I changed hotel rooms 3 times to get a toilet that flushed.  I slept on a board (I think they called it a bed) with a pillow that felt like Styrofoam.  I didn’t take a hot shower in 10 days.  But even with all that, my trip to Kenya to visit Suncreek’s ZOE working group was the most incredible trip I’ve ever undertaken.  I can’t wait to go back.

Grateful, devout, inspiring….these are the words that come to mind when thinking of the orphans I met who have benefited from the ZOE ministry in Kenya.  Before arriving I was secretly skeptical that in 3 years an orphan who was destitute could learn a life skill and be able to support a family.  What I witnessed there was nowhere short of a miracle—scratch that, many miracles.  The amazing thing about the program is how much hope can be accomplished from such a small financial investment. 

Take Caroline-with an $85 starter kit from ZOE she was provided a sink and blow dryer to start a salon.  I will always remember the glow on her face as she told us about ZOE helping her get started.  She now has such a thriving business she bought the land next door to expand her salon.  She was so overjoyed to see us, she ran to get Cokes for all of us! 

ZOE gave Faith a small grant to open a kiosk—she called it a one-stop shop.  She sells snacks, Cokes and baked goods made by another orphan in the Glory working group supported by SUMC.  She shares working space with a Glory member who has begun a tailoring business.  Faith said her dream is to be successful enough to help other orphans.

Josephine was 15 and supporting 2 younger siblings when ZOE came into her life.  The Glory working group voted for her to be the recipient of the house we helped to build.  “I never, ever, in my wildest dreams thought I would have a house with a concrete floor,” she said. 

It is hard to narrow down my reflections because each story we heard was both heartfelt and heart wrenching at the same time.  However, there was a common theme in each story…through ZOE and their working group they now have a family and a support group to help them with the traumatic circumstances they find themselves in.  They are no longer alone.

I still thank God every time I take a hot shower and crawl into my comfortable bed, but witnessing these miracles in person was worth the inconveniences and definitely worth the investment Suncreek has made in ZOE Ministry.

-Melinda

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