Lots and Lots and Lots of Smiles Today – Just Outside of Finetown

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What was my favorite thing about today?

My joys today centered upon a few hand to hand and heart to heart encounters. In each case, I was pulled aside by the hand and asked to listen to a story or short word from the heart.

Jenny and I facilitated another Finetown celebration for the principals and teachers that attended our early childhood education workshops this year. The central purpose of this time was to encourage these ladies and congratulate them on another year of serving the preschool children in their communities.We gathered at a venue just outside of Finetown that was festively decorated for Christmas!

We ate.

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We enjoyed a wonderful meal from CaRi Catering!

We shared a message from the Word.

We played.

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We passed out certificates and gifts.

We took an incredibly large amount of photos. In fact so many pictures were being taken, that it was difficult to know where to focus our gaze. But we didn’t care. It was just fun.

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IMG_7230And then when the official program was complete, the principals and teachers walked outside and found a tree to set up their blankets, towels, and chairs. They had come to this place for the day – to have some fellowship, to have some fun, and to just ‘chill.’

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IMG_7258It was during that ‘chillin’ time that my first friend pulled me aside. She said that since Jenny and I had come into her life, her life had improved. When we met her five years ago, she had just been diagnosed with HIV. Her health was failing. She was very thin and very discouraged about her life, her marriage, and her family. Today, though, she stands strong and healthy. She takes her medication each day. Her marriage has improved and her children are thriving. The reason she pulled me aside though? She shared that she wants to grow in her prayer life. She said, “I pray. But I think I can learn something more. Can you help me?”

Can I tell you how affirming it felt to be pulled aside and receive such a request?

You can be assured that I will help my friend!

A few moments later, another principal took me by the arm and pulled me away from the group. She too, has experienced some struggles the past two years – particularly with her marriage. Unfortunately, her marriage ended. However, my friend made the decision to begin again and seek out Jesus Christ to guide her. She said, “At the beginning of this year I was in despair. My children were hurting and we didn’t have any hope. But then, you shared with me about how to find joy no matter what my life was like. I cannot tell you what you mean to me.”

And then another friend came to me. She too, took me by the hand and shared, “Things are so much better for our family. You know how many years we prayed for a house for my family. You know how many years we prayed for the health of my husband. Heather, our house is finished. My husband is strong. God has blessed us and I am living the life I always dreamed about.”

Yes, today, was a day to celebrate!

There are troubles that remain as well. I was also pulled aside to listen to some heart wrenching stories related to a wayward daughter who refuses to obey, a child who is in the hospital because of she is experiencing kidney failure, and to troubles with a marriage. Prayers will continue for these friends who, like us all, have various challenges that keep us on our knees.

But for today, all of our Finetown friends came together to laugh, to listen, to hug, and to chill. It was fun to be part of this day. And it’s gratifying to look forward to another year where we can share the love of Jesus Christ and encourage our friends in their work with the preschool children they love and serve so well.

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What a privilege! What a joy! What an honor!

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Thank you friends for making it all possible and sharing in the favorite part of my day today!

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And for those of you who prayed for my foot, thank you! It gave me a little trouble and unfortunately swelled up today after being on it for a good long while. I’m icing it now and hope it does better soon! No matter! I had a wonderful day – it was one of those affirming days when I am glad to be a missionary!

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