I have heard it said once your feet touch African soil you will fall in love, and once you leave, you will have a lingering ache to one day return. It shouldn’t surprise me that in those mere two weeks we spent there Africa has left a long, lasting and life changing effect on all of us.
Africa is everything and more; the vibrant colours, the sunsets, the fruit tastes sweeter, the language rhythmically falls off your tongue, the joy of young children desperate for your attention and in pure contrast is the overwhelming reality of poverty, need and injustice.
For a country which has been dealt the poverty hand, a country where there is so much need, there are men, women and children whom radiate strength, gratitude, joy and hospitality. Through those two weeks, God taught us, broke us and rebuilt us. Showing us his people, his country and his heart.
There were 15 of us on this adventure a group of 12 young people from CYFA , alongside Steven, Penny and myself as leaders. We landed in Kenya on the 1st of August and traveled through to Musoma, Tanzania, the next day to stay with the charity Go Make a Difference. There were a number of us staying in the house, but as we were a large group we formed a big team and went to work on projects together.
We were given ownership over choosing what to build and spend our fundraising on, opting for a two water tanks once for a family and one for a school, a goat shed ( with a goat), a set of girls toilets and with money left over to put into healthcare.
Reality hit in hard on the first day as we took a young lad just 15 years old to a health clinic where he was diagnosed with malaria, it cost just £4 to get him life saving treatment. Go MAD work in amongst the community and we were fortunate to be a part of that; getting to know people, going to church and seeing how others live their lives. We spent half of the week helping build projects; shovelling cement, sawing, drilling, digging and cutting wire. The other half was spent getting the chance to visit schools, a children’s home, a leprosy community, church youth groups and making chapatis in the village with a lovely lady called Evelyn. As a group we explored the life of Jesus through the book of Mark and were able to see how he encountered people, how he loved, gave and had compassion on all he met. Our daily readings helped us reflect on who Jesus is and challenged us in our personal encounters through the trip.
There was rest in between, our Redland community grew stronger, as did friendships we made in the house. We then finished off our trip with the most fantastic safari with a rather close encounter with a lion.
As I have never been on a trip like this, it was hard to imagine what was going to happen and incredibly challenging for all of us stepping out and doing it, but I can see how God protected us, encouraged us, grew us and challenged us throughout and we as a group are incredibly grateful to our Lord Jesus for this and thankful to Redland Church family for supporting and praying for us throughout.