Sunday, November 27, 2011
Posted by Kriss Gates
I wanted to do something special for the Young Women before we leave. Ed & I decided to have a Young Women’s Conference and play the DVD from the General Young Women’s meeting in Salt Lake. They don’t do girls camp here. (Their real lives are like camp. They cook over an open fire, they sleep on floors and use out houses all the time.) Youth Conference is a 2 hour meeting with everyone of all ages invited. Therefore, they have never had a sleepover… so we decided to have them over to our house for the night. When I was shopping for the food for a big barbque chicken dinner, I told Ed I had no idea if there would 2 guests for dinner or 20. We ended up with 29 of us! It was unbelievable. We had almost every young woman in all 3 branches.
The event was filled with “firsts”. They had never been in a nice home like ours, so everything was “interesting”. They found the fridge amazing! They all kept opening it up and looking at all the little containers of food. Someone took the candy bars, but mostly they just looked in awe. They all got to take a shower… for many, a first.
We started with a service project at the church. They helped me roll and tie, the rest of our baby blankets for the maternity hospital.
Then we loaded them into the truck and a taxi and went to the house.
We started by playing French Guesstures. They laughed and laughed and laughed. They crowded around the tables for dinner and ate lots of food. I made Jello with Fruit Cocktail… another first for all of them. For dessert we had cupcakes… strawberry ones and chocolate ones. They wanted to know if they could eat the paper, and were worried that there was still cake on the paper when they threw them away.
After dinner we watched the Young Women’s General meeting from last spring. They sat on chairs and the floor and we showed it with the projector on the wall.
It was wonderful! It was very special for them to see the huge group of girls in the conference center and the large group of young girls in the choir. It gave a small perspective of how huge the world-wide church really is.
They ate their cupcakes and got ready for bed. The 3 leaders all slept in the same bed.
The girls slept on the tile floor. I had a list of what to bring on their invitations. They were told to bring “mats” and whatever they needed to sleep. They don’t use pillows, and most just sleep in their clothes. They were body to body in our living room and dining room. Before they went to sleep we put on “The Little Mermaid” and showed it on the wall. There are no movie houses here, so it was an exciting treat for them.
Sleepovers with my MIA Maids at home, before our mission, always had a few girls that would stay up all night. We were exhausted and went to bed. When the Little Mermaid was over, I was afraid that they might start partying. Ed went in to turn off the video, and I heard the girsl start singing “I am a Child of God”. Ed quietly slipped in and told me to come and look at the girls. I tiptoed in and saw them all kneeling in a circle, on their mats, having a prayer together… and then they all went right to sleep! They were angels!
The next morning I woke up at 6:00 am. I snuck out to see if they were all still asleep. They were all awake, with their mats and beds all cleaned up. Many were sitting on chairs with their bags all packed on their laps. Several of them were sweeping and mopping the floors. Then they went outside and started sweeping up our yard. I realized they wanted to get everything done so they could watch another movie. We played “Ella Enchanted” and Ed cooked pancakes for all of them. No one had ever seen or had pancakes. We showed them how to put syrup on them and eat them. Thanks to the Collins “Care packages” we had both maple and coconut syrup.
They also had juice and milk to drink. Another first. Most had never even seen milk in a container, instead of powdered.
We took them to church at 9:00, 11:00 and 1:00, as the different branches started. At about 10:00 one of the girls came to me with huge eyes and kept asking something in French. She finally took me into the back room and showed me the 2 bags of head bands and hair bows that Mitzi had sent me. I had given several away, but I was saving the others to give out at Primary. The girls begged me to give them to them, instead of primary… and were thrilled when I said OK. I had all the girls draw a number, and then we spread all the bows and headbands out on the table. We started with #1 choosing first, and then we went through the numbers. They were THRILLED!
They were very cute at church and wore them the entire time.
After Ed left with the 11:00 group, the last girls said they were hungry. They had seen a package of cookies in our cupboard. I asked them if they wanted to make cookies. They had never done anything like it. They were fascinated with every little detail, but holding the mixer and tasting the chocolate chips were the highlights! When they got to eat the cookies while they were still hot, they thought they had died and gone to heaven.
As each group left I walked out to the truck with them and told them we loved them. They are wonderful girls, and I will never, ever forget them. They were darling and very appreciative as they waved goodbye.
One of our greatest blessings of this mission is that we have learned to look at the world through “African Eyes”. We might not have a dishwasher or garbage disposal, but we have running water into our kitchen and a stove that cooks inside our kitchen and a refrigerator that keeps things cold, so we don’t need to go shopping before every meal. We might not have a car with power locks, but we have a scratched up truck that gets us wherever we want to go, instead of walking two to ten miles to church. Most of these girls live in 8 X 12, one room homes, but they have a photo of a temple on their walls and a family who reads the scriptures together and parents who love them. They are happy and know what JOY really means.