My family’s connection with Crossing Thresholds began in 2014 with an offer to join a family friend on a trip to Kenya for a mission. When I asked how she found out about this organization, I laughed as she described how her niece in San Francisco heard from her coworker who heard Carter Via speaking on NPR during her lunch break. I was almost positive I would never join the trip and dismissed the idea as small talk. But that night, I looked into CTs website (then CCT) Grassroots? Human connection? Cultural integration? Intrigued and hopeful, I read on.
I spoke to my husband, Jon, about my growing interest in joining a trip. At that time, we could not afford for the two of us to go (coming from Seattle), but knowing my long time struggle to find “the right organization”, he grabbed my shoulders, looking me square in the eyes: “you’re going”. My friend was not able to join in the end, so I decided to just go, having never met anyone from CT nor having met her niece (and coworker).
Fast forward to July, I shot myself up with every required travel vaccine, over-purchased “necessities” and made a handful of inquiries to CT wondering what I could be useful for.
I felt nervous, intimidated, excited, and eager to essentially prove to myself, that I have something to give. After I arrived in Kenya though, what I wanted, changed.
As many trip participants now know, a week in Kibera can unveil emotions and self reflection that one may not have known existed. My experience left me with admiration for a rich culture and wanting more of the CT trademark human-connection. From my first soul-connection with a student and staff member at FAFU, to the range of expression in evening Reflections (everybody cries at some point) to the Kenyan countryside and discomforts-- ants, baboons, and bad bowels, oh my!-- I got raw and real and left Kenya with many CT participants knowing a depth of me that I had yet to unearth at home. I think it helped that I didn’t have my family there to comfort me. And I learned that the less you expect, rather, want out of the trip, the more you gain.
After returning home and emptying it of excess stuff (it happens), my husband who had mostly experienced other cultures from the view of the USMC, and who had only heard from my experience with CT, decided he NEEDED to go. So... he one-upped me and signed up for CT’s first Kilimanjaro fundraiser and the 2015 summer trip. His experience being on the school construction crew, connecting with the kids and trip participants and completing a feat at over 18,000 feet high- added to our collective perception of what CT and Africa means to us. His experience added more people to our growing “heart family”. For the 2016 Summer trip, after Jon had already joined on the January trip, we finally convinced a good friend to join us and traveled as a family with our seven year old daughter in tow. I knew we loved our CT community and that we’d always be along for the ride, but watching our daughter join in with children (who went nuts over her presence- and long hair) in song, dance and play... listening to her share her child’s point of view with a group of adults cemented our continued efforts with CT. Since that trip, we have joined several more, and occasionally show up at CT fundraisers held every Fall.
This mission of generating thoughtful cultural connections, educating and nurturing children, and providing sustainable opportunities to communities in need is something that one random trip awakened us to. And having seen it first hand, as much as we have now, it is a cause us Cooks choose to stand behind.
CT Trip Participant