On Turkish Fish and Hope

It’s only fitting that I begin this first post from Tanzania with a metaphor. This metaphor involves flesh eating Turkish fish but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

I’ve been awake for a solid 48 hours with a couple of hour-long dozes here and there. So it’s safe to say that anything I type in this post could potentially be marred by the fact that my brain is moving about ten seconds behind my fingers.

Or maybe my fingers are moving ten seconds behind my brain. It’s hard to say, honestly…

After missing our connection in Amsterdam due to a weight/balance issue in Detroit, we spent a solid eight hours in the Amsterdam airport (or maybe ten…I dunno). While there, we came upon the aforementioned Turkish fish and our fearless trip leaders, Keely and Shaun, decided to allow the little flesh eaters to rid their feet of all impurities.

(And when I say Turkish fish, I mean that literally. They were imported from Turkey. I mean, I guess they could have been snagged from the pet shop down the road, but the lady was very convincing that these were, indeed, Turkish fish and that really sounds so much better for the story I’m telling.)

Our leaders allowing the dead flesh of their feet to be gnawed away by Turkish fish is where the metaphor comes in. I don’t actually know what it represents metaphorically because my brain is completely fried, but I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

If you figure it out you can share it with us in the comments.

We were rerouted through Nairobi (bonus country – whoop!) and then Kilimajaro and then Mwanza. That’s like 67 hours of flying time, which is only slightly an exaggeration. Okay, it’s a big exaggeration, but it felt like the longest day ever. And I LOVED every minute of it.

Half of our bags did not arrive in Kilimanjaro, which means that I smell and will for at least one more day. But that doesn’t matter to you since you can’t smell me through the computer so consider yourselves twice blessed.

Upon arrival we got to experience our first Compassion site and it was every bit as moving and sweet and awe-inspiring as I hoped it would be. My prayer in preparation for this trip was, “Lord give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart open to knowing You more.”

I feared coming here and being calloused to the work of Compassion. I’ve read the blog trips before and I worried that I wouldn’t have anything new to share. How would I write and what would I say? As we rounded the corner, though, and were greeted by dozens of faces smiling and grinning and waving, I knew that this experience would be unique. How can you not be moved by smiles like this?

With tears in my eyes I can tell you that Compassion International is doing amazing work. Maybe you already knew that and maybe you didn’t. On a base level I understood this, but to see first hand the gratefulness in a grandmother’s eyes as she stood in her stone walled home, looking into the eyes of her cherubic granddaughter who now has hope leaves an impression.

This same grandmother has received her own lifeline of hope through Compassion’s Complimentary Intervention Program, which provided food at a crucial time when drought dried the land and withered the ability to meet the most basic need of food. Grasping my hand as we walked down the rugged path, she thanked us repeatedly for our help.


This grandmother longs to own a home of her own, rather than rent a stone room with holes in the roof for herself and eleven others. And as long as there is hope, and a church body willing to stand in the gap and provide the resources needed to give them a leg up, lives will be changed both here on Earth and for all eternity.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are creating a vehicle for an entire family to climb out of the pit of extreme poverty. By providing for the physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs of one child, you have the potential to forever impact that child’s entire family.

As we walked back up the stairs of the open air church building, my eyes widened to see the entire room packed with men, women and children all gathered to say thanks. They are thanking you, the sponsors who have opened wide the doors of hope. And there is more to be done. There are children still waiting to be sponsored, lives clinging to hope. Beauty in action.


If you’re interested in sponsoring a child in Tanzania, click this link and follow the prompts. Or you can click on the photo at the bottom of this post.

(PS- I totally tried to find a way to link the flesh eating fish ridding feet of impurities to this post, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make it work….and somehow I have a feeling you’re kind of grateful for that.)

(PPS- I promise I’ll be more alert tomorrow.)

(PPPS- Last one, I promise. You can follow along with the other amazing bloggers on our team here.)


Photos courtesy of Keely Scott


  1. I can only imagine what a journey it has been from here to there! I hope you get some rest soon! I am looking forward to reading every post that comes out of Tanzania. I don’t know if the Lord will ever open the door for me to travel and see Compassion work firsthand, but the posts from these trips help me to get a better understanding of CI’s work.

    Lots of prayers being lifted for you all!

    • Thank you, Michelle. I have always admired your support and love for Compassion. Thanks for being such an encouragement to all of us!

    • As a fellow Compassion blogger, I couldn’t have said it better, Michelle!

  2. Hey, if you are going to be stuck in an airport, Amsterdam is the one to be stuck in! The friendliest people ever, and the crossroads of the world. The best place for people watching!

    • Very true. It was a great place to be stranded. A few hours longer and we probably would have gone out and explored the city. 🙂

  3. Incredibly coherent, considering :).

    Every Compassion trip is different because we get to hear NEW stories told through fresh eyes; and I love hearing the testimonies of those who are SEEING, SMELLING, TASTING, FEELING & HEARING new things, hard things, beautiful things…and HOPE in the midst of it all through Jesus and this amazing vehicle called Compassion International.

