I spent the past weeks in Kenya, traveling with a team from my church to meet with our mission partners, Segera Mission. Segera Mission (https://www.segeramission.org/) is about 155 miles north of Nairobi, where the paved road ends. It was a humbling experience.
Nairobi is a bustling city like any other capital city, complete with abundant luxuries and traffic jams, but where we were visiting, it is not. Most families near Segera Mission live in mud huts without power or running water and must walk miles to gather food, water, and firewood. Water is an issue in Kenya, but so is firewood because they need it to purify the water, cook their food, and heat their homes, and the trees are disappearing rapidly.
However, the people we met were kind beyond measure and full of joy. They sang beautifully, prayed relentlessly, opened their homes to our team, and emptied their food cabinets to serve us. Knowing they gave us all they had was overwhelming, recognizing they’d walk miles the next day to replenish their cupboards.
My best day in Kenya was playing soccer with the third-grade boys. I was the goalkeeper, and when I stopped the ball, the boys yelled, “Knock, knock,” which meant kicking the ball as high and far as possible. We played for over three hours, laughing, running, and sweating. It was pure bliss.
I thought about the people I met and the sites I saw during my thirty-three-hour journey back to the United States, and here are a few thoughts.
- Joy. Joy is internal, independent of your surroundings or station in life. If you rely on money or things to bring joy, you’ll never find it because you’ll always want more, forever beyond your reach.
- Community. The people in the villages near Segera Mission rely on each other for fellowship, safety, food, water, and more. They can’t do it alone, and neither can you. Find your community.
- Provision. Several families relied on daily bread but wanted for little. They did not concern themselves with luxuries we take for granted, like TVs. Americans are obsessed with how much money we need for retirement, and according to a recent Schwab Modern Wealth Study, most people think we need $2.2 million to feel wealthy. Yet, the respondents in the survey only had a quarter of that amount. Kenya’s per capita income is only $5,130, yet the people we met felt exceptionally wealthy because their measure of wealth is different than ours.
- Action. The women of SATUBO took action to provide for themselves and their families. The name is an acronym for the three different communities in Northern Kenya – Samburu, Turkana, and Borana. These powerful women make beaded bracelets, animals, ornaments, and more, keeping 70% of the proceeds and 30% remaining with the organization to cover costs and purchase land. The women of SATUBO now control more than ten acres. They took action to manage their financial future.
- Faith. The predominant religion in Kenya is Christianity, with more than 85% of the population believing in Jesus. Their faith was evident everywhere we went, and it did not waiver because of their circumstances; it gave them strength.
- Lions. Our team visited Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the home of the last two Northern White Rhinos. Our driver, Fred, was incredible, and he found rhinos, giraffes, water buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, and lions. As we approached the animals, except the lions, they all ran for cover. The lions did not give an inch. In fact, one of the male lions circled our vehicle. They are fearless and confident. Be a lion.
I’m glad to be home, but I miss my neighbors in Kenya and the lessons they taught me about myself and life. Sawa Sawa.
He who does not look ahead always remains behind. ~ Kenyan Proverb
June 24, 2023
Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on your asset level.
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