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Running and a gift of a lifetime


Duane Faitel

As an avid runner I made certain to make space in my crowded backpack for a pair of running shoes as I prepared for my mission trip to Kenya. Over the years as Ive traveled to foreign cities, a favorite method to explore the neighborhoods is to lace up and take a jog. During a two week mission trip I knew the itinerary took our team to different cities in Kenya.

Jet lag, nausea and early morning itineraries prevented me from taking my customary morning jogs. Finally towards the end of my two week trip I felt energized and excited to run. Kenya is a wonderful country yet very strange and different from the manicured suburbs I have grow accustomed.

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Because the sun rises at exactly six am everyday along the equator, I didnt need to look at my watch as the faint light turned to beautiful golden hues as I laced up my shoes for a jog. The air was cool and fresh.

As I made my exit from the hotel gate I greeted the locals walking along the road. Hujambo! (Hello).

I warmed up heading down a long hill. Along the way many women and school children stared at the Mzungu (white person) and a few even giggled. I made a turn about 3K out and started back up the long hill towards the hotel. A few small children watched me approach them and started running with me. Their interest quickly died and we all enjoyed a big laugh. A few hundred yards down the road another boy started running with me. He looked determined to keep up with me so I motioned for him to join me. He quickly fell in pace at my side. We trudged up the hill, he with his school uniform, a plastic bag with a few small books and quite noticeably, bare feet. We smiled at each other. I had made a determined effort to learn some Kiswahili during my 2 week stay and now here was a golden opportunity to put it to use. Jina langu ni DJ. (My name is DJ) I offered. Jina lako ni Nani? (What is your name?) Wesly, he answered. Arubaini na moja. (41, Im 41) Wewe? (you? How old are you?) Kumi na nne. (14). Merikani (Im American).

As we continued along I thought about my new running buddy. Like most school children near Kakamega they can barely afford the clothes on their back. I wonder if he really likes running? As we ran along I had an overwhelming urge to give this boy something. I wanted to bless him. As we neared the top of the hill where I needed to turn back to the hotel I slowed to a walk then sat on the edge of the pavement. I then motioned for him to sit next to me. As I started unlacing my shoes and removed them from my feet he looked at me quizzically. I pulled off my socks and handed them to Wesley and said Zawadi, Lako zawadi. (Gift, your gift) He understood and followed my lead by pulling on the socks and shoes and tying them. Even though the shoes were at least 2 or 3 sized too big he looked excited, yet still a bit mystified.

As we stood up and I bid him farewell then started to hobble down the dirt road toward the hotel, I wondered to myself if I inspired a runner and maybe someday Ill hear about a world class Kenyan runner named Wesly winning marathons and breaking world records. If that never happens, thats ok because today it sure felt great to bless a boy with something his family will most likely never be able to afford, a simple, used pair of running shoes.

Duane Faitel is a Natural Health Advocate with a passion for fitness, health and wellness. He loves God’s playground and spends many hours in the foothills and on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern CA.Learn more about building a successful online business at

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