NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Earlier this summer, 12 Belmont student-athletes and administrators traveled to Africa for a 10 day mission trip to Nakuru, Kenya. During their stay in Africa, they worked with a local ministry, Streets of Hope. Streets of Hope provides former street boys with a home, food, education, Christ-centered spiritual guidance, medical care and hope.
For the next several weeks, BelmontBruins.com will be posting personal reflections from the 10 student-athletes who took part in the trip.
Our next set of reflections comes from two members of the women's soccer program: Allie Svoboda and Sydney Zinser.
Going through life you never truly know the journey that you are going to be put on. Kenya was truly a trip in which God had planned for me. Throughout the journey of Kenya, I was constantly contemplating the question of "Why am I here and what is my purpose?" but I realized that this question is not one to be answered on my own, but one I must conquer through intentional prayer and trusting that God's plans are bigger than any plans that I have for myself. I realized that this spectacular journey was so much more than the trip itself. This experience was an opportunity to strengthen my community around me here in the states and that was a crucial lesson that I needed to learn while being abroad. I learned that there are individuals in my life that perhaps have served their purpose and need to be removed from my community. My community, as I learned in Kenya, should consist of individuals who have a love for God, a heart to do good, and a love for everyone regardless of the challenges that may occur. I realized during this journey that the little things in life mean the most.
My favorite moment of the trip occurred on the final day. Coach Price, myself, and Alexa were walking to get coffee. As we were walking I felt someone touching my arm. Naturally my first thought was to not turn around, but then something came over me and told me it is okay, turn around, so I did just that. I turned around and was faced with a young boy named Peter, who I met at the Mwariki Site. The Mwariki site is the first place the boys go to in the Streets of Hope process from the streets. The boys we spent time with had only been there for two weeks. Peter came up to me and said, "Hi its Peter, do you remember me" and of course I remembered Peter, with his contagious smile and his kind heart. Peter decided that he wanted to go back to the streets and leave the site. Knowing this, I realized at this moment that my purpose was to get this child back where he will be safe, protected, and loved. This moment was a perfect way to end the trip because I realized that God truly shows us His plans when we least expect it. This whole journey was full of unexpected events, but each time we were faced with adversity you could feel God truly reaching out and holding onto us. I am so blessed with the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, witness God's masterpieces in life, and to experience life changing moments. The ten days that I went abroad, were ten days that I truly saw ten thousand reasons why God is so good and I couldn't be more thankful!
You're rich in love
And You're slow to anger
Your name is great
And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons
For my heart to find
~10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
Kenya was a life-changing experience. It was a trip of many firsts for me: first time flying overseas, being in a plane longer than 2 hours, first time being to Europe, first time being to Africa, and first time being on a mission trip. Kenya is something that I am going to remember for the rest of my life. In the beginning of the trip, I was shaking with nerves because I didn't know what to expect when we got to Kenya. Upon our arrival to the first satellite house, Section 58, I noticed all the joy the children and staff were filled with. Everyone was so excited to be talking to us and were welcoming us into their home. Not once did I ever see someone who wasn't filled with joy.
Joy is one of my many "take aways" from this trip. Every time we were driving into a new satellite house at Streets of Hope, the gates opened and you see all the children running out to the car and waving at us. They were so respectful by shaking our hands and welcoming us with open arms. Though there were minor language barriers, every child smiled because they were excited to spend time with us, worship God, and play some soccer.
When being shown the chores they perform at their house, or even animals that they have in their back yard, they are so grateful to have these things in their lives. The children and staff are very selfless people and love on one another. They aren't worried about the materialistic things that they could have, but they see it from the viewpoint that God has blessed them with the things He has already given them. One of my favorite things that one of the boys said was, "I'm thankful for an open yard, two goal posts, and a soccer ball. I don't need gear." This has stuck with me and reminded me that I don't need all these material things in my life to make me happy. God has given me so much already, and I need to be thankful that I have those things in my life, just like everyone at Streets of Hope.
Streets of Hope will always hold such a special place in my heart because it was so hard to leave and say goodbye. We were there to change their lives, but the children have changed my life for the better and opened my eyes to a new world, new experiences, and new life lessons. I miss is so much already and hope to visit again soon.