The challenge I didn’t expect…

God likes to challenge us. It’s how we grow. But I never imagined that this would be the way God would challenge me in Uganda. I have quite a task ahead of me.

Each morning from 8 – 8:15 the middle school and high school students have devotions. I am in charge of the 10th graders, a class of about 15.

For the first five and a half years I was a teacher, I was in the public school system with a very clear separation of church and state. Now, here I am, in Uganda, teaching at a Christian International school where I am to lead devotions with an entire class each morning. I felt extremely awkward even being allowed to pray in a classroom.

Of course it’s a beautiful thing to be able to pray, but leading a devotion of some sort? I had no idea where I would start. So yesterday I was honest with the students about not really knowing what to do with them. They said their devos teacher last year asked them for ideas and they wrote down topics on a sheet of paper that she would sometimes choose from.

I thought that sounded like a good idea, but once the students got out their sheets of paper, their minds went blank.

“Miss Trout I don’t know!”jesus-on-cross-4-1364043-m

“I can’t think of anything!”

“Can we just watch Veggie Tales?”

All sorts of excuses were being thrown at me. I tried to get their minds going and prayed for the best.

I was not prepared for some the responses I got:

“How to deal with circumstances you cannot handle.”

“Why God has seemed to change from Old Testament to the new, but the Bible says He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.”

“Why does God get so angry at the Israelites when they’re in the desert (enough to kill them)? But then the Bible says He has infinite love and patience?”

“Why should we believe in Christianity rather than the Jewish religion? Which one is true depends on whether documentation and word of mouth is true. So why should we believe one or the other, how can we know? The same goes for Islam.”

And about a handful of students wrote something like, “Questioning your religion.”

God has given me these students for a reason. They have a lot of valid questions, and I feel God wants to use me to help answer them. But it’s very scary.

Those “questioning religion”, some are Christians and some are not. I have a very serious and timely topic on my hands here to deal with.

And as far as some of the other questions, I think I’ll be in touch with my pastor and retired pastors about a few of those! I think it’s great that they are asking questions like those. It’s when we stop asking questions and stop searching for God’s wisdom that we fall behind in our spiritual lives.

Like all of us in charge of a class for devotions here at Heritage, I need your prayers. I need prayers that God will give me the right words, the right answers, and that my students will have open hearts.

I read somewhere that high school is when people really start to think about what they believe in and why. I want to be the light for God that attracts these students and keeps them close to God. Wish me luck!

Life Without a Home

We were there to help, to lend a hand, to show God’s love. But before we could do any of that, I was approached by a boy who looked to be about 10 years old.

“Can I pray for you, ma’am?” he said to me.

I was caught totally off guard.homeless

“Uh… of course we can pray,” I said.

“I’ll find you later,” he said and went to hang out with some of the other boys at the center.

About a dozen of us from my church went to Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) to serve a meal and spend time with some of the residents this evening. I think it’s safe to say they probably touched our lives more than we touched theirs.

The families there were homeless without the help of IHN. But IHN gave them a place to live while they looked for jobs and went out on their own again. I can’t imagine life without a home. Having a place to stay is something we take for granted. We just assume we’ll always have a home.

There were about seven families there, different races and different ages. They were all so appreciative of the giant Pizza Hut pizzas we brought, and the smiles on the children’s faces were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen.

One family in particular really stood out. It was a mother and a father, a few sons and a daughter. The daughter looked to be about 13, but she was severely handicapped. She would repeatedly slap herself, make strange noises and could barely walk, even with the help of leg braces. Her mom and dad’s faces told a story of great struggle and of pure exhaustion.

I wondered what their story was. Could they have been made homeless because of medical bills? Was their darling daughter like this from birth or was she in an accident? I didn’t know the specifics, but I do know that it broke my heart, and I will be praying for them.

After we served dinner, some of the kids asked me to play Ninja with them. It’s basically the hand-slap game where you try to move your hands before someone else slaps them. We had a great time, and of course, I was almost always the first one out. Need to work on my reflexes I guess!

I spent some time with a little girl named Peyton who insisted that I wear one of her rainbow-colored beaded necklaces she had made at school.

