Kenya: Day 7: It’s Time to Leave Africa

My duffle bag is packed, waiting by the hotel door.
In just a few hours, I’ll be leaving Kenya, flying thru the night to Amsterdam.
We had a debriefing meeting with the Compassion blog team last night and we cried as we started decompressing and processing all that we’ve seen.
Our leader, Shaun Groves, told us a story about a man named Everett Swanson. In the 1950’s, he was visiting a friend in Korea immediately after the Korean war. There were thousands and thousands of orphans left without parents and homes during this country’s devastating time.
Everett Swanson saw children piled up in the doorways of homes, trying to stay warm. They were abused by the guards who tried to scatter them because they were a nuisance. Everett watched as a guard picked up a child by the wrist and ankles and threw them into the back of a truck.
He said to his friend, “No one, no matter how small, should be treated this way.”
And he wept for the children.
His friend looked at him and said, “Now that you’ve seen, what will you do?”
Now that you’ve seen, what will you do?
Now that you’ve seen, what will you do?

Everett Swanson returned to the United States and started Compassion International.

Compassion is now reaching one million of the poorest children in 25 countries.

I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to return to my normal life. I don’t know how to take what I’ve seen and experienced, smelled and touched and live the same way in my perfect little bubble.

Now that I’ve seen the face of a Maasai woman with my own name and learned of her hardships, walked thru the dark alley of hell, called Mathare Valley, touched the face of an orphan named Susan, learned that one of my own sponsored kids is living in dire poverty with a crippled father, watched an angel dance, I have to answer the question that burns in my heart and keeps me awake throughout the night….

What will I do?

Two of our sponsored children live in Africa. I’m leaving my heart with them.
Many of you have sponsored a child this week. I am so thankful that you saw the need, heard God and acted. I am grateful that you carry this heavy burden with me. Some of you are asking the same question I am: What will I do now that I’ve seen?
For those of you who’ve read along, but haven’t been able to sponsor yet, I implore you to talk about it as a family. There are still children waiting to be sponsored.
During the next several days, I will be reconnecting with my family. There will be a lot of hugging and crying and figuring out how and what we’re supposed to do. Will you pray for me as I process all that I’ve been exposed to?
I love y’all.


  1. 1


    I've been reading about the Compassion Bloggers trips for more than a year now. Each time, I felt compelled to sign up, but never did. For some reason, this trip has weighed heavily on me. Maybe it's because of the current state of the world right now and so many people lost and suffering, but my husband and I are feeling like now is the time. We let our kids choose the child and we're excited to get started.

  2. 4


    Your blog journal of your trip was beautiful! God writes straight with crooked lines. You may never know how many you have touched with these posts. Safe travels back home to your loved ones. Thank you.

  3. 5


    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I was touched by each entry and crazy as it sounds, it was like you were an ambassador for something I'm unable to do at this season in my life. Someday, I hope we can visit our Compassion child in person. Thank you again and God bless your trip home and time with your family.

  4. 6



    I've followed each day of your journey and have been so touched by this amazing experience. What will I do now? I pray that God will show me and open doors to do His will and share His love. I pray for you and your family. God is using you in a mighty way, and I pray that you will be encouraged and have strength to keep on 'keeping on' for Him.

    with love,

  5. 7


    I, too, have followed your journey here and I'm simply amazed by you. You are a gem and I'm proud to "know" you, too.

    Praying for you.

  6. 8


    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I have gone on many missions trips and know the transition home can be rough. I am praying for you as you reunite with your family, rest, eat your favorite foods, tell your stories again and again AND sit with the Lord as He helps you debrief. I really appreciated your heart in each of your posts.

  7. 10


    I have walked in your shoes and can empathize with how you are feeling. It will take a lot of time. I'm so proud of you and so thankful that you were so transparent in how this little country in the world turned your life upside down and now feeling the call to respond and spark a flame in others to reach out and help those in such desperate need. 'Desperate need' doesn't begin to scratch the surface to describe what goes on each day in Kenya. Looking forward to hearing more stories yet to come! ((Hugs))

  8. 11


    Kirsten –
    thank you for sharing your journey with me. I knew very little about Compassion until I starting blogging back in August. You really are an amazing woman/mother/wife.

