The day after Christmas, a team of eleven boarded a plane in Chicago and began a long journey to Kenya.
The plan was to hold a VBS with the boys at El Shaddai Children’s Center, buy belated Christmas gifts for them and their caregivers, and to learn some culture along the way. We knew celebrating the New Year would be an unforgettable experience, and it was. But God had even more to teach us.
To give you one short-termer’s perspective, we asked Abbey Northcote to tell you more.
The Boaz Project (TBP): If a friend were considering taking a short-term mission trip, would you recommend going with The Boaz Project? Why or why not?
Abbey: For sure! The Boaz Project does a really good job of taking the culture into account and being sensitive to the caretakers who are there all the time. I appreciate that The Boaz Project doesn’t sweep through with Western ideals and completely negate the way the community works when we’re not there. This aids the relationships and allows the time spent there to be truly authentic. There is a lot of time to get to know the boys, and I really appreciate how intentional The Boaz Project is in making sure the team members understand the importance of supporting the care takers verbally.
TBP: What do you feel is the greatest lesson God taught you through this trip?
Abbey: I feel like God was showing me the gifts He has given me and trying to help me see myself through His eyes. For example, I always assumed I had the gift of teaching, but I had never really let myself be confident in this being a real thing. But while on this trip, I constantly felt myself being used by the Holy Spirit in this way.
While I was doing VBS with the boys and answering their many questions, I felt a peace flow through me while I vocalized words and thoughts that can only be described as divine intervention. Through this, I was able to demonstrate a confidence and understanding that only comes from God.
This experience also really puts things into perspective. You can see how much good you’re doing at the time, and it’s important to bring this mindset back home. God wants to use us wherever we are, and feeling necessary over there is just a glimpse into how necessary you can be back home, too.
TBP: How would you describe your ministry experience to folks here at home?
Abbey: The amount of joy mixed with the heartbreak is unlike any other time in my life…there is such a depth to it because you can tangibly feel the closeness in God’s kingdom.
I’ll give you an example to explain what I mean: On the last day, I was sitting with the boys and praying, and my heart was breaking at the thought of leaving them. I suddenly became overwhelmed with peace as I realized that we would be doing this in Heaven one day. I could so clearly see how I would be praying and worshiping with them for eternity and the heartbreak swelled with indefinable joy.
TBP: What advice would you give someone going on a similar mission project?
Abbey: Be humble – with your team, with yourself, with the children. There is a lot that you will realize you don’t know. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to start searching deep inside yourself. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to have a different opinion from someone else.
Just allow yourself to authentically get to know the people around you and genuinely enjoy your time there. Humility will allow you to see what God wants to do through you and with you. This will hopefully, in turn, make a long-term impact on you so that your perspective is changed even when you settle back home.
TBP: Can you please tell me about one child who made an impact on you?
Abbey: Wilson really had an impact on me. He is just so joyful all the time. Even when talking to me about his childhood before El Shaddai, he was able to find joy and peace in his current circumstances. He also is not afraid to stick up for others if they are being made fun of. He also constantly took the younger boys under his wing. I could rely on him to help me understand conversations or jokes without asking to be included. I was constantly amazed at how genuinely kind, thoughtful, and loyal he is. His character is outstanding and, instead of being embittered by life, he chooses joy and sympathy for others.
Believing in miracles,