I talked to one teenage boy who is finishing high school by taking night classes and plans to attend Ball State next year. He’s not sure what he’s majoring in, but his face lit up when I told him how cool it was that he wanted to go to college.

Eventually I ended up with a beautiful two-year-old girl in my arms. Her hair was beaded in pink, purple and white and her big brown eyes made me want to never have to put her down. She loved my jewelry and played with my earrings and rings for as long as she could.

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Pastor took some pics at IHN. Here I am, ready to serve some pizza!

The little boy who wanted to pray for me ended up having to leave early, but the fact that he wanted to pray for me at all was enough to make my night totally worth it. We were supposed to be there for them, for the homeless, and here was a boy who wanted to pray for me.

Jesus said we’re supposed to help the poor, and that when we do, we have served Jesus. But what about those who are poor? Who are they supposed to help? I saw tonight that they can help those of us who aren’t poor by asking to pray for us, or simply allowing us to come and serve them a meal.

I’ll be praying for the people at IHN, and as I learned tonight, at least one of them will probably be praying for me.

Picnic in the African desert

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Entry from Sunday, June 21, 2009 journal from my trip to Niger, Africa

We split into two groups for church. It was incredible to see a room filled with African IMG_0723Christians. They even had a choir- their songs were great! They had drums, a guitar and a keyboard. The youth even did a skit!

There were some other white people there. Some were visiting like us and others were missionaries long-term or taught at the Christian school nearby.

The sermon was, of course, in French, so we were taken to a back room where someone translated for us.

The afternoon was pretty cool. We met up with the nationals at the office and divided into two vans to travel to the village of (?). I ended up next to Adam in the van. He’s so sweet. He was pointing out a lot of things we passed and explained them. I can tell he likes me. He even asked if I had a boyfriend. Then he said he was surprised I didn’t. He flirted a lot- so I kind of kept away from him when we got to the village. It took almost two hours to get there.

IMG_0733When we arrived, we all sat on mats under a mango tree. We had a picnic- ham sandwiches and pop. It was nice to have ham (and mayo!) because every night at the Jesus Film showings we have peanut butter and jelly on baggetts. We are so sick of that!

After lunch and a lot of good fellowship, we took a group photo. I’m excited to get that!

Then we heard from some people in the village. They didn’t really have a religion before- just DSC00613 (2)tribal stuff. I guess the Jesus Film mission has really been working with this tribe. Many people have turned to Christianity because of it! Even the tribal leader accepted Christ. They want a church, because right now they meet in a straw shack. It was only two years ago that the Bible was first translated into their language. That’s crazy to me! Very sad. I thought the Bible was in EVERY language. All the church men from the tribe had huge tribal scars on their faces. That was weird.

Most of us slept on the ride home. This is all so exhausting.

When we returned to the guesthouse it was around 7 p.m. We put some frozen pizzas in the oven and just relaxed. It was nice and cool outside so we ate out there. We ended up talking for hours about the most random things- from church, to gay guys, to No Child Left Behind, to “John and Kate Plus Eight.”

Since there was no Jesus Film showing, we were in bed before 11 p.m., which was nice. As Bruce said earlier, “Thank you Jesus, we don’t have to show the Jesus Film tonight!” That’s been a pretty big joke since then with our group. But really, we needed a rest. We aren’t at our best if we’re exhausted.

They just don’t know what to do with us…

It was a glorious Sunday morning when I walked into a potential church home. I was excited at the new friends I would meet, the great sermon I would hear and the spectacular worship I would experience. I was there by myself, of course, I was a single woman with no children.1308201_objects_of_propaganda

I looked to my right and saw a man in a suit with sunglasses on and a walkie-talkie. He looked at me and frantically muttered something into his walkie-talkie. I looked to my left and saw three other men in suits and sunglasses running towards me. Not knowing what to do, I ran down the nearest hallway only to be pulled into a dark room by yet another man in a suit and sunglasses. They shut the door, set me down at a table and put a spotlight on me.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Well,” one of them said. “You’re single.”

“Yeah,” I said, not understanding what the problem was.

“This is church,” he said.

I was even more confused.

“We don’t know what to do with you,” the man said. “Single people in their 30’s scare us. We don’t know where to put you.”

“Could I start off by just going to church?” I asked.

They laughed.

“Who will you sit with?” one of then asked.

