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Kenya Summer Camp 2007

Project Dates: December 9-16, 2007

"My Youth Corps Experience in Africa"

by Matthew Kireilis

My trip to Africa was one of the greatest experiences of my life at the age of 31. I feel very fortunate to have been given a chance to serve others in God’s Church and to get to know the other Youth Corps members. I would highly recommend serving in the Youth Corps to anyone who would like to grow closer to God and build relationships with others. This is also a great way for God to work with you so you can improve and grow.

Preparing to go to Africa took a little time, and I was a little nervous. Once everything was done and I was on my way to Dallas, that’s when I became excited. The trip to Kenya was very long, lots of flying and walking, and not much sleep. Luckily, we all met in Dallas, and despite delays, we flew to London together. When we arrived, we had missed our flight to Africa, but that was ok. The airline put us up at the Hilton in day rooms for 6 hours and gave us a free lunch (which was awesome!). So we all ate, slept, and then we were off again to Africa.

My journey began Tuesday morning and we arrived in Nairobi at 10 a.m. Friday. It was a long trip. When we arrived in Nairobi, we were blessed to find all of our luggage. What a huge relief. By this time, I was completely exhausted. We all packed into a van with all our stuff, and it was very cozy to say the least. The first thing I noticed was the way people drove there. Coming from America it was a little shocking at first, but once I started to trust the driver I was able to relax.

While we were downtown, I remember looking off of the balcony down onto the city streets to see drivers swerving all around and pedestrians trying to cross the street at the same time. Then we got to experience walking through Nairobi first hand. We were off to eat lunch at a place called “Hooters”. It wasn’t the same as the restaurant chain in the US but some people bought a shirt because it was a novelty. After lunch we all headed to our destination. We stayed with local brethren in two groups, the girls and Mr. Horchak, and Mr. Waddle and the guys. By the time we got to Ngong Hills, I was almost sleepwalking.

When we arrived, we were welcomed with open arms and dinner. It was so nice. Isn’t it amazing, you can cross the globe and walk into a complete stranger’s house and be welcomed as if you were family! How awesome it is to experience something like this. We were treated so well I almost felt bad.

The brethren in Africa have so little compared to us, but they had the best attitudes I've ever seen. Their willingness to serve and to love their neighbor was inspiring. They live God’s way and it works. I cannot wait until the whole world is living this way. The brethren in Africa might see a minister a couple times a year from America, but they keep doing God’s work and I am very impressed.

The next day we went to Nairobi and met the Nairobi congregation. They were all excited to meet us and had lots of questions for us. We had a Sabbath service followed by a light snack and then a Bible study. There were a lot of questions for Mr. Waddle and Mr. Horchak. The one thing I noticed was their eagerness to learn about God. They would have talked to us for days if we would have had the time. After services, our group and the two families we stayed with went to a nice restaurant and had a wonderful time getting to know each other.

Sunday we left for camp. We wanted to sleep in but couldn’t because the rooster started crowing at 4 a.m. We loaded up the truck with all of our supplies and were on our way. When we arrived at camp, we had so many tents to set up it was crazy. The campers started to show up in the evening. We had plans to have Christian fellowship class but it started to rain so it was postponed until the next morning.

I woke up early hoping to take some pictures of hippos by the lake but saw none. As I was leaving the overlook, Mr. Horchak was just arriving so I stayed and took some pictures of him and the sunrise. Just when we were going to leave, we heard something. It was a hippo. The hippo came charging out of the water, turned our direction, ran right up to us, looked at us, then took off running back into the water. I was taking pictures as fast as I could (I got three). Camp is at Lake Naivasha, the same location as the Feast, which I highly recommend.

Camp got on its way. The kids were very excited to be there and were eager to learn. The whole time I was there I never heard anyone complain. My job was to teach Ultimate Frisbee. I was very prepared, probably too prepared. My first day I tried to just teach them the fundamentals. It didn’t work too well so I learned to adapt. I just got them playing and stopped them as they went and taught them. They really seemed to like playing it. By the end of the camp, they had the hang of it quite well.

My other assignment was to assist Jeremy teaching cycling. That was a challenge. Some of the kids knew how to ride a bike, but some did not. The ones who did just rode around and we had races for them, but we had to teach the others. Jeremy and I would push the bike and hold it up while the kids would pedal. I think they enjoyed us pushing them around better than pedaling themselves around.

After a week of camp and building relationships, it was over. It went by so fast. I had such a good time with the kids. I would play around with them, and they thought I was a WWF wrestler.

After camp we traveled to Lake Nakuru Lodge to spend two nights and go on safari. During our stay we traveled to a member’s home in Elbergon and had a wonderful Sabbath service under a tree. After services we had lunch and fellowshipped.

The next day we went out on safari and saw so many animals. We first saw Lions mating, and then rhinos, zebras, Cape buffalo, pink flamingos, giraffe, gazelle, baboons, waterbuck, dikdiks, and all kinds of birds. Wow, it was sweet.

Four flights and 36 hours later I was home. I can’t thank God and the Church enough for the opportunity to serve. I would recommend that if you ever have the time and money to participate in a youth corps adventure, you should. We all need to pray that Christ returns fast because the poverty and hardships the African people are going through is more than you and I would ever want to do.

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