Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cross-Cultural Mishaps

Cross-Cultural living is never an easy thing. It can be very stressful even years after living in the new culture. There are still some things that I struggle with here. Like take today. Monday is grocery day. Getting groceries in Uganda is nothing like getting them in the States. The store itself is about the size of Aldi's, and there's no Walmart in case I don't find what I need. I come with list in hand hoping for the best, but many times most of what I'm looking for is out of stock. (I have been looking for sour cream for over 2 months now.) Once I've got enough food for the week (it took some time but now I have it down to a science), then I head to the check out. I stand in line behind a woman with 4 items. The cashier looks right at me before she starts scanning those items. Slowly. One. By. One. As the woman in front of me pays, the cashier abruptly puts down the "lane closed" sign and gives me "that look." You know the one I mean. That "I know you've been standing here for 5 minutes while I scanned this lady's 4 items but you need to go to that other line with 7 people in it and wait there." And I have to try my absolute hardest not to return her snooty look with my own look. You know the one I mean. The "If I weren't a missionary and if this weren't security officers around I would hit you so hard" look. (Yes, even missionaries get that look).

So I choose another line and stand there when suddenly I feel something cold on my arm. I'm in the middle of Africa so this seems strange to me, and I turn around and stand, quite literally, face to face with the woman behind me. She's standing so close that someone could mistake us for conjoined twins. So now, quite annoyed I resist the urge to use my hips to push her backward. Instead I take a deep breath and allow her to go in front of me to pay for her juice for which she paid with a large bill when they had no change.

I start putting my items up on the table. It's a table, not one of those fancy belts like grocery stores at home have. So when they can no longer reach what you've put up, you have to push it into their reach. (For the record the table is only an arms length long so they can technically reach it, but they would have to stretch and apparently that's not in their job description). So the cashier (remember it's a different one from the first one), starts scanning my items. Slowly. One. By. One. She uses only one arm while I resist the urge to make a sarcastic comment about God giving her TWO arms. When she finally finishes she doesn't tell me my total. I have to read it from the screen. I give her my money and she starts to count it while I try not to EXPLODE. She counts it one by one, placing every  bill on the table, arranging them so they're all facing the same way. Then after counting them the first time she counts them again one by one, placing every bill on the table. She pauses. She looks at the total on the computer. She pauses again. She types the amount I gave her. She pauses. I start daydreaming about the miracle that is the self-checkout. A distant memory for me. She hits the "ok" button. The cash register opens and she opens every one of the little flippy things where the bills go (is there a technical term for those?). Now, I only gave her 10,000 shilling notes (10,000 shillings equals about $4), so there's no need to open all of them. Then she tries putting them where the 20,000 notes go, realizing that it's not the right place. Meanwhile I am trying not to bang my head against the table while whimpering softly. She finally gets it right and goes to get my change. But wait, she forgot what it was so she has to check the receipt again. She then searches for the right coins, and I again resist the urge not to shout as loud as I can "IT'S 700. GIVE ME A 500 AND A 200!" I resist, she gives me my coins and receipt, and I walk out of the store with my 4 bags of groceries while quoting Barney Stinson. "This is SO going on my blog!"

Saved by the Bell

During the school break in August, about 10 girls stayed with us while the rest went home for a month to stay with family members. These 10 were special cases and had to stay with us. So instead of always keeping them in the dorm, bored out of their minds, I wanted to have some fun with them.

One Sunday morning, I loaded them up in my Land Cruiser and we headed off to church. They were so excited to go. After the service we stopped at a gas station to buy sodas and some cookies. They had so much fun I took them the following week again.

But perhaps their favorite thing about that school break were the evenings we spent up at my house watching tv. I brought a few seasons of Saved by the Bell with me. I thought maybe they'd like it. I was wrong. They LOVED it! Dare I say they were SBTB junkies. They love Screech and his goofy clothes and personality. We made it through 3 seasons in just 3 weeks. I haven't laughed so hard at that show in a long time. They can now be found singing the theme song at random times throughout the day, and it gets huge applause when I put it on Sunday afternoons. I bought the dvds on a whim, finding them cheap at FYE. I thought, maybe the kids might like these. I'm so glad I bought them now!

Baking with the Girls

I have a new ministry with the girls here at Upendo. I found that the girls are really excited to learn how to bake. It works out really well because I like cookies! So I've started bringing a few girls at a time to come up to the house and bake.