“Myself. It’s not social hour, I’m here to worship and learn,” I said.

“But then what? Then what do we do with you?” one of them said. “Where do we put you?”

“Well, is there a place for me?” I asked.

The men all shouted in unison, “No!”

“Can we create one?” I said.

They all just looked at each other before one of them spoke up. “It’s just easier if we ignore you.”

My heart broke, but I wasn’t surprised. It was the same story at every church I’d ever been to.

“We do have a women’s group!” one piped up. “It’s for ladies in their 30’s, just like you! They meet every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.”

“I have a job.” I said.

“Well most of these ladies are stay-at-home moms. Don’t you want to be that?”

“No,” I said without hesitation.1379514_a_lonely_chair_on_white_background

The men were so baffled that they removed their sunglasses and rubbed their eyes.

“There has to be a place for me!” I screamed.

“We have a great college group,” one began.

“I’m 32. I’ve been out of college for 9 years,” I said.

“We’ve got a phenomenal group of singles who are divorced or widowed,” one spoke up. “They like to get together and talk about their hurts and how hard it is to move on.”

“I’ve never been married,” I said. “Can’t I just join a group that focuses on my relationship with Christ?”

No one said a word.

“Isn’t that what it should be about?” I asked.

Finally someone spoke up, “But we still don’t know what to do with you.”

“Would it be easier if I just left?”

“Yes!” they all said.

So I stood up, walked out of the room and out of the church. They just didn’t know what to do with me.

———————-

1354792_churchThere’s a spot for everyone at church, or so they say. But I think being a single person above the age of 30 is the worst thing to be at a church. Even a drug addict can walk into a church and people will know what to do- they will pray, help the person find addictions counseling, sign them up for Celebrate Recovery, and get them well on their way to a better life. You could be someone who just lost their entire family in a horrific shark attack and the church would know more what to do with you than it does with a single person.

Why do you think so few single people go to church? It’s because we don’t fit in. People think you aren’t married because you must be some sort of demonic person or partier, or that you have absolutely no social skills.

Women’s groups are all focused on being a wife or a mother, or both. Men’s groups are the same way, you’re a husband and/or a father. Churches have tried the whole, “people in their 30’s, no matter what their situation” type of groups, but they don’t work. It always turns into talks about being moms and dads. Plus then the women get catty when you have more in common with their husbands than you do the them. Sorry gals- I can’t talk breast feeding and potty training with you, but I can talk about last night’s IU game with your husbands, and it doesn’t mean I’m trying to steal them away from you.

I wish it would just be about God. I know small groups are intimate and women will share sdetails of their lives with each other- that’s to be expected. It just seems like so many groups are solely focused on being a spouse or a parent.

The church just doesn’t know what to do with us. I can’t say I blame them, and wish I knew of a solution. While my story above is obviously fictional, I have been told by multiple workers in various churches that they really don’t know what to do with us. This isn’t all in my head!

I’ve resorted to having my own Bible studies… with myself. I guess that’s fine, at least I’m getting spiritually fed. I just hope that maybe someday churches will figure out what to do with all of us crazy single people.

Experiencing true Niger culture…

Another excerpt from my journal on my 2009 trip to Niger, Africa with Jesus Film Ministries:

Friday, June 19, 2009

IMG_0516 (2) - CopyAbby, Sheri and I met with a guy at 8 a.m. to talk about getting a dress made for each of us. First we picked a style, and then w went to the market to pick out fabric. Abby and I got blue material and Sheri got green and black. When we returned to the guesthouse we were measured. Our dresses should be done by Tuesday!

We didn’t have to go to the university so we went to the Gran Marche (Grand Market). It was huge and crazy. It was their version of a Wal-Mart, only outside. There were sections for shoes, meat, electronics, jewelry, etc. etc.4788_103253781572_1396633_n

For lunch we ate at the Lebanese bakery again. It was fabulous! Most of us had hamburgers, and the fries came ON the sandwich. How weird! We all thought it was pretty funny.

After lunch we went to a few places to buy souvenirs. We did some bargaining, it was fun!

