Tuesday, June 05, 2012

My Journey To Kenya, and Beyond

The following is a letter that I sent to our senior pastor, Keith Stewart.  I decided to post the letter because it details the journey that I have been on that have culminated with my trip to Kenya and my ongoing fundraising for water projects in Africa.  I figured this is as good a time as any to share this as I have my second of three half-marathons coming this weekend.

My back has decided to act up again, keeping me relatively immobile during a recent trip to India.  Thankfully, I was able to work since all of my meetings were moved from the office to the hotel due to a strike that was occurring in Bangalore during our visit.  Since I have been home, the back is better, but I can tell something is still amiss.  After mowing the backyard today with little pain today, I've decided to continue with my plans to run this weekend in Chicago.  I would appreciate your support as I am still far from my goal of funding a deep water well (borehole) in Africa.  Since my visit to Kenya, I am more dedicated to this goal than ever, having seen the transformative effects of what clean water access can have on a community.

I would appreciate your support, regardless of the amount, to this effort.

[[[  Click here to visit my fundraising page and make a donation ]]]

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I am sitting in India, but I find my thoughts continually going back to Kenya.  Since I cannot attend the meeting with you this week, I thought I would put my thoughts to “paper”.  I wanted you to know the profound experience that World Vision, sponsorship, and the trip to Katito have been to me and my family.  I apologize, in advance, for the long read.

When you first started to discuss Katito, I was not moved.  My reaction was probably like that of many others…I questioned why Africa was becoming a priority when there was (is) so much need locally.  As you have since discussed, my initial feelings, or lack thereof, were just a cover-up for my own self-centeredness and malaise.  I asked, “Why Africa?  What are we doing here?”  The questions should have been, “What I am doing here?”  But, I wasn’t doing anything, so I never asked that question because I didn’t like the answer.

Even though my heart was not in Africa, Angie and I sponsored several children.  It was important to Angie and I have learned to follow her heart, as hers has always been directed towards others more than mine.  However, making monthly payments was the limit of my participation.  I fostered relationships with our sponsored children not directly, but through my children…encouraging them to write to our sponsored children, but never doing it myself.  Again, I relegated responsibility to others.

We then participated in “Step Into Africa” at the church.  God began to work in me, or more accurately, I was becoming amenable to allowing God to work in me.  My experience in the exhibit was profound.  Unfortunately, my self-centeredness was stronger.  Although moved by the experience, enough to sponsor another child (which really was a replacement for one of our children who moved out of the ADP), I continued to limit my participation to making monthly payments.

Then, Lorraine stood on stage and mentioned the run to help raise the final $68,000 to complete the water project.  She stood on stage and I remember what she said vividly – “any physical ability can participate”.  I thought about this, and decided to participate.  However, my motivation continued to be selfish.  I was going to run to see if God would change me…my body, that is. I know I am a man who requires goals, and I thought I found the perfect opportunity to lose weight and get into shape.  I signed up and started to diet and train.

God did change me, but not in ways I ever imagined.  He started to change my heart.  Yes, I’ve lost 60 pounds during this process, and have run several half marathons, but this change is minor compared to the love that I now feel for our family in Katito.  As I did my training, I kept thinking of what I was training for.  I would think about our sponsored children and the others that the water project would help.  This was an entirely cerebral exercise, as I had no clue to the real suffering, the real needs of these people – but I thought of them nonetheless. I started praying for them.  I started to love them, sight unseen.  I was also moved by the amazing generosity that I saw from the people that donated to my cause.  I raised over $3000 with last year’s run and am still amazed by that result.

My heart change resulted in me wanting to do even more.  This year, with the help of World Vision, I have signed up for three 13.1’s to try and raise $13,700 for a deep water well.  Although this well will not go to Katito, I am supremely confident that wherever it does go, it will be a tremendous blessing to the people that it serves.  To date, I have raised over $3,600.

Then, I got the call that I was being invited to go to Katito to celebrate the completion of the water project.  I cried when I got that call.  I am crying as I recall the call.  I blogged about my feelings then, so I won’t recount it here.  If you are interested, you can read it here:


Needless to say, your prayer that we get “wrecked” has been answered.  I have been so profoundly changed that I still cannot adequately process or communicate my feelings about the trip.  I do know one thing, that God wants more from me and that, for the first time in my life, my heart is amenable to that.  Josh led us in “lecto divinia” while in Katito, and God said to me (in a voice more sure than I have ever heard) that He “NEEDS” me “ALL IN”.  It was a most profound experience in a plethora of profound experiences.  I am still unsure as to what He meant, but I am open to the possibilities and am spending more time than ever with Him to figure it out.

I want to thank you for your teaching and guidance.  I am glad that your heart has been broken with the things that have broken His.  I am glad that you’ve so passionately and eloquently have shared what that means.  I have heard your message, His message, and the message of the wonderful people of Katito.

I will end with the words of a community health worker that we met in Katito.  Her name is Mary, but she is called “Adult” and I wouldn’t be surprised if you know her.  She is 76 years old, has an indomitable spirit, and cares for a woman with AIDS (also named Mary) with four small children.  She asked us to “never forget” what we saw that day…and I have not and will never forget.  I will forever remember the amazing love and grace that we saw that day and each and every day in Katito.   It energizes me.  But I also realize that there is so much more to do.  And, as I cultivate a relationship with Mary and her family (as Angie and I will be sponsoring one of the children of that family), it is my prayer that we can help that family know God’s grace as much as they’ve help me see it for myself.

Please let me know how I can help with the celebration weekend or sponsorship.  I want others to experience the life change that I have experience.  I want others to understand that when I am asked, I say I have nine children, four here at home, and five in Katito.

And, although I am unsure as to what it really means, I know that I am “all in”.

God Bless,

Scott

N.B. I have blogged about my experience with the runs and fundraising at:


And, have begun posting my journals from the Katito trip at:

1 comment:

Tracy Murphree said...

Great one Scott. Your letter to Keith brings tears to my eyes. I too feel like God was telling me to be All in.