I had been to Kenya twice, both times with my guitar in tow with the intention of making music my focal point of ministering to people.
Both trips were amazing, I fell in love with Kenya and the people I met, and everything was great. Upon returning home, though, it was difficult to find a way to bridge the gap between my life here and my experiences there. A couple things changed after my last trip in 2011 and I began making glass pendants for fundraising and I also started leading a Kenya prayer and support group for Sanctuary of Hope. At the time it seemed like “enough” for me to be somewhat invested in Kenya while living my life in the U.S.
About a year ago I was wrestling with my feelings about commitments I had. I didn’t necessarily feel fulfilled but didn’t see that as sufficient reason to drop everything. As the year progressed I began feeling more and more like I should minimize general commitments and focus on art and Kenya. I didn’t really know what that meant, though. My resolve became more solid, yet the actual purpose stayed vague. When I heard about theHope’s Promise trip to Kenya I immediately felt led to go, and over the course of five months everything fell into place.
The main reason I wanted to go was to work with women in the slum of Mathare on the Taraja project, but I wasn’t even sure what I could do. As the trip grew closer, my friend Colleen asked if anyone had an idea for an art project that could be done with SOH kids to use as inventory for Pamba Toto, which is a fundraiser for SOH. I had the idea of taking pieces of flat canvas over to Kenya, having the kids paint on them, and then bringing them back to make prints and frame to sell. The idea was enthusiastically received by Colleen and we got everything prepared. I headed over to Kenya with a large roll of canvas and 24 smaller pieces, along with plenty of paint and brushes.
By the second day, I was refreshed by my time with God and confident I was doing His work simply by allowing the kids to be creative. He is the creator, after all, and by creating we are reflecting His heart. By the end of the day I was beat, but SO excited! Mama Karau walked by and saw the heart canvas, on which each of the children had painted one heart. She asked where I had gotten the idea. I said, “From Jesus.” because I had originally intended to do an alphabet canvas and have each of the kids paint a letter and background. But at the last minute I felt compelled to pencil in hearts instead of letters.
I told Mama, “Many hearts, one family.”