But at 1:30, we had to stop. There was a Muslim “call to prayer,” and since Friday is the Muslim Sabbath,  ALL Muslim men participated. All the shops closed and the town fell silent. The crazy, loud and obnoxious town of Niamey stood completely still. It was creepy. We were the only ones walking around (we had no choice but to find our way back to the van). There were HUNDREDS of men praying in the street. And there we were- the American Christians just going about our business. We couldn’t even get into our van because it was surrounded by men on their prayer mats.

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We returned to the Catholic Guesthouse to pack up. We didn’t really know what to expect at the new place except that if we wanted air conditioning we had to pay for it. I know I expected the worst. But then we got here and the place is only a few years old. The grounds are all gated and there are lots of security guards. Our guesthouse has two armed guards – Mohammed and Frank. We got a kick out of that- Frank. The place is super clean, modern, and we have an awesome common area for meals and devotions.

Tonight we went to new locations in new groups for the Jesus Film. I was with Kathy, Zac and Don. Our students with us were Solomon and Adam. This time we were in a city neighborhood. MUCH IMG_0578 (2) - Copydifferent than the other two places. There was a soccer game going on where we were set up. While we waited for it to end I played with the kids. A few of them knew a little English- I was surprised!

The game ended and we started to set up. Lots of kids helped us and kept yelling, “Cinema!” because they were so excited. Then, just was we were to start there was a “call to prayer.” We were just around the corner from a mosque. The students told us that the neighborhood we were in was a very devout Muslim area. We could tell.

4788_103256596572_4237979_n - CopyWhen the “call to prayer” was over, we started the film. There were probably 50 kids there and a few adults. About five minutes into the film, a Muslim woman chased all the kids away! They didn’t want to leave, but she was very scary that they had no choice! There were about 20 people left when she went away. I was very discouraged, and then it got worse. Parents started showing up and very aggressively began removing their children from the crowd.  So halfway through the first reel we had only about six people left to watch.

About 20 minutes later, some kids came back and more adults slowly trickled in. Still, I was pretty creeped out because of how angry so many parents were. I could totally understand where they were coming from, though.  Can you imagine someone of a different religion coming into your neighborhood and trying to preach it to your kids? You wouldn’t be happy either. I just pray we had a positive impact on someone and that at least one person now has an interest in Christ.

God’s love on a receipt? Not even close…

I am continuously shocked at the Christians in this world who don’t understand the concept of God’s love and how we are to display it for EVERYONE just as Christ did.receiptgrab

For example, a pastor and a large group of people recently dined somewhere together and were charged an automatic gratuity. This happens a lot with groups larger than 8 or so. Apparently the service was fine, nothing terrible happened during the meal, but the pastor felt the need to leave the message, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?” You can read the entire article here.

Wow.

I can only imagine, if the server wasn’t a Christian, what he now thinks about Christianity.

Does a server deserve more than God? Of course not. This pastor gives 10% regularly in his tithes to the Lord. Giving 18% on a ONE-TIME meal really isn’t that big of a deal. To compare it to what he gives to God is simply absurd.

This pastor clearly missed a rather important part of the Bible, and some of the greatest words Christ ever spoke:

“…just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

It’s one thing for this pastor to not leave the server an extra tip since the 18% was already added on. It’s quite another to make a connection between a tip at a restaurant and what God deserves from us, and to then write it on the receipt. What kind of love does that show?

Do we really need to give the world more ammunition against Christians? Will we ever learn that Christ wasn’t kidding when He said we were to love one another and show God’s love to everyone? I can just imagine an atheist reading this article and thinking, “That’s why I don’t believe- self-righteous Christians, who show no love, prove that there is no God.”

One of my favorite quotes comes from Brennan Manning:

“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

It gives me chills every time I think about it, because it holds so much truth. Is it true? Are Christians the reason so many people DON’T believe in Christ? I think it’s highly possible.

I’m not saying this pastor is a terrible person. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve to be a pastor or that the rest of us don’t sometimes have poor judgment. But I do believe that the biggest step towards being a true disciple of Christ is showing His love… to EVERYONE.

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

A friend of mine, who also does some mission work, said something the other day that I could totally identify with. Someone had emailed her and said, “You’re such an inspiration! I wish all young women were like you.” My friend said to me, “It was nice, but sometimes I don’t know what to say to that. I wish people knew how imperfect I actually am.”

