My name is Mary Karinge and I was in born in Nairobi, Kenya. I am from a Christian background. My dad and mom are involved in church. I was raised up a good kid in church and went to school in Kenya. My auntie lived in Topeka and she called me when I was in high school and asked me if I wanted to move to the United States. I said, “yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” So I applied for a green card.
When I first came here, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. But thought maybe I could do business because my family has a business background. When I got here, things changed and people talked me into doing nursing. So I went to school doing nursing and started working with mentally disabled clients. It was a good experience and I enjoyed the career. Then life changed and I got caught up with the wrong group of people. I started drinking, started clubbing and I lost my inner sense. I felt like I was free; no more dad, no more mom, just myself. Physically I looked like I was okay, but spiritually I don’t think I was okay.
Like others going to college, I spent money, I wasted money, and didn’t pay my bills on time. When you are crazy, you attract what you are and I ended up married to the wrong person and ended up getting divorced. Coming from an African background, our families don’t believe in divorce, so it was tough for me when everybody disowned me. Here I am in America and my parents and family are back in Kenya. I have family and friends here, but these friends are just hanging out friends, spending money friends, but they were not legit friends; people who really cared about me. That is when it got tough and when God showed up in my life.
I started going to church and God started working on me. I had a lot of bondage in me. I was not okay. I decided to switch my career and started venturing into Real Estate. I was in between two jobs, I had lost everything, I was behind with my bills, I messed up my taxes and that is when all hell broke loose in my life. I tried to get help from friends, but you become a burden to people and I didn’t want that #1 I needed to work on myself; #2 I needed to disconnect from everyone and #3 I needed to restart my whole life over again. That is when I decided to walk into the mission.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. It was tough. When I came here I was so broken; you know you have lost everything. You don’t have anything. You are not talking to your family. You have lost all your friends. The only person that I had was God, period. I felt like God was leading me to my wilderness and it was hard; it was tough. I was thinking “what is going on with me?” I felt like dying. When I came to the mission at first, I didn’t want to eat or do anything. That’s when I met Paula, she was that person – you know when God sends people into your life, I think God sent Paula into my life at this time. She was concerned for me. She would ask me, “Mary are you okay? Do you need help with anything?”
I told Paula my story, what I had gone through, everything I had lost and all that. I shared my worries and what I had always wanted to do in Real Estate. That is when Paula told me about the CaRE program. She told me they are going to help you. I questioned, “They are going to help me?” She assured me, “Yes, they are going to help you!” I thought it was the end of me, but Paula told me again, “No, they are going to help you. They will help you get back all your documents. They are going to help you get bus passes and all that stuff. They are going to help you set goals, get back to working and all that!” I said “yes”. Paula would wake me up every morning, we would pray together. She would encourage me every day. Anyone who knew Paula would say she is so vibrant. Paula helped me learn how to ride the bus – I didn’t even know how to ride the bus. Paula was that person who introduced me to CaRE, where I met Miss Linda and Michelle. I remember talking to them for a long time and after that conversation, I started feeling hope for the first time.
Those ladies really encouraged me. I started my detail here at the Distribution Center. I started making new friends at the Mission. I became like Paula – I was that person encouraging others. Eventually Paula graduated and she moved out of the Mission. I remember sitting down and thinking how amazing it was that God used someone to help me. It was time for me to start passing it on to the roommates that showed up in my room. I encouraged these ladies. Since then, it has been different. I have been different.
I love God – I fear God. He has taught me a lot. He has taught me that before He blesses you, He has to work on you. Sometimes God can bless you and the blessing can finish you. I love the Holy Spirit; He is the only person that I have. Yes, I do have friends. I don’t believe I showed up at the mission by mistake. It was ordained before I showed up here. There are people who are meant to be my destiny helpers. My teachers at CaRE; I love them so much. Those people really helped me and I believe those people were destined to be in my life for such a time. This is not the end of my story – it is the beginning of my story. The Topeka Rescue Mission helped me. I believe when God blesses me, I want to help other people. I want them to hear my story. Sometimes people think it is only drunkards, people who are dealing with alcohol and all that stuff that end up in the Mission. There are also good people who have made bad mistakes and end up at the Mission, but being at the Mission is not the end. Sometimes it can be the beginning of you. For me I can say, it was the beginning of me.
It is not easy to say “yes” to God but I am motivated every day by my purpose. There are days I cry to God when I am praying. There are days when I feel like, oh my God I have done so many bad things. But at the same time, I just accept the cross. He says, “I have forgiven you. The past is gone.” So when I remember that I was not created just by mistake, I did not come to the United States by mistake – I have a destiny, I have a purpose. I am on a mission at the Mission! So every day when I remember I am on assignment, I have a purpose, I have a destiny, I can’t give up. I can’t let God down. If I am that person He is going to use, I cannot let Him down. I cannot let the Kingdom of Heaven down. Some days I am weary. Some days I am tired. Some days I cry. Some days I am happy. Some days I am praying for everybody and jovial. But at the same time, what keeps me pushing and pushing is just remembering I have a purpose, I am on assignment. I have to accomplish what He has sent me to do here.
I now work for Karey Brown Realty Executives. When I first started they hired me as an ISA - that is an Inside Sales Agent. I learned a lot in this position. One of the things they told me is they are going to promote me to a Buyer’s Agent. So one of my goals this year is to serve my community, helping people get the house that they want. I want to give back still. Even when I move out of the Mission, I still want to come back and volunteer. I want to help possibly in a mentoring group. It is easy to connect with people because I have been in the Mission. That is one of the things I told myself; I have to come back. I have to volunteer. I have to socialize with people. Workwise, I still have to do what God wants me to do. I want to be the best buyer’s agent. At the same time, I want to serve God still. I still want to spread the gospel. I still want to pray for other people. I still want to help them know that when they mess up, it is not the end of their story. The Holy Spirit is real. Jesus is real. Heaven is real. There is hope. It is not the end of your story.†