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Nothing Could Have Prepared Us


by | Sep 11, 2023

Our mission trip to Africa was life-changing. Nothing could have prepared me for what we have seen and experienced over the past 11 days. Thank you all for your prayers, love, and support. Since we couldn’t take you all with us, we truly did bring you with us in our hearts as we traveled across the continent throughout Kenya and Tanzania. We had 30 hours of travel to Africa and 30 hours back, so I had plenty of time to write out a detailed description of what we experienced to share with you.  Tim Enloe has been trying to get us to go on a World Serve mission trip with him for the past few years. Honestly, we didn’t have a burning desire to go, but Tim continued to encourage us to go to Africa with him.

Pastor Todd started feeling like we were supposed to go, so we prayed about it. I felt that the Lord wanted us to do this trip, but I still needed confirmation because I knew it would not be an easy trip. I even placed a fleece before the Lord as a sign that He wanted us to take this trip. Well, it seemed that we would not be going because the thing I had asked the Lord to do, had not happened. Then Tim contacted Todd and shared information with him that was the exact thing I had asked the Lord to do, to confirm that He wanted us to go to Africa.  I’m not sure why, I can only mark it up to discernment, but I knew that this would not be an easy or comfortable trip. I felt a little like Jonah when God wanted him to go to Nineveh, and he tried to avoid it.

Even before the trip, we truly cared about the people of Africa, and we were more than willing to partner with Tim and World Serve to help the people of Africa. Honestly, I was just tired, weary, and not feeling up to a hard, long journey to the remote places of Africa. However, my life is not my own, it belongs to Him, and He had another plan for us that included a mission trip to Africa. I tried to get excited about it, but I couldn’t. Jack Shultz encouraged me over and over that it would be a wonderful trip for me and Todd, even like a second honeymoon. I appreciated his encouragement, and it helped me to not dread the trip; however, I still knew deep down that this was not going to be an easy trip. That proved to be reality.

We left our home at 9:00 am on Tuesday morning, August 29th, and arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, approximately 30 hours later. It was after midnight when we arrived in Nairobi and checked into a hotel along with 6 other couples. Tim and Rochelle Enloe, Jaimie, and Kim Kjos, Chad and Michelle Stoeker, Lacey and Keith Graebel, Shane and Heidi Wilson, Dave and Debbie Mewbourne. We started out the trip really knowing only Tim. We ended the trip with some very dear new friends and co-laborers in the cause of Christ. It’s amazing how going to war on behalf of 1,000s of suffering people on the other side of the world can forge such quick, meaningful deep friendships.  Tim kept talking about how unique trips like this are because we are all alpha leaders who are brought together and really have no control over our itinerary or circumstances. We are forced into a place of radical humility and endurance.

The first day in Nairobi began early with only 4 hours of sleep. We got into jeeps with a new alpha leader taking over. John Bonjourno, the president of World Serve, had a very arduous agenda for our lives while in Nairobi. We bounced and rode for hours and hours down rugged, primitive, dirty, dusty roads to get to the first location of a World Serve watering site. A truck with a massive water tank filled with clean, pure, well water made its way into a primitive village amid the worst poverty, filth, and oppression I have ever seen. Makeshift buildings that were thrown together with old, rotten, decaying boards, rusty pieces of tin, worn, dusty, fragments of canvas or plastic (anything they could find) was used to create a covering for families.

Women and their babies would walk the dusty, dirty roads in the heat of the day, traveling for miles and miles to get a supply of water for their families. They brought plastic barrels that would hold up to 50-70 gallons of water. Then they would place the barrel of water on their head, with babies on their backs, and or walk alongside them back to the makeshift shack that they call home. The water would have to last them for two weeks, so it had to be rationed very carefully. Most of these women and children were wearing clothes that looked like worn-out rags and shoes that were full of holes and barely held together on their feet. Some of them had no shoes. This was a sight that I had never seen in person before. We touched them, hugged them, smiled, and prayed for them. My heart broke over the horrific conditions they were living in. Yet, they were full of gratitude and smiles because they were receiving clean, pure, uncontaminated water.

There seemed to be great joy and relief over the acquisition of this precious, pure water, something that we take for granted. This scene took my breath away, and I knew I would never be the same. The thought of taking baths, showers, and letting water run down the sink as I brush my teeth; seemed so incredulous in light of these extreme circumstances. We had a very long, rough, hot, dusty ride back, and all along the way, we saw miles and miles that seemed to go on forever of slums, poverty, and human suffering like I have never personally witnessed before. I quietly and tearfully watched in horror, praying and asking the Lord what He wanted us to do.

