A very special friend

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Catalina Xiong is 13-years-old. Her family came to America as refugees from Laos in 1988. Catalina and her sister began attending Army youth programs at the Tulare, Calif., corps, at the invitation of her cousin; it was there they both accepted Christ as their Savior and were enrolled as junior soldiers.

Although her parents aren’t believers, they appreciate the positive influence the Army has had on Catalina’s life. Her mom explains, “The Salvation Army has changed Catalina’s life. It gives her a place to go and good activities to do.”

And plenty of them, too! Each week she participates in Sunday school, Singing Company, Girl Guards, intermediate band, and YPL (Young People’s League). “I’m at the corps every day except Tuesdays!” she explains.

The following is an excerpt from a paper Catalina wrote for a school assignment, speaking of the impact Captain Ruth Scott, her corps officer, has had on her life.

“Captain Ruth has been like a teacher and mother to me, even though I have a mother already. When I had a problem, I talked to Captain Ruth privately…Captain Ruth listened closely as if it was a secret. ‘I have a problem finding a friend at my school,’ I explained. ‘It’s hard finding a friend because I don’t talk a lot and I have an accent,’ I said sadly.

“‘Find the right friend who won’t use you and won’t do bad things. I will pray for you,’ Captain Ruth said joyfully, as I hurried to the van.

“I’m glad that Captain Ruth has been there for me when I needed her. She had given my mom three food baskets at Christmas. Such a caring and giving person, Captain Ruth has empathy for people. Captain Ruth has changed my life forever. ‘I will pray for you,’ still rings through my ears. Whenever I think of Captain Ruth and these comforting words, I smile.”

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