You guys, if you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you know already what this is about.
Last summer, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Kiria, Kenya. I was skeptical. It was my first mission trip, I was halfway around the world, and I was only going for 11 days. There was no way I could make an impact, but for some reason God was leading me there.
Before you click away because you just read the words “Mission Trip” – hear me out for a second.
The trip, quite literally, changed my life. I haven’t been the same since. And ever since the day I returned, I’ve been praying, hoping, and wishing to go back. Only, I didn’t want to go back alone. The next time I was to go back to Kenya, I wanted my husband (then fiance) to go with me.
If you want to read about my experience while in Kenya, you can read my blog posts that I wrote while I was there:
Well, John and I are going back to Kenya September 20th-30th of this year.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND: There is a village in Kenya called Kiria. It’s nestled among the Aberdare Mountains about three hours north of Nairobi. There are about 1,500 residents. They have one primary school, seven churches, and no health clinic. In conjunction with an organization called The 410 Bridge, the church we attend adopted this community in the summer of 2010.
One thing I’m passionate about is long-term service. I don’t believe in going to a place, hanging out for a week, and then peace-ing out never to be seen again.
I believe in partnerships. I believe in relationships. I believe in friendships. I believe in fellowship.
And I’m grateful I’m part of a community of faith that believes in those things too. We have a 10-year partnership with the community of Kiria where we aim to serve them, help them, and ultimately, love them. However, it’s not a one-way street. We support them financially and by sending groups there a few times a year, but they have to own up to their end of the bargain. The leadership council in the village is working together to develop long-term visions, goals, and strategies to become a fully self-sustaining community where our help is no longer needed.
In the past three years, through our adoption and partnership with this village and The 410 Bridge, we’ve been able to install a well and clean water tank outside the primary school so that the community can have access to clean water.
The Well is Pictured below:
We’ve been able to make serious repairs to the dilapidated primary school by fixing the roof and putting concrete floors in the classrooms. The “floors” prior to our partnership weren’t really floors at all, they were essentially just piles of dirt with desks on them.
We’ve put pencils and textbooks and other basic school supplies in the hands of kids and resources in the hands of teachers.
We’ve begun to nurture their growing community of faith and now that community is thriving and blossoming for Christ.
Our long-term vision includes small things like more desks in classrooms (right now there are sometimes 2-4 kids PER DESK… and let me tell you, those desks are not large) to larger things like getting medical access to the community by building a health clinic. Right now the nearest clinic is nine miles away which can be incredibly difficult to get to when most residents of the village don’t exactly have cars. And, we’re continuing to work with them to grow their micro-economics by helping to create more businesses and jobs within the community.
And of course we continue to work with them as they grow in their faith. At no time do we ever force anything on the community at all. This is a vibrant Christian community and all we do is love on them and fellowship with them and show them the grace and love that Christ shows us. At the end of the day, it’s honestly about love, not about forcing or changing anyone’s beliefs.
On a more personal note, I also sponsor a young girl in the community named Anastascia. She’s 7-years-old, lives with her 8 brothers and sisters and her mother, Mary. She wants to be a pilot. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s bright – and she brings such joy to my life. I correspond with her every month or so and honestly, I can’t wait to get back to see her and her family again. When I left last year, I felt like part of her family.
Me, Mary, and Anastascia pictured below:
But we can’t do it alone.
Together, we need to raise $7,000 to cover the cost of the trip. Through contributions of our own, the support of our amazing family and friends, and money raised from our wedding registry (in lieu of gifts for our wedding, we asked for people to donate to our trip), we’ve raised about half of what we need.
But we still have a ways to go.
Asking for money is ugly and I hate it. Seriously, I’m terrible at it.
But sometimes you have to humble yourself when you know you need help and ask.
And if you can’t donate, that is totally fine. I ask for your prayers – because prayers, WAY more so than money, are the absolute most important part of this to us.
