CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Beauty lies in the most remote parts of the world. It lies in the geography, the people, the cultures. A teenager from Hurricane has experienced this beauty firsthand and has even created some of it herself.
Grace Pritt, a 16-year-old junior at Hurricane High School, is an active member of several school clubs. She participates in the Christian club Youth Alive, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Maranatha Fellowship Church outreach program Team Undefeated and the school's drama club.
She also volunteers with the theater program at Arts in Action, a Christian performing arts program in Hurricane, baby-sits and goes to church at Hope Christian Center in Ona.
It was her love of and involvement in her community that provided her with the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Well, I had this Moses moment, you see. I went to Acquire the Fire with my youth group, and they talked about going on missions," she said.
"I felt called to go, but I told God all the reasons I couldn't: the timing, the costs, my age, my panic disorder. I told God he had the wrong girl. I told God to find someone else.
"But then God was all clever, and I ran out of excuses, so I decided to go."
Two of her friends had been on trips by Adventures in Missions and spoke highly of the group. One, Stephanie Davis, is a Cambodian who Pritt met when Davis spoke at her church.
"It happened when I was discouraged and thought I couldn't do it. I talked to her after the service, and she was raving about AIM. It all just kind of clicked."
She said she checked the group's website every day in the summer of 2011, waiting for it to update its trip list. When it did, she was set.
However, she still had to raise money for the trip, which alone cost $4,600. She aimed for $5,000, though, to try to cover other expenses.
Thanks to an all-loving community, she reached her goal. She raffled off things such as a wooden quilt rack made by her uncle and a quilt made by Lisa McCarty. She made a Facebook page, sold baked goods, held multiple fundraisers, baby-sat and accepted many generous donations from the community.
So, with everything in line, Pritt headed to Africa last summer -- Swaziland, to be exact.
She said, "The trip's purpose was to share Jesus' love, especially in places where there wasn't as much love. The team that would go would be mostly with the children."
Africa wasn't as she expected. There were larger cities, like Manzini, with nice buildings, churches and shops.
"It wasn't stereotypical at all," she said. "Each person I met was different. Each place I went to was different."