She went from America to Africa. Her name is Kelsey Farmer and she is part of Covenant Mercies staff.
Kelsey performs day to day operations in Covenant Mercies home office of Glen Mills, PA, but last summer she saw the work Covenant Mercies is doing in Uganda. Having to reconcile two separate worlds, the experience was one of new vision for Kelsey. I interviewed her about this experience:
Explain what God did there in you and through you.
I really didn't know what to expect going into that trip, as it was my first mission trip. I wasn't prepared for how physically and emotionally draining it would be or how hard the culture shock would be. I'm not going to pretend it was easy. Every day was a battle to find strength to work another long and hard day, a battle to not be homesick, a battle to not feel completely out of place in a country that was so different from my own. I don’t think anything can prepare you for the poverty, filth, or stark contrast from our culture that faces you as you step off that plane. Needless to say, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
With all that said, there is not any other place I have felt more welcomed, more at peace, and more joy-filled than that little town of Kiburara. Even in that remote village, God was ever present. To say they were all smiles would be an understatement. They weren’t just joyful -- they were content, grateful, humble, and so very generous.
As each day came and we met more and more people it was apparent that their joy did not come from what they owned or their status in society, as many find happiness in our culture, No, their joy came from the Savior, in whom they knew they had everything they needed. Though they “lacked” so much in the world’s standards, they had everything. Their joy came from inward, not outward, abundance.
Surrounded by this joy, it was not difficult to catch it. I was affected by their total dependence on God and His providence. This dependence also did not produce fear. No, it produced freedom. This little community fully embodied Psalm 62:5-6 where it says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God alone; my hope comes from him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”
It humbled me. It showed me how much I have, yet how I can be so easily ungrateful and lack contentment. It showed me the importance of true dependence on God and how that is what should shape my attitude and outlook on life. It showed me that true joy is not found in possession or status, but in our Savior.
After your trip how did your office (behind the scenes) job affect you? Did you view it differently? How so?
After coming back from this trip I had to fight the desire to immediately pack up and go live my life in Africa. I thought that was the answer to this burning desire God had placed in my heart for these communities, these children in Africa. I laughed at the thought that He was patiently waiting for me to realize I already had a place here, in America, where I could do all that and more.
As I got back into the swing of things I started to realize my role here is just as important as the role of our staff in Africa. The work I am doing here is enabling them to serve the children. Because of my unique experience I can see how much of a difference this organization makes for these children. With new vision, I see the importance of everyone’s role and how much a sponsor actually does for a child. I know the effect this organization has on a child’s future. Not only that, but also the eternal effects this organization has on each child and family that enter into our programs; how each child is being exposed daily to the Gospel. I am in awe of God’s kindness in giving me a job like this and privileged that He would use me and my gifts to serve this organization.
Would you go back? Why?
Definitely. Without a doubt, yes. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Every part of it -- the time, the money, the energy. While I know God has me here working for a purpose, I pray that one day I can go back -- either to the same place or maybe somewhere new!
Would you encourage others to go? Why?
Definitely. Without a doubt, yes. I have had multiple people ask me whether it would be wiser to just donate money to an organization and not go on a mission trip themselves. While I do understand the concerns behind this question, I would encourage anyone to go if the opportunity arises. Yes, you might not be able to change the world in 8 days, but you don’t realize the impact it will have on you or those you are visiting. I remember being so humbled by all the people who couldn’t stop thanking us for taking our time to come all the way to them. I was confused, because I thought we should be the ones thanking them for letting us come. But they would stop us and insist on giving us gifts and blessing us for the way that we served them.
Countless people said that trips from people like us were the highlights of their year, encouraging them greatly towards pressing on and having faith. I felt like our work there didn’t even classify as a “drop in the bucket” in the world’s standards, but to those we visited it seemed like the greatest gift we could give to them. We all experienced a taste of heaven, in that little community, that is talked about in Revelation 7: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” If the perfect opportunity arises for you, do not hesitate. It could be one of the best decisions you will ever make!