They have really seemed to enjoy it. Not only do they get to learn something new and enjoy a sweet treat, they also get my undivided attention. When there are over 30 girls in the boarding section here at school, it makes it hard to give any all of my attention. So this has given me a chance to spend time with a few, really focusing on them.

It's taught me a lot about their personalities as well. I was baking with Gloria and Rachael. These are two girls who I thought were both very much like me. I learned that's not completely true. All three of us have sensitive and tender hearts in common. But I learned that Gloria is very precise, very organized, very literal, and she's a caretaker. Rachael, on the other hand, is more of a free spirit. She still has that child-like wonder in her. She still likes to play and have fun and she's competitive. How did I learn this? It's silly, but in watching their actions during our time together.

Gloria's cookies were very orderly. They were in very neat rows. 

Rachael's, on the other hand, were all over the place. She just put them wherever she found a space. But she was determined to make prettier cookies than Gloria. 

When we were all finished, Gloria could be found in the kitchen washing dishes, while Rachael took hold of my cameral and took pictures of things all over my living room, dining room, and kitchen.

While the cookies baked, it gave us time to just sit and chat. I gave them some soda. We listened to music. (They love for KING&COUNTRY).

Since that first time baking, I've worked with others as well, and now I have girls begging me to pick them next. In the meantime I'm enjoying the time with them, and I'm finding that it's helping to grow our more trust and love between us.

(Rachael loves my hair and wishes she had long, soft hair like mine, so she borrowed it for this picture).

September 26

One year ago today, I was in Uganda. I've been waiting for so long to be able to say that. For the whole of last year I could say, "This time last year, I was doing this or that." Now I can say, "This time last year, I was here."

Today I celebrated my first full year in Uganda with the kids and some of the teaching staff here at Upendo. I planted a mango tree just outside the main hall. Years from now, children will enjoy the fruit from that tree. It's my prayer that the seeds I've planted in my ministry will also bear fruit for years to come.

After planting the tree, we had a short program and had a nice meal of rice, meat, and sodas. In true Uganda fashion there was no power so we literally ate in the dark. But it didn't keep any of us from having fun, especially when there were 60 kids hyped up on sugar and caffeine!

One year. I can hardly believe it. I survived my first birthday and Christmas away from family. I haven't seen or touched snow in over a year and half. I've survived Ugandan doctors, bedbugs, 3 weeks without any power, driving in the city on the wrong side of the road, my first boda boda ride (and all of the rides since then) and so much more. I'm looking forward to this coming year and all that God has in store.

September 25

One year ago today, I stepped on a plane bound for Uganda, not quite knowing exactly what I was stepping into but knowing that God would be with me every step of the way. I didn't write much in my journal about that day. I wish I had. I remember feeling completely at peace all day. Even the good-byes at the airport with my parents were good. A few tears, but we held it together. I remember thinking it was strange how at peace I felt.

I spent the day in town today. I did a little shopping and treated myself to a smoothie at my favorite little café. I sat there and just soaked everything up. A year ago today I had no home. I was no longer in the US but still not in Uganda. I had no place to call home yet, no place to rest my head. But today, I soaked up everything around me. I feel at home here. It took some time, a lot of frustration, and a whole lot of tears, but it happened.

The peace I had one year ago boarding that plane never left me. It's still with me today. Even in the hardest of times, God's peace, which truly does surpass all my understanding, has ruled in my heart.

September 24

One year ago today I said my final farewells to friends and family. I still remember sitting around my friend Jenny's kitchen table with Jenny, my mom, Ashley, and Ashley's nurse aide, Jodi. An outsider never would have guessed that one of us was traveling to live halfway around the world for 2 years.

One year ago today I was still home, still anticipating what was to come. I was still imaginging and dreaming of what life would be like in Uganda. I was still starry-eyed at the thought of what being a missionary would be like, completely oblivious to the ups and downs I was about to encounter. One year ago today, I had no idea how my life would be now, let alone how I would ever make it here.

