Barnabas Goes on Assignment: Kipkaren, Kenya

We here at Barnabas Clothing Co. took up our own challenge to live A Life Worth Imitating, to make the world a little better in our own small way. Since we started in 2010, a portion of all our sales have gone to support the Living Room International's work. It has been our dream for some time, to do more, to actually go and experience the healing and powerful work of The Living Room. But we didn't only want to experience, we wanted to give more. We wanted to support and serve. So we sent ourselves on our own assignment to Kipkaren, Kenya to do just that.

After about 40 hours of traveling we arrived at The Living Room. The staff greeted us with songs, hugs, and had us a plant a tree on the grounds to remember our visit. Their warmth and hospitality made us quickly feel like we were part of their family. The expansion of The Living Room's land and services over the last few years inspired us; we are so excited that we can be part of such a profound and meaningful organization. The grounds are now 18 acres that serve as more than just a hospice, but they are also actively building and bettering their entire community by providing electricity, clean water, jobs, and even education.

We were able to spend a great deal of time with the staff and guests of the Kimbilio Hospice (the name of the building on The Living Room grounds that serves as the hospice). The staff is made up of incredibly talented, compassionate, and skilled individuals who touched us with their stories, and their commitment to serve in a community that would otherwise be forgotten about. We spent many hours with the guests of Kimbilio, playing games, making crafts, coloring, and just sitting together. The memories we created with each of them, will be treasured in our hearts for years to come. And even though we were only able to spend what seemed like a few short days at Kimbilio, our last afternoon was filled with singing songs in Swahili together, and tearful goodbyes.

Our family and friends helped us raise enough funds to bring 75 backpacks filled with school supplies, hygiene kits, and other necessities to the children of the community that surrounds The Living Room. During our stay in Kipkaren, we were able to visit many homes and give backpacks to children who are connected to The Living Room in some way, a few were even former patients. It was an incredible experience for all of us. The kids would light up like they were receiving gifts on Christmas morning. The families, who we were privileged and honored to meet, warmly welcomed us into their homes, and even though we didn't speak the same language, would often insist that we stay for a meal, or at least a cup of chai.

So what's next? We can't wait to share more stories about the individuals we met in Kenya. Each child who received a backpack had such a powerful impact on us, and we saw how something that seemed so small to us, can make a huge difference. The Living Room is changing their community by bringing electricity, water, jobs, and we hope one day, high speed internet access. Our goal is to continue giving to the revolutionary programs The Living Room offers, and to visit The Living Room in years to come to encourage and support all that they do. With each shirt we sell, we hope that people will tell the story of The Living Room, and continue to help us give back to their amazing work.

The Kenyan people we met were such incredible examples of how to treat others with kindness, openness, and hospitality. They do not worry about appointment times, or agendas, but simply spending time with people and sharing stories, life and a cup of chai. They modeled to us A Life Worth Imitating in how they put people first. In our fast paced society of smart phones, social media, traffic, and jam packed schedules, we too often forget that the people we meet are the most important thing, and that how we love others can change the world.

We realize that we do not have to travel to Kenya to make a difference. We can make a difference in our own backyard. So, even though we have hopes of returning to Kenya again, we know that each day we can make the world better by showing others the kindness, compassion, and warmth that the Kenyan people showed to us. And so, as we have returned from Africa, our assignment continues. We hope to continue to be agents of change and people of encouragement right here at home. We challenge you to find your own assignment, an assignment to make the world better in your own small way, whether it's on the other side of the world, or right next door.