Editor’s Note: Missioner Amanda Ceraldi shares how she brought a foundational childhood tradition from her own life into the lives of some of the boys in Guatemala.

Growing up, one of my favorite things about my day was bedtime. I never particularly liked having to go bed, but I loved the act of being tucked in to bed. Every night as a child my parents would come into my room, get me settled under the covers of my bed, turn off the light, pray with me, kiss me on the forehead, give me hug, and wish me sweet dreams.

On nights that my parents would return home late from dinner or an evening out with friends I’d secretly stay awake and wait for them to softly kiss me on the cheek and whisper how much they loved me in my ear. These small acts before bed are some of my favorite memories of my childhood.

Being tucked into bed by my parents as a child is something that I cherish to this day. It has helped form the foundation of my being. For me, being tucked in at night is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child, it is how I learned how to love in little ways, how I knew that not only was I deeply loved by my parents, but that I was unconditionally loved by God as well. I knew that I would want to pass this on to my future children.

So, on mission, I found myself living in Guatemala at a boarding school for abused and marginalized children living in poverty in an apartment just 50 feet away from the boys’ dorm rooms. These 25 adorable little boys quickly became like my children.

Amanda with some of her students

Amanda with some of her students

They are the reason I want to wake up in the morning, they are the reason I constantly have a smile on my face, and they are the reason I yearned to love in the way my parents love me.

One night while watching the boys getting ready for bed I decided to go into their rooms to simply say goodnight. That quick trip turned into bedtime stories, prayers, carrying boys to their beds, tucking them under the covers, and hugs and kisses goodnight.

The next day, little Charles* came up to me asking if I’d come over that night to tuck them into bed. There was no way I could refuse. That night as I was leaving their dorm, Eddy* whispered to me que sueñes con los angelitos—dream with the angels. From then on, I knew that I needed to make it a priority to tuck these beautiful boys into bed at night.

This life giving tradition that my parents dedicated their nights to while I was a child was a tradition that I now get to share with the boys of Valley of the Angels.

So at night, I help the boys get ready to go to sleep, we snuggle together on the floor talking about the best parts of our day, I help them into their beds, rub their head and backs, kiss them on the forehead, give them a hug, tuck them under their covers, and whisper into their ears, que sueñes con los angelitos. This is the way that I show them unconditional love and let them know that I love them and God loves them, just as my parents did for me.

Reflection Questions: What traditions have been imperative in your life? How can you bring them to others?