    I know your words will be used for GOOD, Kelli…can’t wait to read more of ’em :).

  4. Other than the Turkish fish eating toe jam your blog describes times like Corinne and I experience so many times. How great to both be a blessing and see how people serving God by serving others are blessing the people of Tanzania. Keep the faith…

    • In all yr travels you’ve never had fish eat your foot skin?! I hear you’re missing out. 🙂 Thanks Uncle Dusty.

  5. Absolutely amazing! The smile on those faces are beyond words. I look forward to following you throughout your journey. How long are you gone for?

  6. My heart starting singing for joy when I got down to the pic of you in the car. I have no words right now. Only excitement!

  7. Lee Stuart says

    I love that last picture of you. You have spent 4 years praying for this opportunity and that pic is the image I had in my mind. I pray you are ale to capture the unique beauty of God during this trip. With my blessing, admiration and love; Lee

  8. Candy Martin says

    Beautiful , smiling faces. Your heart must be so full. I know that Sloan. Tia, and Landon will love seeing the pictures. And what a great example you are setting for them.

  9. The smiles on their faces can only be matched by your own. It is easy to be skeptical and discouraged these days when the spirit of darkness seems to move so freely but to see you there and those faces, and to hear the stories…wow! Our God created perfection. Man chose otherwise. We see the terrible result of that every day yet, in the midst of that reality the spirit of God is right there in those faces, those smiles and as you have said, in the hope only possible through Him! Thank you for being there with Compassion. I look forward to every post!

    All my love,


  10. Love coming along with you via your posts. Thank you for enlarging our world view through Christ’s eyes of Compassion!

  11. I had to read it 3 times. They really stuck their feet in there? Wow, wow, wow. I’m praying for you and all the other Compassion bloggers, sweet friend, but my words just aren’t eloquent enough to match the passion and feeling behind these posts. <3 Thank you for what you are doing — loving on those children and giving us a glimpse into their lives. So touching.

  12. The smile on that little girl’s face about made my heart bust!

    I have had that kind of “pedicure” before and it was actually pretty cool! 🙂

  13. This is going to be one amazing week!!

  14. Praying you all wake up rested and refreshed. So thankful for your heart and willingness to dive in to what God has for you this week. I can’t wait to follow along.

    • Thanks Steve. I’ve heard all about you these last few days. Glad to have your support. 🙂

  15. Glad you made it safely. Yes, loving your face and all of the children! Can you even believe you are there?!?! Looking forward to following along with you on your journey!!

  16. What an adventure already! Looking forward to reading your posts.

    I just saw some of those fish in the underground mall here- you can sit in a massage chair while fish nibble your feet (my worst nightmare!). And I think you’re right- I think one could pull a metaphor out of there. 🙂

  17. I love what you said about worried about being calloused. As a reader of all the Compassion trips, I know that I am always moved b/c God is always doing something big and new. It might seem that it’s just version 2.0 for these stories–but they aren’t–they are new and fresh b/c they are about people! Thank you for sharing the people of Tanzania w/us!


  18. Kelli-I’ve read a few of the other blogs and they were great, but it just amazes me how you see things so differently. You have such a gift and I am so thankful you are using it to honor God! I’m so excited for you!
    (I think I secretly wish I could get some fish to nibble the dead skin off my feet…either that or I could just move to the beach where I would have a natural pedicure just walking on the sand!)

  19. Bethany says

    I made it through your post without crying, but then I read your dad’s comments and I turned into a weepy mess. You truly have wonderful godly parents– and your words of exhortation and encouragement on behalf of Compassion will ensure that those kids get the same chance for a godly home that you had. I love you friend! I am continually praying for you!

  20. I’m so glad you finally made it there and hope you get plenty of rest – or a good dose of divine strength and energy. Thank you for going and for letting us get a glimpse into the work Compassion is doing in Tanzania! I went to Peru almost 2 years ago and still think about it on a regular basis.

  21. Hooray for Hope! 😉

    Now considering you actually wanted us to seriously spell out a metaphor for the fish thing: God takes the dead stuff out of our lives to make our lives more beautiful and healthy, we just have to be courageous enough to let him, to “dip our feet into the water full of scary i-dont-know-what-they’re-gonna-do-to-me fish”. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, and you guys are in my prayers! 🙂

    • You WIN. You win the prize. Well done. I am impressed. Thanks for following, alyssa. 🙂

      • Wow, great metaphor. And I know for me, God continues to use trips like this to take the dead stuff out of my life. And there is definitely some courage involved in leaving your family at home and flying half way around the world to see what God has in store for you. Thank you for being willing to go, but more for being willing to risk that God might actually have to take some dead stuff off of you.

  22. Sonya Roach says

    My heart sings at the sight of these wonderful children. Our family sponsors 3 children from Africa and I am a Compassion Advocate. One of our children is from the EGTA Ilula Student Center and is named Yakobo Shedrack Kahise (Tanzania) If any of you see him please send our love from the Roach Family. A picture would be priceless. I can not wait to meet him. Thank you for your acts of service. Sonya


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