by Dana Trauth
My dream, since 2004, had been to go to Kenya, Africa with the Murimis. I had been captivated by the voices of the Turkana people singing praises to Jesus, in a video, and I thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world. The years quickly came and went as I finished school, took care of my family through a terrible hurricane, got a job, and still the dream lingered. I had always loved Africa, as if I was born with that love, because I don’t really know where it came from or when it had started to grow. I would tell people that it’s not “if” I go to Africa it’s “when” I go to Africa. Then in 2010 that dream came true. In June of 2010, it was just me and a carry-on piece of luggage on a plane bound for a different continent. Aside from the jet lag, Kenya quickly began to feel like home.
It was when I met the Africans that I truly began to see a passion and a joy I had never seen before for our Savior. One such African, Jeanette- a 25 year old girl, became a fast friend and fantastic buddy for my journey. She even had enough patience with me to teach me Swahili, a language I was eager to learn. Every day she asked me if I was ready for my “Swahili 101”. She always had a smile on her face ready for whatever the day brought us. It was custom for us Americans and the Africans to introduce ourselves on a daily basis to different villagers. The Africans always began their introduction with Bwana Asifiewe or translated “Praise the Lord”. They would tell the crowd their name and then say something along the lines of “I love the Lord” or “The Lord is my Savior.” It was as if they couldn’t introduce themselves without identifying the Lord. It was their relationship with Him that was so vital to their identity that the two were inseparable. I was in awe. Living with the Africans for two weeks reminded me of the beauty of faith, the power of prayer, and the importance of community. The joy of their salvation, their confidence in the Lord and His power, and their complete trust in Him radiated off of them so much that it made you want to be like that in return.
In Lodwar, the desert life is hot and a bit extreme. I remember waking up one morning and hearing the Africans of Turkana singing and it touched my soul. I forgot that I was hot, that I was jet lagged and dirty I couldn’t wait to join them. While there Mary Murimi had the wisdom to encourage us to seek out a different prayer partner everyday. This partner was preferably someone you didn’t know and it was that partnership that made a huge difference in our day. It was those exact prayers of boldness, confidence and hope that got me through each day. One such time was with a woman named Vikki. She felt the Lord calling her to me. She walked over to me, hugged my shoulders and prayed. Through her prayer she saw into my heart and vanquished the enemy, through the power of the blood of Jesus, away from the places in my heart I did not know he held and I was restored.
In Lodwar my job was to work with the children. I loved learning Swahili but not being able to communicate with the Turkana children did not hinder us a bit. I was truly amazed at the work of our interpreters. They knew just what to say, they knew the just the right games to settle their rowdiness and they paved a bridge for me to talk with the children. The smiles on their faces were so precious. I was part of a team that taught four bible lessons with a theme of “Friends of Jesus”. We walked through creation, the fall, and the death and resurrection of Christ all through the eyes of the friends of Jesus. The kids were surprisingly responsive. They were attentive during the stories and knew the answers to many of the questions we asked. I could tell the work of the church was reaching their hearts. Each village had a different personality and each group of children mimicked that personality. But it was the interpreters that made a lasting impression on me. Two of our interpreters were part of the children of the kingdom program, both now being sponsored through college. Just to see them do the work of the Lord first hand made me want to encourage everyone to sponsor a child. They were not only getting an education but a chance to serve the Lord in a place thirsty for the living water and I got to be a part of it all. Often times in the desert, in a place that I didn’t know the language or much of the customs, I felt useless. But what I learned was that just by being from America and flying all the way to Kenya and then visiting them in the village meant all the difference in the world to the Turkana people. It was enough just for me to go because it showed them love on a whole new level. They showed me love as well each time the women let me hold their precious children and teach them the word of the Lord.
My favorite day of the trip was the day we went to Lake Turkana to baptize the villagers. These men and women had been discipled over the year and I got to be a part of their baptism. This was the most humbling and powerful experience I have ever had. I stood in the middle of Lake Turkana with John Nakara at my left and a new Turkana believer between us, hands in each one of ours reciting the words “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and was humbled. There just aren’t enough words to explain that moment. Maybe the best way to describe it would be silence.
It was my dream in 2004 to go to Kenya and it was in 2010 that the dream came true. I am truly amazed that the Lord used me, an ordinary girl from Louisiana, to serve the extraordinary people of Turkana. It has been many months since I have walked the sands of Turkanaland but my heart is still there with them. I will not forget what the Lord showed me in Africa and I anxiously wait for when I can go back.
Here are some things I learned:
- If a camel comes up to you in a village that is normal.
- Wear more sunscreen.
- There is tremendous power in prayer.
- The Africans here value their salvation – something I should do more often.
- Thorns hurt.
- Jeanette has already planned when I am coming back.
- The work of the church is changing the lives of the people here and their lifestyles.
- Take Dramamine before getting on the little plane.