mrs. paulette invited anna katherine and i to join her for a bible study at DJJ. this is a monthly ministry that has been taking place for years within our church. 

we were asked to bring snacks. other than cookies and soda, we had no idea what to expect. 45 minute, paperwork, car search... our first thoughts were how sobering it feels to drive though layers of gates and razor wire only to be greeted by girls that looked way too young to be in prison.

the bible study (which was actually an acteen lesson) was held in the "family room." there were sofas, a table and chairs. we brought candy corn and frosted cookies. mrs. paulette scattered coloring pens and pre stamped postcards on the table. it felt like a regular acteen meeting at fbc. as the girls  filled  the room, their loud talking again felt like acteens at fbc... except three guards accompanied them and there was not a lot of smiling.

anna kathereine took a seat, scooped up coloring pens and participated like she was "just another acteen." the lesson was on fear. i imagined their fears compared to my daughter's.  just that morning, mary claire had been scared to death that she would fail her history test.

 the eight girls told us their names and ages. 14-17. part of the lesson was taking turns sharing things that make us afraid. we learned that several of these children had children. their answers provided more understanding.

the question, "so whatcha in for?" is not allowed.  the chaplain told us that even if we could ask, the answers would most likely not be the truth about what landed them in a prison for children. 

anna katherine and i filled out of volunteer paperwork and signed up for the training. we look forward to coming back next month. we left that night, thankful for people like mrs. paulette. thankful to our gracious God who is there to guide and bless her efforts and all of the volunteers in reaching out to these young souls.

visiting the other america

north america! a few weeks ago, our translator extraordinaire and her sister visited  the other america. angie and i go way back ;) as far as friends two years young can go. we have been through the good, bad, amazing, sad, and even a little bit of ugly. the kind of experiences that bind friends together.
so when we all learned of her three week visit,  it did not take long before she had a long list of hosts.  missionary hosts in texas, north carloina, virginia and south carolina. maureen was kind enough to open her home and coordinate a busy activity schedule.

"if you could see anything in south carolina, what would it be?" without hesitation she said myrtle beach.  
so myrtle beach it was. we drove the back roads for the full south carolina experience. we stopped at cotton fields, golf courses, a country buffet and of course, mcdonalds. (you do not realize how many mcdonalds there are until  someone is pointing them out.)
we had two days to experience all myrtle had to offer. who knew!? other than everyone except me ;) myrtle beach is not a place we visit often. driving the "strip" and trying to remember the last time i had been on myrtle beach blvd. (or ocean blvd.)... high school, maybe college. a very long time. 

these sweet ladies were photographing everything. driving through florence, angie was hanging outside of the window photographing the most random things. "what in the world are you photographing in downtown florence?! the traffic lights and strip malls?!"

angie reminded me of how funny this was coming from the person who tries to photograph every square inch of ecuador. 

point made :)

the myrtle beach pier. for $1 per person we received some serious entertainment! 
some fellas were fishing from the pier when a shark bit a huge fish in half! {horror} the bloody fish and southern slang  quickly drew a crowd. this guy was determined to "get that fish." 

i mean bleeding or not, "that's still a fresh fish!" with a small cast net, he reeled that fish in!  my limited tries at a cast net, i realized the skill!

i was trapped between a pier rail when the mangled fish was pulled in. screams, blood, fish insides, fish outsides, illegal narcotics... all filled the air. to my horror, i was covered in many of the above!
HELLO myrtle beach and unlimited photo opportunities!

i was full of questions, many onlookers were full of alcohol and descriptive answers. 
"are you going to cut it up and use it for bait?"
" heck no... that's eatin meat!"
talk about a dollar's worth of entertainment! angie and her sister were not as impressed with the fish. they loved the arcituture of myrtle beach... (what?!) coming from the person who is in awe of the architecture in small dilapidated ecuadorian villages. everything is relative and that's pretty awesome!
we visited the gay dolphin. seriously it has been 20+ years and i think i visited this place once. it felt like i was walking through a tim burton nightmare! 

a nightmare that goes on and on and on....probably the same way angie feels at markets with their endless tables of south american trinkets...which are so much better ;)

the strip at night... angie was surprised by all the motorcycles and henna tattoo stores. 

hotel continental breakfast... a must!  they commented on how much fruit americans "don't eat." yep, just like the movies ;) 

we walked around myrtle beach as i know it... broadway at the beach. 

last stop before power outlet shopping... a helicopter ride!

two days of experiences and deeper understanding of how we act in ecuador! i loved spending time with these ladies. i was thrilled to earn the title of "the fun aunt" even though i prefer to be a sister :) 
she attended fbc. she sang with jeff! afterwards she asked for a picture... because we "looked so pretty." i smiled imagining how different we must appear in church dresses and heels compared to the bummed out clothes she is used to seeing us in. 

until january ladies!
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