Kerri Gerrie

As Interviewed by Dresden Timco, March 8, 2012

Kerri Gerrie: In Her Own Words

Well, I help African children with my work through African New Life Ministries. In August we flew into Kigali in the country of Rwanda in Africa and we stayed in the mission house there and did a lot of work in Kageyo which is a refugee resettlement camp about three hours outside of Kigali. In Kageyo we were able to work with the children. We were able to help bring in food and feed the children lunch, we were also helping with their education additionally once we saw that they were hungry and they needed water, we didn't realize that the families there had no water their water well had been broken for a long time, we came back to Austin and we had a fundraiser where we raised money to repair the well and some additional funds to build more wells in the village of Kageyo.

This is my only mission trip out of the country my first one, at my old age and I went with Adam (her teenage son). The reason why we went was for Adam to sing and we went with a recording artist called Josh Havens hes with a band called The Afterers, and so the purpose of our mission trip was to go to towns and villages and sing so we sang in different schools, we sang for Young Life, we sang for churches, we sang for street children and in the trash dump. We would like to do some work in East Austin. We work through Young Life with Travis High School and often times well go to Travis and prepare meals and serve their families there.

For Africa, we actually did not have a very long time to prepare maybe about a month. For Adam since he was a child was current on all his vaccinations, only had to get two things. Something for Typhoid Fever and Malaria. I had to get current on all of mine, which took a little time. I also for a week meet with people who had been to Africa before that could tell me what to pack, what would be beneficial for me while I was there, and I also did research on what food items I would want to take while I was there. They say Americans always bring lollipops and I wanted to bring something that was more meaningful than lollipops, so we brought them school supplies, granola bars, and tons of clothes!

When we were in Kigali we meet Jovanas and his mother Dativa and the mission house had taken them in because Jovanas had had some surgery. When he was born he had Rickets and that is a disease that affects the bone and his knees become inverted. African New Life Ministries raised the funds for surgery for Jovanas in Uganda. When we got there in August Jovanas was recovering from his surgery and the physical therapy was not going well. He had not received proper physical therapy and his legs had been locked straight and he was having trouble walking. We meet him when he couldn't walk and Adam just had a huge burden in his heart for Jovanas, and we wanted to see him get well. I dont think that he has had Malaria, which is shocking, but he has suffered from typhoid fever. He had just received his medical visa to come here, and we got the bad news that he and his mother had come down with typhoid fever, and he was sick for two weeks and he is still weak and trying to recover.

In Africa it is very difficult to find water, and as I have said before running water is pretty much unheard of, and so they go to the well and they have these huge yellow containers that these little children carry it is unbelievable to me that they can manage these big containers of water. The children usually fetch the water that's sort of their job and they'll bring it back, and they are very careful with it. When we were in Kageyo, the little village Jovanas lives, there water well was broken. When I was was there I had a water bottle with me and I was holding it, it probably had one fourth of the water left in it and the children were begging me for it, they were grabbing it and trying to pull it out of my hand, which of course I let the first child have, but that's hard too because then all of the other children didn't get it and it made me feel horrible and I just didn't realize they were thirsty they were so thirsty but through the African New Life Ministries they are drastically helping the water situation there. Jovanas is not used to having water so I almost have to make him drink it, only one time he has asked me for water and every time I ask him he will take it, we don't waste it. He is supposed to try to assimilate into our culture and he was told to just go with the flow.

Health, poverty, and water are all big burdens. It seems like they all play off each other. Water is huge, clean water is huge! They have swamps and their thirsty so they will drink out of the swamp, which then gives them poor health, because they are poor to begin with so unfortunately they all play off each other.

Besides Young Life, I like African New Life Ministries because when you donate to African New Life Ministries 100% of your donation goes directly to the cause. But even more why I like them is because Pastor Charles is the founder and I have had the opportunity to meet him upon three occasions, I just think he is well educated he has a strong vision, and hes on fire for Jesus, he understands the American culture and the African culture and has an uncanny way that god has shown him to marry them so he is a strong leader and I feel very strongly that he is leading the organization well plus 100% of your donation goes directly to the cause, so people give as their passionate. So if you want to give towards the dormitory, or if you want to give towards the school boat...For us we were passionate about the water, and so 100% of the money went straight to the water.

In our experience, they were always overwhelmed and happy to see us, which was extremely humbling to them that someone from America...First of all, let me say that I wrestled with spending that much money to go there instead of giving that much money to them directly. So why would I pay for a plane ticket when $3,000 for my plane ticket could pay for a lot of food for somebody? So I struggled with how much money it would cost for Adam and I to go, until I got there, and I saw how much it meant to these Africans that were so overwhelmed by us being there. And it meant so much to them that an American would care so much about them.

So, furthermore, to be in the country, I could see for myself. I had visions for the needs, and it made me exponentially more passionate about serving the least of these. I think it was interesting that it meant a lot to them that we would make the journey and that we cared enough about them to go to into their village, and to know them, and to spend time with them to be part of their community meant more to them than I ever dreamed. And then when Adam would sing for them, they would just flock around us for more. It just made them feel loved. It really did. They raced after us as we would leave, all 100 children racing after your bus. It was hard to keep going. We would go, and we would feed and play with the children, or play for the children the music. We like to call it we speak kid. Kids sort of have a universal language. I felt like we absolutely had dialogue even if their language is Kindrowanderen. We learned some fun sayings, and they learned you're crazy, you're cool, and see ya later, alligator from us and that was really fun. We were mazongo which means white people.

Just sharing the gifts God has given to me with others, seeing the impact it has on their life, knowing that that's how Jesus wants me to live my life. Around here we call it Coram Deo, which means living your life before the face of God, and I just feel like it's right and you know it in your soul.