Throughout my teenage years I was often asked the question around what my major would be in college. I heard a wide range of things others thought I would be brilliant for pursuing. I didn’t have an answer. My resumé had a list of employment that centered around engaging with people. It ranged from working at a register at a grocery store, to working in group home with adults and kids with special needs to serving at a Perkins restaurant, and teaching at a preschool.
I think I had bounced the notion of being a travel photographer around and learning languages. I knew I was creative and I enjoyed the wild abandon of a wide open and feeling my way through life. When I entered college in a tiny Minnesota town, I rolled into my first semester kicking the idea of learning sign language and studying Audiology. That was a major disaster. We will just leave it at that.
My Sophomore year of college I chose to take an Anthropology course on the country of Kenya. I was in love. I decided to get onto the internet and search for opportunities to volunteer around the country and use some inheritance money I had received from my grandfather. I literally Googled “Kenya orphanage volunteer opportunities”. I printed out the application, filled it out, was accepted, and a few months later I found myself in a tiny village called Loitokitok, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I found myself living very primitively; carrying water I would use daily, going to the market several times a week to collect food that I was going to use, and teaching English to children who were rescued from living on the streets in Nairobi.
Being a girl that liked to ‘hotel’ rather than camp, I found it surprisingly enjoyable living so simply. My roommates, from Western Europe, kept me on my toes. They had quirks and humor I didn’t understand and vise versa. I ate things that were questionable and put Nutella on everything. Elephants grazed nearby grasslands, snakes the size of a football field (I swear) were sporadically killed and drug through town by men from the Maasai tribe. We had chickens living under the floor boards of our bedrooms quarters. Five O’Clock A.M. brought us panic attacks every morning as the rooster began her morning row call. I see now how Kenya prepared me for living in Texas. Like, for real. Because…the bugs.
I started writing about the sights, smells, and things I heard around the compound I stayed in and in town. I started blogging about the orphan crisis in East Africa and how startling it was to see kids roaming the streets without parents, surviving. How I would be called “Mzungu” when I was in a taxi cab and how locals would assume that I had pockets full of sweets and cash to hand over. Women rented their babies out in exchange for small change to feed their families and forced themselves to have abortions after they learned they were pregnant from being gang raped. I began to see first hand that the country I called home was not the way I would be allowed to live in this country. Women did not have rights like I had rights back at home. A widowed woman would be abandoned by her family and her late husband’s family had the right to all the remaining property, often times leaving her homeless and vulnerable. Government was organized chaos and to access medical care, you brought your own bedding, needles, medicine, iv lines and usually shared a twin bed with someone if you were admitted inpatient.
Writing about these experiences opened a door with other nonprofit leaders who were either living in the same part of the world or worked in a similar capacity with orphaned children. It began a community I didn’t know existed. Surely, we could do this together.
I came back to the states after 3 months of living in Kenya and for the first time in my life I found a spark in my heart of that “thing” I wanted to do with my life.
Fast forward through several trips to Kenya, a Social Work degree, a marriage, & three babies later, our family was on the road to partner with another organization for the long term vision.
We were moving to Kenya.
We had several years of preparation that went into it. The final 12-14 months were spent writing, fundraising and creating awareness for this opportunity. If you know our story, you know that when we moved to Kenya, our plans very quickly fell through.
After months and months of preparation, the opportunity we went for disappeared. Painful. There are no words I can still think of today to bring me to what that day felt like. Grief in every sense of the word. We had rented our home, sold everything inside our home, left jobs we were about to have promotions in. Complete reckless-abandon of the 7 years of life we did together for this opportunity. Gone in a flash.
We stayed anyways. I’ll never forget this moment. TJ and I looked at each other and we committed to stay. We didn’t know what was going to show up, yet we knew that something was going to show up. We just did the next right thing.
See, we had prepared for years. I used to expect that life should show up like a neat grid. Lines equally spaced left to right and top to bottom. I learned very quickly that the road during preparation twists and turns, seems to be back tracking and going forward yet again. There maybe isn’t an indicator of it ending until we’ve arrived.
Intense preparation begins in our heart. It takes action and it takes the mindset of real life faith and believe that there is purpose in all things. This all came to pass be micro level decisions we made up until that point. The both of us.
Oprah says, “Luck is born when fierce preparation and work meet the moment of opportunity”.
See, this is the deal. I often hear folks say how “so-and-so are SO lucky. I wish I could do that”. Chances are, there was many months and years of preparing for that. The blogger you see that has landed a book deal and is touring probably began with a meager Youtube channel with a handful of followers each video posted.
Life happens to us because of the micro decisions you and I make every single day. The good, the bad, and all the in between.
When you prepare in anticipation of meeting that moment of opportunity, it is key that we release the expectation of the outcome. Our family would have never moved to Kenya knowing we were walking into an absolute disaster. Are you kidding me? How irresponsible would “THAT” have been!?! . . . sound familiar?
Because we believed in FAITH with our whole hearts that we were to be in Kenya even though…even though this original plan had fallen through God laid an opportunity at our feet that He allowed us to create from literally magazines at a coffee shop. More on that to come….
Here is my point. Luck comes from fierce HARD WORK. Doing the work consistently, every single day. These footprints of luck has shown up consistently in my life and I know the same is for yours. Consider beginning now. Make your WHY visual and look at it when you first wake in the morning and before you go to sleep at night. 5 minutes. When you focus on your WHY the HOW will show up…and you might just get…