Guatemala: Change a Life

I am looking for sponsors for five precious children from Guatemala.

If you choose to sponsor one of these children, I will deliver a gift from you in five weeks when I visit Guatemala, where my son and I will be meeting our own sponsored children.

These children are attending Compassion centers in Guatemala where they receive care based on Compassion’s commitment to Christ, children and the church. This care includes spiritual training, medical and dental checkups, tutoring, education in hygiene, and nourishment through snacks and meals.

Compassion also gives children a unique opportunity to connect with you, their sponsor, through letters and even visits. The relationship between children and sponsors has been proven through outside studies to make an important impact on the lives of these children.

A 2008 study by Dr. Bruce Wydick, professor or economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, concluded the Compassion’s child sponsorship program works. Among other things, it showed the Compassion supported children:

-stay in school up to 1 1/2 years longer than unsponsored peers

-are 35 percent more likely to find white-collar employment as adults

-are 50-80 percent more likely to graduate college

-are 40-70 percent more likely to grow into church leaders.

To read more about Wydick’s study, click here.

Please consider sponsoring one of the following children:

Alan is 3 1/2 years old, and he lives with his parents on the plains of Villa Nueva. His father is employed, and there are three children in the family. He enjoys soccer and playing with cars, and also attends Bible class regularly.

Homes in Alan’s community are constructed of cement floors, wood walls and tin roofs. The regional diet includes maize, beans, chicken, bread, beef and potatoes. Most adults here work as day laborers, earning the equivalent of $312 each month. Common health problems are intestinal diseases and respiratory illnesses.


Alan, 3 1/2 years old.

Darlin is 5 1/2 years old, and lives with her mother in the mountainous community of Barrio La Libertad, where houses are made of dirt floors, brick walls and tin roofs. There are two children in the family. She enjoys playing group games and art.

The primary ethnic group in Darlin’s community is Mayan, and the diet consists of maize, bananas, chicken, plantains and rice. Most adults work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $188 monthly.


Darlin, 5 1/2 years old.

Jarol is 9 1/2 years old, and he lives in Momostenango with his father, who is employed as a laborer. There are four children in the family. His favorite activity is soccer.

In Jarol’s community, typical houses are constructed of cement floors, brick walls and tin roofs, and the primary ethnic group is Mayan. The diet consists of maize, beans, bread, chicken, beef, rice and potatoes, and most adults work as street vendors, earning the equivalent of $350 each month.


Jarol, 9 1/2 years old.

Sofia is four years old, and she lives with her grandparents. Her grandfather works, and her grandmother maintains the home. Sofia likes playing jacks, playing house and art.

In Sofia’s community of Villa Nueva, typical houses are constructed of cement floors, wood walls and tin roofs, and the regional diet includes maize, beans, chicken, bread, beef and potatoes. Most adults work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $313 each month, and common health problems include intestinal diseases and respiratory illnesses.


Sofia, 4 years old.

Abigail is 5 1/2 years old, and she lives with her mother on the plains of Villa Nueva. Her mother is employed as a teacher, and there are two children in the family. Abigail likes art, jumping rope and playing with dolls.

In Abigail’s community, most homes are made of cement floors, wood walls and tin roofs, and the diet includes maize, beans, chicken, bread, beef and potatoes. Most adults work as day laborers and earn $313 monthly. The community has water and electricity, but needs scholastic materials and security.


Abigail, 5 1/2 years old.

If you are interested in sponsoring one of these children, or if you just would like more information about child sponsorship through Compassion, please contact me.

Changing the Story: Compassion Experience


Compassion Experience, in Tucson, AZ, from May 15-18.

We step into a small room in Mathare, a collection of slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

The mud-brick walls close in on us as we listen to a young boy describing his life there. Street noises, voices seep into the room, as if it has no walls.

The boy’s name is Jey, and he is one of nine children living in poverty in this slum, in this room where they share one bed, close to the floor, hardly big enough for one child. There are various pieces of clothing strewn carelessly on the bed today.

Jey explains that the stories of the children born in this slum already are written, and those stories do not end well. Those stories most often involve drugs, alcohol or “changaa,” a drink whose name means “kill me quickly.” It is a drink Jey’s mother makes and sells to earn money to feed her children.

Jey also explains that when he grows tired of begging, he begins stealing, which leads him to prison at the age of nine. He invites us to step into the next room and see his prison cell.

Fortunately, as real as this adventure seems, my son and I are experiencing it in safety at Compassion Experience, which is in our hometown for four days.

Compassion Experience is a set of traveling trailers with the insides set up to realistically resemble key locations in the lives of Compassion graduates from around the world. Visitors listen to each child’s story through headphones, which narrate the tours through five rooms.


