Let the Journey begin

Stories. They offer encouragement, perspective, unity, and, most importantly, glimpses of the work our God is up to. We enjoy sharing the stories we have heard or taken part in, because it offers a connection between our projects and you. We are about to set sail into a new season of Journey and we are eager to begin introducing this year's team to you! Before that, I would like to share one last story from 2012. This story captures the journey of one of our 2012 interns, Jakeb Stuntz, and I invite you to ask God what he has for you in this story. It's a beautiful thing to hear the Lord through the work he has done in another's life. Visit us tomorrow as we begin introducing our 2013 team. Enjoy!

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One of the main things God showed me on my Journey with Choose to Invest was that He is always there. He meets me where I’m at. He doesn’t run ahead and set a bar for me to try and jump to reach for. He walks with me. In my dark times, the valleys in life that you don’t think you will ever come out of. He also walks with me over the summits of the highest mountains, the peaks where you can’t explain the peace and grace and joy.

I experienced both of these in a period of a day.

Just a bit of background before I go on. I’ve been to Kenya twice before with 410 Bridge and Brazos Pointe Fellowship, of which both times we went to a community called Segera (about an hours drive outside of Nanyuki under the magnificent Mt. Kenya). I fell in love with Masai culture, the people, the traditions, the spirit and atmosphere of the children at Endana Primary School and the deep wisdom of the adults and teachers. Both times I left God continually put that area of Kenya on my heart and before long I was constantly longing to go to what had quickly become my favorite place on Earth. So it’s no wonder when Cody told us we’d get to spend a few days in Segera, I was pumped! Word spread to one of my best friends, Zach (who was also on Journey) as he has experienced Segera 3 times before hand and both times with me.

Pretty soon, it was time to go to Segera, and Zach and I bothered Cody multiple times to tell us what community in Segera we’d be going to. We had grown to love and adore the people of Endana since the relationships we had built all existed within the compounds of the Primary and Secondary school. Cody finally told us we would be spending time in Ereri. I was still pumped, because Ereri is a community I have always desired to go to and experience what God is doing there, and because it was a half hour walk to Endana. We arrived in Ereri and immediately started introductions and meeting the adults we would teach Rejoice Project to for the time we were there. We immediately saw a familiar face, Chrispoh, who had been a huge part of both my trips previously. Immediately a desire fell over me that was overwhelming to go and see the people of Endana. It was unexplainably heavy and would not leave my thoughts. It was hard to be present in Ereri, it was hard to move forward knowing it was possible I might not see them in the short time we were there. I prayed. A lot. I asked God to allow me to see Elizabeth and Domarise. To be able to shake Kamal’s hand and give a big hug to Mary Isiki.

But the truth began etching at my soul, the terrifying truth that I am not supposed to go to Endana this trip. We called all over to get permission to go. The last full day it hit me harder than I would have expected. Hannah, The Rejoice Project Manager, talked to us all and her words exactly were, “Ask God to show you what is keeping you from being present in Him and leave it at the door of the church.” I broke down, or in other words I hit the lowest valley. My favorite place on this Earth was right over the hill. All the people I loved so dearly and cherished and prayed for and worshipped with and worked along side of… it was too much. I couldn’t be present in Ereri and that was hard. So I took some time off and allowed God to work in me and asked Him to bring clarity… my answer was simple and came straight from Cody’s mouth when he walked on the bus and said, ”You aren’t going to Endana.” For whatever reason a peace fell over me and I felt almost a sense that I had overcome a massive obstacle. I had obeyed when it was terribly hard to obey. I had accepted the fact that it wasn’t going to happen, that God is ultimate authority and it wasn’t mine or Zach’s time to go to Endana. God is with them whether we can go and see them or not.

We continued with the day by stepping back in and helping out teaching Rejoice Project to the leaders in Segera. It was time for them to meet in the church and debrief when I faintly hear Cody calling Zach and I outside. There really was only one reason in my head to why he would call both me and Zach outside and my heart began pounding, and all he needed to say was, “You guys are going to Endana.” What?! I could not believe it. How could this happen when I had just accepted the fact that God wasn’t allowing us to go? I quickly began rising out of the valley.

With Crispoh, we headed over the hill to Endana. I’ve never felt so at peace and calm as we traveled along the Kenyan landscape, until we saw Endana Primary School in the distance. Excitement rose and as we entered the complex we saw Elizabeth and the grade 7 girls come outside and we jumped off to hug them in their amazement. They weren’t expecting us to come, and really neither were we! They showed us around some of the new buildings and what has grown into a really beautiful primary school. The new kitchen, the new classrooms, the new dining area. It is always a blessing when God allows you to see the fruits of His work in something He has allowed you to be apart of.

I only had one more desire and that was to see Mary Isiki and give her a letter from my sister. She was nowhere to be found and I was told she had left school already. I was bummed, but still ecstatic of the happenings of the day as we left our goodbyes at the school. We rode down the road and quickly passed a group of grade 3 girls where I barely spotted Isiki in the crowd of faces. Crispoh came to a stop and I jumped off and talked to her, gave her the letter and soaked in a perfect moment. She had grown up from the little preschool girl my sister once new 4 years ago. Now she is more outspoken and tall and as beautiful a little girl as you could imagine. It was a short moment, but one I’ll remember forever.

God taught me a lot in this one day. He broke me to teach me obedience and His ultimate authority. He taught me that even in the hardest of times He is right next to me. He taught me that through obedience comes a beautiful rest and peace (Hebrews 3:18). He took me down to the valley to show me something and immediately brought me out to reveal to me His splendor and glory. I remember this part of my Journey as the breaking point of myself and the beginning of a God-centered journey. God still had a ton to teach me (as He always does), but this stands out as the day of my summer where God revealed Himself to me and His truth in a massive way.

-Jakeb