Emily Ludwig’s mission trip to Kenya this summer was an eye-opening experience.
The Greenbrier High School senior spent two weeks in Kisumu working with the Life for Children Ministry. The ministry seeks to provide orphans with basic life necessities, education, health care and spiritual nourishment.
Ludwig was accompanied by three other Columbia County teens and then-Wesley United Methodist Church high school youth director Curtiss Gibbs and his wife, Shannon. The other teens were recent Greenbrier graduates Clay Singletary and Scott Campbell and Augusta Preparatory Day Schools senior Katie Murphy.
“It was awesome,” Ludwig said of the August trip. “It was kind of a culture shock. You are not used to seeing such poverty.”
To reach their destination, the group flew eight hours from Atlanta to Amsterdamm followed by another eight-hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya. From there, they took a 10-hour car ride to Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest town.
Members from five churches in Georgia, Florida and Alabama went on the trip. Wesley and Stevens Creek Community Church in Martinez, where Ludwig attends, were the local participating churches.
For the Gibbses, the trip marked the fifth journey to Kisumu.
“It’s rewarding to go back and see how God is working in their lives,” Shannon Gibbs said.
Being able to watch the kids’ quality of life improve each year and see them prosper in school is rewarding, she said: “If they weren’t part of this program, they wouldn’t be able to go to school.”
In the past, the couple helped build two wells and a church. This trip focused on Bible camp, studying the Bible in the morning and helping provide medical assistance in the afternoon.
“It kind of makes you a better person when you get back here,” said Curtiss Gibbs, adding how happy and thankful the children were.
Although Ludwig knew she wanted to work with children, the trip reinforced her goal of becoming a pediatrician, she said.
She plans to go back in 2013 for a longer stay as part of a ministry intern program.
“You’re more grateful for everything you have,” Ludwig said of returning home from the trip. “You look at life differently.”