“The days were filled with classes, playing games with kids and visiting nearby schools. For Ms. Annalee Abell, Kenya was blessing her “beyond measure.”
The former Geography/U.S. History teacher and Freshman Volleyball Coach at St. Xavier High School in Louisville, KY, embarked on a summer adventure to serve God in Africa, in Lodwar, Kenya, with the Xaverian Brothers. Stepping out in faith and into the unknown, Annalee joined her colleague and friend, Jennifer O’Brien, a teacher at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, KY, to serve the mission, love on students and families, and support the work of the Brothers.
In May, veteran Kenya missionaries Brothers Louis Calmel and Michael Foley met with Annalee to share their knowledge and lived experiences serving the mission in Africa.
Brother Louis served as headmaster in Lodwar while Brother Michael taught and developed many educational opportunities. The Brothers edified and encouraged Annalee, sharing their stories and experiences prior to her venture.
Upon arriving in Kenya, Annalee worked at St. James Minor Seminary with Xaverian Brothers Moses Wafula Barasa, Director, and Brother Bernard Albert Wandura Jumah. She visited the novitiate community in Nairobi and had a chance to see the joy on the boys’ faces at St. James as they sported their new basketball uniforms for the season; compliments of St. Xavier High School in Louisville and showcasing how XBSS schools look out for each other even across continents.
“In the 21st century, Xaverian schools are uniquely positioned to have a meaningful impact in the lives of its students,” said Annalee.
“In our time at St. James Minor Seminary in Lodwar, it was clear that the mission of evangelicalism and the opportunity for rigorous education are especially prevalent. As a former XBSS teacher, it warms my heart to see the mission of the Xaverian Brothers being carried out in the desolate and often forgotten region of Turkana in Northern Kenya.”
Annalee described one of the best parts of her time in Kenya as simply visiting with families of students in the Turkana region, affirming it as “Such a true blessing.”
She quickly realized that the basis for Xaverian education rested in relationships with students. Brother Moses and Madame Ingrid allowed Annalee to teach grammar review and poem instructions which especially thrilled her given her distinct love for poetry.
“I think that all the boys will remember the day we covered love poems where they were treated to a dramatic reading of E.E. Cummings’ ‘I carry your heart (I carry it in)’ and then were tasked with writing their own poems,” she said. “For 11th graders, this was quite hilarious for them.”
As Annalee and Jennifer visited schools in the region, they began to better understand the education system and how the Xaverian mission works to serve the community.
“At St. James, the students welcomed me and Jennifer into their classrooms, challenged us to sports contests and invited us to participate in their weekly debates,” she shared. “The students and faculty are such a blessing to this world, and we felt honored to be furthering connections through the Xaverian mission of community and education.”
Time spent at St. James affirmed for Annalee that students everywhere are very much the same; all holding desires to understand their place in the world, preparing for their futures, and building their relationships with God. She treasured her time in Kenya, describing it as full of blessings and furthering of God’s mission. Through our Xaverian network, the Spirit has continued to move across two continents.
“I think of all the things we have done in Kenya, meeting the families of the students was my personal favorite,” Annalee wrote. “It has been difficult to find the words to show my gratitude towards the students and families for their warmth.”