One year ago today I was still home. Here are some ways life has changed since last year at this time:

  1. Laundry - I didn't particularly enjoy doing laundry at home. Now I'd give just about anything for a washing machine. Now all laundry is done by hand. Soaked, scrubbed, and wrung out all with my own two hands, hung out to dry on the line. That is unless it rains on laundry day. Then laundry is draped everywhere around the house.
  2. Power Outages - As I write this we have no power. It's been off since morning and is likely to be off until evening or even beyond. On average we have power about 50% of the time. The power company tends to turn it off during the day and it's there during the night.
  3. Staring - I never used to get stared at back home. I blended into the crowd. Now I'm a white girl living in the middle of an African village. I stand out, and I'm growing to accept and expect the stares.
  4. Quietness and loneliness - With no power and no one around like me it's awfully quiet and lonely at times. At home I  had to seek out quiet, alone time. Here I have to seek out people time. Even as I write this, I am in my office all alone with nothing by the pitter patter of raindrops to keep me company. (Of course that will all change with the kids get out of school later!)
  5. Seasons - I exchanged 4 distinct seasons for just 2 seasons whose only distinguishing difference is wither it's really hot or really hot and rainy. It makes it a little harder in my mind to remember what month we're in.
  6. Water - At home I drank water straight from the tap. I could drink it straight from the hose if I didn't mind that plastic taste. Now all water is either bottled or filtered. Filtering enough water for 2 days takes about 40 minutes.
  7. Showers - I took hot showers every day at home, in a shower with actual water pressure while standing in a tub. Now cold showers are the norm and even "hot showers" are really lukewarm. If I want it warm I have to flush the toilet.
  8. Bed net - I used to sleep free of fear of mosquitoes. I could hang my foot off the end of the bed. But now I live in fear of the sound of a mosquito at night. Is that inside my net? But my net is my saving grace. It not only protects me from mosquitoes but also lizards, spiders, cockroaches, millipedes, dangerous caterpillars, snakes, and rats.
  9. Cooking - Can I just say I miss my microwave. Reheating leftovers was a cinch. Just stick them in, hit a few buttons, and in just a couple minutes food was ready to eat. But here everything is prepared from scratch and leftovers are reheated on the stove or in the oven with much care for getting things up to the right temperature.
  10. Driving - I used to drive carefully, obeying all traffic rules, driving the speed limit, staying in my own lane, rarely passing people. Now I follow the rules of Uganda where it's every man for himself and the boldest and quickest get the right of way. I swerve in and out, passing taxis, dodging boda bodas, people, chickens, and goats.
  11. Scenery - I exchanged rolling green hills dotted with Maple and pine trees for rolling green hills dotted with banana plantations.
  12. Language - The way I speak English has changed. Evening now has 3 syllables (eve-uh-ning) and yes is now 2 syllables (yes-eee)
  13. My name - At home I was "Aly." Now I am Aleeeesohn, Alsohn, Aleeesohneeee, Ahhly, Teecha, Teecha Alson, Auntie, Mami (Madame), and more recently, Housah
  14. Tv - I used to have 200 tv channels. Now I have a dvd player and a selection of movies and tv shows I brought from home.
  15. Teaching - I used to have every imaginable resource under the sun to work with and what I didn't have I found at Walmart. Now I get creative with what I can find.
  16. Shopping - I used to have Kohls, Old Navy, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, JoAnn's, Target, Walmart, Wegman's. Those are distant memories. Now it's Shoprite, Nakumatt and Game, and they're all about the size of the Michael's in Lakewood.

My life has certainly changed over the past year. All of these things have been a huge adjustment, but in the end I have learned that some things in life just aren't that big of a deal. It's a simpler life, though more complicated at the same time. I miss some of the luxuries of home but also enjoy the laid back nature of Ugandan culture. My eyes have been opened to new experiences and new ways of living, and I know I'll never be the same.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Parents

I have to say that I am so blessed as a daughter and a missionary that I have parents who not only support my minister and my being halfway around the world, but that they’re also the type of parents who leave home for part of their summer to come and join in the ministry.

Some might say, no they just came to see their daughter. Well that was an added benefit. But they have such hearts for the ministry here. And that was very evident by the tears shed on the day they said good-bye.

And I’m not even talking about my tears. When they said good-bye to the kids here, it was one sad day. Some of the girls clung to my mom with tears streaming down their faces. Some of the boys wouldn’t leave my dad’s side and even walked him all the way up to the house so they wouldn’t have to say goodbye too soon. And still others hung all over me, because they felt bad that I would be alone after they went.

It was surely a great time with them, and the time went by far too fast!

If you’d like to see more pictures of the time my parents spent here, check out this video on youtube.

A "Day Off"

While my parents were here, they were able to enjoy my “day off” with me.

My day off is on Tuesdays. There’s really no rhyme or reason to it. It was just the day that worked out best for me. I can’t do Saturdays because of the Saturday program. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are out because I preach at the kids’ fellowship in the evenings. And out of Tuesday or Thursday, Tuesday worked best.

