Aurora -- The Brown family of Aurora and a handful of other members of Destiny Church in Twinsburg spent Aug. 6-15 in a small city named Karen outside Nairobi in Kenya.°
The group of about a dozen was on a mission trip to help provide a special week of worship and fun for about 200 children brought together at a school campus in Kenya, said Calvin Brown Sr., an assistant pastor at Destiny Church.
"We went and spent a week with the kids, playing with them, teaching, doing crafts -- the kind of thing you'd expect in a summer camp," said Brown.
The program is called Remember Nhu, which is dedicated to protecting children from being caught up in the international sex trade, said Brown.
"They establish a home with a house and children who are at high risk of entering the sex trade," he explained. "These are 20 to 30 different children, each with a story, and most likely not the greatest story. Most are orphans through premature death of parents or abandonment."
According to Remember Nhu's website, the organization has established 65 homes across 12 countries. Ten of those homes were represented at the camp, and one is adopted by Destiny Church, said Brown.
"We also took a dentist and nurse with us and were able to give some minor medical attention," he said. "The dentist basically checked the teeth and pulled a lot of teeth that were beyond repair."
A highlight for the Brown family was meeting Hillary, 7, a boy whose living expenses they agreed to pay throughout childhood.°
One of Brown's sons -- Maxwell, 13 -- said his favorite part of the trip was "playing soccer with the kids and also teaching them. Almost everyone had their own group of kids. I had 10- and 11-year-olds."
He said he was impressed by the children.°"They had a lot of focus," he said. "Even if they were little, they could still pay attention."
Brown's other son -- Calvin Jr. -- agreed that soccer helped bond the group.
"Soccer was the way we got to know each other," he said. "Even though we didn't speak the same language, we could still play soccer with them."
Brown said a typical day during the camp started at 6:30 a.m. with worship, breakfast and then more singing and Bible lessons.°
After a couple of hours, he said they broke out into individual age groups for more lessons. After breaks for tea and lunch, there was some free time, then the whole group came back together for more singing, worship and praise, he said.°
Brown's wife Robin said she was impressed by the welcome she received.
"From the moment we met these children, they would approach us and reach out to shake our hands," she said. "It was very special."
She said she enjoyed the times of worship.°
"I enjoyed vacation Bible school and worship and praise time," she said. "Watching the children worship and praise the Lord -- no matter what their situation was -- they had so much joy. They were happy to be where they were. It was a good time, I think, for all of us."
Brown said one of his highlights was talking to and learning about the Kenyans.
"The people there are so humble and gracious," he said. "They give you the sense it really is an honor for you to come and visit. When you come to visit, it means so much.
"Kenyans, in particular, are just like us. There are some people doing well, some who are struggling. They were vibrant and joyful. They had none of the trappings we have, and they were joyful."
Brown said his family and others from Destiny Church are already making plans to try to return to Kenya
Until that time, the group from Destiny Church learned about the house's needs which they plan to help meet, which includes shoes, clothing and other necessities, but also things like soccer balls and items that are not necessities but would enrich their lives.
Brown said he'd like to raise funds to provide the house with a van, which would help get the children to school, medical appointments and provide other chances to see the wider world.
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