Sometimes the most exciting and fulfilling journeys are those that simply appear in front of you, when you aren’t looking, and that is how my journey with Compassion began.
I had seen the late-night commercials showing children with bulging tummies swatting flies from their faces with the voice-over pleading for just a dollar a day to help these children. I always thought the images were sad, but never gave the pleas much consideration because it seemed like a scam – like some kind of cheesy made-for-TV, telethon and infomercial wrapped into one.
Imagine my surprise when I was reading a newly found favorite blog a few years ago, and suddenly the posts were about a trip to Guatemala. The writer was going to visit her sponsored child there, and she detailed her preparations for the visit. She described standing in a department store and picking out just the right clothing to take to her girl, even having her son of the same age try on the dress to be sure she was choosing the right size. She carefully selected other items to take to the girl’s family. The care and thoughtfulness that the writer and her family put into preparing for this visit sparked my interest.
She was traveling with a group of sponsors who also were bloggers. Veteran sponsors know this event as a Compassion Blogger Trip, and wait for the announcement of each year’s trip destinations with great anticipation. Compassion picks very talented writers to go on these trips, where they write each night, describing the day’s experiences and offering an intimate look into the lives of sponsored children and their families, and into the amazing work Compassion is doing in these areas.
But I was not a sponsor yet, so I read these “pre-trip” posts with curiosity, and planned to follow along reading posts throughout the trip. It turns out, I had no idea how my life was about to change.
Each day, as I read these stories of extreme poverty and viewed photos for which there are no adequate words, I was drawn in. Here I was, sitting in my comfortable home, maybe eating a warm breakfast, and reading about lives and situations that couldn’t be more different from my own.
I began to research Compassion and to read everything I could find about the organization. And I began to pray. I couldn’t get these stories out of my mind.
Just three days into the trip, I sponsored Anderson. One week after that, I sponsored Winston. Both boys were from Guatemala. They were 10 and 8 years old – close in age to two of my own sons.
As many sponsors have experienced, I was surprised by the immediate love I felt for these children. I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I wrote them letters, gathered items to send to them in packages and continued to gather any information I could find about Compassion and Guatemala.
Just that simple act of choosing to sponsor these two boys began to change my way of thinking. It began to put things into perspective, and the change seeped into many areas of my life.
I began to equate things like dinner at a restaurant or taking my kids to a movie with the funds to sponsor a child. I didn’t stop doing these things entirely, but realized that by cutting out one or two of these outings each month, I could add another child or two to our sponsor family.
Not only did this cause me to put more thought into how I spent money, it also gave me an even greater appreciation for what my husband and I were able to provide our own children.
I felt lucky; blessed to be born into this time in this country, when I could just as easily have been born a neighbor to Anderson or Winston.
As God worked on my heart, my Compassion family grew. I have sponsored several children now for more than two years, and they have helped me every bit as much as I have helped them.
And it is ironic that as I set out to bless these children, they also have blessed me.
Winston’s letter to me last month brought tears to my eyes when he wrote, “I am very happy because you always remember about me because you have supported me during two years, and I hope you don’t stop writing to me because I am very happy with you being my sponsor.”
My heart is full, and I am blessed.