Father and son team make a journey with impact

Nolan Sooy, a junior at Bay High School, with some of the children at a vacation bible school, where he assisted during the CARE for AIDS Impact trip.

In July, as father and son we had the opportunity to travel from our home in Bay Village with a group of 18 other individuals from Northeast Ohio and other parts of the U.S. to Nairobi, Kenya, on an “impact trip,” with an organization called CARE for AIDS. The purpose of the organization is to empower people, who are HIV positive or have AIDS, to live beyond their condition spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and economically.

During the trip we had the chance to see all levels of the work carried out by CARE for AIDS in partnership with local churches. The people or clients whom we observed ranged from those who were early in their journey with the organization to those who were graduating from its 9-month program. Every step of the way we saw them in their medical and spiritual counselling, visited with them in their homes where we built relationships and shared meals with them, and worshiped and engaged with them in vacation bible school.

Through these experiences, we came to understand why the trip we were on was called an “impact trip.” It was as much about the people we met in Kenya having an impact on us, as it was about us having an impact on them by caring for them and their community.

One particular individual, who was HIV positive, made a profound impression on us. She showed us that she didn’t let her condition define who she was. What did define her were her relationships with God, her children and her community. One of the phrases that she spoke was, “As long as I have my relationship with God and fall under the blanket of His protection, nothing can harm me.” It was a powerful statement that continues to stay with us.

At the beginning of our trip, we were asked by our group leader to define the word "poverty." Most of us defined it as the absence of material possessions or money. However, by the end of the trip our definition changed to mean far more, the lack of community and relationships with family and God. It became apparent to us that those things that are often absent in a narrow definition of prosperity are the most important things in life.

The CARE for AIDS impact trip put into perspective for us that the world is really big, and we are only a small part of it. It is humbling to see God’s work on a global scale in a different part of the world that He created. We are grateful that we could witness it, as well as be a part of it.

To learn more about CARE for AIDS go to careforaids.org, or join the CARE for AIDS founders and authors of "Beyond Blood" on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Bay Presbyterian Church for the release of their book about CARE for AIDS. Tickets are $20. For more details about the event go to bit.ly/2m8Spns.

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Volume 11, Issue 18, Posted 9:09 AM, 09.17.2019