It did not take a physician to determine that something was wrong with the man’s legs. As I gazed down upon swollen toes and gnarled legs, my mind wandered and I found myself back in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport embarking on the journey of my life. I had been invited to accompany a Baylor medical mission team to Kenya, Africa, an opportunity that few high school students have. I did not think it was possible to cram a lifetime’s experiences into a three-week mission trip, but I was wrong.
It was as if Emirates equipped their airplanes with time machines. I had left behind computers the size of books, devices that allow for conversations with someone on the other side of the world, and restaurants that serve fresh food in minutes. In Kenya I saw scenery instead of a computer screen, had real conversations instead of text messages, and ate the best bananas that have ever crossed my lips instead of that fat-saturated meal at McDonald’s. I can summarize my experience in Kenya with one phrase: I was wrong.
I was wrong to think that the people of Kenya would be dejected at their situation, bitter about their poverty. The contentment of people living in mud huts and eating only what they were lucky enough to grow awed and challenged me. I was ashamed to think that I was more upset over not getting the next iPhone than the children in Kenya were over not having a meal to eat. The memory of this is enough to dissuade me from a meal at a fast food restaurant; after all, ten dollars is enough to send Brian, an orphan I sponsor in Kenya, to school for a month.
I was wrong to think we Americans had life figured out. I have never seen anyone as happy as Georg, a patient at the clinic, when we gave him a pair of reading glasses. I found myself wondering when the last American child was as happy over a Christmas present as Georg was happy that he could finally read his bible. I do not understand why I get upset when I am asked to clean my room, when children in Kenya are happy to have a one-room shelter to share with six other siblings.
As I sat in a primitive medical clinic eight thousand miles from home, my reality was changed. I had come to help, but instead the Kenyans taught me that contentment is formed in community and not things. They showed me how petty my complaints about life were and showed me how I should truly live. They have nothing on the outside, yet inside the people of Kenya is a fire of joy that cannot be drowned by any deluge. I need that fire.
Greg Hoy- Baylor ’17