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Everything is okay because God is with us. He has given each of us abilities (talents) according to our faith to grow in holiness and reveal His love for all by making Him present by our thoughts, words and deeds.  It is when we choose to waste our talents on selfish, worldly gains (bury them in the earth) that nothing is okay (Matt. 25:30).

There are no accidents in the Kingdom of Heaven.

My daughter, Lizzie, or ‘Sister Liz” as she’s known at St. Tabitha Orphanage and School in Malava, Kenya, chose to volunteer at an orphanage in Uganda for her senior project. I was to be the chaperone.

Anyone who has traveled to a third world country knows the effort that goes into getting ready.  We got our visas, inoculations, malaria medications, our itineraries, and for myself, blessings from two hierarchs and my employer.  Lizzie had been raising money for her trip for several months.

Our host called me six days before we were to leave to say that his wife had become seriously ill and he needed to cancel our.  Thank God she recovered shortly thereafter and is doing well.  I braced myself as I called Lizzie with the news that we were no longer going to Africa.

Lizzie was understanding, but also very disappointed. Who could blame her?  I was disappointed too, but was already trying to figure out how we would get our money back for the fights and what to say to our donors.

Lizzie called me back shortly afterwards and asked what I thought was an impossibility. “Can we go somewhere else during the same time?  Please, papa!”  I was never good at saying ‘no’ to her, but I did not want to get her hopes up either. “Let me go and think for a bit,” I told her.  That seemed to relax her some.

I was telecommuting that day, which was perfect timing because now I had to spend time finding an alternative to going to Uganda during the same timeframe. At least I could tell her I tried.

It was then that I remembered Fr. Philip Mugadizi, a friend from seminary, who is Kenyan and lives in Nairobi.  I contacted him right away.  He was still awake.  Kenya is eleven hours ahead of Washington.   I explained the entire situation to him. He recommended an Orthodox orphanage in the Diocese of Kisumu and Western Kenya.  There was progress, but nothing concrete enough to call Lizzie back with.  I’m sure she was anxious to hear back from me, but I had to wait.

I contacted Bp. ATHANASIOS of blessed memory the same day. His Grace was also awake and responded immediately.  He was always really good about getting back to people. He gave me and Lizzie a blessing to come, and I received a blessing from my hierarch to go to Kenya now.

Next, the flights.   I called Expedia and not only were we able to use the original first leg of our trip (Seattle to Amsterdam), but saved money when we changed our final destination from Kampala to Nairobi.

Visas: We could apply online.  The turnaround time was the concern, but we ended up with our visas within days.

Inoculations: check!  The requirements were the same ones needed for Uganda.

Time to call Lizzie.  She was thrilled.  I was amazed, and we were both praising and thanking God.  Kenya and St. Tabitha here we come.

It is because of the failed trip to Uganda and by the grace of God that Lizzie and I our now gratefully associated with St.  Tabitha in Malava, Kenya.  There are no accidents in the Kingdom of God.  Nor less do we believe in predestination in the sense that human freedom is non-existent.  It’s about God’s foreknowledge and the degree to which we faithfully remain patient. Everything is sawa as long as remain patient in faith.  Simple. Not always easy.

Needing to find an alternative destination for Lizzie’s senior project six days before we were scheduled to leave was unexpected.  What was also completely unexpected was the close bond Lizzie and I would form with Fr. Agapios, Papadia Dorah and the children of St. Tabitha.  I went from merely accompanying Lizzie as a chaperone to becoming an active supporter of St. Tabitha.  God willing, I will make it back next year for my third trip and so will Lizzie.

Fr. Agapios and Papadia Dora are wonderful hosts.  The children and the people of Kenya in general move right into your heart.  Go and serve if you feel the slightest tug to do so.  I stayed at an Airbnb about twenty minutes from St. Tabitha for $25.00 US a day.  Joseph, the owner of the large house I had to myself, is a wonderful host as well.  You can learn about his rental and read my review here.

Want to help St. Tabitha meet its monthly budget or purchase specific items for the school?  Click here to see ways you can help!