Travel Series: Meet Kendyl

kendyl elliot_africa (9) Today we are so proud to introduce Kendyl Elliott, who for the next four weeks will be telling her story and sharing some of the moving photos she captured while living and working abroad. This isn't your typical travelogue, with glamorous hotels and fancy gelato stands. Kendyl's trip was a mission of love, and one that we are so honored and humbled to be able to pass on to you, our incredible readers. Part I - Getting There I grew up listening to missionaries speak about the lives they lived overseas. It seemed like such a dream— seeing the beauty of the world and restoring hope in the lives of others. It seemed like the perfect path for me. There was always something about the stories of Africa that stirred my soul. For years, I dreamed of being there. When I was given the opportunity to actually go, I jumped at the chance. Before I knew it -- and thanks to the help of a loving church and multiple generous financial donors -- I was packing my bags and heading to Ivory Coast, West Africa last summer. kendyl elliot_africa (1) I traveled solo for over 24 hours on my first international excursion. It was an adventure I wasn’t exactly prepared for. I quickly became lost inside Brussels Airport in Belgium. I tried to call my pastor, and (of course) my cell signal was gone. I tried to iMessage him, and I was directed to an all-French website with instructions on how to pay for wi-fi in Euros. I learned all of three words in French prior to this trip, and I had no idea what the exchange rate was for American currency, but I managed to figure things out. I invested a small fortune in a brief internet connection, but it paid off. I even managed to guide myself to civilization: Starbucks. kendyl elliot_africa (6) The Africa terminal in Brussels Airport is quite possibly the strangest airport scene I have ever encountered. There was one “restaurant,” but no one was working inside of it. There was an ATM, but it only dispensed American currency, while the vending machines only accepted Euros. There was no music playing, and the other twenty people around me were speaking French. In that moment, I wondered if this adventure was a mistake. I felt so alone and confused. It was at that very moment that I saw a familiar image from across the terminal: a Razorback shirt. I honestly thought my weary eyes were seeing things. When I bumped into the girl wearing that shirt in the restroom, I could not believe it. We were some of the only English-speaking travelers in this airport in Belgium,and we were both from Little Rock. I have never wanted to chant “Woo Pig Sooie” with so much might. kendyl elliot_africa (3) Traveling from Belgium to Ivory Coast was absolutely incredible. Unlike my first flight, I spent the majority of this leg of the trip in the daylight. When I first saw Africa beneath the clouds and realized just how tangible this dream was becoming, my face beamed with joy. I couldn’t wait for what was to come when I stepped off the plane and onto the soil of the land my heart longed to see. kendyl elliot_africa (11)kendyl elliot_africa (10) Stay tuned for more from Kendyl's amazing trip to Africa! Part II of her journey will be published next Friday right here at Hello Luvvy. Have questions for Kendyl about her trip, her mission, or her future trips? Email us at helloluvvy@gmail. Writer's bio: Kendyl is a coffee-driven college student pursuing a degree in education. She plans to teach English abroad after graduating from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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