My son, Logan, in Jey’s “project” at Compassion Experience.

As we step into Jey’s dark, bare prison cell, with a dirty toilet in the corner, and food dishes spilled on the floor nearby, and we listen to his continued story, I can feel the hopelessness in the room.

But when Jey leaves the prison, and we enter the next room, all hopelessness is gone.

He has been registered in the Compassion program, and that next room represents Jey’s Compassion project. It has brightly painted walls, a Bible verse on the chalkboard, a row of toothbrushes hanging in their holder, and a shelf for sponsor letters, representing love from many countries.

The joy in Jey’s voice as he discovers he has been sponsored sums up the feeling in this room. He begins to believe that his story actually is written by God, that he is not doomed to follow the same paths of those growing up around him.

After visiting three real Compassion projects in Nicaragua last fall, I can say with certainty that this room accurately depicts a typical Compassion project. These projects are positive, joyful places standing in contrast to their surroundings.

We continue through Jey’s story, learning about the impact his sponsors had on him, and at the end, we watch a short video, where a grown-up Jey gives us a quick tour of his neighborhood and encourages us to change the story for a child like he was.


Letters from sponsors, which are given out to children at their projects.

It is a moving experience, and as we volunteer at the event, we see many visitors leave wiping their teary, red eyes.

This particular event showcases four stories. In addition to Jey’s story, visitors can learn about Kiwi from the Philippines, Reuben from Bolivia and Julian from Uganda. Each story moves from hopelessness to hope as these real people with difficult beginnings come to know God through Compassion, and He changes their lives.

Please consider changing the story for a child like Jey today by clicking here to search for your own child to sponsor. And if you have the chance to see Compassion Experience, don’t miss it! You can check the schedule for Compassion Experience by clicking here.

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Painted on the wall of the project, Mungu Anakupenda means “God loves you.”

Guest Post: Faraway Friends

Find out who my son Logan will be meeting this summer by checking out my guest post on Laura’s blog at! And while you’re there, take some time to read some of the other great posts on Laura’s site.

You can read my post by clicking here.

By the way, if you aren’t already following me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, please check out these links:




When God’s Plans are Better than My Plans

Sometimes God’s gifts are obvious, and they fit perfectly into my plans: a healthy newborn baby; a loved one returning safely from a war zone; a cancer scare for a dear family member that turns out fine. Huge life moments when you fall to your knees in thanks for the outcome.

But what about those gifts that are not only unexpected, but don’t even really register on your wish list because they don’t fit into your plans?

Jefry coming into my life was one of those gifts, unplanned by me, but not by God.


Jefry’s official Compassion photo.

He stood out in a stack of five child folders I received just two months before visiting Nicaragua. At three years old, he was almost exactly one year younger than my youngest son, and had a birthday just a few days before my son’s.

Jefry looked apprehensive in his photo, maybe even shy, his skinny legs peeking out of his shorts, baby toes showing in his little red sandals. I thought how I’d love to sponsor this little boy, but I set aside his folder on the table.

Later my husband walked by the table, and he noticed Jefry’s photo, too. “Who is this,” he asked. I said, “You’re drawn to him, too, aren’t you? He’s a cutie.”

But we had no plans to sponsor another child so close to my upcoming trip with Compassion. I already had two children on my list for child visit day, and had been collecting gifts to bring to them, and I was saving a spot in our budget to sponsor another child while on the trip.

So, as planned, I scanned in Jefry’s photo, and along with the four other child folders, posted his information on my blog, hoping to find him a sponsor.

In less than a day, a man contacted me and said he wanted to sponsor one of the children whose photos I had posted. I asked which child, and he said to just choose for him. He also agreed to have me assigned as his child’s correspondent, so I would write to the child while he was the financial sponsor.

Any guesses who I chose? Two months later, I was meeting Jefry for the first time.


Meeting Jefry for the first time.

Just like in his photo, he looked shy as he approached. One of my other boys, Esteban, held Jefry’s hand and led him to me. After our first hug, “shy Jefry” disappeared.

It turned out that timid little guy actually had mischief in his eyes, beautiful dimples that flashed with plentiful smiles, and a whole lot of energy. He was on the go non-stop!

I often pray for his beautiful mother, Gloria, that she would have the energy to keep up with her little firecracker, as I saw him test and challenge her many times that day.

He carried a “traca traca”, two balls connected by a string, stuffed impossibly into his little jeans pocket.

He crashed into a glass door, which knocked him flat on his back and left a small red bump on his forehead, but he didn’t miss a beat.

