“I think I had a romanticized idea of what the trip was going to be like,” Kyra admitted about the LIFE Team to Benin that she participated in last May. She was ready for a life-changing experience, and a life-changing experience is what she got, but it happened in a way she did not expect.
“Going into it, the focus was more on myself and how we were going to do this really great thing. But as we were there, the leaders were talking about how it is more about partnering with our brothers and sisters in Christ and working together. It is not us coming from North America to make things [better]. You go in expecting to help all of these people, but really, it changes you.”
For the two and a half weeks she was there, Kyra got the chance to work on a variety of projects with the Water for Life Initiative.
Each one she worked on – whether it was building well pads, performing a drama with the local DRIME team or helping build parts of a church – had its fair share of challenges and uncomfortable moments, but pushing through was worth it.
“One of the main things [I learned was] the importance of stepping out in faith and trusting in God. There were times on the trip where I was nervous and afraid to step out of my comfort zone, but I did it. It might seem frightening and scary to go and be in a place where you’re unfamiliar, but you learn so much and God pushes you a lot in that short amount of time. There’s a lot of growth that happens.”
With the team, Kyra helped build four well pads, alternating jobs each time: digging, shovelling and wiring. A highlight was witnessing villagers’ reactions to the flushing of the wells and seeing clean water come up for the first time.
“Seeing the villagers and how excited everyone was, [realizing] what that meant for their village and health and families – that was huge to see. Knowing that the partnership that GAiN has with villages wasn’t just a one-time thing and seeing that process start was a highlight for me.”
Witnessing, firsthand, the need for clean water also changed her perspective on life back at home.
“Even now, I still reflect on the trip and realize things I had learned, like how fortunate we are. At first I was kind of mad coming home, seeing the stuff that we had and how we don’t appreciate it – even the freedom that we have in church to worship. We have these resources and tools to help others and to use these things that God blesses us with to serve others.”
Part of her life-changing experience was seeing word and deed work together and witnessing how that can change a person’s life.
“As we were working on the well pads, the villagers were watching and wondering what we were doing,” Kyra recalled. It was at this time that some people on the team, with the help of a translator, had a chance to have a conversation with some of the villagers and share God’s message of hope and love.
“When you just love people as Christ would do, it opens up opportunities. When you show them God’s love they begin to ask why. And then you can share that you do it because Jesus loves you.”
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