The next day we had another extremely long, dusty, bumpy ride to another remote location where we would visit a Masai school. We drove for hours once again, passing through miles and miles of the worst living conditions I have ever seen to reach this Masai village. The school was something that I would imagine in an episode of The Twilight Zone. It looked like a dilapidated old ghost town from about a hundred years ago that they had made into a school for these Masai children. We took the children practical gifts like a pair of panties for the girls, underwear for the boys, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and feminine napkins for the girls. Their reality is that they are so poor many of them do not have undergarments. The poverty level is so high that the girls do not have feminine hygiene products for their periods. Another mission of World Serve is making the necessary feminine products and bringing them to the girls so that they have what they need. Otherwise, they are forced to take dried cow manure, wrapped in a rag or other material, and use it as a source of absorbing the blood when they menstruate. This leads to disease and infection.

When World Serve learned of one girl’s tragic death, they knew they had to meet this need. She had started her period at school, and the kids made fun of her because it was all over her. She ran home, and her mom made her wash out her only skirt and go back to school. She didn’t want to be made fun of at school, so she hung herself from a tree and never made it back to school or home. World Serve is doing all they can to help these women and children in such horrific poverty conditions. They sew panties and have a small, efficient factory where they produce feminine products and take them to these remote villages for the girls. They also give these girls and boys booklets that explain how much God loves them and the Divine purpose He has created them for.  Pastor Todd and I were able to speak to the children at the Masai school and tell them how much God loves them. We shared a brief message of God’s love and truth with them, and then I had the honor (along with the other women ministers) of blessing each girl, hugging them, and telling them again how loved by God they are. They loved to touch our hair and stare at it with longing due to the fact that they all had shaved heads. I was told that they must keep their heads shaved because of lice.

These children are so precious, and the memory of their beautiful faces will never leave me. When we arrived at the school, they greeted us with a beautiful welcome song, grabbed hold of our hands, and pulled us into their dance. After visiting the school, we departed for our next remote village. The long, bumpy, hot, dirty, dusty jeep rides through squalor, filth, and deplorable conditions, seemed to go on forever. As we drove for hundreds of miles, we saw thousands of people along the roads; many watching us drive by. The emptiness and hopelessness in their eyes were absolutely gripping. As we drove, we also saw zoo animals out in the wild, including giraffes, elephants, boars, zebra, monkeys, and baboons running free. I could not help but think about the fact that the animals in Africa seemed so wild and free, while the people we saw were like prisoners who are bound by poverty and oppression. Many of them live in huts made from animal dung with thatched roofs and dirt floors. We passed by many bomas where one man will live with many wives and the children they bear. The man lives in the best house/hut, and each of his wives must build her own hut for herself and her babies. Most of them are built out of animal dung, twigs, and branches. Their cattle are placed in the middle of the camp as their most valuable possession. The level of deep poverty was something so dark and oppressive that you cannot fathom unless you go and see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, and experience it for yourself.

There was just so much to contemplate as we continued our long journey of hundreds of dusty miles through Nairobi and into Tanzania.  We stayed in tents for two nights, where we were surrounded by eucalyptus trees. This is crazy, but I am extremely allergic to eucalyptus. We have not been around eucalyptus since we moved from San Diego about 18 years ago, so I really don’t think about it much. The thought never occurred to us that we may be surrounded by eucalyptus in Africa. However, we were staying in hot tents in the middle of the jungle with eucalyptus everywhere, and I was miserable. I couldn’t breathe, it felt like my sinuses were completely closed, and my throat was itchy, irritated, and felt like it was closing. My eyes were itchy and watery. My head was throbbing. We had no air, sleeping on the hardest, thin little camping mattress under a mosquito net. We were told that we could not go outside of our tents at night because of the wild animals. All I could do was cry out to God, “Grace, grace, and more grace, Lord! Your grace is sufficient, and I know You’ll see me through.” Yet I will be honest with you and tell you that I was utterly miserable and regretting we had come at that point.

