Audacious faith, gift from Kum & Go, to bring Craig family together in Malawi, Africa
CRAIG — Over the years, many a mission has originated from Moffat County, as residents of a relatively small community with a big heart seek to make the world a better place.
For about two years, local resident Teneil Jayne has served the people in a county known as the Warm Heart of Africa — one of the poorest nations on earth, Malawi, Africa — as a non-denominational missionary.
She has returned to the United States once in the past two years. In April, for the first time, her parents — Tarryn and Tim Jayne, also of Craig — will visit their daughter in Africa.
"I won! I won the essay contest! I'm coming to Africa and bringing your dad!" Tarryn wrote to Teneil on Facebook just before Christmas.
Tarryn, who works at Kum & Go, is the 2019 winner of the company's Denis N. Folden award.
Folden, a former Kum & Go chief operating officer, donated his retirement bonus to fund an annual award of $5,000 and 10 days paid time off to allow one employee to fulfill a long desired self-development dream, such as traveling to a foreign country, serving or volunteering with a charity, or pursuing a physical challenge.
Employees are selected based on a short, 400-word, essay describing their self-development dream.
"Tarryn's heartfelt essay led to her being chosen as this year's winner. That's due, in part, to the fact that the experience she wants to pursue is to assist a nonprofit organization, Living Out Loud, founded by her daughter, Teneil Jayne, in Malawi, Africa," wrote Amy Day, senior communications specialist.
Kum & Go owner Kyle J. Krause, son and grandson of the original founders, called Tarryn the Friday before Christmas to tell her she had won.
News of the gift prompted Tarryn to make a rare, costly international phone call to Teneil.
"I don’t know what to say other than THANK YOU Mr. Krause! Thank you for caring about family values! Thank you for caring about your employees!" Teneil wrote on her Facebook page.
Planning is now underway for "an adventure of a lifetime," Tarryn said, an adventure the Jaynes wouldn't have contemplated without Kum & Go's backing.
"Maybe if I'd sold a vehicle. It's not a place in my wildest dreams to go. When it became possible, I thought, look, I can dream that big," Tarryn said.
Travel to Malawi is time-consuming and costly, as is postage, so when the Jaynes leave Craig in April, they plan to make the most of the 200-pound total baggage limit by stuffing four suitcases full of items to leave behind.
April is the beginning of Malawi's cold season.
"We are talking about a fleece blanket drive to take some children's blankets. Many don't have blankets at all, and many sleep on the ground," Tarryn said.
A group of parishioners at the Journey Church in Craig are helping gather items and welcome help. Or, Tarryn says, people who wish tmay donate cash through the Living Out Loud, Inc. website.
"Even if you can't give, give prayer," Terryn said.
Faith and service run in the family.
Teneil's grandfather was a pastor, her uncles are pastors, and she has cousins who are missionaries. Her brother, Talon, serves in the military.
Teneil also has a heart for Craig and the struggles of her hometown.
"I consider my missions field to be America, specifically Craig, Colorado. It might seem like a strange way to go about it, but my heart is to inspire my own culture into faith and relationship with God," she wrote in an interview conducted via Facebook Messenger. "I want to show what audacious faith can do. I want to show people that love doesn’t have to be a side effect; love is the point."
She asked her mother, "Who would listen to me here if I didn't go do what I do there?"
By April "funding permitted," Teneil hopes to be "neck deep" in designing and building a school for children in first through eighth grade.
"… But that’s just a dream today,” she wrote. “Then again, I live out my dreams every day.”
Planning for the new school is underway, and Teneil has begun to outline her expectations, which include the following:
• 100 percent of the funds she puts into the building are to be matched by the school to provide scholarships for students.
• The building must include a public bookstore.
• The design is to include a community center open to the public and to be used for after-school programs, such as dance, theater, music, and book clubs.
"This will take thousands of dollars. I haven’t nailed it down yet, but I’m thinking close to $12,000 to open the doors, and with all that money going back into scholarships, this is going to exceedingly bless this entire community," Teneil wrote. "I want to make this school a haven, a place that encourages students to read, question, play, and thrive. I believe that we can do this."
Tarryn is looking forward to "helping the people whereever I can help. To be a part of her journey is going to be great."
"I’ve been here alone for a long time. When I visit America, it’s like living in two completely different worlds. Having my parents here will join those two worlds a bit," Teneil said. "It’s not an easy life here. There are so many challenges to face on my own, but there are so many times I wish I could hug my parents. Now, I’m going to be able to!
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.