As we wound down our trip to Kenya this past summer and thunked our way over the pothole-ridden highway, we continued to observe widespread poverty seemingly to infinity. My heart ached at the sight and I was ready to come home.
Yet, there was more magic to behold.
Our guide, Sam, one of the kindest and wisest souls we have ever known, had one more surprise in store for us.
Love this photo of Sam dispensing wisdom with a good dose of humor to J.R.
This was the first official sundowner of our epic adventure!
We ate every meal with Sam and had the privilege of dining with is lovely fiancee', Josephine, and his delightful son, Adrell.
My favorite photo of Sam, in full safari guide mode, living his truth and purpose.
He took us home.
To his home. To the place he grew up and to meet his family.
It was a special day.
As Sam expertly maneuvered his vehicle through the narrow streets, we could see it was an area struggling with poverty. As we pulled into the gated entrance to his mother's home, we didn't know what to expect but we did know without a doubt we would be embraced as family.
Since we had been traveling at length, the first order of business was a much needed bathroom break. Running water is rare in most parts of Kenya, and this was no exception. However, upon exiting the bathroom, Sam's mom and sister-in-law had warm, soapy water in buckets for us to cleanse our hands. It was small luxury and one that showed us how much we mattered.
This spirit of generosity continued as they offered us chai tea (now a personal favorite) and spread out a bounty of delicious fruit hand-picked for us. We shared stories and learned a little bit about our often-reserved yet remarkable guide. It was clear a benevolent thread ran thickly through this family.
When it was time to leave a remarkable thing happened. They gave us gifts for visiting.
Overwhelmed by this gesture and feeling like the grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day. Hope for humanity, for the future, for everything poured into me like a waterfall and we thanked them effusively. In return, John left behind a cherished Buckeye hat (really, anything Buckeye-related is cherished by him) with Sam's brother, also named John. We then posed for some pictures enveloped in these charming gifts of love.
When I got home I wrapped my desk chair in my blanket. Every time I sit down to write I am reminded of how a gift, if given with a genuine intention of celebrating the recipient, can impact a heart forever.
This season, give the gifts that matter, make time to spend with loved ones, and most of all, give thanks for all of love's reminders.
May they surround you today and always.
Inward & Onward,
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