Taylor’s Story: Heartbreak to Joy

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Sponsorship, Stories

Taylor Norsworthy and her family were one of the first to become a part of our sponsorship program after it launched in 2009. Since then, their support has continued to grow. Here, Taylor shares the personal story of how the sponsorship program helped her through heartbreak and how it has made a difference in her life and the life of her family. We are so thankful for their support and Taylor’s willingness to share this story with us.

Friday, October 12, 2007: I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day my heart became overwhelmed and in love. It was the day my son was born. It was the day I learned for the first time what unconditional love really felt like. The first time my eyes focused on this amazing creature God made I knew right away how much God loved me, or at least I got a glimpse. I’ve learned since then that God’s love for me is just simply incomparable and really how amazing is that! It was also the day I fell in love with the idea of a bigger family, a close family, a family to love, and a family to care for. Truthfully, I never in a million years would have said anything like that before that very day. That day changed my life forever.

As time passed, I grew content and more in love with my little family. October 12th didn’t instantly change me, but my more selfless dreams and goals brightened, and God’s plan
for me became more evident. For now, I was to be a mother. That was my new dream.
It is human nature to want more of a good thing and so, just like that, I wanted
more children.

August 1, 2008 was the start of a waiting game and the start of my struggle with God. Secondary infertility entered my life and took me on yet another emotional roller coaster.  It is a sensitive topic that I have found very few like to discuss, unless they have been there and eventually been blessed with a child. Those not going through infertility don’t know what to say to you and, honestly, you end up feeling alone. I was confused, hurt, and frustrated with God because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I didn’t want to hear about God blessing others with children.

In December 2009, I hit rock bottom in depression. Not the sort of depression where I wanted to take my life, but the sort where tears were the only makeup on my face. Sobbing seemed to be my new hobby and life just felt meaningless. It was during this time that I forgot how good I had it. I forgot I had a husband who loved me, who took care of us, and because of it I was able to be a stay-at-home mom. I forgot about my son. I forgot how amazing he was because I was so focused on the child that didn’t exist.

It wasn’t until after the New Year (January 2010) that life began to have meaning and I began to listen to God again. Sitting in our living room with my laptop in hand, I remember scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and coming across a post from an old friend pertaining to Village Project Africa. I went to their page to check it out and immediately felt drawn to it. I literally sat there for what seemed like forever, just reading and learning everything I could about it. It was certainly then, and more so now, that I realized Village Project Africa was a Godsend.  You see, my heart changed again that day. I was lifted from this depression that bound me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe and I began to really understand the line that people kept tossing me “in God’s timing.”   The tears stopped.

It was shortly after the 5th of February, 2010 that I received a picture and information about sweet little David, a third grader at the time and one of the first students at Heritage Academy.  I really don’t know how to explain it (as I now have tears welling in my eyes just thinking about it), but looking at David’s photograph was reminiscent of the time I first laid eyes on my own flesh and blood. What was initially about me feeling lead to give and to help a child drastically changed the moment I locked eyes with a photograph of a smiley little boy I had never met and still haven’t met almost three years later.  David immediately became a part of our little family and from there it grew.

LeviWe now sponsor five children in Makutano and, God willing, we will reach our goal of twelve children by the end of the year (2012). David, Metrine, Belvin, Nicanary, and Francis now have pictures hanging on a wall of our home to symbolize the part of our family that they are and to serve as a constant reminder to pray for them every day. Our son is learning their names and has taken so much from this experience. He doesn’t think of them as siblings, and still has a desire to have a brother as great as my desire is to give him one, but he is learning through this experience that God loves everyone no matter what they look like and he is learning to give and to pray for others.

It’s been four years, 2 months, and several weeks now that I’ve dealt with secondary infertility and as much as my heart still desires to have more children, I no longer have an open wound. I’m open completely to God’s timing.  God is so amazing in the way he brings the absolute last thing you would ever think of to your aid. To think God used kids so far away to  “fix” me and help take such a burden away is just so remarkable, impressive, and so God. 