I know how she feels. And there’s a message that needs to be spread – NO Christian, no matter how many good things they do or say, is without sin. Myself included. DEFINITELY myself included.

My pastor is doing a series right now called Jesus + Nothing = Everything. You need Jesus. That’s it.

No really. That’s it. It’s not Jesus + mission trips = everything. It’s not Jesus + volunteering = everything. It’s not even Jesus + church = everything. Jesus is enough. Jesus, plus nothing else, equals all you need. It equals everything.

God loves all His children the same. I never ever want to give the impression crossthat I do mission trips, go to church, read the Bible, hang crosses on my walls, etc. etc. . because I’m seeking out a higher level of love from God. It’s not possible. He couldn’t love me any more than He already does.

He didn’t love me more after I went to Niger in 2009.

He doesn’t love me more now than before I went to Nicaragua in 2011.

When I go to Zambia in June, He won’t love me any more than He does at this very moment.

So why do I do it? I do it because God has given me the heart and the desire to do so. I don’t get an extra car in heaven because I’ve done international mission work. What I get is the satisfaction of serving my King, I do it because I WANT to do it. Not because I feel like I HAVE to do it in order for God to approve of me.

JESUS + NOTHING = EVERYTHING.

You don’t have to add anything to Jesus to make Him real or to make Him love you. You have everything you need, just by having Jesus. That’s all He requires- is that you believe and accept Him into your heart.

New friends at Niger’s lone university

Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 11 p.m.

SO. TIRED.

Bruce told us this morning that now is when the jet-lag will really start to set in. We noticed. Everyone looked like zombies at breakfast. Even the nationals got to the office late. Guess they were tired, too!

Our adventure on campus today was a great one. The first girl we talked to in her room 4788_103259756572_2227864_nwashing her clothes in a bucket. She was very quiet and sweet. I told my testimony and Kaeli did the translation. Then our National (I can never remember her African name!) went over the four spiritual laws with her. And she accepted! She accepted Christ! She read the prayer and asked Him into her heart. I was a little skeptical because it all seemed so simple. Then I realized that as Americans we make everything so complicated and dramatic. All that isn’t necessary!

The next girl we saw was nice and welcoming as well. She was Muslim. She listened and was very respectful but did not accept because of her Muslim beliefs.

The final room we visited was really fun. There were three girls in that room who were super outgoing and friendly. They really responded well to my testimony and even asked a lot of questions. They said they were very touched by my testimony.

Once we got into more about Jesus, the discussion was pretty crazy. They said they have always been told that Christians believe God had sex with Mary to make Jesus. How awful! That wasn’t just something they thought, it was something they were told we actually believe! The girls were so relieved when we corrected them. They didn’t accept Christ, but they certainly were very open and listened to what we said.

We took some pictures with them before we left. It really felt like we made some friends! A few of them even spoke a little English.

Lunch was another interesting concoction. I spent my afternoon free time washing some clothes in the sink and I took a short nap.

For the Jesus Film viewing we went back to the same place. We met lots of new people who were excited about the movie. A lot of people were out cultivating. A lot of naked kids were running around. We saw a very scary guy. He followed us for awhile and it was creepy. He was covered everywhere but his eyes.

4975_102902161572_6749683_nThe kids went crazy again when I pulled out my camera. I couldn’t get good pictures because they literally swarm you to be in the picture. They won’t back up for anything. Then Abby and I whipped out some bubbles. They went NUTS over that. They chased them, tried to eat them, tried to hold them, etc. They loved it!

When the film started, I didn’t feel very well. I got really hot- almost like I had a fever. I was literally drenched in sweat. I felt light-headed too. It was a little scary (knowing medical help was next to impossible if it came to that) but I felt better by the end of the film. Well, we only showed the first half. The second half we’ll show tomorrow.

Tired. Must sleep!

Sometimes, my faith sucks…

I was doing so well.

Praying multiple times a day, doing my devotions, being thankful for what I have, and having faith that God has a plan for my life and trusting that He knows what’s best.

And then, I had to ask my boss for time off for my mission trip to Zambia. I would need to use my week vacation, a personal day, and two unpaid days. I felt confident that this wouldn’t be a problem. After all, it wasn’t like I needed the extra days because I was going on a cruise. While we would see some amazing things on the trip, the majority of it would be spent working with the students and teachers at Lifesong for Orphans.

