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Panua Trip, Blog 5: Praising God

Praising God
by Courtney Hitchcock

This trip is the first time I’ve ever been on a mission trip. I am still at a loss for words to describe the feeling of God’s spirit on the ground in Naivasha, Kenya. From the moment we arrived at the church, my soul was immediately lifted. We were given a very warm welcome followed by the most beautiful worship service. The children and mentors were worshipping with a zest and excitement comparable to a group of guys cheering with reckless abandon at the Super Bowl. No one was holding back an ounce of themselves and were praising God with every fiber in their bodies. The excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to praise God was overwhelming. I was immediately brought to tears.

The next two days we worked with the Panua youth and mentors to complete a course on emotional wellness, stress management and grief counseling. As you can imagine, most of these youth have been through more loss and hardships at a young age than many are faced with their whole lives. Yet, the joy and love these beautiful people are constantly radiating has God’s grace written all over it. It is amazing to see how inspired the youth are and how they are striving to live the very best lives they can to bring glory to God. Panua has given them a sweet and loving family and is nurturing their relationship with God so strongly.

Yesterday, we went to visit Francis, a Panua graduate from the first cycle. We got to see his salon business and his home where he and his wife live with their two adorable children. We then got to visit Peris’ family to offer our condolences and celebrate her memory with them. Her mother shared the sweetest stories with us and thanked us for the hope we helped instill in Peris. It was a great day of fellowship and I really enjoyed the opportunity to see some homes of Panua youth and to meet their families.

Most would think that we are the ones helping these children but I know they have taught me more than I could’ve possibly taught them. It’s really unbelievable to see that my God is the same strong God working halfway around the world in so many lives every second. I am more than appreciative of the opportunity to have attended this trip and I know my heart will be changed forever.