I’m really excited to have a guest post today from my friend Claire Diaz-Ortiz. I met Claire a couple of years ago at Allume and am excited to have her here today to share a piece of her story. See, Claire and I have some things in common…a love for people, a love for Africa, and an inexplicable arresting of our souls by the God who’s plans are so much different, and so much better than we’d ever dare to dream.
“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.”
With words like that to describe her book, I’m sure you can understand why I couldn’t wait to have her here to share it with you. Yes…to it all….hope in the God who changes lives in the blink of an eye.
So, meet Claire:
Africa does something to your soul.
You step off the plane, feeling the thick air on hot skin, and you know that you will be different.
This is how it happened for me.
In 2006, I went back. She had been calling me, ever since the first trip. The trip where I sky-dived out of a plane and saw a yellow lion and held the hand of a tiny, smiling girl.
On my second trip, though, things would be different. Because this time, Africa would never leave me.
I go back to climb a mountain. Mt. Kenya, a big one, ready for the tattered running shoes I’ve already used to get to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest. I’ve been traveling for a year, you see. Taking trains through Siberia, bumping on rickety buses in rural Asia, reading hundreds of books on deserted beaches the world over.
Little luggage, little money. Lots of heart.
When someone recommends a guest house near the base of the mountain, I jump. It’s cheap, they say. It’s for me, I say.
The guest house is owned by an orphanage, they say. Oh, I say, not caring. It’s a place to sleep.
It is when I arrive at that guest house, and that orphanage, that something changes. That I feel, in a way I never have before and never have since, that my life is about to change. And so I ask God to open my eyes so that I can see.
I never do climb the mountain.
After a few days in the guest house, I decide to live in the orphanage for a year.
I start a small nonprofit organization called Hope Runs, and I spend a year running in the red dirt with tiny children and lanky teens alike. And when the year is over, Africa is not done with me.
Because there is a boy. A boy I fell in love with on that first day, and a boy I fell deeper in love with as the course of that year progressed. And now, we have found a way to bring him home. Home to the United States, to a new family with me, and to a different world.
Hope Runs: An American Tourist, A Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption is the story of this journey. A story of a young woman, a younger boy, and two lives that were turned on their heads in one afternoon under the bright sky of wide Africa.
This is our story. A story of meeting, and a story of living, and a story of everything that has happened since.
This is a story of hope. We all have stories, and this is mine.
Do You Know Your Story? What is it?
In honor of the launch of Hope Runs, I’m giving away a free ebook, entitled, Share Your Story. Download it here.
Win one of 3 Copies of Hope Runs:
To win a copy of Hope Runs, do one or more of the following things. Leave 1 comment on this post for every item you do.
- Like this blog post on Facebook.
- Tweet this blog post.
- Post this blog post on Pinterest.
Remember, for each thing you do, leave one comment. (So, if you post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, that would be three comments.)
(Or, buy a copy of Hope Runs and get $150 in freebies.)
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.