FamilyBeing a part of VPA has blessed my family and me more than I feel we could ever bless our sponsored children financially. The whole experience has been incredible and I cannot wait for the day when we get to meet these special kids face-to-face. Now, the businesswoman in me wants to make money to change more lives!

In Him,

Taylor 

Campbell’s Story: Lessons Learned

Written by lauren. Posted in Stories

Campbell Darby was only thirteen when he took his first trip to Kenya. His life was changed and impacted by the people he met while there—the connections he created and the lessons he learned will last a lifetime.

Campbell and childIn 2008, my family and I took our first trip to Makutano, Kenya.  I looked on it then, in the beginning at least, as just a vacation—somewhere fun, exciting, and new. I had no idea how much this one trip would change and shape my life as well as the way I saw the world, and how lucky we are to live in a country as prosperous
as America.

I have since been back to Kenya twice and each time, I am amazed to see how far things have come and how much work God has done there.  I went there to help them, whether
it was with school, or delivering chickens for a family in need.  But I feel now that it is
they who have helped me; I was given opportunities to see things that most people never have, or never will.

Many times I have looked back on my trips to Kenya and have been amazed at how much they were willing to give.  Those people who had so little, and yet would give it all away, in some cases to people they barely knew.  Others have demonstrated the importance of hard work and perseverance.  Nixon, Mama, and Davis, would be great examples of this.  In one of these cases, we now have only memories to show us and to remind us of the truly important things in life, and just how far hard work and a good attitude can take us. 

Going Home

Written by admin. Posted in Stories, Village Project Africa

A new regular contributor to the Village Project Africa blog, Stephanie Lewis Williams reflects on her experiences in Kenya and on what it means to come home again after
those experiences.

I recently read a book by Alexandra Fuller, who grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Malawi, and Zambia.  She lives in Wyoming now and occasionally returns to her home in Africa.  Her book, Scribbling the Cat, includes a beautiful passage about coming back to America after spending time in Africa:

 “It should not be physically possible to get from the banks of the Pepani River [in Zambia] to Wyoming in less than two days, because mentally and emotionally it is impossible. The shock is too much, the contrast too raw. We should sail or swim or walk from Africa, letting bits of her drop out of us, and gradually, in this way, assimilate the excesses of the States in tiny, incremental sips, maybe touring up through South America and Mexico before trying to stomach the land of the Free and the Brave”  (p. 72).

 I have visited Makutano, Kenya, three times over the past three years.  For me, it is easy to go to Makutano yet difficult to return to America.  It takes me a couple of weeks or so to get used to life here again, and I have always wondered exactly why—why is the shock too much as Fuller describes?  Part of the answer is that life is busy and moves fast here in America, and once you have danced to a different beat, it is hard to speed up again.  We also have an overabundance of choices for food and other daily activities compared to a small Kenyan village, and we tend to complain about things that seem meaningless from the perspective of rural Kenya.  When you own just one tattered outfit and no shoes, having a perfectly manicured lawn or a newer car is just not significant. 

 Ox and cartBut I believe there is more to the story.  In Kenya, I feel closer to the earth – the buildings are made of mud, the roads unpaved, the main course for dinner fresh from the backyard.  The “layer” of asphalt and plastic and packaging that covers so much of life in America is diminished or absent in Kenya.  There is less to hide behind.  Somehow and in some way, Africa seems to touch and connect with a deeper part of me – of all of us.  I am reminded too that the earliest humans originated in this part of the world.  Perhaps that is why Africa almost feels more like “home.”  Letting go of that experience when returning to America is challenging.  Next time, I may take Alexandra Fuller’s advice and return in a far more gradual way.  Maybe it will help.

Judy’s Story: God’s Love Shines Through

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Sponsorship, Stories

Judy Princell visited the village for the first time this past summer and was immediately drawn in by the people and the way she saw God working around her. Here she shares some of her thoughts on her experiences.