This boy tackled every new experience throughout the day with enthusiasm, from his first go-cart ride as my passenger, to driving his own boat in circles, to a boat ride with me as we chased my son and other sponsor children to squirt them with our water cannon, causing him to laugh loudly.

He overcame his fear of the jumping castle as we bounced inside it during a rain shower, soaking wet and laughing.

He strapped on roller skates and flung his legs wildly, held up by the arms between his mother and our translator, eyes sparkling and only half-heartedly trying to skate, but obviously enjoying his legs wildly flailing around.

He repeatedly stuck his thumb in his mouth during photos to tease his mother.

He wanted to play baseball immediately upon receiving the glove and ball I brought for him.

He ate a hot dog in the morning, chicken and fries for lunch, then cake and popcorn later in the day, always with enthusiasm and finishing every bite.

And after all of this, he still had the energy to kick a soccer ball around with me and the older boys.

In fact, I didn’t see Jefry slow down the entire day, until we climbed back on the bus together. Then he fell asleep – sitting up.

Our translator carefully lifted him over the bus seat and into the arms of his mother.

So despite Jefry’s photo catching my eye and tugging at my heart that first time I saw it, I was ready to give up the chance to meet this wonderful little boy without even a second thought. I’d have missed out on that awesome day with Jefry, getting to know him and his mother. I’d have missed out on the chance to watch him grow in the coming years, and hopefully to visit him again sometime. I’m so thankful God had other plans.


Jefry on the go carts.


Jefry driving his own boat.


Jefry teasing his mom by sticking his thumb in his mouth.


Ready to play ball.


Roller skating with some help.

Jewels of Christ Student Center


Jewels of Christ Student Center, NI-102

Jewels of Christ Student Center is a vibrant and busy Compassion center in Nicaragua.


Pastor Ronald of NI-102 greets sponsors visiting his center.

Located just west of Managua in Ciudad Sandino, and serving more than 400 children, we visited this center on a Saturday morning in October and were greeted with many songs and dances. The staff was warm and welcoming.

Later, we were impressed as we toured the center’s many programs, which offer wonderful job training to the children in attendance.

These include a computer lab, a bakery, music education, jewelry-making and a cosmetology program. These programs are beneficial to the community because they provide students with valuable experience, and hopefully employment in the future.

The surrounding area is home to about 120,000 people, who earn an average of $70 per month. Most homes have dirt floors, brick walls and corrugated tin roofs. To learn more about a family we visited whose children attend this center, please click here.


NI-102’s bakery class; one boy explained that he likes to make cakes and snacks the best, and is looking forward to learning to make pizza.


These children in the center’s music class treated us to a beautiful song.


Children in the computer lab are learning to use the programs Word and Excel proficiently.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child who attends this center, please consider one of the following five children, for whom I am advocating. Contact me in the comments section if you wish to sponsor one of these children or to learn more about them. To read about my meeting with my own sponsor child at this center, please click here.


Stiven is three years old, born June 19, and lives with his mother and father, who is sometimes employed as a laborer. He enjoys soccer and playing with cars, as well as playing a musical instrument.


Erick is four years old, born September 13, and lives with his father and mother. There are three children in the home. He likes soccer and playing with cars.


Onelia is 14 years old, born May 31, and lives with her mother. There are two children in the family. She likes playing a musical instrument, singing and listening to music.


Cesar is 11 years old, born April 1, and lives with his mother. There are three children in the family. He likes soccer and bicycling, and his school performance is above average.


Karla is seven years old, born February 5, and lives with her mother and father. There are four children in the family. She enjoys singing, playing house and playing with dolls.

Sponsor a Child

The following children are in need of sponsors.

For only $35 per month through World Vision, you can help a child’s community to fund projects that provide clean water, nutritious food, basic healthcare, educational opportunities and economic development assistance. Each community, along with World Vision, determines its most pressing needs.

You can also build a relationship with your child through letters. Will you consider changing a life today?


Six-year-old Priyanka from India.

Priyanka is six years old, and she lives with her father, who is a farm laborer. She is in primary school and enjoys studying the national language. She helps at home by carrying water and likes to play with dolls.

The typical home in Priyanka’s community in India is made of wood, with a thatch roof and dirt floor. Rice is a staple in the diet.

Your sponsorship helps to provide Priyanka’s community with improved health through access to clean water and training in nutrition and hygiene. It also provides tutoring, vocational training and leadership training, as well as innovative agriculture and livestock training.


Juan Pablo, 7 years old, from Colombia.

Juan Pablo lives with his mother and one sister. He is seven years old.

Juan Pablo is not in school at this time. He likes to play with toy cars and helps at home by putting toys away.

