Monday, December 22, 2014

The Last Photo

In October, I visited Colombia for the second time. This was my first return trip to visit the girl I sponsor with Compassion International.  On my first trip, I was blown away by my little Daniela.  When I think back, it's fitting that she just stole my heart. She was/is the first child I ever sponsored with Compassion.  I had quite a time choosing a child before I finally felt God tell me that Daniela was the one. It was her letters that pulled me in to sponsoring more children. Her love from miles and miles and miles and miles away touched me in a way I had never dreamed possible.  Meeting her in 2013 was amazing and visiting her again in 2014 was no less amazing.

Compassion surprised the sponsors with a brief meeting with our children the night before our "Fun Day" and as the children trickled in I mentally checked off each of my girls as they came to me.  Valery (check), Sara (check), Angie (check)...and we wait and look and wait and look...and Sara hollers, "Daniela!" And here she comes climbing over chairs to get to me. Bright smile on her face (check). We didn't have a translator for this time, so we took photos, smiled, hugged, I gave them all necklaces matching mine, more smiles, more hugs, and Daniela didn't leave my side.

The next morning at the dock, my girls trickle toward me one by one and we load up on the boat.  Angie and Valery were first and ended up at the back of the boat while I was with Sara and Daniela in the middle. For a moment it felt like "old times" when it was the 3 of us on my last visit.  When we reached the island, in the Ocean we went. Sara was tall enough to touch, but only Angie could actually swim, so Daniela and Valery were constantly in my arms.  Full of fun and giggles we all got waterlogged. Sitting on a rock letting the waves hit us, Daniela showed me the 2 bracelets she was wearing-both bracelets I had given her. The thoughtfulness touched my heart.

After lunch, we decided to spend down time talking.  Daniela showed off her English skills and then taught me a song in Spanish.  She then showed me a dance she does at her project.  I am so thankful for these special moments.  When we returned to our hotel for gift time, Daniela once again proved to me why she grabbed my heart in the first place.  Going through her gifts, she found a journal and told me she would write verses in it.  She hugged her stuffed elephant and said she was hoping for a stuffed animal; she named him "Chepe."  After her project director prayed for me, she said she wanted to pray for me too. My heart proceeded to melt with her amazing, heart felt prayer on my behalf. I couldn't keep the tears from flowing.

As we say our final "good-byes," take a final group photo, and give those final hugs, Daniela was still standing beside me.  The translator tells me she wants the last photo.  In my mind I hear "one last photo," so I bend down to her level and we take the photo.  Our translator promptly turns off the camera and hands it to me.  It hits me that she didn't say "one last photo" she said "THE last photo."  Tempted to turn it back on, and snap a few more (yes, I'm a photo Nazi), the realization sinks in.  I respect her wish and contemplate that kind of love.  What did I ever do to deserve THAT kind of love?  Who am I that she would want to THE LAST photo?  Tears wouldn't stop as I left the room and headed upstairs.  I still can't fathom the love that this little girl has for me, and I miss her daily.


Thank You, Dear Lord, for this child and the amazing heart you have given her. Thank You for showing me Your unfailing love through the love of a precious child named Daniela. Amen.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

But for a Moment...

I recently took a trip to Colombia to visit my four Compassion girls there.  I have been home for a month and finally have an organized thought.  I was struck by something that has been a reoccurring event on each of my trips.  On each and every trip that I have taken with Compassion International, I have had a "Moment."  This one little moment where the whole world stands still. A moment where I could hear a pin-drop if there was one.  A moment that I feel God speak to me in a nearly audible voice.  And every time, that moment tells me, "This is what it's all about."  

Each moment came with a child and at time that I least expected.  

In Ecuador 2012, my "Moment" came with Aida.  As we played in the pool, I heard a tiny squeal of delight, which bubbled into laughter. The world stopped for just a moment, "This is what it's all about."

In Colombia 2013, my "Moment" was with Daniela. We were all riding on the elephant ride and as we went round and round, I heard a sweet little giggle and tears began to stream down my face. The world paused and there was only that giggle, "This is what it's all about, this is why I am here."

In Honduras 2013, my "Moment" was with Heidy.  Heidy was the quietest of my three girls. There was a moment when she came sliding down a water slide with a light in her eyes and such a genuine smile on her face. "This is what it's all about. SHE needed this." But in truth, I needed that...

