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Team Member Spotlight: Dakota Keyser

Meet Team Member, Dakota Keyser!
"I love fairhope because the town is one big family and such a close community. Everywhere you go there is a friendly face and everyone waves to each other and says hey. Also, you can’t beat a fairhope sunset."

Dakota has worked with us for many years now. She just recently graduated from Fairhope High School in the spring of 2018, but rather than following a path to college after graduation, Dakota decided to devote her time to something else. She is currently on a 3 month mission trip to Thailand and Cambodia to teach English and reach out to girls who are trapped in human trafficking. She is beyond excited to be a part of something so impactful and so close to her heart!

“In early October of 2017 I made the decision to swap out college applications for an application to a gap semester program called Passport. While all my friends were loading up boxes upon boxes into cars to take to college with them, I was packing all the belongings I needed for my trip in a 65 liter camping back pack. On August 29th, I grabbed by back pack, said good bye to Fairhope, AL, and was on my way to training camp to meet the girls that I would be traveling with for the next 3 months. My team consists of 10 girls from all of the United States who also dropped what they were doing to serve the Lord during this new season of life. Our first ministry location was at an orphanage called New Hope for Orphans in Siem Reap, Cambodia. From the second we all got out of the van at the orphanage, all 24 kids clung to us and would not let go. For the next month we got to experience life the way they did. We slept on the floor of one of their empty classrooms, showered in the same bathrooms, ate at the same table, played in the same rice fields and got to experience first hand what living life so simply meant. Everyday at 5:00 AM the “dad” at the orphanage would lead a bible study and worship that we went to. It was beautiful to sit and and listen to all the kids sing, and read from their bibles in khmer (language of Cambodia) every morning as the sun rose. Every child at New Hope is a Christian and some of the children are only there because of their decision to convert. Our God is so great that he has created a little place on earth for these children to feel safe, loved, and taken care of in a country that doesn’t accept what they believe in. At our month at the orphanage we taught them English, taught them Bible stories, played with them, and prayed with them, but out of everything we taught or did with them I feel like I learned more from them than they did from me. They taught me that a relationship with God is not something that comes easy and is worth fighting for, that dancing in the rain and not waiting for the storm to pass really is freeing and beautiful, and most of all, they taught me that living a simple life gives you more space to love deeper and wider than you ever have before. Leaving New Hope was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done because these kids rarely get to experience a deep connection with people who come to visit. We were lucky enough to be there for a long enough period of time to create amazing relationships, but this only made it harder to leave. We are headed from Cambodia to Thailand now, and I know that God has amazing things in store for the next 2 months.” – Dakota Keyser

We are so proud of you, Dakota, and we can not wait to see how the Lord uses you next! You have been such a light in the store these past few years, and we are so thankful to have you on our team.

Best wishes and safe travels! Keep moving mountains.