it. We searched and ended up on a dirt road, surrounded by small shops made of tin, lined with trash, and full of people staring at us like we were unwelcomed strangers. It was like my nervousness and anxiousness where all confirmed when we realized this was the right street. This is where we were going to live. The children’s home was in the midst of this place. Not at all what I had imagined. Not what was suggested to me. No big field for kids to play. No school for me to serve at. Just a big concrete building surrounded by tons of other concrete buildings where we would be living with nearly 60 sceaming children.
I smiled. Determined this would be the place for us despite it not meeting the expectations I had set. We moved in and I began my days feeding babies and playing with toddlers. I asked how I could help, what I could do, how to be useful, but I was given no direction. Finally, after pleading for a path, they printed a schedule for me. I was thrilled I would be able to have something to follow, that would make me as useful as possible. So I woke up early and went into the babies room. But there was no one in there but 8 sleeping infants. I went to the toddlers room to help with snack and stayed until the schedule told me there would be lunch. But I stayed alone in a room of 20 2 year olds, all hungry and vying for me attention. But nothing came. Instead I felt like I had made things worse. They were now all fighting for my attention, and I didn’t know what to do. This schedule I’d been given wasn’t followed at all. Which killed me. I feed off schedules. I like knowing where I need to be and when I need to be there. I felt lost and useless and in a sea of another culture I didn’t understand.
Finally, I decided I needed to make it work. I needed to create jobs where I didn’t see any, and figure out how I could be in the right place at the right time despite the lack of consistency. So I learned the patterns. I learned how to tell when meals would be served and when. I learned how to enter a room and play with the kids without it turning into a war. I learned how to do jobs without anyone giving me one.. Cleaning the playroom, folding laundry, and making beds.
I was starting to feel like it wasn’t just madness. Like I was actually helping. And then the US directors came over and things really changed. They presented needs we could fill and I was thrilled. We created a new website and took all new adoption profile pictures for the children. We created a registry so friends and family (and complete strangers) could provide the children Christmas gifts. And before we knew it, we moved onto a new adventure in Kenya.
It was a rough start though. A really rough start. Honestly, in those first few days, I wanted to give up. I wanted to take all 60 children with me and run. My heart was eager and felt empty.. but it began to fill and eventually just overflow with many, many blessings..
This handsome dude just got adopted!!!
Our concrete village
We can’t wait to share more of our trip with you.. because this scary and nervous time for me quickly changed to one of the most joyous experiences of my life.
xo be blessed
a husband and wife photography team based in Richmond, Virginia (though we LOVE to travel!). We hope you enjoy browsing some of our most recent work, reading our tips and tricks for brides, and taking a little peek into our life.