In my most recent trip to Colombia, my "Moment" came at such an unexpected time.  While swimming in the ocean with three of my four girls, there was a lot of noise, commotion, and waves. We were unable to go to the aquarium so we returned to the sea to swim some more.  As I sat on a rock, taking in the waves and watching my girls play, I heard Valery say, "Madrina, watch me. Madrina, count how long I can hold my breath under water.  Madrina, watch me do this. Madrina, watch me do this, then do it with Daniela. Madrina, watch this..." and on and on and on.  I felt everything go still, the tears threatened to spill, and I couldn't help but think, "I will NEVER EVER get tired of hearing that. This is what it's all about."  In the mass chaos of a "Fun Day" with four girls, I needed that.  I needed to feel what I already knew in my heart.  I have no doubt that God chose each of these girls for me, and He has blessed us all.  

These "Moments" are so special to me. They will forever be etched on my heart as proof that sponsorship does make a difference.  Not only does it touch the lives of children all over the world, but it touches my heart.  There is nothing in this world like the love and joy of a child.

Thank you, Dear Lord, for these special moments where the world holds still, and but for a moment, I can not only see, but feel Your love through the love and delight of a child. Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Will You be my Friend?

In preparation for my Colombia trip, I am trying to find sponsors for these 4 beautiful Colombian children from CO517!

They live in the coastal region of Daniel Lemaitre.  Typical homes are made of wooden walls, cement roofs, and dirt floors.  Average income in this area is $95 per month working as street market vendors.

All four of these children are ABOVE AVERAGE in school! 


Jonathan is 9 years old. He lives with his parents and 1 sibling.  He enjoys playing a musical instrument, soccer, and telling stories.


Ana is 9 years old. She lives with her parents and 1 sibling.  She enjoys art, ball games, and group games.


Josue is 5 years old. He lives with his mother.  He enjoys soccer, listening to music, and playing group games.


Isaac is 7 years old. He lives with his parents and 1 sibling.  He enjoys soccer, ball games, and group games.

Please consider sponsoring one of these precious children! I promise it will change their life and yours in the process!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness

On Memorial Day, I decided to take my "little" cousins to our local flea market.  We had a morning of fun and laughter.  As we were shopping, I was looking for something special. I was looking for sunglasses for my four beautiful, little girls in Colombia whom I will be visiting in 3 1/2 months. I found some I liked, but wanted to check out others before buying.  In the end, we went back to that vendor and I chose four different colors of sunglasses.

As I went to pay, the gentleman looked around me and asked if the kids I was purchasing the sunglasses for were with me.  I told him, no, they live in Colombia.  He asked if they were exchange students and I was able to explain a little bit about Compassion and how I will be visiting the girls I sponsor.  He expressed concern about "some of those organizations" and I told him that Compassion does so much more than they even say.  He told me it was good to know there are organizations out there like Compassion.  He then proceeded to tell me my total-"How about $10."  I am pretty sure I stared at him with my mouth wide open, as the total I had calculated was $18. I sincerely thanked him. "Just tell the girls they look like movie stars in the glasses." That man may never know how much his random act of kindness meant to me.  It wasn't about the money, but the fact that he appreciated my passion for sponsorship touched my heart. I was nearly moved to tears.

Never underestimate the power of a random act of kindness.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

So Close, Yet so Far!

My next Compassion trip is to Colombia in October.  I think I am having trip withdrawals right now.  I was blessed to be able to visit three Compassion countries within a one year span, and by the time I take my next trip, it will be over a year since my last trip!  From today, that's 139 days, or about 4 1/2 months. It feels so close, yet so far away! Patience has never been one of my strongest virtues so those numbers seem like an eternity! Yet, I know the time will go fast as flights will need to be booked soon, gift shopping must continue, itineraries will come, and finally packing will commence. Packing alone will try my patience as there just NEVER seems to be enough room or weight!

I am beyond excited for this trip, I am still amazed at how perfectly God has been working out the details.  Not only will I be able to visit a new part of Colombia, but I will be able spend time with some of the sponsors and translators from my previous Colombia trip! I can't wait to spend time with the beautiful children and families of Colombia!

Meet My Girls:

I will be re-visiting Sara and Daniela whom I met April 2013.  I am anxious for my first return visit to see how we bond the second time around. I feel that having our past meeting under our belt, those "awkward" first moments won't be there. Hopefully we will pick up right where we left off!

Sara-age 12, Me, Daniela-age 9

In addition to Sara and Daniela, I will be meeting two new little girls for the first time.  They are both new correspondents from the last couple of months. Valery and Angie have captured my heart without even receiving their first letters yet.  I am so anxious to get to know them through letters, and I just can't wait to be able to hug them!

Valery-age 6                                           Angie-age (almost)8

Meeting four girls at once will be a first for me! I was able to manage three in Honduras, so hopefully four won't be too difficult!  I am praying that they will all get along, even create a special bond. (My gut feeling is that they will!) I am open to gift suggestions! I am trying to avoid repeats for the older girls.  I am also hoping for some "outside the box" suggestions! 

