Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kenya: Our CEO's Perspective

You know when you feel like you are exactly were you are suppose to be? I felt that in Africa last week and just felt led to share this with you all. I know life is very busy and understand if you don't have a minute to read this now but hope sometime you can read back through it because I felt led to write it. I think everyone has expectations of what a mission trip will be like, who you will meet, what you will bring to the people who need you and how they will change you forever....this trip to Kenya exceeded any expectations that I could have imagined. Traveling with some of my favorite people in this world, I knew this trip would be special but I have to say, I had no idea it would blow my mind and explode my faith like it did...and that fab'rik would develop a relationship with this village that would last way beyond this trip.

We went to Karagoto, Kenya and met some of the hardest working, faithful women that I think God describes as the proverbs 31 woman. We met children whose smiles lit up with the simple sight of us, who had only read about white people in books. We met a lot of men that had given up in a place where little is opportunity. It is a community eager to grow, praying for leaders and full of hope. The first morning I asked our team to pray about how fab'rik could make a difference in the lives of these beautiful people, how our charity and this community could come together...and a few days later our prayer was answered. We developed a relationship with the women and after watching them knit scarves all week, we decided to place an order for our stores, God willing, the first of many orders and trips to Karagoto. Throughout the week we watched the vision come to life. I watched my fab'rik friends open up their hearts to people that need us, invest long term and create opportunity in a place that desperately needs it. My team is amazing and I am so proud to have experienced this with them....and can't wait until next year!

We arrived in Nairobi and the first thing our driver, Abraham, told us was "We have been praying for you to come, we love you, we love you, we love you, if there was a greater word than love, I would use it." It set the tone for the entire trip. The first thing we did was go on a walk down to the village waterfall to see where they would get there water not long ago before 410 bridge helped create the water project, the walk was so hard and women were doing this up to 6 times a day to walk 3-5km back and forth to their homes. This is when I started to see what an impact we could have, the gratefulness in their eyes as they described how the new water system had changed their lives and that they thanked God that we came to help them. The concept of 410 bridge is not to give a man a fish but teach a man to fish so they create these plans (knitting facility, water systems, etc) but have the community dig the trenches for the water pipes and really learn how it works so they own it. It really works and it was an honor to be a part of.

The days were amazing, we got to go to their church, led bible study, spent a day in the life of a family, go to the children's school and walk through the classrooms, knit with the women, rake the rocks and pour concrete in the new knitting facility, meditate on top of Tumutumu Hill and simply just be with the people in the community. We talked to a man named Patrick who delivered food from village to village. We asked him "what do you think about Americans" He said that he thinks we are a superpower and we asked if he thought we used our power for good? He smiled and said "YES you work hard in America, then come and spend your time and money to help people like us. Your dollar even says in God we trust. We love you." It was inspiring and reminded me of the responsibility we have having so much like we do.

The part of this trip that has changed me the most is just seeing God work through us so clearly and brilliantly. The first day we went to the knitting facility there was no work to be done, the knitting machines were not being used except to show us how they worked. But the day we were leaving, there was so much work to be done on our orders the women and machines were spilling into the grass outside the facility. The loud humming of the busy machines was so exciting, the facility was alive with pride and hope. We did a little math and realized if 1 scarf feeds a family of 5 one night then what could an entire order do? What would an ongoing relationship do? What would the feeling of accomplishment and being able to provide for their family do for these women, this community? Before we left, one of the knitting women-Paris- prayed for us and thanked us for our orders, she said they would have a "heavy supper" because of us. That is making a difference, a real difference and once you feel that feeling you are never the same. To me, that is God's will for my life this week in Africa I was at totally at peace.

In Karagoto, Hakuna Matata is not just a song from the Lion King, it is a way of life-no worries-in a place where is there is much to worry about, people find peace in knowing there are people like us out there who love them and will hold them up when they are weak and sing with them, dance with them and never give up on them. I am so grateful to all of you who supported this trip, prayed for us and followed our journey. I believe it was magical for everyone involved. Thank you so much.... 

Dana Spinola


Tiffany Style Blog said...

Amazing! What a wonderful trip!! I was thinking about you guys while you were gone! Can't wait to get our scarves in Macon! :)

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