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The Journey to Kenya: When raising funds for Project Go!, it pays to have friends

By Chelsea Quackenbush
Photography by John Hawk Dilday

Editor’s note: Project Go! is a short-term mission trip opportunity through Buckner International for college students and young adults. During their time, they will help transform lives through hands-on ministry by serving the most vulnerable orphans, children and families in one of many countries where Buckner serves.

The Buckner Today editorial staff chose to follow Brittani and Melanie’s journey to Kenya through Project Go! in summer 2013. This story is the second in a four-part series. You can also follow them online at: kenyalovesjesustoo.wordpress.com.

[caption id="attachment_6304" align="alignright" width="250"] “Anything that tells about Jesus around the world is a worthy cause," said Dawn Pfahning. "I pray for them to be safe, to be blessed, and to be a blessing.”[/caption]

“131 days,” say Melanie Miller and Brittani Cirinna in unison. Like roommates. Like best friends. Like two people who share a common mission. It’s actually March 2, but in their world, it’s 131 days in the countdown to the day they leave for Kenya, where the two plan to serve as Project GO! volunteers for a month this summer.

And at 131 days, their home is buzzing with activity. The furniture’s been cleared, making room for tables full of goods for sale. Twelve vendors – many of them friends from church – have given them the day, holding a sale at the pair’s home in Mansfield, Texas.

Buyers come in twos and threes, often having to park well down the block. They look over the items for sale: bags, jewelry, candles, makeup, health wraps, home décor and scrapbook accessories. A gold-buying group is there. Even Melanie’s mother, Rhonda, a beautician, is in the game, offering face waxing services for donations.

The outcome? All of the vendors’ proceeds and donations will go toward their Kenya mission trip. Cirinna and Miller, both schoolteachers, already have used creative methods to raise funds for the trip. Just through the sale of cake balls, coffee and waxes, gold sales and donations, they raised $600, and Miller estimates the proceeds from the vendors to add an additional $1,500.

An earlier garage sale of donated items brought in $1,000, and the two have baked and sold cake balls out of their home. Prior to the event that day, they’ve raised a little more than half of the $9,000 needed to fund the month-long trip. As is usual for the two, they’ve shared everything, even pooling their expenses and donations.

[caption id="attachment_6305" align="alignright" width="250"] “I myself have a heart for children, and Melanie and Brittani and I have always supported each other on our mission efforts,” said Kim McCann, one of the event vendors who sells Thirty-One products.[/caption]

“Everyone has blessed us,” Miller says, pausing from the setup. “They order $10 worth of cake balls and give us $100. The efforts of all of those wonderful friends coming together for Brittani and me is just so gracious. I couldn’t believe how loved we (are) for people to put their time and money into helping us get to Kenya. God is so amazing to put such giving people in my life.”

It’s proof, adds Cirinna, that “God is awesome. We have great connections at our church, Walnut Ridge Baptist in Mansfield. I feel overwhelmed at just how good people are. How generous they are with a good cause. They came out of nowhere. It’s emotionally overwhelming.”

“I know that sometimes I have a negative outlook on society,” Miller says. “To see how giving some people are is so eye-opening.”

When asked what changes the two are seeing in their lives as they prepare for their summer service, Cirinna says she has learned to be “ready for whatever it brings and conscious and alert enough to understand what God is doing,” in her life.

But in unison, both answer the next part of the question almost verbatim. Like roommates. Like best friends. Like two people who share a common mission: “We fear we won’t want to come back.”

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