I have been so blessed by the children I sponsor and the correspondents God has chosen for me.  I believe God has brought each child into my life for a special reason.  I just can't help but get excited to spend time with these four beautiful young ladies!  This is probably the ONLY time I will ever wish away summer. Come on October! Get here FAST!!!!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Colombia Dreamin'

Even before my most recent trip to Honduras, I have been looking forward to my next trip...which is to...well, I didn't know for sure.  I have now visited all the girls that I sponsor so I had planned on starting my line up over...Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras.  I prayed about being able to re-visit my children and and that God would work things out in His time.  The trip details posted for August 2014 to Ecuador in November, and I was really interested, however, there was 1 detail that kept me from signing up so I waited. I prayed about where to go, maybe God had a different plan than I did. There is a trip to Colombia in October 2014, the waiting just about killed me, but the trip details finally posted in January.  As with many things regarding Compassion, I had thrown out a "fleece"-a very specific one that would either "lock" me into the Colombia trip or would leave it all wide open and up for further prayer. Reading the Colombia trip details showed that my "fleece" was wide open, the 1 thing I had asked for was just a tiny bit outside of my range. Yet, as I went over the details and prayed for wisdom, I felt a peace.  I felt that God chose Colombia for me for this year.  I am very excited to be visiting a new part of Colombia-Cartagena!  I will also be able to hug these two girls once again!

Sara                                                Daniela

In preparation for my trip, I have information packets on 5 beautiful children from project CO520 near Cartagena. If you are interested in sponsoring one of these darling children, please let me know! 

This is Yosselyn, she lives in Colombia. She is 5 years old and lives with her parents and a sibling. She is too young to attend school. ! Isn't she a doll??????

This is Diego, he lives in Colombia. He is 5 years old and lives with his grandfather and his mother. He is not attending school because he is too young. He enjoys soccer and art.  How cute is he???

This is Karol, she lives in Colombia. She is 11 years old and lives with her parents and 2 siblings. She enjoys rolling a hoop and playing with dolls. 

This is David, he lives in Colombia. He is 12 years old and lives with his parents and 3 siblings. His school performance is above average and he enjoys soccer!  (he even shares my birthday!)

This is Jimmy, he lives in Colombia. He is 9 years old and lives with his parents and 2 siblings. His school performance is above average!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Gift from God

Well, my trip to Honduras ended 4 months ago, and my, does time fly!  I have blogged about meeting Laura and Dayana, but have yet to tell the rest of Heidy's story. The first part of Heidy's story happened about 3 weeks before I even left for Honduras - you can read about it here. God blew my mind with His hand in all the details of sponsoring Heidy.  And I was blessed beyond imagination with the time Heidy and I spent together.

A few days before our trip began, we were informed that it wasn't going to work out to visit the second project on our itinerary, so we would return to our first project (Heidy's project HO372) on the second day for church service.  When our bus pulled up, I began to search for my Heidy, and it didn't take long to find her holding a sign with my name (misspelled, but who cares?).  I got to spend the day dancing and playing with this beautiful young lady.  She was quiet and wasn't overly excited about participating, but laughed when I took her hands and did some of the motions along with the group.

Our wonderful tour leaders arranged for the sponsors who had children at this center (there were 3 of us) to visit their child's home.  It was an amazing experience to be able to visit Heidy's home and meet her mother. The next day we returned to the project for a special church service. We were able to enjoy the service and also participate in Communion with the congregation. Heidy stood by me and sat on my lap all during service. Afterward we took a photo with the pastor, her mother, and her friend.

Heidy was shy and quiet, yet very loving.  Her mother kept telling me how excited Heidy was that I was there.  She was huggy and clingy; it was VERY hot, but I didn't mind :)  

Then came Monday-FUN DAY! I was able to see Heidy for the 3rd day in a row.  And on that day, I got to see more of the "real" Heidy.  With the other girls around she was able to open up a bit more and play.  I got to see her face light up with a beautiful, genuine smile.

At the end of the day, Heidy held on to her doll tightly and got very quiet.  As we walked to the buses, I was walking with Laura (as she was always the first to claim my hand) and Heidy began to lag a bit behind.  She got the attention of our translator because she wanted me to know that she loved me with all of her heart.  This, coming from a girl who just learned she had a sponsor a week before I showed up; coming from a girl who still knew me so little after only a few hours each day; from a quiet, shy little girl...THIS touched my heart to the core.  The words and smiles from this beautiful little girl remind me what sponsorship is all about. I was there for HER and yet, in so many ways, she was there for ME.

My precious little Heidy is beautiful gift from God.