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Melissa Uplinger’s Intern Reflections

February 10, 2014 by Diana Coombs

Melissa Uplinger Picture

Melissa Uplinger served as an intern for 2 months in Kipkaren, Kenya, participating in medical missions.

I arrived in Kenya after spending a month in Tanzania and I was homesick, lonely and looking for someone to pity me. I was asking God what he was thinking when he told me I was supposed to quit my well-paying job, leave my friends and family, and go to Africa for 3 months. Then I smartened up and opened my Bible. What I found was Philippians 4:4-7. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) 

God made it abundantly clear to me that I needed to start “choosing joy”. I needed to start rejoicing daily for the gifts he had given me. Everywhere I looked I could see incredible people who were rejoicing in God despite very difficult circumstances. These people trusted God with everything and relied on him fully for their needs. God showed me how to let go of my life and let him be in control and take all anxiety from me so I can share in the rich and incomprehensible peace that comes from giving your whole heart to God.

I don’t think it is really possible to try and capture my many experiences in words, but I will share this excerpt from one of my blog posts to give you an idea of just ONE way that God was working in Kipkaren:

”Yesterday afternoon I helped put on a little program for the teenage girls here. Our topic was “Identity in Christ”. We talked to them about how God sees them and how we should not depend on other things to define who we are. At the end we had them all go around and read an “I am…” statement with a corresponding verse that we had prepared before. They said things like “I am Chosen” “I am beautiful” “I am safe and secure”. It was so incredible to hear these girls say these things out loud to their peers. The most powerful moment for me was when a girl stood up and read, “I am adopted as a child of God”. As I sat with 25 orphaned girls and listened to one say that they have been adopted into God’s family, I felt tears come to my eyes. What a beautiful picture; the fatherless becoming a child in God’s family, accepted and welcomed with arms wide open.” 

I love knowing that I am a sister to these girls and that we are all in one big family together. I came to Kenya afraid and alone. I left empowered by the people I came to know and love and the God who I rejoice in every single day.

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Categories: ELI Alumni Intern Voice Kenya