Most couples aim to spend their fifth anniversary somewhere exotic. Like Hawaii. I remember in the first few years of our marriage, Elora & I talked about taking a big trip – maybe a cruise? Perhaps back to San Diego? I think at one point we even discussed a trip to Mexico City.
Now here we are, five years into our marriage, and planning a huge trip. And while the trip is a celebration of sorts, it’s not Bora Bora.
We’re going to Africa.
This may not surprise many of you. For the better part of our marriage, Africa has been a huge part of our lives. Working with organizations like Invisible Children and Falling Whistles opened our eyes to this continent full of beauty and pain and unbelievable hope. And, well…it didn’t take long for us to fall in love. If you’ve read any of our blogs or spoken to us for longer than 30 minutes or taken a look at the permanent ink on our wrist, you know the hold the people of Africa have on our hearts. And now we get to go – but we need your help.
Last summer, Elora met Candice Kaiser, a teacher at Reagan High here in Austin. She visited Kenya last year and was given an opportunity to interview some students at the school. She asked them a simple question: “What would you tell the kids in America?” Their answers were authentic and filled with love – and at the end of almost every comment, the student would look at the camera, smile, and say, “We love you. Will you come visit us?”
Candice showed her students this video on the first day of school and her kids were deeply moved by the resiliency of their peers across the world who viewed education as a PRIVILEGE. The seed planted, the students decided to take the kids in Africa up on their offer. At first, Candice thought the kids weren’t serious. But as the weeks progressed and the students became more adamant, she knew she had to get on board with what God was doing. In the fall of 2009, they started planning this trip, calling it Love to Kibera.
Meanwhile, we were slowly falling in love with Reagan High and St. Johns – the neighborhood in which much of these students live. When Elora started working with the storytelling team at the Stone, it was only natural for her to gravitate to these kids and their stories. She set up a time with Candice to stop by and meet the kids and possibly plan a writers’ workshop centered on the art of storytelling. When she went to their meeting, it was crazy. Volunteers were cooking dinner and kids were finishing homework and some were upstairs crashing on a spare bed for a quick nap. But the atmosphere was electric, something big was brewing between and amidst these teenagers. After the meeting, Candice and Elora started talking about the workshop and began outlining the schedule. Towards the end, as they talked about Candice’s trip to Africa and Elora’s trip to Haiti ten years ago, she looked at my wife and asked, “you guys wanna go?”
It was a question we couldn’t take lightly. Elora & I have been asked to go to Africa before. We’ve agreed before. But something about this trip – perhaps the fact the purchasing of tickets happened that week – seemed fitting. We’ve made it a priority these past couple of years to trust first and wonder later. And as Elora drove home Monday night, she couldn’t ignore the tiny sensation taking over her soul – this was the trip He wanted for us.
So we go.
To say I’m excited would be severely inadequate. I’ve already made it clear how highly I view the students going on this trip – the caliber of their faith and willingness challenges me even now as questions and fears begin to creep into the tiny crevices of my heart. I’m ready to love on these children waiting for us. I’m ready to take in my surroundings and be broken for what breaks Him and I’m ready to once again understand the dichotomy of two worlds intersecting. I’m ready to see His paint etch across the Kenyan sky.
We’ll be there two weeks. The first week will center on sports camp with the kids of the Kibera slum. Then the following weekend we will host a talent show. The last week we are there the Reagan students will focus on tutoring the students in Kenya. Elora’s excited for this week – to experience education in a different country from a teacher’s viewpoint….I can’t imagine what she’ll will learn.
I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll have more to update. Some time between now and June we have to raise about 6000 dollars. If we’ve learned anything these past five years of marriage, though – it’s one tiny step at a time. Right now, we covet your prayers for not just us, but the team. And of course, if you can donate, we covet your support through finances as well.
Let the adventure begin…
To Donate Online:
1. Click on the link: http://isite153919.web07.intellisite.com/402751.ihtml
2. Create an account
3. Insert gift amount
4. Select other
5. Type: Reagan-Stone #06-1028 “Russell or Elora Ramirez”
Note: for general donations just type Reagan-Stone #06-1028
Or mail a check with Reagan-Stone #06-1028 “Russell or Elora Ramirez” in the memo section to:
4255 W. Risinger Road
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