Trying to explain my love for Kenya now is like trying to explain why there are stars in the sky. It’s near impossible to explain my sheer love for the country that I was not born in…though there are many days I wish I was. I love the people, the culture, and it is just so beautiful. If you ever get the chance, you should go.
I first traveled to Kenya with Just One Africa in 2015 after feeling like I needed to see for myself this “magical” land the Churchill family spoke about. I figured I would just go on a trip and get a stamp in my passport. I thought, “Why not?” Those tend to be the words that change my life the most and get me into trouble. I thought it would be cool but did not have any idea of the impact it would make on my heart and how my passion in life would come alive for this country of Kenya. I found pieces of myself there and gained friends that have become family from that first team trip. I am honestly not sure how I lived without them before 2015.
We stepped off the plane after a really long flight…really, really, long… and I instantly felt the warm air on that dark night and met my first Kenyans, outside of a few ladies at my home church. I instantly felt a complete peace that I was supposed to be here and it definitely helped that Amy and Clay made it easy. We got through customs, made it to the van, loaded it all up and were on our way. I was out of my comfort zone and totally thrilled about being in a new place, with new sights, and new people.
Over the next few days, I encountered people who I instantly loved. The Kenyan people as a whole are so full of joy and community and they welcomed us in as we gave out water filters. We distributed water filters to people who had never had clean water and it was like people getting fire for the first time…with clean water they would live. Seeing this was the first time I really understood that water is a human right, that so many are denied. Water should be clean and free to everyone, but so many in Kenya think water isn’t even clear because all they know is water with sickness in it. It was eye opening and sobering for me. I knew I had to continue doing something about this when I got home…though I had no idea what.
As the trip progressed, I went to a school with the most amazing teachers and students and got to play with them, saw wild elephants and giraffes at the base of Kilimanjaro at sunset, and met and fell in love with orphans and amazing widows at a farm next to lake Victoria. In all of this, I found a part of my heart that I didn’t know I was missing. I felt at home in a place which was not my home and with people who were not my blood relatives. I found purpose and passion and I hoped that fire would not burn out when I got home.
My life was forever changed by my first trip with Just One Africa. The team members and leaders have become family and our family business is now loving the people of Kenya fiercely and fighting for the human right of everyone to have health through clean water. While a few years have passed since that trip, the fire in my heart for Kenya has not dwindled down but has become a raging wildfire. With Just One Africa’s trips come passion, friendship, changing worldviews, some conviction, and a whole lot of world change. What Clay, Amy and the rest of Just One Africa do is not just about water filters, orphan care, and health instruction. It is truly changing the world for each person the team come’s in contact with, one person at a time and, in turn, changing the world for each team member as well.
We will never be the same.
This is a guest post written by Lexie Salensky, describing her first trip to Kenya with Just One Africa in June of 2015. She returned a year later in late 2016 and will never be the same!