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.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Poverty: Why Can't We Just Fix-it?

Today's society is a "fix-it" society.  If something is not what we see as "normal," "good," or "fair" we deem it "broken" and in need of being "fixed."  Some people put in excessive time and effort to right the wrongs of this world, while others simply throw money at the "problem" until it goes away.

Poverty is one such issue that is often considered a "problem" to be "fixed," however, I challenge you to view it in a different light:

"Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve.  As we go through each day, our heart's cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?"
~Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr

While visiting the beautiful country of Colombia, the Compassion staff encouraged us not to view the poverty we saw as something to be "fixed," but as a place for us to serve, to come along side people, and offer them hope and encouragement for the future.

We met sweet young Mai, whose father is not a part of his life, but he knows that God is his father, and he has hope in knowing that God cares about him.

I was able to spend time with this beautiful young lady.  While I wish I could remember her name (I think I met about 100 children that day), I will always remember her face and her precious hugs. Her capacity to love was amazing!

We met so many children who were so happy to tell us about their sponsors-from Canada, the USA, Australia, and all over the world.  Spending time with us may be as close as they ever get to meeting their own sponsors, but I hope we were able to bring even a fraction of the joy that they brought us.

Saying good-bye to my precious angels

Sponsoring a child doesn't instantly fix their situation or solve the issue poverty...but it does give them hope.  Gives them hope in a brighter future. Shows them that someone cares about their life, that someone loves them-even if they have never met them. So please, consider sponsoring a child and giving them help they need, love they crave, and hope they deserve in the name of Jesus.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Behind the Smile

Behind this beautiful smile, who is this little girl?

Is she the happy-go-lucky little girl she appears to be?

Is she able to do the things all little girls do?

Does she play with dolls?

Does she play dress up with her friends in their mother's high heels?

Does she giggle and play in the school yard?

Does she jump rope and play tag?

Does she dream of growing up to be a teacher, doctor, or scientist?

Does she dance on her daddy's toes and feel like a princess?

Does she cuddle with her mama and hear her affirming words of love?

Behind these sparkling eyes, what is really going on?

Does she have enough food to eat?

Does she have clean water to drink?

Does she have enough clothes to wear?

Does she have a bed to sleep on?

Is she cold at night?

Does she even have a doll of her own?

Does she have the love and affection all children crave and deserve? 

Does she know she has value?

Does she know that who she is is more than enough?

Does she know God loves her?

All I really know about this darling little girl is that she is from Colombia and this very photo received over 1100 "likes" on Instagram.  I have personally been to Colombia and have seen the kind of poverty that many children and families there face.  I have seen the hill-side homes, the dirt floors, and the cramped living spaces.  I have heard the stories of violence, drugs, and fear.  BUT I have also seen the joy and hope Compassion has brought to many of these children.  I have heard the stories and the testimonies of the love of God and the amazing things he has done for His people. You, too, can be a part of that hope; you can be the reason Behind the Smile. Sponsoring a child changes their life and yours.  Please Sponsor a child and find out what is truly Behind the Smile of a child living in poverty.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Joy...Unspeakable Joy

Joy can come in many different forms...sometimes it's obvious sometimes very subtle.  On my recent trip to Honduras, I saw joy on the faces of children.  The joy my girls and the other children had when meeting their sponsors.  Sponsors who have made a difference in their lives, showed them love, and gave them hope.  Hope for the future and joy in the present.  Joy of a special friend who came along side them in a world that tells them they don't matter. You, too can give this joy by sponsoring a child

Meeting my 3 girls: Heidy, Laura, & Dayana


Heidy                                      Laura

There was the Joy of the Lord in the hearts of the people.  Even in desperate situations, in the middle of a world of poverty they had hope and joy in the Lord. The depth of their praise was humbling.  It was simply amazing to be a part of their worship and see the true joy they had in our Lord Jesus Christ. Joy...Unspeakable Joy.

 Children Dancing to the worship-they never seemed to tire.