Here’s what a typical Tuesday looks like.

It usually starts with laundry. All of my laundry is done by hand and it’s no easy job. It takes a few hours to do my sheets, towels, and clothes. After the back-breaking work of laundry (don’t forget I have to hang it out on the line to dry), it’s time to clean up the house: sweep, dust, mop. My mom was awesome and brought a Swiffer floor duster from home so now at least I can use that with a wet rag on it instead of bending over and mopping the whole house that way. By the time all of that is finished, it’s time to make lunch – all from scratch (there are no microwaveable meals or frozen pizzas here!). My favorite day off meal is Tacos. After eating, it’s time to clean up the kitchen and wash the dishes (also by hand). When everything is done at around 2 it’s finally time to sit and relax. If there’s power I watch a movie or tv show. If there’s no power then I read a book or listen to music.

It was good for them to see how a day off here goes. And I think they have a new found appreciation for their washing machine, dishwasher, and microwave!

Serious Business

It was so great having my parents around in July. Not only had I not seen them in 9 months, but the kids and staff here hadn’t seen them in 2 years! So it was a very joyful reunion for everyone.

While they were here we did a lot of home visitation. They had raised some money back at home to help families grow their businesses. These families had a small business but were in need of some extra help to go the next step. We were able to meet with these families and talk with them. We heard their struggles and prayed with them. And they were excited to know they would be getting some help.

We were most impressed with Josephine’s mother. Josephine is one of our secondary students who are fully sponsored. She used to attend Upendo but we only teach Primary kids here so now she’s at a boarding school. But her greatest needs are met by AMG through child sponsorship. Her mother had a small business of selling charcoal. We heard she was good at doing business and is a hard working woman. She wants to start a small shop. So we made a deal that if she saved a certain amount of money, then she would be given a certain amount of money to help her out. We work it out this way because then she has an investment in the business and will be less likely to just eat the profits. If she puts something in, she feels empowered and what is given to her is just to give her a little boost.

She showed us a bag full of things she had already purchased with money she had saved from her charcoal business, and we are looking forward to seeing great things from her.


Yaka has come to Upendo. What is Yaka you ask?

Well it’s not a fourth member of the Animaniacs. But it is one of the things they could put on their segment “Good Idea, Bad Idea.” Good idea: Power. Bad Idea: Yaka. (Someone needs to share this with UMEME).

Yaka is a prepaid system for electricity. It’s kind of like the old school trackphones (which we also use here in Uganda) where you load your minutes. While you have minutes, you’re happy as can be calling all your friends, but when your minutes are up, which you always hope happens when you’re talking to your Aunt Beatrice because she just never stops babbling on about her 87 cats, then no more phone calls until you load more minutes. But now they’re applying the system to our electricity. We pay a certain amount and get so many units of power. Once those units are used up, so long power. Then it’s time to go into town and buy more units.

So today, these Oompa Loompas came to give us Yaka. 

Now I have an unsightly box just inside my front door. It tells me how many days or hours I have left until all my units are up and my house goes dark. Nothing says welcome to my home like a box that tells you if you’ll have power today.

And so now begins the compulsive checking of “the Yaka box.” I already have it memorized: #074#

Oh look! I have 1 week!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Cheese Stands Alone

One of the greatest things about my ministry here is that I get to meet new people from all over the US when they come on short-term trips here. I’ve met people from Tennessee, ministered with people from North Carolina and Virginia, lived with a girl from Georgia, been encouraged by many people from New Mexico, and so many more.

One of the hardest parts of my ministry here is that eventually those people all go home. Over the past 10 months, I’ve had the blessing of hosting 3 teams, 2 interns, 3 couples, and a pair of women. God has blessed me with each one. For the past 7.5 months, between having Kaitlyn around and then my parents, I have had someone in the house with me to keep me company and partner in the ministry. But as of yesterday, that all changed.

After spending almost a month with my parents, I took them to the airport and said, “See you soon.” It was hard to come back alone, eating lunch alone, sitting around in the evening alone. It’s not easy. I used to think I was a very introverted person. I loved being alone, or so I thought. Maybe I just didn’t mind it. But now I’ve learned that, while I am strengthened in alone time, I feed off of being around people.