  9. 12


    Kirsten –
    thank you for sharing your journey with me. I knew very little about Compassion until I starting blogging back in August. You really are an amazing woman/mother/wife.

  10. 13



    It has been a privilege to follow your Kenya experience this week. Your heart was evident in every post. I am looking forward to hearing about the next steps for you and your family.

  11. 14


    Thank you for sharing your journey. I have wept at every post. I long to go on a mission trip, but Ellen – SkoMomma said it best, "it was like you were an ambassador for something I'm unable to do at this season in my life". We do sponsor a child, but not through Compassion. Our child is sponsored through World Vision. Thank you for reminding me that I need to be diligent to write and communicate with him.

  12. 16


    Your posts have moved me each day. We live on such a fixed income and can barely make ends meet. I'll never forget the stories and the photos from your posts. When my life does it on track my family and I will sponsor a child. Your posts brought tears to my eyes each day. Thank you for letting us see that part of the world in your eyes.

  13. 17

    Anonymous says

    We have added a new member to our family this week by sponsoring a child from Kenya. I discussed sponsoring a child with my oldest son for his fifth birthday gift. We tried to find a boy with the same birthday last October we looked, but then procrastinated and didn't follow through. This time while reading your blog I felt the Lord tell me to grab my son and act now. So I did. My son chose a boy from Kenya who is an orphan because he knows we have been discussing adopting an orphan. Anyway, he liked his name and pic and chose Safari, BUT guess what, after we chose him and was reading more about him we discovered that they are one day apart in age because of our previous experience I felt as though thus was God saying Yes, I am in this. Thanks for sharing your story and urging us to act on the behalf of His children.

  14. 19


    Was thinking about you this morning before i saw this post. Re-entering American Atmosphere is always hard…after a trip to Africa you'll need a special Holy Spirit intervention. Praying for that. Blessings from TN!

  15. 20


    20 years ago, my husband and I began our work with orphans and children with disabilites in Vietnam. We, too, began by looking at one another and saying, "The needs are so great…what can we do?" We found our "calling" in finding families for orphans…in particular, those with special needs. Now we have a foster home in China for medically fragile children. Don't be overwhelmed by the needs…decide on a course of action, and see where your strengths are…and run with it. Your lives will never be the same.

  16. 21


    I haven't seen (except in photos) the atrocities you witnessed in Kenya. But, at 18 years old…I traveled with a Christian group to the former USSR. I came home with the clothes on my back, my socks, and my underwear. I had given everything else away. Once home, I went into a grocery store and then sat on the floor and wept. Because I'd visited places where people stood in line for bread. I'm 34…and I'm still not the same. I pray that you are never the same…that would mean that you've forgotten. But, I will pray for you as you process and transition to home. I think that will be especially hard since you move right back into being Mom. I'm praying too that those who have seen the images and stories you've shared will never be the same.

  17. 22


    Yes, I will pray for you. You will be unpacking your duffle bag, and I'll be packing mine. I head to Zimbabwe on April 2nd. I plan to be shaken.

    You have made a tremendous impact for these kids. God has used you in major ways.

  18. 23


    We are praying for you Kristen!! We wont stop just because you are home. Just reading your blogs each day has left me feeling stir crazy doing the things of everyday life. What is the point of laundry, wen there are children in the world without clothes to wear…..that sort of thing.
    Thank you for taking us along on your journey!

    Maggie Bokros

  19. 24


    Hi there,

    A friend of mine reads your blog religiously, and takes part in your "works for me" Wednesdays. I am part of a new blog that catalogues these blog events, and I've added yours to the list.

    You can check out the page here: (look under "social calendar" –> "memes")

    Let me know if you'd rather we don't include you, but I hope it'll be ok!


  20. 26


    praying for you. I just returned from Kenya myself – it will be 2 weeks tomorrow. Our questions are identical. I asked before I left, "how do I go home, how do I do this?" and I am still asking, "what do I do now?". I have a husband and 4 children. I know I will never be the same – and neither will you. Thank you for sharing their stories with the world….. we must tell their stories and we must respond….

