Q and A with A Sponsor – Kaitlyn

[Q: Elsie, Director of Communications for Zozu

A: Kaitlyn, Sponsor]

Your family sponsors Billy and Lee, right? Did you get to meet them?

The very first week I was in Arua, I visited the kids that my family sponsors at their house. I loved meeting their family, and didn’t realize how many siblings Billy and Lee have. They are only 2 of 6! Their mom lives with them and their dad left their family two years ago to South Sudan, and they haven’t seen him since. It was very bittersweet because I just wish I could have helped more, and I wish I could change their living situation. But I know that they are all so loved, which gives me peace.

What was it like for you to see Billy and Lee for the first time? Like, was it anticlimactic, were you nervous, did something change for you?

Honestly, at first it was super awkward. Both of them didn’t know that I was coming, and all of a sudden they were being taken to the principal’s office, so I imagine they were pretty confused. Billy and Lee are both shy and rather quiet, but Lee is almost mute. He is only in P2, so I don’t think he knew what I was saying at first. Plus, all of the kids speak so softly at first, so I couldn’t really hear them, either. But, as I got to know both of them more when I was there, it became very special, and I miss them so much!

Do you have any favorite memories from the tip?

One of my absolute favorite times was the last day I was in Arua. I was leaving the next day, so I was soaking up each moment with the kiddos. All of a sudden a random car pulls up, (I thought it was JP, but the driver ended up being white). I was so curious considering I hadn’t seen another white person for weeks. Then, I look to my right and see a mass of about 20 kids running towards the car yelling “JESUS” “JESUS IS HERE”. I was obviously so confused so I turned to the boy next to me, named Emma, and I asked him who this Jesus character was. He looked at me very confused and answers “the son of God?”. I laughed because he obviously didn’t understand that I didn’t know who this other white person was, or why he was on driving his car on Solid Rock’s campus. You know, I never actually found out who he was!

Another one of my favorite days was when I visited the women in the bead-making group. They are so, so sweet and sit on cloth on the dirty cement ground and make the jewelry. The day I visited, it was very rainy. These women were getting rain splashed on them, but continued to make the beads. Some of them didn’t speak English, so they mostly spoke in their local language. I enjoyed listening to them talk and watch them make beads. Most of their incomes came from those beads, and maybe selling other starches. The women’s children were there and I played with them for awhile, too. Going to Africa made me realize how much I love kids, and changed my perspective about what I want to do later in life.

Another great day was when JP, Richard, and I spent an afternoon visiting the children’s homes. The kid’s sponsors had sent them money for gifts, so we went to take pictures. I loved seeing how happy and thankful they were. The children’s families bought things like soap, mattress, flour, and diapers.

What did a typical day look like for you?

Overall, a typical day for me looked a little like this: I woke up, and got ready to head to the clinic. Rose [Pastor JP’s wife] made me breakfast every. single. day. She is amazing! I loved her cooking. We would head to the clinic, and each day was different. At times, there were lines out of the door of people waiting to see Rose. One day, I think I tested almost 15 children for malaria. One time I even tested a 9 month old. After being in the clinic for a few hours, I would go and eat lunch with all of the kids. I loved spending time with Billy and Lee. I also grew close with Patricia and a few of the P4 girls she was around. I would go back to the clinic, and it was typical for most of the kids to wait until the last moment to come in to take their medicine. Typically, there would be at least one wound from the kids playing outside. One time a kid even got hit in the head with a rock. After school, I would go and watch the girls play netball. They are so cute! David [the principal] recently told me they did very well in a tournament, which made me so, so happy. After netball, Rose, JP, Johnny, Joel, and I would go back to their house. By this time it was around 8pm at night. I would eat dinner, and then go to bed. Some nights I helped them make beads, too.

You said that going there made you change you perspective on what you will do later in life. How so? I thought you, like, wanted to be a nurse so did something change or get added to that? I’m so curious about what that was like for you. 

So, I have known for a long while that I want to be a Nurse Practitioner.. and I always thought that I would specialize in family, so an FNP. But, after being in Africa and seeing the type of care they receive, I really think I want to go into emergency pediatric medicine. I visited one of the hospitals in Arua and it was baffling. I have been to other very poor countries, like Nicaragua, but seeing this hospital was like a light switch went off in my head. I knew that then that I have to go back eventually and try to help modernize Arua’s health care. That’s when I knew I wanted to go into emergency medicine, and not just family practice. And then I also figured out that I wanted to specialize in Pediatrics, not just family. I have always loved kids so much, and for so long I fought working with them because I didn’t want to limit myself to only working with kids- I wanted options. But, I feel like I really got to know myself more when I was abroad. I learned that what I like most about children is that I can be their advocate. As you know, SO many of the children in Arua live with a distant cousin, or aunt or someone that isn’t their immediate family, and it breaks my heart. Many of them aren’t taken care of well, and I think there is so much education in being a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, because I can educate the caregiver.

And finally, if you don’t mind me asking, how did God show up? Did you get to spend time with him? Did you learn something more about Him and His love or how he works?

Ah, yes! I love this question. So, like I mentioned before, I have been on other mission trips.. I went to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua in high school and for some reason I had a hard time with them. I had a youth leader who told all of us that THESE AMAZING, EXTRAORDINARY THINGS were going too happen to us when we went abroad. When I went to serve, I felt out of place, like I was doing something wrong because these SUPER AMAZING THINGS weren’t necessarily happening to me. But, looking back each of those trips were just preparing me for Arua.

What I learned the most about God is that He is simple. He loves us more than anything, and nothing else in life matters. The only thing we need to do is chase and love Him, and love others in return. I feel like God was really protecting me when I was there. I felt at peace and present this summer- at peace with God, where I was staying, and what I was doing all day. I learned that less is more- less distractions in Arua lead me closer to Him, which was awesome. Little things just don’t matter to me anymore, and I am trying to keep that perspective this semester.

I learned that sometimes the answers are not always there, and that is okay. Honestly, I am still wondering why I was supposed to go to Arua this summer, and I am learning to accept the idea that maybe I never will, or maybe it is as simple as to just love on those people. There you have it! My trip was simple, humble, and the best summer of my life.