I treasure the beauty of relationships and the beauty of nature more in this season than during any time of my life. Being outdoors and basking in the beauty of it all refreshes my spirit. In the same way, my heart feels alive as I connect and strengthen relationships.
On every trip I take, I look for treasures. I look for something or someone of great value that grips my heart.
In 2012, Jonas and I went on a trip to Kenya with Convoy of Hope. This trip to Kenya included two treasures.
The first came in the form of spending two nights in a beautiful “hotel” in the middle of the Animal Kingdom of the Great Masai Mara.
The hotel was a very sturdy luxurious tent that made you feel like you were in a five-star hotel. The downside was the location was in the area that also belonged to the wild animal kingdom.
We were in their habitat!
To see all the wild animals – leopards, tigers, hyenas, elephants, giraffe, hippos, zebras (to name a few) – was quite stunning and one misstep could have been costly.
During the middle of the night, we woke up suddenly at the sound of something right outside our tent. The darkness and silence were scary, and we stayed awake hoping whatever it was would not try to come into our tent, (which was only as secure as the zipper that closed the front door.)
Whatever animal lurked outside sounded very large and a few times it rubbed against the tent. Being entirely still in the darkness with only an occasional whisper gave us little comfort. Whatever was outside our tent was big and dangerous!
The next morning at breakfast, people were talking about a large hippo grazing around the tents. During the night I didn’t want to think it was a hippo because they’re huge, dangerous, and they stop for nothing as they go out at night for their food. These hippos are at least 10 feet long, and they weigh up to 3/4 ton.
I asked one of the safari guides what they do to keep us safe. They try to deter the animal, but if attacked they would not harm the animal. I have to be honest, it didn’t make me feel any safer, but we made it through the first night and only had one more to go.
It was a unique experience and at the top of my list of scary moments. The beauty and excitement of the safari was a treasure, and I live with the memory of it long after the experience.
My sweetest treasure from the trip came later when I met Ann.
We were in Nairobi, distributing shoes to a school of approximately 1000 students. The gratefulness of these kids was beyond anything I had ever experienced. The smiles, happiness, and joy were genuine as they received their very own pair of shoes.
The students displayed their deep gratitude by singing to us. Hundreds of kids were smiling, singing, and swaying with the music.
We were mesmerized by the beauty and the spirit of these children as they sang in perfect harmony in the African style.
I noticed one little girl in this choir of children, and I could not take my eyes off of her. She had beauty and such an incredible spirit that captivated me. It sounds silly to admit, but I felt a “momma” connection with her. I had a sincere desire to protect and care for this little treasure.
The memory of meeting Ann is engraved forever on my heart. When we left the school, I felt like I was leaving something behind.
For a few years, Ann and I were able to stay in touch, but eventually, we weren’t able to anymore. After we lost touch, I kept hope alive in my heart believing Ann was in Gods care. At times I felt I would never connect because I had no way of finding her.
Last year, she was browsing the internet and found my TEDx Talk. She somehow knew that I was the one she met at school when she was 12 years old. She reached out to me, and we were able to rebuild our connection.
What I’ve learned through this experience is when you find a treasure and lose it, it’s never really lost because it’s always in your heart. When you can’t find it, God is carefully watching over it.
Have you lost something you treasure?
If you have, keep it alive in your memory. You can trust God with the things and people you treasure most.
The Bible says, “Where your treasure is there is where your heart will be.”
My treasure was in Africa in the life of a little 12-year-old girl who I barely knew. My heart would not allow me to forget her.
The most beautiful treasures in this world are felt with the heart.