Preparing for Communion 

Heart of worship of a young child

There was joy in a mother's hug.  The joy and gratefulness of the mothers whose children got to meet their sponsors for the first time touched my heart. The joy of these mothers and their daughters gave me a joy like I have never felt before.

Please consider contributing to the joy of children, families, and communities in poverty. Sponsor a child today and experience joy...unspeakable joy.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

¡Mi Patitos, Mi Patitos!

It's late, I'm sitting here looking at the prompt for the first assignment for Compassion's blog month-a note to your childhood self-and all I can think of is ducks...little yellow ducks...and a mommy duck...squirting water all over me...

Ok, ok, I know that sounds strange, but if you were me, you'd be laughing and probably crying at this thought.  Just a few weeks ago, I spent a day with 3 charming little girls.  One of them, sweet, mischievous, little Dayana, brought along her little rubber duckies.  The little ones fit on top of the mommy-you know the type.  

They would flip over and the babies would fall in the pool, "mi patitos, mi patitos," she would squeal, giggling all the while. She would catch them and put them back where they were safe on their mother's back. As her shyness wore off she began using the ducks to squirt me with water, eventually even in the face (thankfully it was in the pool rather than the ocean).  The squirting instigated tickling (how could I resist?), to which she responded with tickling of her own.  

All barriers broken, she stole my heart with that giggle, that tickle, those little patitos...

So, my first Blog Month post isn't exactly following the prompt on talking to my childhood self...rather just addressing childhood in general.  Dayana touched my heart with her childhood antics.  Showing me her family photos, the photos I had sent her, the letters I wrote her, and the gifts I had sent were some moments I cherished from our visit together. Our little games and most of all, our hugs and snuggles will forever be etched in my heart. 

Many children in poverty don't have the chance to truly be a child, but for Dayana, at least for one day, she didn't have a care in the world, except for those patitos. 

There are hundreds of children just like Dayana waiting for a sponsor to give them hope and most of all love.  I promise you it's not hard to love these precious little ones.  My heart is breaking looking at these photos and my arms are aching to hold my "little patito" once again.

Please consider sponsoring a child today!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One Year Ago...

One year ago...

I felt this hug

One year ago...

I saw this smile

One year ago...

I had my face painted

One year ago...

I danced on stage

One year ago...

I experienced this snuggle

One year ago...

I fell in love with this beautiful smile

One year ago...

I lost my heart in Ecuador

I can't believe it has already been a year since I visited Ecuador on my first Compassion trip.  I still remember so vividly the time I got to spend with Dayana and Aida.  God has blessed me so much with these beautiful girls.  I hope I will be able to return to visit them some day soon! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

She Had Me at 'Hola'

The anticipation of meeting your sponsored child or children is often enough to drive you nearly crazy.  I should know, I've been through it three times now.  Will I recognize them?  Will they recognize me?  Will they like me? Will we have fun? Will they be shy or out-going?  Will they be cuddly or stand-off-ish?  And the questions go on and on until you have exhausted all possible circumstances.

Last Monday our bus pulled up to the chosen location in Honduras for our "Child-Sponsor Fun Day." We arrived before the children and waited for their buses to pull in.  When the first one pulled up next to ours, we searched frantically for a glimpse of our children-the children were doing the same in search of their sponsors.  Then I saw her.  This ADORABLE dark haired beauty.  I made eye contact and began to wonder if that was my little Laura.  I only had 1 photograph of her with her hair pulled up.  This darling little girl had long curly hair and the smile of an angel.  Just as I was questioning her identity, she held up a sign.  A sign with my name on it.  This certainly was my Laura. I waved and her smile brightened as she waved back.  I blew her a kiss and she returned one of her own. My heart melted.

 From the moment I stepped off the bus, Laura was there. She was the most affectionate little girl.  She loved to hold my hand, walk with me, give me hugs, and cuddle. 


We spent the day on the beach building sand castles and swimming in the ocean.  We played in the pool and the girls slid down the slides with great joy.  Her beautiful smile just captured my heart.