  21. 27

    Anonymous says

    Hi, Ive gone on a couple of mission trips- be forwarned, its not easy comming home. I felt so guilty living in my house. I would stay awake at night wondering how many families I could fit in my home; why I was born into this life and they weren't. The guilt is normal but I don't believe it to be from God. The scripture says when perfume was poured out on Christ's feet, that the poor will always be with us. We need to care for them and love them and bring as many out of poverty as possible- but I was reminded that the proverbs 31 woman wore purple and fine linen. All this to say- God isnt calling us to torment ourselves with guilt- rather He is calling us to love our neighbors. Be blessed! Welcome home! I will send 6yr old Samanthas flier to build a house in Haiti to you in the next few days. I hope to see her little girl faith brought to reality! Love to you.—Lisa Palmer

  22. 28


    I've been following your short mission trip and have been sponsoring a little girl in Tanzania for 5 years now. We exchange very short letters and we receive them months apart. I received one the day before yesterday! I found it all the more special as I was reading your trip at the same time. She is not in a city, but still in poverty. All I can do is pray for her and trust that God has her life in His perfect hands, just as He does with the whole of Creation. Although I haven't done a missions trip, I know you will have a huge culture shock to come home to. In all this, remember that God has redeemed the whole world, our job is to help them see Him, in and through us as we reflect Jesus. God Bless you.

  23. 29

    Kristy says

    Thank you for following God' s lead and being willing for Him to use you while in Kenya. I'm an Advocate with Compassion and reading all the bloggers post truly refueled my passion for international orphan care but I have to say it was your posts that spoke to my heart! You could tell by reading they were God breathed and an act of worship!

    Praying for you as you re-enter! I've been on 3 mission trips and coming back is the hardest part. I remember describing it once as "my heart is so full yet breaking at the same time!". I also always struggle because I feel like after 2 weeks you've been able to share with most people and so it's like everyone expects you to "be over it" … the post trip heart mess is not a fun place to sit in but let the Lord leave you there as long as he needs – not as long as others think you should be there. Praying as He leads you though this time!!

  24. 32


    Kristen, your blog tugged and tugged at my heart this week. This week my husband and I decided to sponsor a little boy in Kenya named Julius through Compassion Ministries.
    Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us, allowing us to feel (and become) involved in your mission!
    My charge through doing this sponsorship is not just to throw money at a situation; I have asked our friends and family to help keep us accountable to praying for and staying plugged in with Julius. I think it might become easy to forget about our commitment when the money automatically drafts out of an account. I want to stay plugged in and focus on not taking the blessings I have for granted. Again, I can't thank you enough for committing to make a difference beyond yourself and your family.

  25. 33


    Coming back to "normal" (whatever that is eh?) will not be easy…

    Following all of you Compassion bloggers' journey was incredible and devastating all at the same time.

    My prayers are with you and your family as you continue to follow Gods plan for you.

    Thank you so much for sharing…what a blessing to myself and many others.

  26. 34


    Thank you for sharing such a powerful and life changing journey – life changing for you and your readers and for the children helped by this journey. I found you on the BlogFrog community and look forward to seeing you there. Have a safe trip home.
    All the Best, Lori Anderson (theBlogFrog)

  27. 37

    Lisa says

    Kristen, you along with some other bloggers have inspired me to do "something". Our family decided to sponsor a 3yr old little girl from Tanzania through Compassion. It's not huge, but it's something and every little bit matters to those children. So, thank you for the push!

    You can check out Meg's blog,
    she just came back from Kenya on a mission trip and has a similar story. :)

  28. 39


    I totally understand your feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed. Though time will takes away the rawness, I never have wanted it to be so distant that my heart did not still feel. Seeing and touching extreme poverty and need is hard but so necessary for us. What to do? Keep on keeping on and keep your heart and eyes open to notice what He more He may have for you. Blessings.

  29. 40


    I feel like I went on the Kenya trip with you and the rest of the Kenya crew. It's amazing, that even though I didn't go on the trip and actually see the things that you all did, I still feel the same as you do. What am I going to do with all of the information that you all gave after I process it? I will be anxious to read all of your blogs in the coming days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>