Day One in Africa

“Why must it be so difficult?”

Eighth-grade Ann asked me that.

She wasn’t even talking about her life, though she might have been. Ann had been telling me her dream, which is to go to high school in the U.S. “Would that be possible?” she asked me.

I’ve had enough experience to know that you do NOT give the easy answer, so I said, “Well, you would have a much better chance studying in the U.S. if you finish both secondary school and university here in Kenya.”

It was then that, quietly, sadly, she said, “Why must it be so difficult?”

She could have chosen a much stronger word because, for Ann, it’s not just “difficult,” it’s nigh to impossible. You see, Ann is a student in a juvenile detention home/school outside Nairobi. She is receiving both vocational and academic training there from teachers who actually care. That’s good.

But all students must leave the school when they complete eighth grade, which Ann will soon do.

And that’s really bad, because after they leave, they are on their own.

With no income and no stable family.

The chances aren’t good that Ann will miraculously discover money for school fees and a uniform in her back pocket.

She doesn’t even have a pocket.

Later the same day we visited a private school about forty-five minutes away. And I spoke with a girl named Faith.

She had plans, this Faith, and a lot of faith that God would help her achieve them.

First will come university—beginning next term. She will major in biology because she is very, very interested in the sciences. Then she will become a surgeon.

She smiled at me. “I might even study some in the United States,” she said.

Yes, she might.

In one day I saw both, Faith and Ann. The difference between Faith’s story (as a representative of people like me) and Ann’s story (as it represents the 200 million orphans in the world) haunts me.

And it reminds me that this world is so very, very broken.

We have excess in some parts of the planet, and dire poverty in others—actually, I saw it today in the same city.

Our world is broken because we’re broken.

And because we’re broken, we’ve grabbed and grasped at all the wrong “stuff” and tried to fill ourselves happy with it.

I’m not just talking about us rich folks, whose income is in the top 2-3% in the world.

I’m talking about ALL of us. ALL of us.

Because, really, why does Ann want to study in the U.S. in the first place?

Stories like Ann’s should not only cause us to give and do (it’s a pretty clear directive in Scripture), they should cause us to listen to the message God’s been shouting at us ever since the third chapter of Genesis.

You’re broken!

You need a Savior!

I sent One.

Now turn to Me.


Dear Family and Friends of those of us on the Kenya/Uganda trip:

We had a WONDERFUL day. If I could remember the place names of where we were at, I would tell you, but I can’t, so…

We started the day at a juvenile detention home/school for girls aged 12-17. The teachers gave us a tour, we played soccer (the REAL football J) with them (tons of fun, though a bit nerve-wracking for our girls since they were terrified to step on their bare feet). It ended in a tie, so we had a shoot-out, which we won. The other team’s goalkeeper was quite bummed until I told her she had done a really good job. Okay, not true. I said that, but she was still bummed, but not for too long because then we had a snack and prayer together, and all the girls hung out (along with quite a few kids from the village).

Then it was across town to a private school where we spanked them on the soccer pitch.

But then they challenged us to basketball.

And though we held our own, they did win. Kind of helps when you have two Sudanese forwards who can touch the sky. Seriously.

The whole girls’ school was out to watch. And our girls mixed in and mingled and chatted and had an absolutely awesome time.

I can’t even tell you how proud we were of them. It was beautiful, simply beautiful.

We prayed together; they sang their evening hymn for us; and then we chatted some more.

Hopefully all the girls journal tonight because boy, howdy, do they have stories!

And I’ve got pictures.

But I haven’t yet downloaded them, and it’s now 11:33, and wisdom tells me I need to begin to catch up on all that sleep I missed. Especially since we spend tomorrow at the Springs of Hope Babies and Toddlers Home!

All for now,


One thought on “Day One in Africa

  1. Thanks, Jen, for staying up late to give us a glimpse of God’s stunning tapestry of Grace on your side of the world. Over Chipolte last evening, we chatted about how “freakish” it is that our prayers are synched with what’s going on there… we’d literarly prayed that God would use “balls”… soccer balls, tennis balls, ping pong balls, even BASKETBALLS to reveal His humor and passion! Chalk it up to one of those “God-things” Rest well!

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