All in all, I’m doing well, but it’s only been just over 24 hours. So I guess only time will tell. It’s a huge adjustment, but I feel the Lord’s presence. It’s a new season of my life here. I like seeing it as a season. A season only lasts for a time. Being the only muzungu around now will come with its challenges, but I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve seen the Lord work in amazing ways these past 10 months, and I have a feeling He’s only just begun.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Mukwano

I have been truly blessed during these past 9 months to be ministering here in Uganda. God has taught me so much. He has molded my thinking, changed my heart, and smoothed some of my rougher edges. It wasn’t easy in the beginning being here all by myself. So I was so blessed that God sent me an intern to come stay with me for 6.5 months.

Kaitlyn came in December and spent Christmas with me. We certainly had our ups and downs. I’d never had a roommate before let alone been in charge of an intern. We quickly became like sisters. She’s the firstborn of her family and I’m the last. So she was the little sister I never had and I was the big sister she never had.

We did ministry together, planned together, had fun together, laughed together, traveled together, cried together, talked for hours on end, entertained each other through times without electricity, got on each other’s nerves, forgave each other, danced together, sang together, stayed up late together, worked out together, complained about the heat together, got stuck in traffic together, cooked together, cleaned together, explored new places together, ate good food together, watched movies together, played with the kids together, learned from each other, and grew in our faith together.

We saw each other through some difficult times. So it’s no surprise that her departure at the beginning of July was a tough one for both of us. (I say it was tougher on me, but she can feel free to argue that point in the comments if she so chooses). I wasn’t just saying good-bye to a roommate.

 I was saying good-bye to a co-worker,

a best friend, 

a partner in crime,

a sister.

Things aren’t quite the same around here without her. But, I know that God has great things in store for her life. She came to me at the age of 20 and I watched her grow in leaps and bounds in so many ways. She got me through some of the toughest months of the first year adjustment period. She helped me find a bit of normal in this crazy new life I’m living, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. And though an ocean separates our lives, God has knit our hearts together in a way only he can. We have a lifetime of unforgettable memories and I’m forever blessed because of it.

And Kaitlyn, if you’re reading this right now, just know that room with the blue little curtains and the blue bed spread, where everything is blue for your and yourself, it’s still yours whenever you’re ready to come back. So don’t be a stranger, mmmkay?

Computers for Upendo

On June 3, we officially opened our brand new computer lab!

Generous sponsors donated money for Upendo School to get its own computer lab, and now we have 15 computers for the students to learn to use.
So who, you may ask, is teaching these children?

Why me of course! I was so excited when our country director, Reuben Musiime, asked me to teach classes. Sure I’m one of the only ones around who both knows how to use a computer and is able to actually teach it to children, but I still felt honored to get the chance. So I am now teaching around 100 students from grades 4-7.

It hasn’t been easy. These kids have seen my laptop and maybe other computers before, but most have never touched a computer let alone used one. And as you might recall, our power out here at Upendo isn’t always very reliable. It’s here today and gone tomorrow. Or more accurately here one minute, gone the next. In fact, my first day of teaching computer lessons, I taught without power. I had 3 classes that day, each 40 minutes long, and I filled each one of them. They learned the different parts of the computer. They got to touch the keyboard, click the mouse, and press the power button, all keeping away my fears that they might completely destroy them!

So far we are mostly using paint. They first have to master how to use the mouse before we can do much else. They’re coming along, especially considering of the 4 weeks we’ve met, we’ve only had power for 2 of them!

I meet with 7th grade students in the evenings on Thursdays. Those students all stay in our boarding section, and that was the best time for us to meet together because we usually have power by 7pm. The fun thing about this is that I get them for double the time I have with the other classes (we meet for about an hour and a half). So they’re much farther along. They’re using paint like pros now and are soon moving on to keyboarding practice.

I have some exciting projects in store for the third term which starts in September. I just pray we have the power to do them!

A Wild Time

When teams come, I get a huge blessing in getting to accompany them to the game park. It’s a great time to be able to spend with them away from the formal ministry setting. I never take it for granted that I get to spend some time away at a nice hotel, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Here are some shots of my time with team #3:

The wild

The crazy

The majestic

The lazy

And Steve

Mexican for the New Mexicans

While the team was around, Kaitlyn and I wanted to do something special for them. So while we sent them off to do some home visits in a nearby village with one of our Ugandan co-workers, we made the a special lunch for them to eat in my home.

We got up early to clean up the house and then started cooking. We made tacos for our New Mexican visitors.

We cooked up the meat,

made homemade tortillas,

homemade chips and salsa,

and for dessert we had brownies and ice cream.

