“If you’ve been to places like Europe, you understand there are a lot of commonalities with the U.S. You kind of get culture-slapped when you go to Africa. It really awoke something in me.”-Brian Powell

In episode 3 of the Canopy Life Podcast, Canopy Life founder, Christi Gordy and show host, Evan Chasteen sat down with past trip members, Brian and Haley Powell to talk about their trip with Canopy Life last summer. We’ve got the highlights here.

To get the full story, check out our podcast on iTunes or Spotify.

There seems to be a common longing within us to help others. Do you have experiences that awakened a desire in you to go to Africa?

BRIAN: My first trip to Africa was actually with Bob Goff. An opportunity arose for me to go to Uganda, and I remember emailing to say ‘I don’t really know what I want to do on this trip, but I want to go. I don’t know what you’re doing, but I just felt compelled to go.’ So Bob said, ‘Come on!’ I’m not sure I would have sought out the opportunity had it not presented itself to me. The door opened, and I went through it.

What came from that trip was a desire to start my own non-profit organization to help others get connected with organizations in Uganda. A friend of mine actually started her own non-profit after a trip with me.

The ripple effect is a very real thing. When people make desicisons and follow through with them, it effects the lives, of not only who you’re drawn to, but the lives of other people in your own lives.- Evan Chasteen

One step of courage will impact the people around you.

mission trip to Africa activities

CHRISTI: When those who support you see your excitement and the impact of that courage on your life when you return home, it really starts a ripple effect. Your act of courage is going to impact your church community and helps to spread the ideas of courage, obedience, and sacrifice. Although the sacrifice of going on an international mission trip these days looks a bit different than it did 100 years ago, it does involve a sacrifice that will create greater faith.

BRIAN: A lot of times people need a little push. Sometimes people don’t see an open door as a real opportunity until they connect with someone who has been (to Africa).

Let’s talk food.

HALEY: Most of the food is pretty basic and not really spicy. My favorite food that I had while in Kenya was Chapati, a type of fried flatbread that you eat with rice and beans or stew. Because everything is handmade and fresh, you can really taste the freshness and the care that goes into preparing it, at least at the school (Canopy Life).

Fun Fact: Brian and Haley traveled to Kenya in July. The hotel staff knew the U.S. was celebrating Independence Day and wanted to make a special meal for them, which was meaningful, but also a bit funny. Check out the podcast to hear the story.

What stood out to you the most about your trip with Canopy Life?

HALEY: I did not grow up traveling or spending time in other cultures. Leading up to the trip, my family was concerned about my safety. For me, it’s important to share that people in Kenya are a lot like us. There are so many similarities that are important to share, like the desire they have to love their families [like we desire to love our own families]. Growing up, I had a totally different view of what it would be like to travel to another country.

EVAN: We often go on trips with these expectations of what our experiences will be like when it’s not always the reality. I’ve found that love is universal. That’s a really cool thing to bring back with you.

BRIAN: The one thing that I had never learned before visiting Canopy Life, is that in countries [like Kenya] you can get an education, even a college education, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a job. At Canopy Life, they have this element of innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership training. The students need to have the ability to go back to their communities and create jobs for themselves and for others.

This education thing, where we try to help people get an education, falls a little short, but Canopy Life is taking the extra step. One of the most fun things we did while at Canopy Life was help with the Innovation curriculum.

HALEY: It was incredible to see the courage of the students and others, even hotel staff, cheering for them!

EVAN: Sometimes when I think of Africa, immediately my mind goes to a more serious and somber mindset. But with a trip to Canopy Life, there’s just so much fun built-in. Canopy Life is a good mixture of seriousness and fun.

Check out the podcast to hear about the team’s raft-building adventures with the students at Canopy Life.

As someone who has traveled a lot, are there differences about a trip with Canopy Life compared to other service trips that people need to know about?

BRIAN: During past trips, we’ve moved around within the country quite a bit. Spending our time solely at Canopy Life gave us the opportunity to go deeper with the students and teachers. That’s not something I’ve experienced with other trips.

What types of people would you recommend to go on a Canopy Life #relationTRIP?

HALEY: It is really special to get to experience a Canopy Life trip with people you love. Some team members brought their kids on our trip, and they got to see their kids grow and take responsibility in ways they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Going with your spouse is a lot of fun. You get to see your spouse grow in new ways.

BRIAN: I feel pretty much anybody should go. In a broad sense, every American should leave the country. To go and visit Kenya, and meet people and realize we share the same humanity… They don’t necessarily have all the materialistic things that we have that can bog us down. The investment is a two-way thing. You’re investing in them, and they are investing in you.

We learn from each other.

There is great value in getting outside of Western culture. Kenyans have so much to teach us. They have an intimacy with God that we may never see because of our tendency to lean more on our own self-sufficiency. Cultures outside of Western cultures are often seen as poor, materialistically speaking. Many people don’t realize that when we visit these places, we also come poor:

We come to Kenya soul poor, relationally poor, community poor…

It often takes leaving what we know and experiencing an abundance of these gifts to fully understand what we are missing.

Interested in traveling to Kenya with Canopy Life? Here are your next steps.

Travel to Kenya with Canopy Life

WE. LOVE. KENYA. We would love to show you why! If you’re interested, first visit our website’s FAQ page.

You can then email shannon.canopylife@gmail.com, our Trips Coordinator. She will answer all of your travel questions. You can even set up a time to call or meet with her over Facetime.

When you know for sure you want to go, pick a trip date, and apply online! We will help you prepare for your trip and fundraising.

Listen to Episode 2 of our podcast to learn more.

Taking a trip is just one way to be a part of what Canopy Life is doing in Kenya. What are the other ways?

Here are 3 additional ways to make a BIG IMPACT through Canopy Life:

  1. Make a one-time gift.
  2. Join our monthly-giving community, The Village.
  3. Sponsor a child. This is a monthly-giving option + cultivating a relationship with that child.