This summer, Canopy Life was excited to have teams from the US come visit us in Kenya. Among those teams was our friend Cindy Poundstone. Cindy serves on our Volunteer Home Team as an Academic Expert, and has traveled to Kenya several times. Below, Cindy shares some of her story.
What prompted you to join a trip to visit Canopy Life Academy?
I’ve been involved with Canopy Life since it was just an idea! At the same time the idea for the school was being born, I had the same calling in my heart. I believe Africa is equipped with the minds and hearts of children who can do great things. They can solve water shortages. They can cure the AIDS pandemic. Job creation and a good market economy can be at their fingertips. They just need an education system that will encourage creative thinking, reinforce problem solving, and provide hope for significant change. I have my certification for gifted education and knew these skills, combined with the fire planted into my heart, would put me where God intended me to be. Turns out, that’s at Canopy Life!
What did you enjoy most about your trip this summer?
I loved seeing the growth in the students. It has been two years since my last trip and the students have become even more confident in who they are and what they are doing. They are skilled risk takers in the classroom. Two years ago, they were just beginning to wonder. Now their curious minds are open to all possibilities.
In addition, reuniting with friends I call family made going to Kenya extra special!
Is there something specific you learned about yourself or God through the experience?
I have always heard and believed that God uses all things for good. This mindset helps give me hope and joy in difficult circumstances. As Canopy Life grows and adapts, there have been times when creativity and extreme flexibility have been required of the staff and students. In talking with a student, I found that a new friendship at Mind Bridge, a school Canopy Life has developed connections with, has given her the opportunity to pray for and encourage another student. This girl’s situation is serious and our sweet Canopy Life girl has spoken boldly about Jesus and the plans God has for each of our lives. We talked about where this new friend might be if the Canopy students had never shared classroom space with Mind Bridge’s students. God has already prepared our students to walk boldly in his name in the community, and this season He is using the smallest of these to do a mighty good in His name. My lesson is to hold fast to the belief that God is in the middle of all things and will use it for good if we remain faithful and bold.
How would you encourage a friend who’s considering going on a trip with Canopy Life?
I would say that being in Kenya will show you things about yourself—and more importantly about Him—that we are just too busy to hear and see in our everyday hustle. The simplistic atmosphere where all that matters is that moment with the person you are with will open you up to Him in a way we just don’t allow to happen in our lives at home. I have been to Kenya a number of times and no two trips are the same and no two encounters with God are the same.
Is there anything else about your experience you’d like to share?
During the trip, we spent a great deal of our time with Canopy’s teachers doing training, observations, and discussion on what is working and what we can improve. The teachers’ enthusiastic responses never cease to amaze me! Here’s just one story of a way I saw this happen.
We were fortunate enough to be at Canopy Life with a team devoted to taking the students on local field trips. In Kenya, field trips are not a common experience. [You can read more about Canopy field trips HERE.] The busy week of trips included Kuzuri Beads where women are employed and empowered to meet the needs of their families. At Kitengela Glass, mountains of glass brought in from Nairobi are heated and hand blown into small household decorative items to giant pieces for the hotel industry. Everyone was wide-eyed to see master glass blowers in action!
During the field trip, students responded to a five senses prompt and post trip reflections. We started a sculpture using recycled water bottles and made the important connection between our lives through Christ and the recycling process we witnessed.
The greatest encouragement to me was when Teacher Linah enthusiastically said, “Now it all comes together! Preparing students for a field trip makes so much sense!” She promptly began to do her own preparation for the trip to the tea farm using the tools we presented to them. The result was active learners filled with curiosity at the tea farm!
Thank you, Cindy, for sharing about your experiences at Canopy Life this summer.
If you’d like to discover more about how you can sign up for a trip to Kenya in the future, click HERE.