It was an adventure of a lifetime for 11 youth from Grunthal, as they spent two-weeks this July in Kenya.

Heather Neufeld from the Abundant Life Church in Grunthal says, "the purpose of the trip was to visit some communities in the area just north of Nairobi, Kenya. We wanted to encourage them and do door to door ministry and really encourage the community."  

Neufeld says prior to the pandemic, their church would take youth groups every other year and would include only grade 11 and 12 students. This year however, she says, “because there was such a large gap between the last time our church did a trip and then COVID, a lot of the kids didn't have a chance. So, we opened it up all the way from 15 to 18 yrs old, and included last years grade 12’s as well.” 

“This way everyone was able to come and we had a really good group of kids. We spent an entire year getting ready for the trip. We started really meeting together in the fall 2021. They met regularly, doing discipleship classes with us all the way until we left.” 

Neufeld says with her past experience on the continent she knew what to expect, but the youth felt a little different. “it was incredibly humbling for them. Just to see that incredible hospitality of the people. They were so giving and just so welcoming to us which was something that we're not used to here, even with family and friends, people aren't going to give you the last little bit of food that they have. And that was happening for us and I think that was really special for the kids and it was a real life lesson for them.” 

Heather Neufeld with a Kenyan guide. Heather Neufeld with a new Kenyan friend. (Photo credit: Heather Neufeld) 

Neufeld shares a story of that generosity.  "In one of the Maasai villages that we visited, well, there really hadn't been a lot of foreigners visiting there before and one of them was right on the border of Tanzania and Kenya and in that particular village they did not have a latrine. So, when our Host informed the members of the church that we were going to be coming to visit them, they organized the work crew and they built a latrine for us."

Neufeld continues, because they hadn’t had rain six-months, the ground was rock hard. “It took a lot of effort to build that latrine. It had walls. It even had a toilet paper holder, which is just unheard of that far in the bush and they built it specifically for us. They would not have had that there if it had not been for us coming."

"What really blew my mind was that they had a hand-washing station outside of the latrine with water and soap and I asked the host, like "Where did the water come from ?" Because I haven't seen a well in, you know, we've been driving for hours and I haven't seen well. And he said, "Oh, they actually had to hike into Tanzania, so across no man's land into Tanzania Upper mountain, down a pit that is 30 meters deep, 30 meters, not feet meters. To get water out of a little spring that's in the middle of the mountain. And then hand-bucket it up, there's a like a brigade, you know, pass it out, and then that's how they got the water for us to wash our hands. And that just absolutely blew me away because, like, we all travel with, like, copious amounts of hand sanitizer at this point in life we did not need a hand washing station. And yet, they cared so much and they wanted us to feel so welcome that they did that for us. It was really special and you know, they brought all that water over, they made us food."

Neufeld tells another story of the giving spirit they experienced. "In one small community they visited. They literally gave us the last little bit of food that they had. Each of us got a plate with some broth, half of a small potato and one bite of goat meat on it, and that was it, because that's all they had to give. As they gave it to us and it was just not only humbling, but just an active service and an act of love for us. They wanted to show us how appreciative they were for us coming and listening to their stories and praying with them."

"And I think that's something we can all learn. How to give of ourselves sacrificially, so that others may feel blessed. We didn't need that. They knew we didn't need that, but yet they wanted to bless us and so they did.” 

It was an eye opening experience for the youth, but they also realized how blessed we really are here in Canada. Neufeld says, one of the things they talked about in their debriefing meetings after their return home as, realizing just how much food is wasted in our country. “Like a Summer Camp, you know, kids take the food and then they don't eat it and, they were just like, “Oh my word, so much food gets wasted here. Or they be driving with someone and someone else would say, “Oh man, the roads are so bad” and the youth are like “you have no idea”. So, their eyes have been open to a different reality. You know what we think is tough here, in comparison to Kenya, really isn't.” 

When it came to their travel arrangements and the way everything worked out, Neufeld says, “I was shocked. God just opened doors for us."

"When we booked all these tickets, we were told that we would need to take numerous tests. But just 2 weeks before we left, the USA dropped their requirements, so we did not have to tests on any of our journey. At all. Which was fantastic. It saved us a lot of money and time and stress.” 

“We enjoyed our trip for the most part. For a lot of the kids, it was the first time they've been on a plane, so that was kind of exciting for them.” 

“I think the most stressful part of our whole trip was the fact that we were traveling with a set of identical twins, and the US facial recognition system couldn't tell them apart. So that was very interesting. We had never considered that that would be a thing. I always figured that system was pretty advanced, well, apparently, it's not.” 

All in all, Neufeld says, "We just spent some time really just listening to peoples stories and praying for them. It was just an amazing time."

Photo Gallery with images taken by Heather Neufeld in Kenya. There are several images with the local residents, one of the guard protecting us from hippos on our bush walk and one of two Maasai Elders in the village that built us the latrine. The gentleman on the left is the elder who donated the land for the church building.

"Go Forth"  Mission Trip to Kenya 2022Grunthal Youth mission trip to Kenya. The village that built the latrine for the Canadian visitors.