We have had an amazing two days in Nairobi. Not a moment has gone wasted, so in many ways it feels like we've already been here a week! Upon arriving, we took a mutatu to a restaurant for a great time of fellowship with some of my best friends, and dreaming with God about the possibilities of bringing transformation to East Africa. It was one of those nights where life just seems to good to be true. I'm still amazed at the goodness of God, the way he has enriched our lives beyond what I could have ever dreamed up on my own, all on the other side of taking that leap of faith when we first decided to follow the Lord into the unknown.
We checked into our hotel, got to bed around 1:00, and were up at 5:30 to shower and prep for the youth who where traveling in from the rural areas. We had a good sized conference room and wanted to set it up to make these kids feel really cared for. They all had name tags, brochures, notebooks, t-shirts, pens, and pictures, and customized packets. The 13 kids who came from Kenya were obviously EXTREMELY poor. I was taken aback by how quiet and insecure they were when they arrived.
The Ugandan students from our Institute in East Africa were clearly more confident and willing to interact with us, and with the material we were presenting. It was encouraging to see the results that learning the Bible has had in their lives, but the contrast of the Kenyan youth was really sad. Some were just VERY shy, but some were clearly underdeveloped and malnourished, unable to engage and think critically.
One youth in particular really broke my heart, and left a lasting impression on me. His name is Arnold. He is 18 years old, but so malnourished that he could pass for 12. While sharing breakfast together, he told me that he hopes to someday leave his father's farm to become a "software engineer." The hard reality is that this will most likely never happen. Arnold is a potent reminder of the injustice that exists in our world.
While sharing about our organization, I had to choke down tears to compose myself as I stood before the over 30 youth in attendance at the summit. Most of them would weigh at least double their current weight if they had grown up in the U.S.
It's these kinds of experiences that fuel my desire to master the art of growing food. In my occupation of small scale farming, it's very easy to allow a desire for success to creep in and overshadow my calling: to serve the poor. In the States, growing for market is centered around maximizing efficiency and profit, but if that becomes my central pursuit, it quickly spirals into yet another form of idolatry. Arnold's face is now seared into my mind.
Back in Hopewell, we are currently developing a model for sustainable egg production with 100 hens. Kids like Arnold are the reason we do what we do. All the youth we are here with have been deprived of the nutrients that they needed to develop properly. The nutrition in eggs would have made a huge difference, even helping their brains get the proper fatty acids they need. I do what I do for Arnold, and the youth here, and the children who suffer needlessly in a world where there's plenty, yet their plates are empty.
I'm so thankful for this time I have had with Arnold. I have felt the Lord's presence so near, renewing my passion and realigning the motivation of my heart. I do what I do so kids like him will have access to a healthy diet - which is their God given right as human beings.