I have to say that I'm not big on Valentine's Day. In fact, it may be one of my least favorite holidays. Why, do you ask? Mostly because I feel like there shouldn't be a day where people feel obligated to demonstrate their love for someone, or feel lame not to be in a relationship. It's been a lose/lose holiday for me. However, after today I'll happily say my view on Valentine's Day has started to change. Before you get too excited and start showering me with heart confetti, I'll just say that Valentine's Day here has just been more real. It has been more about God's love for us than anything else. Here, God has revealed to me more clearly than ever how important it is to demonstrate His love for us by loving others. Zenande, the 9th grade student I sponsor here has helped show me that too. Last week she snuck a surprise valentine in my bag (picture above right) that I couldn't help but cry when I opened. In it she wrote me the sweetest note saying how blessed she is by me being here and how much she loves me and is praying for me. She's pretty shy in person, so reading that meant the world to me. It made me realize how important it is to daily remind those we love how much we love them. I love how affectionate so many of the girls are here. The closer I get to them, the more I dread leaving them. They have made me feel so loved and so at home.
Last week went well. I feel like the weeks are going by faster and faster these days. On Thursday night Kristy (see bottom right picture) took me to her bible study and then to her place after to spend the night. As you can see we played Starbucks baristas at her house that day. Hey, you gotta make due! Kristy has quickly become a good friend and I feel so blessed to have her here with me. It's been good to get out and stay with her a couple times. We have plans to go wine tasting soon which I'm very much looking forward to :) Over the weekend, I got to spend a lot of time with the kids and loved every minute of it. On Saturday, we all went to the mall (yep, all fifty-two students) to avoid causing too much noise during the wedding happening in the vineyard next door. It was great to get out with them and be with them in a different environment. A few of them even ministered to some street kids there. So great. On Sunday I spent a good portion of the day with them at the school after our church service and that afternoon Susan and I took out our sponsor girls Yanga and Zenande (her and I together in the picture above left). I could tell they were putting on their best behavior which was pretty cute, and it was good to finally get to spend some quality time with Zenande. She has been warming up to me more and more lately and makes my heart swell with joy. I love her to pieces.
Over all I feel like I have a lot grown closer to a lot of the kids over this past week which makes me incredibly happy and even more sure that coming here has been the best decision I have ever made. Thank you all for your continual prayers. They are definitely paying off!
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY FROM BRIDGES ACADEMY!!!