My confidence was high. I just knew everything would be fine.

Then it wasn’t.

My boss, who is one of the greatest people I have ever worked for, said she would have to talk to HR about it. She didn’t seem thrilled. She didn’t say, “Oh I’m sure that will be fine!” She wrote down the dates and said she’d let me know tomorrow.

Yes, this could all work out. But let me tell you, sometimes… my faith sucks. The pessimist inside me says, “It probably won’t work out!” Or maybe that’s the devil I’m hearing.

I should have great faith right now that God will work this out. How this whole trip came to be is an amazing thing in itself, why would God NOT work this out? Because sometimes God has other plans. And that’s what scares me. Even though God knows what’s best, I don’t always like it.

I will be devastated if I can’t go on this trip. I’ve already psyched myself up to meet all those orphans- to play with them, sing with them, show them God’s great love. Tearing that away from me now would just crush me. It’s also the number one thing in my life I have to look forward to right now. It’s what’s keeping me happy right now, keeping me going each day.

So often, I tend to expect the worst. That’s a terrible trait to have, and I’ve even told others lately to expect great things, amazing things, and they will start to happen! But sometimes, it’s just so hard. Like I said, sometimes my faith sucks.

A Whole New World…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 11 p.m.

After breakfast here at the guesthouse we met the “Nationals” (I don’t know why we call them that. They are basically “townies”) at “the office.” We talked about the different ways to share Christ and then we were off to share the gospel in the dorms on campus.

Anyways, I was paired with Kaeli and a student. The dorms were old. The hallways were narrow and filled with shoes since you can’t wear them in a Muslim’s room.

The first girl we met with was a very quiet Muslim girl who is studying medicine. She even allowed us to pray with her for her exams. It was cute though- she asked why we closed our eyes when we prayed. They don’t do that I guess.

The other girls we visited were much different. Their rooms were the same though- small, blue walls, small cot-like beds and the windows were covered in newspaper to keep out the steaming heat of the sun.

These two girls were very outgoing. We had a good talk with them.

Both places we just kind of got into discussions about God and what we believe. (Of course they only spoke French, but Kaeli translated).

We had lunch back at “the office.” Everyone shared their experiences and we ate something weird for lunch. It was kind of like hamburger and salsa on top of noodles.

At around 5 p.m. we packed ourselves into the van and came back to the office. I should explain “the office.” About 30 minutes away from the guesthouse and only about a mile from the university is the Niger Campus Crusade for Christ. The few buildings with it are protected by a wall and locked doors.

We got into our Jesus Film groups, packed up the equipment and left for our locations. My group rode to a place about 45 minutes away on the outskirts of town. It was like a little village and really reminded me of a Bible-time city.

We met up with the pastor of a church in the “neighborhood”. He showed us where to set up and where to lock our things. Then we divided into two groups and walked around the village inviting people to the film.

From the moment we got there until we left four hours later, this one little boy in blue sweatpants was right by my side the entire time. He was so cute! Sad thing was, we couldn’t communicate through Abby or Bruce. All the people spoke Hausa (a tribal language) and not French. The video was even in Hausa.

We talked to lots of people throughout the village. Everyone was really friendly except this one group we came across. They were nomads so they were living in a little mud hut. They looked crazy. The one guy who talked to us had a huge voodoo-looking guy on his necklace. Very creepy. After we left them, Bruce said they spoke a special tribal language and that they worship their own god.

As we walked through the village, kids joined us and followed us. It was so cute!

We started the Jesus Film at dusk (around 8 p.m.) and I was amazed at how all the kids got quiet to watch. It was really loud- it echoed throughout the entire village. And people were sitting on both sides of the screen. We estimated around 100 people were there. About 70 kids and 30 adults.

When the film was over, about 30 kids and adults stayed to listen to the pastor. He told us later that he had never seen that many people stay to hear more about Jesus.

It took us awhile to pack up, but a bunch of little kids helped, so that was nice.

Boy were we exhausted when we got home. I’m so tired, and it’s only our first time doing this! We will be doing this EIGHT more times! I mean, it’s incredible what God is doing, but it’s also exhausting.