One of the ministers had allergy medications, and I took them all. Praise God! I believe that was an answer to prayer. I took Zyrtec, Sudafed, and Benadryl and finally fell asleep. We woke up the next morning under the mosquito net, on the hard “mattress,” and I thanked the Lord for the relief. Yet, I lay there pondering all we had seen and experienced at that point. That’s when the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He reminded me of a precious time of prayer I had with Him about 3 months ago. He reminded me of what I had said to Him in that time of prayer. It came back to me with crystal clear clarity. “Lord, I am so sorry for all of the times that I come to You, expecting You to do my bidding.” I continued to tell Him that I was sorry for how we so often come to Him with so many of our requests; and things that we are asking Him to do for us. I remembered so well that I had told Him, “Lord, we are here to do YOUR BIDDING. So please show us what YOU want us to do for You.” I was deeply convicted as I recalled that time of prayer, and I knew very well that we were in those tents, in the middle of the jungle, experiencing poverty and oppression as we had never seen, and even suffering through severe allergies amid it…because we were there on His bidding. He had called us to this hard trip with a Divine purpose because we needed to see and experience the suffering of people as we had never seen before. I lay there under the mosquito net with tears running down my cheeks.  For months the Lord has been teaching me and speaking to me about radical humility. I realize now that this trip was another, deeper lesson bringing me personally to a new level of radical humility. Throughout the remainder of the trip, He spoke to me repeatedly about radical humility. Radical humility is not optional, it is mandatory for each of us, and the road to getting there is hard, painful, rocky, bumpy, rough, and requires greater sacrifice.

The lessons I have learned on this 11-day mission trip have been astounding. Truly, it seems that I went to Africa one way, but I’m coming back different.  Each day began early in order to make the lengthy journey to other remote locations. Therefore, sleep was something we did very little on this trip. We made another long, dusty, bouncy trip to the site of a newly dug and established water well that would provide clean, pure water to thousands of people in another remote location. The amazing thing about this water well is that they built a small metal building next to it that would be a place of worship for Christians and a well of Living Water for thirsty souls. World Serve’s vision is to continue to dig wells of water to satisfy the physical need for pure water and, at the same time, plant churches and pastors at the wells to provide Living Water to satisfy their thirsty souls.  Pastor Jaimie Kjos from Detroit preached the dedication service for that particular water well and church site. Once again, the deep poverty and need was so great that it is difficult to describe it. Yet the people came in and worshipped Jesus and praised Him for the miracle of fresh water.

The following day was another long journey in jeeps to our final World Serve Well and Church. That service was the very first service to ever be held in this newly built church. Pastor Todd was asked to preach the dedication service for this new church and water well. He spoke about the woman in Samaria who came to the well with her water pots to get water. He shared about how she came to get water for her physical thirst, and she received so much more than just water from the well. She met Jesus, the Messiah, Who satisfied her spiritual thirst and set her free from her past. What a powerful message it was to the thirsty souls who were with us at the newly established church and water well that day. We also learned that before the church was built, a demon-possessed woman had come to that very well to get water, and she was delivered of demons and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The people had been meeting under a tree next to the water well until the new church building was completed. People walked for miles and miles under the hot African sun and through the dirty, dusty, dry terrain. Another interesting experience we had was little children coming up to us and trying to take our watches off our wrists and get into the men’s pockets to get their wallets. These families are desperate for water, food, provision, and for Jesus.

World Serve is a great mission organization that is meeting an enormous need. Because of World Serve, the community is now served by a water well and has an attractive church facility at its center, with a parsonage for the pastor, a preschool, and a sports court to reach the youth of the village.  This trip was ordained by God and was by far the most arduous ministry trip we have ever been on. Our eyes have been opened to the incredible need, devastating oppression, human suffering, and abject poverty in Nairobi, Kenya, and Tanzania. The Lord had to get us there to see the need and hear His voice calling on Radiant Church to dig deeper into our own wells in order to provide clean water and bring Living Water to the suffering people in Africa. We adopted a group of people and a new remote location where Radiant will be providing fresh water and Living water. You will hear more about that project in the weeks ahead.  We will NEVER BE THE SAME after this experience. The past 11 days have been extremely eye-opening and life-changing. We came home filled with fresh empowerment from Heaven, fresh vision, fresh fire, deeper gratitude, and deeper love for each of you and for the church. God is doing something new and significant. He’s preparing all of us for this new season we have entered. We are so grateful for each of you as we continue to move forward in making a greater impact around the world.


Pastor Kelly

Written by Kelly Hudnall

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