In September, I had the incredible opportunity to introduce my in-laws to Kenya on an Impact Trip. Garnett, my father-in-law, is the pastor of Bay Presbyterian Church outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and his wife Michelle is a member of the CARE for AIDS board. Following are some of Garnett’s initial thoughts for his church about one beautiful experience from the trip, as posted on the church blog:
As our van turned off the road into the Kiandutu slum, conversation stopped. Around 100,000 people live in one square kilometer of land. Whole families live in homes the size of an average American bathroom, constructed of sticks and mud and jammed together into mazes with no space between. Their bathrooms are public holes in the ground, for which you pay a few coins each time nature calls. Trash is thrown out on the mud paths that pass for streets, which means that there is a constant stink and the ground is equal parts dirt and plastic grocery bags.
When the local pastor led us into one of these mazes, we were greeted by Lucy, who slapped our hands in a handshake and hugged the ladies, her “sisters.” From the surroundings, we weren’t prepared for the joy that radiated from her face. We squeezed into her home and sat on the ground to hear her story.
Lucy had spent 17 years in and out of prison for prostitution and drugs. When she was diagnosed as HIV+, she thought she deserved it, her “husband” left her, and she gave up and waited to die. Then a CARE for AIDS staff member recruited her into their 9-month program at the tiny church a short walk away. In the CFA program, she received medical counseling and weekly food packages, she made friends, she learned job skills to support herself, and she met Christ through her spiritual counselor.
Seven months later Lucy is increasingly healthy, she has a job that pays her bills, her husband is back, she mentors other HIV+ women, and she absolutely glows with the love of Christ. “Whether I live or die, I have Jesus, and that’s all I need,” she tells us.
Grace and peace,
This won’t be the last you hear about Lucy! Keep an eye out for more on her inspiring story soon. In the meantime, would you pray about going on a trip to Kenya with us in 2013? We would love for you to experience these relationships first-hand, and your presence in Kenya leaves an impression of hope, joy, and encouragement that holds eternal value. Learn more here