In 2007 I was part of a missions trip to Nairobi. When the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance, having heard about Kenya and its charms from several friends who had gone. They said that the music there was unforgettable, dynamic, mesmerizing, worshipful, and never ending. Our church's historic commitment to cross-cultural mission has always been hand in hand with a special love of Africa.
Well, the trip was led by Brian McKeon and he finalized the team as a music missions team. There would be 6 singers, 3 musicians including myself, and Brian as team leader. We would be going as a music praise team, with the additional component of music education and daytime assistance with Saint Lazarus School in Kibera and the Overcomers by Grace ministry to handicapped Muslims. As I corresponded with Meta, the music director at NCF Nairobi, it sounded like a full schedule of schools, seminars, and churches. When I asked about tech support Meta said via email that they had good equipment and a semi-pro sound person in their church who would assist us.
The last time we had taken a music missions trip was 10 years prior when MTW missionary Hugh Wessel sponsored a tour of southern France and we took 13 NCF singers and musicians to Europe. It had been a dream tour. The travel, housing, sound, and repertoire was coordinated by us with support from the European team, including a French sound company that preceded us to each venue. We laughed and sang and saw the romantic beauty of southern France from Aix-en-Provence to Paris even. With this as a background, we anticipated a more strenuous experience in Kenya, a third world country, but we were optimistic that our music and our people would be loved and joyful.
The trip was longer, though, and Beth and I did not look forward to a 2 and a half week separation. We also were not agreed on the effectiveness or even value of short term missions trips.
Well, I digress. My point today is that Beth and I sat down and went through all the pictures, the itinerary, and the souvenirs I brought back. As we sat and went through each day, I put the photos in order-- ones taken by me, David, and Brian. As I looked at the memory of this unforgettable time, I told stories and described the people we had met, and the ways we had been used by God.
This was not the first time we have talked about the trip, but Beth said this afternoon that she had never gotten the whole picture of the Kenya trip. There was a palpable change in her appreciation of the last missions trip I have taken, with the good and bad.
Because I'm on sabbatical this week, we are able to peel back layers of our lives and fill in important missing pieces in the puzzle of our lives together. I'm thankful for the blessing of this 3 month leave!