By Denton Josey, Features Editor
Kenya wasn’t her first plan, but Erin Shoulders, senior interdisciplinary ministry and communication major from Keller, is glad she went.
Originally, Shoulders wanted to go to South Africa but when plans fell through, she felt God leading her to talk about the trip with a friend, Meredith Isenberg.
Isenberg, junior speech pathology major from Garland, was also praying about going to Africa, so she and Shoulders contacted Isenberg’s aunt and uncle in Kenya and started raising money. Both raised money for the trip very quickly-Isenberg said all her money was in within two weeks.
Shoulders and Isenberg stayed with Isenberg’s uncle and aunt, Larry and Holly Conway, in Nairobi. For the month of June, the two ACU students worked beside the missionaries. “We got to see what a missionary’s life was like,” Shoulders said.
The Conways, residents of Kenya for 23 years, work with a ministry called Made in the Streets, which provides care for poor and homeless people living in the slum area of Eastleigh. Different days of the week, the ministry provides food, baths and classes to mothers and orphans, as well children living completely on their own on the streets.
Shoulders said walking through the slums was unreal. “Seeing the amount of poverty really challenged me and made me feel like if I’m not involved with something like that for the rest of my life I’ll be wasting the gifts I have.”
Every Monday, mothers, sometimes rape victims and often times without a father figure to help raise the children, would bring their babies to be bathed. Living on the streets, the mothers have no water, so the babies are only cleaned once a week. The Day Center, the name of the ministry’s building, also provides lunch, which is sometimes the only meal the women and children will receive that day, Isenberg said.
In addition to bathing the babies, Isenberg and Shoulders helped the children create arts and crafts such as bracelets, visors and stamps.
‘It wasn’t like we were preaching these big sermons,” Isenberg said. “We were just sharing practical love with them through our actions.”
When they weren’t working with The Day Center in Eastleigh, Shoulders and Isenberg went with the Conways to an AIDS orphanage and a school for orphaned children.
“It showed me a lot of where my passions are and the depths of those passions,” Shoulders said. “It opened up my eyes more to the kind of thing I want to do with my life.”
“I’ve got a new picture of what true joy looks like,” Isenberg said. “They’re the poorest of the poor, but they have so much joy.”