Traveling to Kenya is more than just a bucket list item for Central District Roadside Manager Rand Swanigan; it’s a labor of love.
Every summer since 2008, Swanigan has embarked on an 11-day mission trip to the House of Hope Orphanage in Naivasha, Kenya. The mission trip, organized by First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, is designed to build relationships, as well as complete projects for the orphanage housing 30 kids, ranging from ages 5-15.
“We really get to know the people of Naivasha and the children of the House of Hope Orphanage by going to the same area every year,” said Swanigan. “We schedule our trip so that we arrive during the kids’ time off from school. That gives us time to spend with the kids. It’s really amazing to watch these children grow up over the years. By going to the same place and having that much time to spend with each other, it makes a big difference in our lives and theirs.”
Swanigan typically travels to Kenya with five to eight people from the church. Eight days are typically spent at the orphanage with the children, while the other three days are spent on safari near Nairobi. His wife, a brother, his son and his nephew have all traveled with him on the mission trip at one time or another. This year, Swanigan took six young people ages 17-19 to Kenya.
“It’s a real bucket list item,” said Swanigan of the safari. “You get to see some pretty amazing things on the Serengeti – the great migration of the wildebeests, lions, and the desert. The kids on the mission trip really enjoy it every year.”
Swanigan plans to go again next year to Kenya and the House of Hope Orphanage, and will once again take a full crew with him.
“The mission trip is already filling up for next year,” said Swanigan. “I love going each summer. Going and helping out at the orphanage and getting to know the children, it’s a reflection of one of my strongest beliefs and something that God has asked us to do. I’m just happy to have shared these trips with so many people.”