Audra Leichleiter, Nebraska, USA
Audra with her new friend Esther
Since I traveled to Uganda a few years back, I thought my 2015 trip to Kenya would be similar and my previous trip would prepare me for what was to come. As far as climate and necessities to pack were concerned, I wasn't too far off. But emotionally, there was no way I could have prepared my heart for the weeks to come.
As an aspiring photographer, I was excited to share my gift and do some photo journalism for Bruce and Tammy so they could simply enjoy their trip while I documented it for them. I was typically on the outside looking in, often hiding behind my camera. But on a trip to a prison in Kitale, Kenya, I was forced to leave my "security blanket" in the vehicle and simply be a part of the trip like the rest of the group.
At the men's prison, I remember us (a group of about 10 Americans and 10 Africans) sitting in front of over 1000 imprisoned men who had shear joy on their faces because we had chosen to spend a few hours of our trip with them. One man told us how thankful he was that we didn't stay in Nairobi like most tourists to stay at the fancy hotels and just see all of the wildlife Kenya has. He said he was thankful we chose to spend our time ministering to them instead. It touched me in a place I hadn't been touched in many years.
After the men's prison, we did the same at the women's prison a few yards away and it was there that Bruce asked me to share my testimony with the women. My eyes must have gotten quite big with surprise as I searched my brain and memories for what I should say. I decided I would share a poem I had written for a college class shortly after my husband left me. The poem was entitled," In You Lord, I will." After I shared my testimony and the poem, the head guard told me that the poem had touched her and she requested a copy for the women to read daily. I cried as I had never been so honored in my short life.
Later in the week in Webuye, I met with a woman named Esther. She had also been deserted by her husband but he left her with four beautiful children and health problems. It put my situation into perspective. No matter how bad we think we have it in life, there is always someone who has it worse, or at least can relate.
The trip to Kenya changed my mind, it touched my heart, and it affected my soul in a way words simply cannot describe. The work that Bruce, Tammy, Nathan, Pastor Alex, Lorna, Wilkister, and all of the others involved with New Beginnings is beyond measurable. They continue to ask God to provide finances, and He continues to provide through special people willing to reach out and help those in need.