Just the Beginning by Lily Garcia

Just the Beginning

Lily Garcia

Today was the 8th day of our 10-day mission trip in Kenya, however, this day was the “last day” of why we were here, to minister to the children we have met at the MOHI schools. Today, that school was Ndovoini, which seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere.

The start of the day was bumpy, literally, and what I mean by that is that the trip from Joska, the girls' boarding school, to Ndovoini, the boys' boarding school, through the bumpiest route. After overcoming numerous potholes, being “parked” at a 45-degree angle as we waited for a car to pass us on a one-way road functioning as a two-way road, and lastly surviving the thorn trees that would pop out of nowhere and enter the opened windows, we made it to Ndovoini (thanks to Emmy balancing the bus for us). As we walked up, I was overwhelmed by the sea of heads that filled the entrance of the school, all seated and patiently waiting for us to arrive and begin the service. As we waited for those rehearsing the dancing and worship music of the service, the boys and teachers were singing outside.  Even though the service hadn’t officially started, they were all ready to praise the Lord. This excitement and readiness to praise did not end there, it was only just beginning for what we all were about to experience.

First was worship. As the people of Snyder and the boys of Ndovoini began singing, it was hard for me to connect to the song mainly because I did not understand it, but also because I was unsure what to expect. However, this confusion quickly faded as I was overwhelmed with the praise these teenage boys had for the Lord. As I looked through the crowd, I saw hands raised, eyes closed, and beaming smiles across their faces as they sang worship songs in their native language, Swahili, and though I did not understand what was being sung, as it went on I joined in and felt the power of the song these boys felt. The song that stood out to me most was sung by a boy leading worship and it was in English.  It went like this: “Daddy, my daddy, your baby is singing, we’ll be singing and dancing and shouting for the rest of eternity…” These words struck me. I have never heard a song that completely embodied what it means to be a son and daughter of God who praises their father, the Lord. Although these words cannot translate how beautiful the melody was, I want you to remember these words. Now dancing, which these boys sure do know how to do. Watching the boys of Ndovoini and of Snyder, and of course, our greatly skilled girls, was more entertaining than any movie. They danced, praised, and entertained all at once and everyone was intensely watching and clapping along, not one person was not sucked into the amazing skills these people had.

Though the singing and dancing of the service were greatly entertaining, nothing makes me happier than seeing my older sister preach and share the word of God, especially at a school out in the middle of Kenya to a boy’s boarding school, which to me is just crazy. She spoke on hope and peace, two words that are greatly intertwined with the meaning of this trip. As I looked around while Bella spoke, I saw the boys locked in with what was being spoken, because though some may not have understood what was being said fully, the word of God and our love for him is universal, which I have learned so much about during this trip.

After this service and taking tea, the fun really began and that was the farewell. As we came out, we all got the chance to introduce ourselves, by saying our names, ages, grades, and favorite food. As I said mine, I saw the two boys I met yesterday stand up and wave to me, which truly showed me that these people remember us and appreciate the mission we have here. I smiled and waved back, then the rest of the people introduced themselves and of course, we had another dancing time because Kenyans love to dance and they are great at it. After dancing a little, we danced some more and then of course more. Just when we thought the dancing was done, they presented us with a gift, a long blanket that you wear, a sort of tribal piece of clothing, and the dancing continued. A little boy gave this to me, tied it on me how I should wear it, and then danced with me. This farewell was beautiful and truly showed the appreciation the schools we visit have for us. Though goodbyes are sad, this was so beautiful, I couldn’t leave without a smile on our face.

After the bumpy ride home, a great meal at Java House, and a quick change, we headed off to Mary and Wallace’s house, the founders and CEO of MOHI, the reason we are here. I will be honest, at first, I was so exhausted from the day and beat from the long drive that all I wanted was to go back to my room and rest, but then my wise friend Lauren Ruppe said, “Guys, we’re actually so lucky to be meeting the person who started MOHI, the organization that started all the schools we’ve been to and is the reason there is a change in so many lives.” This really changed my perspective and as I entered their beautiful home, I realized I am blessed to be here. They had set formal tables all around their yard and provided a catered meal for us, treating their guests with hospitality just as all those working for MOHI had been treating us. After eating a delicious meal, we did share time, just like we have been doing the whole trip, but this time with not just Snyder. As we all went around talking, beautiful stories and memories we shared, with laughs and tears. When it came to me, what I said was the highlight of my trip was meeting my family’s sponsored girl from Bondeni, whose name is Sarah. Although I have the most beautiful picture of her that I took on the field trip I couldn’t show it to everyone, so instead I told them to just picture a beautiful little 5-year-old girl with the brightest smile and cutest dimples. Talking about Sarah and our few days together brings me so much joy, and I am forever grateful to my parents for sponsoring THIS girl and allowing me to actually meet her, I was overwhelmed with sadness at the thought that I might never see this girl again and never see that beautiful smile beaming up at me. I thanked MOHI for all those I met because it was all because of Mary and Wallace, and we continued to share our beautiful stories. After an amazing evening and a beautiful prayer that Wallace closed our time in fellowship, it was time to go.

This day and this meal truly marked the end of this trip because to me it seemed that our work was done, but what I was reminded by Mary as she talked to us, was that our work as teenagers and Christians is just beginning and what we have learned from this trip and the impact it will have is going to last forever. As I learned from this trip and what Wallace said is that once we go home we will never be the same, and I am eternally grateful for that. I will go home and praise the Lord as I have witnessed here.  I will preach the word of God as I have witnessed here and I will dance with passion as I have witnessed here. Today might’ve been the last day of “work” on this trip, but it is only the beginning of how this trip will forever work in each and every one of our lives. -Lily


Tom Hatch - June 15th, 2024 at 10:50pm

Thank you Lily for such a detailed blog about our days at Ndovoini! 🙏🏼

Donna Clayton Lloyd - June 16th, 2024 at 12:02pm

I so appreciated your account of your experience and look forward to watching the lives of Snyder produce abundant spiritual fruit throughout all the days of your lives as witness to how God transforms and unites His children, around the world.