Travel Journal: Kenya

Giraffes were among the many animals they saw.

Seen through the eyes of: Aimee Russo-Mounger

Who went: My husband Marcus, my son Scout and I, along with a group of other families and singles

We went because: Our church, Bethany-South Campus, offered the trip, and I felt I had to go! We joined the Commission Mankind team on their mission to give clean water to outer remote villages in Kenya. We washed the feet of school kids and gave them new pairs of socks and shoes made in Kenya. We read to schools about Jesus, face painted, made balloon animals, and gave candy and small gifts. We baptized many people young and old while we were there, as well as prayed for their needs. 

The Bethany mission group and Commission Mankind team

Hotel recommendations: The only “hotel” we stayed in was for the first night when we landed in Nairobi. It was a surprisingly Americanized Hilton with nice beds, warm running water, continental breakfast, and the wildlife reserve out the windows. We saw zebras and giraffes the next morning when we woke up. We welcomed a bed since we had been traveling for 23 hours and last slept in the Amsterdam airport. Our flight had left New Orleans Friday at 11 a.m. and arrived in Nairobi on Saturday at 10 p.m. The rest of the trip, we stayed in a cabin/compound at the Muthoki Country Lodge. 

Where to eat: Before leaving Nairobi for our 2½-hour drive to the campsite, we attended a local church service at Nairobi Lighthouse Church. Our pastor, Jonathan Stockstill, preached an amazing service for us and the Nairobi congregation. After church, our group had our last restaurant meal at a famous restaurant called Carnivore, the largest in Nairobi.

Favorite dish on the menu: We had something known as “beast of a feast,” which had all the meats from local game—ostrich, lamb, pork and crocodile, to name a few.

Aimee, Scout and Marcus on safari in Nairobi National Park

Item of clothing you shouldn’t leave home without: Women are required to wear long baggy pants—nothing tight on the legs—and no sleeveless shirts. Guys could wear shorts but most wore pants. It was their winter at the time. The weather was amazing! Warm days and cool nights. 

Favorite local attractions: The safari in Nairobi National Park, and mostly the people!  The Kenyan people were so excited to see us. They treated us like royalty and something very rare. You could tell that they didn’t see Americans very often!

A great experience off the beaten path: We took motorbikes up a winding dirt road to a lookout spot in Mwala. It overlooked the vast beautiful land and the longest volcanic lava plateau in the world, the Sanetti Plateau, which is 10,000 feet above sea level. 

Worth the splurge: Going with a mission group wasn’t necessarily a splurge, although it was hard to physically get there with the long travel and most of us missed a week of work (which is difficult monetarily). What we got from the people and from giving was priceless!  

Aimee painting faces at a local school

Insiders’ tips: Stay with your group. Know the area. Know the culture. Love on the people and be sure to take in the less fortunate villages and people. It is very humbling to see how this second-world country has not had the opportunity to progress due to their government’s corruption and the socialist setup. We are definitely the land of plenty! It made me rethink what is important in my world and what “things” I really need.

We would suggest this trip to others because: Go because it’s Africa! And go to be of service to others less fortunate than you. Commission Mankind is a mission organization that is doing the wonderful work of God but needs helpers. We were called the “apostles” when we were there. No other name could have described our group better, and it was so special to know we were being the hands and feet of Jesus and touching people’s lives in a way that would last their lifetime. I think it’s safe to say that everyone who went on this mission trip feels that our lives were touched more than anything we did for the people of Africa. Commission Mankind would love to have more helpers visit from the States, and donations are always welcome via their website, commissionmankind.com.