2009 was my first trip to Kenya. It was actually my first trip out of the United States. How I even got to be a part of the trip was a “God thing” as we like to say. I went through a rough couple of years with my parents getting divorced when I was sixteen and fell out of the church scene. In the spring of 2009 before I graduated high school, I slipped into the back of Community Bible Church in San Antonio. During that service, I was flipping through the bulletin and at the very bottom of the page read “If you want to go to Mombasa, Kenya: Call Chris Moore.”
In that moment a peace came over me and I knew I had to make the call. I called Chris that night and talked to him for two hours! He would not remember this, but I shared with him my struggles I had been going through and my desire to follow Christ fully and I am blessed that he was a listening ear for me. He had never met me before, but spent that precious time on the phone with me that Sunday evening. That phone call changed my life forever.
I prepared. I got my passport, raised the funds and hopped on the plane with the rest of my team in July 2009. It was a trip that I will never forget and the memories were now engraved in my heart. I came back to my first year at Texas A&M and knew I had to go back. I got in touch with Chris and Lisa and made my way back in June 2010 for a month. Then, that following year they asked me to lead a team. It was a task I saw as impossible. Me; a 20-year-old girl, leading a team of individuals who were almost all older then me? But, the Lord took the impossible and made it all possible. In July 2011, I led my first team to Chris and Lisa.
During that following year, I started a nonprofit called Imani to partner with individuals in East Africa. I started working with an organization in Burundi as well as in Uganda. In 2012, Imani sent 4 teams to Kenya, Burundi and Uganda as well as had a group of summer interns in Kenya. In the midst of all of this the Lord was asking for more, so in 2013 we changed our focus to stay in Kenya within Mtepeni Village. We brought our focus back to where it all began in 2009. In May 2013, Imani started a women’s empowerment program to help the single, widowed and disadvantaged women of Mtepeni. Most of these women we work with are the mothers of the children that go to Mbewau Academy, so finally seeing them able to provide for their family has been so encouraging.
During all of this, the Lord was working in my heart big time. I traveled back to Kenya every summer and every time I stepped on Kenya soil, my heart was at peace. I knew eventually that I would have to make these short trips into longer trips, but did not know if I was ready. When I came back in 2013, I planned to stay for 7 months. I had gotten approval from my Dean at Texas A&M that I could finish my masters program online while I was in Kenya, so that gave me the open door to come back. Much to my surprise this last “short” trip turned into a much longer ride. I got back and surrendered it all to Christ. I was ready to finally give up all my desires of the world and live for Him alone. That following week, the women’s program started, ImaniXchange. I moved to the village and lived side by side with my women that year. I learned how to live with no electricity, no running water and was surprised by many bugs every day for those six months of life. Also, during that first month back I met my husband, Sean. That December we flew home and got married and have dedicated our lives to full time missions.
It all started with a phone call and a trip that I am forever thankful for. My “Kenyan parents” as I call Chris and Lisa were there for me through all my ups and downs. They were there through every trip, every failed relationship, every crisis, every mosquito bite; they were there. Lisa even asked Sean a million questions to make sure he was the guy for her girl and they even made it to our wedding! They were there for all my stages of figuring out “life” from complaints about college classes to making my big move to the village; they were always there.
My life would be completely different if Chris would have ignored that phone call.
I now live in Mombasa with my husband and live a life I never imagined I would be living. I came to Kenya when I was 18, broken and the Lord continued to pursue me and remind me everyday that I am redeemed.
Thank you Chris and Lisa for everything.