Thursday, as usual, was quite packed. Moreover, it was very hot all day long (high of 93.2 F (34 C) with 94 percent humidity), but fortunately we have acclimated somewhat and thus survived the heat.

We began early with breakfast – the usual eggs (scrambled/omelet/sunny side up), croissants and baguettes (with jam/peanut butter/Nutella), grilled tomatoes, and fried ham. Oh, and don't forget the juice (mango/orange) and hot (caffeinated!) drinks (coffee/tea). Yum!

After this we had a brief morning meeting. Bennie briefed us on what we could expect for the day and also led a small devotional. She reminded us that the way of Christ, which we are called to follow, is a self-emptying life. It means that God is not calling us to just give out of our abundance, but rather to give everything. As we approach the end of our time here, we can be thinking about how we can be giving ourselves to the Lord even when back home.

Our devotional continued on the van ride over to the Agape church (30-45 minutes with 15 people in a 14-passenger van with minimal air conditioning... fun!) as we spent time praying for our ministry for the day. Several of our team have felt sick for the last few days (on every mission trip to a foreign country, stomach trouble is par for the course), so this is something we have asked God to help us through (and something our readers could petition the Lord about too!).

Upon reaching the church, we each participated in the morning activities. These included kids club, the Lord's Gym, piano lessons, guitar instruction, family photographs, consulting work at the garment factory, and computer class. The kids club lesson was about the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32): that God loves us no matter what we do. During the worship time we taught two songs to the kids: Jesus is Alive and Let Your Light Shine (Light Light) . We were excited to hear kids singing the songs throughout the day after our lesson was complete!

After the morning activities, several of us drove to one of the brick factories in the area. The people who work at these factories live in poverty, essentially kept in slavery by falling into debt to the factory owner. Many of them do not have any formal education, meaning they lack the skills necessary to find other work. We passed out clothing which was put together by members of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church for us to donate, and it was very rewarding and humbling to see the smiles on the kid's faces as they received their “new” used garments.

Following the brick factory excursion, we came back to the church and had lunch (grilled pork, stir-fried vegetables, and white rice). We had about an hour until the afternoon activities were to start, so we spent some time talking with Pastor Chata and his wife about their ministry. Pastor Chata told us about one of his disciples in particular, a young woman named Tola. This blog is not the place to relay details of the narrative, but suffice it to say that our hearts were broken when we heard of the misfortune and abuse she had endured. However, we were elated to hear about how God called Tola to Agape International Missions, and there worked through Pastor Chata and his wife to change her life. Tola now goes by the name October (her birth month), as a way of showing how she has moved on from her past life into something new with God.

While we learned about Tola, Kristen Campbell taught a dance class to some of the older students (called disciples) working with this ministry. They all seemed to enjoy the lesson and are planning on performing a dance on Friday! The afternoon activities followed the same pattern as those of the morning: kid's club, the Lord's Gym, piano lessons, guitar instruction, family photographs, consulting work at the garment factory, and computer class.

In the evening we came back to the hotel, where we did some planning for Friday. We also put together a patchwork quilt for the disciples with their names and ours to show our gratitude to them for their help in all the activities throughout the week. It is sad to think that Friday is our last day working with the disciples and the kids.