At the end of the day, when we were walking to the buses, she tugged on our translator's shirt, "Tell her that I love her." Again she tugged on her shirt, "Tell her that I love her very much."  Her insistence that the translator tell me over and over again was one of the most precious gifts a child could give. I simply wished I would never have to let go of this little angel God has brought into my life.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

God Will Make a Way When There Seems to be No Way

I am just under 3 weeks away from my trip to Honduras with Compassion International.  Emotions have been up and down as I prepared to visit 3 little girls: Dayana, my youngest sponsored child; Laura, my youngest correspondent child; and Mily, a young correspondent I had yet to hear from.

Dayana                                      Laura

I gradually collected gifts for each little girl and anxiously awaited information for our trip.  Then I got a "dreaded" phone call...instead of hearing that Mily's first letter was on it's way, I learned that she and her family had moved away from the Compassion center HO350 and to a new neighborhood that does not have a Compassion center.  I would no longer be able to have contact with Mily.  I certainly was sad, I was very drawn this darling girl even though we had had no correspondence yet.  I am thankful she and her family have moved away from the issues that they were dealing with but there is still a hole, and box full of gifts for a 7 year old little girl that I never got to know and never will.

So I turned my mental focus to the 2 little girls I have had wonderful communication with and cannot wait to hug.  Sweet Dayana and precious Laura.  Their letter have been great treasures to me.  While I will miss Mily, at least I had not formed an attachment to her like I have the other girls, and now I have a hand for each child. Something I have told myself over and over lately.  I tried not to focus on the box of gifts sitting with no purpose-I began to pack the gifts for Dayana and Laura and couldn't bring myself to even touch the third box.  Maybe I can use it on a future trip, or at least some of the gifts...maybe there are children here that I know that would make use of the gifts...

Then something happened.  I saw a sweet little face on the Facebook wall of a fellow Compassion advocate.  "Don't let sponsoritis or the loss of Mily influence you," I told myself.  Still , 7 year old Heidy from Honduras kept staring at me, and I at her.  She was from center HO372, a center I had heard great things about. "Stop looking, you already have 5 sponsored children, that is enough."  I began to pray that God would show me if it was His will for me to add Heidy to my "family" or to take away the desire to sponsor her.  With most of my sponsored children, I have asked God for a sign: sometimes it was time, sometimes it was certain circumstances in the child's life, or even the decisions of another sponsor. Well, with Heidy, I asked God to show me through the details of our upcoming Honduras trip.  "God, if you want me to sponsor Heidy, our tour group will have to visit her project HO372.  That's how I will know it's meant to be." Even as I threw out this "fleece," I felt it was impossible.  HO372 had been visited twice last year alone, there was no way we were going to visit this project when there are so many others out there. Beginning to process the separation with the idea of being Heidy's sponsor, I told myself, "This is not going to happen. There is basically a 0% chance we will go there."

Thursday, we got our trip itineraries from Compassion.  I just about had a heart attack when I found out that we ARE visiting HO372.  I was in utter shock-this shouldn't be happening.  And yet it is.   I kept staring at Heidy's photo.  "God, is this for real?"  After a few hours of mentally processing and praying, I filled out the online form to become Heidy's sponsor.  


Not only is it exciting to be able to spend a day with Heidy at her project, but my box of gifts for a 7 year old little girl can be put to VERY good use.  The doll I have even reminds me of Heidy.  So, pending paperwork and notifications, Heidy is part of my Compassion family and I will be able to hold her in just 3 short weeks. :)  Our trip is also visiting HO350, Mily's project. This visit will be bitter-sweet as I will certainly miss Mily, yet to know where she had been and meet her pastors will be special.  God does things in His way and His time.  We may not understand them all, but He gives us direction.  He may not always make His plans as obvious as He made them for me this week, but He shows us all the time that He is here and He is listening. God cares about even the smallest details of our lives.  What an Amazing God we serve!