Carrie Vermillion returned to Kenya in June 2011. Here are her thoughts and reflections on how this experience affected her life.

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I’m stubborn. You could tell me the sky is blue a million times, and I’ll believe it, but there will be that moment that on the 999th time – I’ll pause, look up, and go – hey wait a minute. The sky IS blue. Wow – and it’s a beautiful blue, at that.

I guess this is a good Reader’s Digest explanation of me and my faith. Sometimes you have to hit me over the head with something a few times to get me to see it.

Last year, Africa changed me. It became so much more than I ever thought it would. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it challenged me. I found a piece of myself there – a part of my heart. I found my faith.

On year two, I didn’t know what would happen. I knew it would be a chance to go back and hopefully see some familiar faces. I knew it would be a chance to capture every moment, still and video. I knew it would make me happy. Past that, I didn’t have expectations. I assumed it wouldn’t be the earth shaker that it was last year. And, well, you know what happens when you assume.

I remain steadfast with the belief, that despite all of the tragedies and sickness and poverty – Kenya is one of the happiest places on earth. It is a country full of smiles, and hugs, and dancing, and singing, and a genuine hospitality. And faith. It is bursting at the seams with faith. That is something that surprised me last year – I was assuming everyone would be sad and all ho-hum for his or her situation. Just goes to show you that hope and faith are so powerful (and important).

If you need further proof, just look at this face.

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