There is no way to know where your life will go. We work and plan and love and learn and think we know what may happen in this world, and what God may put in our path. But His magic shows, again and again, that what we know is nothing, and what we live is His.
This is how my story changed:
I went to Africa to climb a mountain.
It was the end of a year of around-the-world travel. A year of running through Indian monsoons, and searching for Mexican food in Mongolia, and reading hundreds of books on any hammock I could find. A year of a strange kind of traveling bliss that overtook me.
In Kenya, a mountain beckoned, as it had before. I was a runner, and a hiker, and after climbing to the base camp of Mt. Everest several months before, I knew I wanted more. After a few days in Kenya's capital, I headed to the guest house that had come recommended to me - a cheap place near the mountain, I had been told.
I arrived to find a stranger truth than I first understood.
This is what was true:
An orphanage owned this guest house, and the elders of the orphanage were inviting me to break bread with them. And then, life changed.
Because I felt God there, in that lunch, with those people. And I asked Him to help me see. To help me know if He had put this place - this orphanage, this home for 170 Kenyan children I had never thought to think of before - in my road to change me.
He had, of course.
To this day, I have never climbed Mt. Kenya. I lived in that orphanage for a year, starting a small running program that became a non-profit organization, Hope Runs, with a mission to help orphaned and vulnerable children.
And in that year of running, other things came to pass.
Because on that first day, in those first hours, I had a met a boy. A teen who looked nine or ten, but proved to be thirteen, and who had struck up a conversation with me that I couldn't shake. Throughout my year living in that place, he was at my side.
When I left Kenya, I left with the intention to bring him home with me. And eventually, with hope and prayer and work and sweat, he made it here. And now, years have passed, and our lives are more wildly different than we ever imagined.
Hope Runs: An American Tourist, A Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption is the story of our journey.
I believe in the power of story. Not just mine, but yours as well. In honor of the launch of Hope Runs, I'm giving away a free ebook, entitled, Share Your Story. Download it here.
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About Hope Runs:
Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to illness, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with seven other children and very little food. He entered an orphanage seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.
When Claire Diaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mt. Kenya, then head back home. She entered an orphanage seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek. God had other plans.
Hope Runs is the emotional story of an American tourist, a Kenyan orphan, and the day that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It's about what it means to live in the now when the world is falling down around you. It's about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see. Most of all, it's about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.
About Claire Diaz-Ortiz:
Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire) is an author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, she holds an MBA and other degrees from Stanford and Oxford and has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. She writes a popular blog at ClaireDiazOrtiz.com and is the author of the new book, Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption.