Stories from the mission field:College student finds her future in Kenya

By Jana Bergeson

Kenya, Africa: aka number one on my bucket list. A trip to Kenya has been in the top three of every Santa letter since I first discovered what Africa was around age 6. On May 20, I landed at the Nairobi airport. It was a struggle to keep the tears and excitement under control long enough to listen to instructions and make it through the visa line.

The airport was different – no formality, no rush. One hour later, after finally making it through the visa line, I understood what everyone meant when they were talking about “Kenya time.” The Kenyans concept of time rocked my American notion of punctuality. There was no such thing as ‘late,’ except for maybe an airplane, but even those were delayed at times. They live life at a slow pace, enjoying every second of it. Downtown Nairobi wasn’t what I expected. It was a modernized city with Shell gas stations.

The following morning, we had the privilege of visiting orphans at the Baptist Children’s Center in Nairobi. The BCC is a clinic, school and orphanage that serves orphans, school kids and the community.

After day two at the BCC, I felt pretty defeated. For the life of me I could not figure out what I was doing there. Kenya was the only door for the past eight months that God had left wide open and guided me through, while it felt like the rest had been slammed in my face.

I had dreamed of this trip for so long, and even thought about becoming a medical missionary if I became a nurse. Or perhaps a missionary of sorts, and I could move to Africa upon graduation. I was set on this plan, but not after day two. My entire foundation and dream felt crushed. I felt isolated from the group. I felt like a failure. I had missed God’s plan for me for the trip. These children know the Lord personally, they know all of the Bible stories and praise hymns. I didn’t bring anyone to Christ; I simply loved and played with them for a few hours.

The next day we flew to the city of Kitale, on the border of Uganda. Upon arriving, we toured the Herbert H. Reynolds center, which was an orphanage, clinic and school, just like the BCC. The center was very isolated, and the children were in much worse conditions, but still as happy as could be. This is where it happened for me. The rest of my trip almost feels like a blur, but I know I will never forget the moment I walked into the clinic at the center. It was smaller than the BCC but still in very good condition. The doctor gave us a tour of the four-room building.

This is when God shouted at me. I was filled with a range of emotions, overflowing from deep within. I swallowed back tear after tear. Before I realized what I was saying, I had told everyone within earshot that this is what I would be doing upon graduation.

“One day soon, I will be working, or starting a clinic just like this. This is my future.”

Countless things must align for this to be true, but I know without a doubt that this my calling and my future, and God will take care of the rest, as long as I allow Him to take control.

Jana Bergeson, pictured above in a white shirt, is a human development and family studies major at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She went on a Buckner short-term mission trip to Kenya in May 2012 with the First Baptist Church of Lubbock college ministry. She plans to pursue nursing after graduation.

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