This Is Africa

This past month has been one of of the biggest growing months for me.

I survived a 21 hour plane ride … I learned Swahili … I laughed with kids … I saw the most beautiful picture of community … I met some of the coolest people from Texas … I found out that hacky sack can get very intense … I watched kids come to know the Lord … We were given a live chicken … We went on a safari … We worshipped on top of a mountain with the locals … We built a concrete floor … We walked 5 miles to get water … We rapped Bible verses … I smiled until my cheeks hurt … and I cried my eyes out.

I learned that having a community of people who enjoy living together, eating together, praying together, and laughing together is far greater than any materialistic thing I could ever own. We play with iPhones, shop for expensive things, and constantly spend time and money on things that don’t really give us joy for longer than 24 hours. The people I met in Africa find life in kicking a soccer ball around, clapping, making up songs, and serving others.

Their love is so real.

Their love is so real. It’s not the fake love we show to be invited, to fit in, or to be more superior over our friends. These people are life seekers not life waiters. They find their biggest joy in the simplest of things, while enduring daily struggles of things that we don’t even think twice about. They walk miles to get water, eat the same one meal a day at school, and live in a metal box made from tin … but not once did I hear a single complaint about how miserable they were … all I saw were constant smiles.

I love Young Life because they consistently strive for more and don’t settle with ordinary.

About 15 years ago, Young Life didn’t exist in Africa and now today in Nairobi, Kenya Young Life is happening in 174 neighborhoods. And it all started with a man who had a vision of reaching kids, and it’s because he believed in something greater than himself that kids all over Africa are hearing the greatest news in the world.

There is nothing ordinary about that. It is simply incredible.

One of the coolest things I saw at camp was that every kid was individually prayed for during their time at camp. Kids were held tight, hands were laid on them, and each kids name was spoken personally. It was a moment of showing these kids that time means nothing when prayer is intentional. This made me think of this beautiful picture of just how much God loves us. He doesn’t pursue us as a whole but as individuals. He cares more about us as individuals and our hearts rather than just being in a group known as Christians. This was a moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

I am overly thankful for the joy and gratitude that these people showed to me without even knowing my name. I really miss seeing the kids running after the bus all the way down the street, just to say goodbye to us for the 50th time. Although I’m back in the States, I can only hope and pray that we helped show kids that God isn’t a problem to be solved. But rather that He is a mystery to unravel, an adventure to be taken, and a loving God that is the same in the United States as He is all the way to Kenya.

T. I. A.   …   This Is Africa

 

— Written by Marissa Guimbarda