I know “mission trips” aren’t everyone’s bag and not everyone’s passion – and that is OKAY. I would never ask you to support something you don’t support. But I can assure you, what we’re doing in this village is amazing and I want to continue to be a part of it. We’re in this for the long-haul – not the short-term.
Or, you don’t even have to donate at all. You can just SHOP. You can just buy something from my “Kloset” – if you see the tab up there that says “Klothes 4 Kenya” (clever, I know), you can “SHOP MY CLOSET.” I have a store set up with some items I’m selling from my own closet, and 100% of the proceeds from the store are going to our trip.
- Shop my CLOSET. Maybe there’s a shirt, or a dress, or something in my closet you like, Well, you can buy it from me and that money will go to our trip.
- Donate online – Every. Penny. Helps. SERIOUSLY. (OH, AND ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE!)
- STEP ONE: Visit the newhope church e-giving website by clicking here.
- STEP TWO: Fill in YOUR information
- STEP THREE (and super important!!): Under “Purpose of Gift” select HOPE MIssion Trips
- STEP FOUR (and MOST MOST MOST important!!): Under “NOTES” write “KENYA MISSION TRIP DONATION FOR MOLLY AND JOHN STILLMAN“
- EMAIL ME: It would be great too if you could e-mail me and let me know if you donated this way (mollystillman [at] gmail [dot] com), that way I can make sure the donation gets credited to the right place.
- Prayer support. This is honestly the most important. Prayer for us, prayer for our team, and ultimately, prayer for the community of Kiria. They’re some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen – and in the end, they minister to me WAY more than I ever ministered to them.
Questions? Please, please, please ask them. I want to be as transparent as possible. And I can promise you, I’ll keep you updated throughout the journey again.
Top Four F.A.Qs about this trip:
- What does the $3,500/person ($7,000 go towards):
- Honestly, a lot of it goes towards the cost of our flights. It is EXPENSIVE to fly to Kenya. A good portion of it also goes towards our meals and lodging while we are there. While we do go to a more “touristy” place the last night we’re there as we travel back to Nairobi, trust me, the lodging isn’t fancy. And trust me, the latrines or “squatty potties” as they are so appropriately dubbed make me miss running water more than anything while we’re there. Also, a good portion of that money goes towards bringing supplies with us like school supplies, soccer balls, and other materials they may need at the time. The rest of the cost of the trip and expenses while we are there are all on us.
- Why do you have to go to Kenya, why can’t you help out people in your own country?
- The truth is, I do help out people in my own country and community. I volunteer in a women’s prison a couple times a month. I have worked with Transforming Hope, a local charity aimed at rescuing young girls out of the sex trafficking industry. I serve on the worship team at my church. When I can, I will donate my time or money to other local worthy causes. I volunteer every opportunity I get. Why? Because I love it and I love serving and loving on people. It’s what I’m good at. It’s what I do. It’s not bragadocious, it’s who I am. I wish I could do more. I wish I could do it all. But I go to Kenya because I think serving others in another country, experiencing another culture, in another place, will only make me a better servant to those in my own home.
- Can you really make a difference in 10 days?
- Yes and no. You can make short-term strides and help with short-term needs, but the partnership and long-term relationship we have with the community is what makes the lasting impact. We don’t just show up, help out, take photos, and leave. We work hard. We have a vested interest in this place, and yes, that does make an impact. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
- Why do you have to fundraise? Can’t you just pay for this trip yourselves?
- As much as I’d like to think we’re bajillionaires, we’re not. We’re a young newly-married couple who both love Jesus, love each other, love people, just paid for a wedding, and don’t necessarily have the American dollars to support a $7,000 mission trip. We have put in a lot of our own contributions (last year, for example, I paid over $800 out of pocket to cover vaccinations and other expenses)… so yeah, we need to fundraise in order to make the trip happen.
Thank you. Thank you for your consideration. I’m sorry this was a crazy long post. If you’re still with me, awesome. In the end, I really just ask for your prayers. And if you’re not the praying type, then I ask for your positive thoughts.
xoxo, all for now.