On July 1, I am getting on a plane to Kenya. I have the distinct pleasure of spending five weeks at an all girls high school in Kibera. Kibera is the biggest slum in the city of Nairobi. The school has connections in the United States, and they have invited me there to do interviews and write the story of the six-year old school. I have never been to Africa before, and I am so excited to see Kenya and meet the young ladies who attend the school. For the past year, I have been reading books and running interviews to prepare my mind. The past month has been filled with buying tickets, securing visas and getting vaccinated. The more I prepare my mind and body, the more real the adventure becomes. I love the time of anticipation and preparing. It is full with intentionality and the spirit of the unknown.
The other day, I was telling my friend about my Kenyan adventure, and he asked, “How are you preparing spiritually?” I was taken aback. In the business of busying my mind and body for the trip, I had not been doing much spiritual preparation. I am not doing any overtly spiritual work in Kenya, but sitting with people in a new place is in itself deeply spiritual. He encouraged, “This sounds like it is going to be a life altering time for you. Make sure to prepare your heart.”
For me, spiritual preparation helps me stay open to experiences having a life altering effect. I pray for my heart to be prepared to be broken open, and I pray for the strength and grace to listen. I pray for the people who I will meet. Taking time in prayer and journaling is like preparing the ground of my heart to take in seeds. If I go to Kenya without tilling the land, the seeds could fall on rocky soil. Spiritual preparation helps me walk into a new culture and meet new people with an open heart that is ready to receive and be forever changed. Preparing my mind and body for Kenya is important, as is securing the right documents and creating an itinerary. But I am grateful to my friend for gently reminding me that my spirit is in need of preparation, too. In my spiritual preparation for Kenya, it helped me remember that it is not just in our adventures, but daily spiritual preparation is important for whatever God has in store for us today.