It was such a blessed time with the team, getting to feed them a nice meal and having them enjoy it in my living room. And I think they enjoyed it too!

Team #3

In May, I welcomed my 3rd Mission Adventure team. The team came from Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, NM to minister at AMG’s annual pastor’s conference and various other ministries.
The Pastor’s Conference was held from May 26-29. Our own Upendo children’s choir opened up the conference with some songs. I was like a proud mother watching my kids up there and seeing all of the pastors enjoying their songs.

The theme for the conference was “Who is the Father?” The speakers touched on different topics involving God the Father. We also had some question and answer sessions as well as small group sessions. The pastors actually stayed at the hotel where we held the conference, and it was a great time of refreshing for them. They were able to get built up and go back to their congregations ready to keep on ministering.

The team took part in home visitations, visiting homes of some of our sponsored children. They had a particularly soft heart for a boy named Martin. We believe that Martin has cerebral palsy, and one of his legs is turned in making it hard for him to walk. The team took time to pray with his family and encourage them as well.

The women on the team participated in the Dorcas ministry. There were 2 separate days for Dorcas, one was for girls of all ages from our 6 different centers. The other event was for just the university girls and was a smaller group. We were led by a woman named Dianne Christensen who is involved with Women’s Ministry at Hoffmantown Church. The girls were able to glean so much from her, myself included. She breathed some life back into my ministry again and I am so thankful that God brought her along on this team.

In all, this was one of the best teams I have ever worked with. They were ready to do anything we asked of them. And as much as they came to teach and minister to the locals here, they did the same for me. They left me here encouraged and ready to try out some new things in my ministry here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Priceless Night

At the beginning of May, Kaitlyn and I hosted an overnight with the 7th grade girls. Most of the kids were still on their holiday break (they had a month off), but the kids in 7th grade along with some of the secondary kids were around. So we planned it out and invited 13 teenage girls to the house to pull an all-nighter.

Yes, I said an all-nighter with 13 teenagers.

You may be wondering what on EARTH we were thinking. When the sun set that night and we could hear the girls’ giddy voices coming up the path, we wondered the same thing. But this was by far one of the most memorable nights ever in my life.

After the girls filed in and found a place to sit we started off the night with some games. We knew they would come and be very polite and respectful, which in Uganda means quiet. Of course, this is a great way for teenage girls to come into your house, but we needed them loosened up for the discussions we had planned and the only way to do that was to have some fun first.

We split them into 3 teams and played several different Minute to Win It games. For one they had to move chocolate chips from one plate to another using a straw.

For another they had to remove 5 bouncy balls from a tissue box tied around their waste using only their hips.

They also had to stack dice with cups over their hands.

My favorite though was when they had to get a cookie from their forehead to their mouth using only their facial muscles. We got some footage of that and it still makes me laugh.

Afterwards we started our first Devotion and Discussion session. Kaitlyn took this one and talked about when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. After her discussion, we actually washed each of the girls’ feet as a way of setting the example for them as Jesus did us to serve others and to also help them understand how special they are in the eyes of Christ.

By the end of that it was almost 10pm. So we had a snack. We made some Kool-Aid and gave them some cookies. In short, we sugared them up to keep them going for the next sessions! I gave them some string to make friendship bracelets while Kaitlyn painted their finger nails.

At around 11 we went in for another devotion and discussion. This time I was up. The theme for the night was “Priceless.” The idea came the band For King & Country. During their concerts they often talk about how easily girls feel they’re worth nothing more than a penny. But to God they are priceless and should wait for a man who will treat them with honor and respect. So that was the topic I shared on. We talked about purity.

At the end, we gave out a special gift to the girls. The awesome guys at For King & Country donated their necklaces to us that say “Priceless” on them. So each girl was given a reminder that she is priceless in the eyes of God. Many of the girls made decisions that night to remain pure until marriage, and I ask that you join me in praying for them to have the strength they need to do just that while living in a culture where temptation is around every corner.

After our discussion we had another snack. We bought sodas, bananas, and chapatis (which are like thick tortillas). We listened to music, danced a little bit, got a little silly (it was about 1am afterall). 

Then we started the movie marathon. We watched The Parent Trap, High School Musical the first and second.

As the sun came up around 7, the girls headed down to the dorm, all of us were absolutely exhausted! 

But it was a night that will always be remembered. In fact, the girls still talk about it and keep asking when we’ll have another one. (Lord willing we’ll have one during their next break in August…Pray for me because I’ll be alone for that one!)