Mitch Kellogg Intern ReflectionsApril 9, 2014 by Diana Coombs
How do you summarize four months? So much happened! How do you capture lessons learned, growth, transformation, hardships, and experiences with people I love? Well, I’m going to try.
I was an intern for the Training Center at Empowering Lives International in Ilula, Kenya.
The task assigned to me was the Bee Hive Project. But besides building hives, I was building relationships. The only way I can describe this internship was a packaged gift from God–all of my interests, passions, dreams, and schooling in one.
Before beginning this adventure, a friend of mine suggested that I write a letter to God. In reflecting on these prayers, during and afterward, I have seen God faithfully fulfilling these requests. In the Biggest and smallest ways, He showed up. How hard it is to truly “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19a). There were three areas that I wanted to see God working in me: to Listen, to Learn, and to Serve.
I want to tell just one story, but this story encapsulates my whole experience. I went to the Village near Chepkorio right before my return home. To be honest, I didn’t want to go. But afterward it was one of my best memories. At first I was wanting to get off the compound and experience more of Kenya, the people. Right after telling Don Rogers my thoughts, he said they could make that happen. “But… I meant for next time…” Once again I encountered my selfishness, my desire for comfort, for the familiar. I tried to make excuses, saying that I didn’t want to go to the village if I didn’t have any skill to contribute. I didn’t speak much Kiswahili and less Kalenjin. I didn’t want to just experience something for my own benefit, to say that I had done it. These were all true, but they were all excuses. I was listening to my own desires and not God’s.
Then one day Samuel Teimuge said, “You are going out into the village. Prepare yourself for ministry. You are going to preach the gospel.” I said, “Yes. Ok… Can I go with Baba Brian?” (Parent at the Children’s Home) I couldn’t refuse his direct orders or authority but I wanted a partner. I wanted to be “sent out in twos.”
So it was set. I was to be out in Baba Brian’s village for two nights, three days. I received a text from a friend encouraging me that the Holy Spirit was going to be my guide. That text was truer than both of us realized. Upon arriving I was surrounded by little children. I was a rarity around those parts: white skin. Samuel said, “Preach the gospel to these children. Share your testimony.” Haha! What? I know nothing about these kids. I don’t speak Kalenjin. But God had sent me with a mouth-piece, i.e. Baba Brian. So I began slowly. The Holy Spirit gave me the words in order to combine a testimony and the gospel message that I couldn’t have planned for even if I tried. Every step afterward demanded my ear to be tuned to the Spirit.
Those next few days, I listened to the Holy Spirit and placed my full weight and trust in His ability to use me, to give me the right words. And you know what happened? He did! I was again Learning to place my full faith in Jesus. I was also learning about village life, the slow pace of African culture, but hard working people. I learned the names of family members, their dreams, but I also learned about poverty and brokenness. At night, I listened to Baba Brian tell stories by kerosene lamplight, as we talked about the deep things of life.
The previous weeks we had seen many ladies come for our trainings, abandoning a former life of brewing alcohol. They accepted the Lord and learned new life skills to support their families! Those ladies had come from this area. I was in a village which still had a brewer. I saw intoxicated family members, people without jobs, and oppression.
There was only one thing that I had to offer. Jesus. As I Listened to the Holy Spirit, learned about Baba Brian’s family, I got to Serve. Many opportunities were presented to share a testimony, talk with the kids about culture, play futball, pray for families, visit a sick man recovering from Tuberculosis, tell Bible stories, and preach the gospel to Baba Brian’s parents and cousin, Kiprop. God was the one moving in mysterious ways. And to God be the glory for His children’s hearts turning back to Him!
I even got to help Kiprop, who rededicated his life to Christ, with designing a bee hive. He and his brother are carpenters and have already started making Langstroth hives!! Are you kidding me?!? I may not know how to prepare for everything, but everything that I know and experience, God uses it for His purposes.
I was sad to leave that village, a change of heart. God does that. I desired to see lives change in this village and to stay changed; to disciple those baby Christians in the faith. For now, I had to go, but the lessons learned in that village and at ELI as I listened and served will never leave. God uses the willing heart and equips those He calls. The believer has in Christ all that he or she needs for the voyage of life.