Judy with childrenI wish everyone could have the paradigm shifting  experience of visiting the village  and knowing, even for a short time, these wonderful, bright, courageous people. Ten of us were blessed to spend two weeks with Margaret and Davis and the children, families, and teachers in the village.  We were met by some of the children on our first afternoon with bouquets of flowers and special songs they had rehearsed for us. We were blessed to be guests at Pastor Joseph and Mary’s wedding the next day—an all day affair and a truly unique experience. We were able to visit with some of the children in their homes, and this was one of the times God used us for one of his miracles. There was a badly burned  baby girl in the compound, and  because we were there and met this family, Margaret and Davis took  her to the hospital and her life was saved.

The most precious memories I have of the village are the amazing stories we heard
from some of the mothers, from Pastor Joseph and Mary, from Davis and many others. God’s love always shines through. I could tell you story after story about the miracles
that we heard and saw in the short time we were in the village—all because of God’s wonderful timing. 

My two little sponsored girls, Mercy and Joan, are bright, beautiful children who I pray will have a better chance to grow up and achieve their goals because of Heritage Academy!

Cassidy’s Story: Reflections

Written by shelly. Posted in Missions, Stories

After Cassidy Clasen’s most recent trip to Makutano, she wanted to summarize what her experiences had been and what they meant to her. Here are her reflections:

CassidyThis is my attempt to sum up my trip this year to Kenya. Warning: I may cry. You won’t see it (lucky you!) but I hope you feel my heart for this place. Ok, here we go.

“How was it?” Oh my… How can I answer that? It was too good to be true—I cannot believe how blessed I am to see these beautiful and blessed people two years in a row. All I keep thinking is that I need to go back. How can I get back? Does God want me to live there? Is that why I feel like I belong there when I’m there, and that I’m just not satisfied here? There have been some really hard days coming home… But then I remember those kids’ singing voices and dancing bodies and can’t stop smiling. Do I really have the right to be mad that I have to go back upstairs to get something? I am blessed to be able to go up the stairs, and to have something to get from upstairs. But last year was such a life-changing trip, I never thought that I could love them any more, or another trip would be better. How wrong
I was.

You know how they say “the more the merrier?” Yeah, that’s how this feels. I just want to share it with the world… And yet, I kind of want to keep it to myself. This year, Margaret and Davis and me and Mom and Haley got to share this beautiful village with seven others. And so many things happened.

Fist bumpingWe got flowers from some of the kids that were sponsored, we got to see a wedding (dear friends of ours, no less!), we attended a church service, we saw people’s homes, we experienced what it means to have a car break down on a pot-holey road in what seems like the middle of nowhere, yet the middle of everywhere. We experienced the patience of children who aren’t on a tight schedule (at least until there’s rain), and the joy of one thousand Christmas mornings all wrapped up in one afternoon, in bags and pencils and washcloths and 400 kids’ faces. We read to kids and taught them, and we played with them. There were so many things that I can’t even describe.

I know that God is everywhere, but MAN I can see it in even the three- and four-year-olds’ faces. From that age all the way to 95 years old, everyone has UNSPEAKABLE joy. I began sponsoring another child… I don’t know how I will come up with the money, but all I can say is that GOD WILL PROVIDE. I will do anything I have to if it means that I will go to Makutano, Kenya again. As these tears stream Cassidy with kidsdown my face, I am confident that, by the will of God, I will now do whatever it is that He wants me to do. Because He can take me to the other side of the world in His hands, He can take me anywhere in His hands. I never imagined being impacted so much. But it does not feel different—this is most certainly my life now. My love and appreciation for Village Project Africa is growing, and can only do that.

I constantly miss the little kids I sponsor through VPA, and their sweet faces, along with the laughter in of the kids who see their faces on the display screen of a camera. That is how I remember them: by their smiles, laughs, handshakes, and hugs. Their sweet, lovely voices, and their quiet natures (or their smiley ones). 

Dear God,

As everyone here prays for the Kenyan people, please give them knowledge that we are praying for them. I think about them every day, and I don’t know if my longing can ever be satisfied unless You help me. I pray that I always look towards you in everywhere I go, and that You watch over all Your children. Thank You for a loving hand when needed, and a protective hand in all different journeys. I love You so much, and help me keep my eyes on You and You alone. Thank You for all of Your provisions– too long of a list for me to even think of them all. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray and believe, Amen.

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