When I signed up to be a Thrive Life consultant I had no idea of all the life changing experiences that would come my way. When I was given the chance to go on a humanitarian trip to Kenya, Africa with their charity, Thriving Nations, there was no question in my mind that I would do whatever it took to go. It was something I had always wanted to do and I knew it would be an experience of a lifetime. Several people tried to convince me not to go. It wasn’t safe; there was lots of disease. I knew the risks and I didn’t care.
Yes, there was a little fear of the unknown but I armed myself with every possible immunization and packed a bunch of bug spray. It was also comforting to know my best friend from college, Sherry, would be with me along with several good friends. I was good to go!
We would be visiting several remote villages outside Mombasa, Kenya. We would get to see the water reserve Thrive Life had built for villagers that used to have to walk up to 7 miles one way for water. They let us know ahead of time what some of their needs were and I had fun shopping for pencils, crayons, teaching materials and medical supplies. I could check two 50 pound bags so I bought 100 pounds of supplies and fit my personal belongings in a small carry-on and a backpack.
My husband was out-of-town on the day I was flying out so my dad took me to the airport. He asked if there was anything he could do to convince me to stay. He always worried about me. It was early in the morning so no one was at the curb as he dropped me off. He couldn’t help me with my bags without hurting himself so I carefully lifted them out of his truck. I had to be gentle with my back as well. My back had started going out when I was only 11.
I was hoping there would be someone from the airline at the sky cap but no luck. My dad drove off and I figured I could just carry the bags a few feet to the desk and not pay for a cart. Yeah, dumb idea. I felt my back go completely out before I could get the bags more than an inch off the ground. I couldn’t move my arms, I couldn’t take a deep breath, no one was outside to help me, this was bad. I carefully put my phone to my ear, called my dad and asked him to come back. When he got to the curb he assumed I intended on getting back in the truck. After all, he knew what it was like with my past back problems. I would likely be in bed for at least a week. I would barely be able to move after a couple of trips to the chiropractor and massage therapist. How could I possibly make a trip that involved several flights and 5 airports in the next 48 hours?
“Are you cancelling your trip?”
“No!” I said with tears streaming down my face. “Give me a blessing and I’m getting on the plane.”
I stepped behind the open door of his truck for a little privacy as my father placed his hands on my head. I also offered a prayer of my own. I asked Heavenly Father to send kind people to help me until I met up with my friends in Washington, DC. I knew I wouldn’t be able to raise my arms over head let alone lift anything.
On my first flight I asked a man to help me lift my bag into the overhead bin then I moved to the back of the plane. I started moving off the plane when the flight was over and was surprised to see the same man who helped me with my bag waiting at the front for me. Instead of getting off the plane first because he was sitting in the front he waited just so he could help me with my bag. I KNEW that was an answer to prayer; and it didn’t stop there. I had one more flight and my back was getting tighter from all the sitting. On my next flight a man offered to help me with my bag without even having to ask. As I got off the man behind me helped me out. It was a LONG walk to baggage claim and I was nervous about getting my two 50 pound bags. I took baby steps down the terminal. I couldn’t put my backpack on because I my arms wouldn’t move in that direction. It hurt to pull my carry-on so I tried pushing it with my backpack balanced on top. That didn’t work great either. Without warning a man came up behind me and grabbed my backpack. It startled me at first but the kind look on his face told me he was trying to help. He told me he noticed I was having a hard time and offered to take both my bags and walk me to baggage claim. I was incredibly grateful. I wanted to cry with relief. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised by all the kindness that strangers had shown me, that is what I had prayed for right? Even so I couldn’t believe how perfectly I had been helped. As my two 50 pound bags were lifted onto a cart for me I got a call from Sherry. She had just landed and would be able to help me from here on out.
During the rest of my travel I did what I could to work out the knots in my back. By the time the last plane landed in Mombasa I had all my mobility back and I was no longer in pain. I had never recovered so quickly from hurting my back. I knew it was a gift. There was no other explanation. I was even able to carry a bucket of water on my head from a water hole to a villagers home.
That was just the start of the many amazing things I got to experience because of my trip to Africa. I can’t help but tell some of those stories here so stay tuned!