He lives in an urban community in Colombia, where the typical home is constructed of wood with cement flooring. Common foods are rice, eggs, beans and plantains.

Your sponsorship helps to provide Juan Pablo’s community with special healthcare, vaccinations against major diseases and special feeding programs for undernourished children. Your support also helps to reconstruct the community, which has been devastated by an earthquake and war.


Eight-year-old Deborah of Uganda.

Deborah, 8, lives with her father and two brothers in Uganda. Her father is self-employed, and struggles to provide for the family.

She is in primary schools and enjoys foreign language. At home, Deborah helps with cooking meals. She likes to play outside.

Deborah’s community in Uganda has been severely affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis, leaving many children without parents. The typical home is made of mud and bricks with tin or thatched roofs. Common foods are cassava, maize, sweet potatoes and beans.

Your sponsorship will help to provide Deborah’s community with improved healthcare and support, emphasizing assistance to those affected by HIV and AIDS. Your support also helps children to attend school, and gives farmers seeds and training on new farming methods.


Opher, 9, from Zambia.

Opher is a 9-year-old boy living with his mother and three brothers. His mother is a farmer.

He is in primary school and enjoys foreign language. Opher helps at home by running errands, and he likes to play soccer.

Opher’s community in Zambia has been affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis. The typical home is made of brick or mud with a thatched roof. A common food is a porridge called nshima, served with vegetables or occasionally meat.

Your sponsorship would help to provide Opher’s community with new wells for clean water and reading and math clubs to improve education. Your support also would provide instruction on the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, care for orphans and agricultural training for farmers.


Diana, 13, of Brazil.

Diana, 13, of Brazil, lives with her parents and two sisters. Her father is a driver, and her mother is a vendor.

She is in junior high school and enjoys mathematics. Diana helps at home by being good, and she likes to play video games.

Diana lives in an urban community where homes are built of brick, and are small and airless. Common foods include bread, biscuits, cereal, vegetables and meat.

Your sponsorship yeps to provide Diana’s community with greater access to nutritious food and improved healthcare and hygiene. Your support also helps to provide education and tutoring to school-age children, teach mothers to read and fund skills workshops to help older children gain employment.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or have any questions, please contact me in the comments section below.

Living on One Dollar

Living on one dollar a day in rural Guatemala isn’t without its challenges, but that’s exactly what four college-age men did in 2010.

These men faced obstacles including sickness and hunger as they lived for two months in solidarity with the 1 billion people in the world also living on just one dollar a day.

Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple, along with two photographers, traveled to Guatemala City, then rode for six hours on a crowded chicken bus to Peña Blanca, Guatemala, a rural Guatemalan village with a population of 300. Once there, they secured housing, obtained a loan for $125 to start a small radish farm for income, and began their 56-day journey.Living-On-One

They had devised a system involving drawing a number each day, between zero and nine, to indicate their income for the day. This would make their living situation more realistic as some days they would have no income, like other day laborers in the community. Altogether, though, the income totaled just $56 for each of the four men over their stay.

The group succeeded largely because of lessons learned from the locals and the resulting friendships. The film introduces several individuals, giving a more in-depth look into each of their situations.

There is Rosa, a young woman whose circumstances caused her to quit school as a child and work in the fields, which she continues to do while holding on to her dream of becoming a nurse. There is Chino, a 12-year-old boy who is eager to learn some English phrases and works in the fields now instead of attending school. And there is Anthony, a 24-year-old man who is one of the few in the village with a regular job, supporting his wife and three children, along with some older relatives.

Anthony befriends the group and quickly considers them as family, as his wife teaches Zach and Chris how to cook more substantive food by using tricks like adding lard to the beans for more calories.

At just under an hour, this film is a quick, easy view, the stories are engaging, and it offers a unique inside look at rural Guatemalan life. The film is available on Netflix and can be purchased at the Living on One website by clicking here.

Go Into All the World – Book Review


“Go into all the World,” by David Chalmers

If you’ve ever wanted to visit your sponsor child, but wondered whether it is worth the money, David Chalmers’ new book, “Go into all the World,” just might convince you to take the leap. It’s the oft-debated question among sponsors: do I use my resources to sponsor more children and send more gifts or to visit my children in person? The stories recounted in this book show how a visit really allows you to be the hands and feet of Jesus. In his book, David shares his adventures in visiting his sponsored children throughout Central and South America and the Philippines. He describes the highs and the lows of meeting your children in person, from the beauty of a child trusting you so fully that she falls asleep in your arms to the harsh realities of some very difficult situations in which he finds his children living. In discussing a visit to one of his children’s homes, David writes: “It’s times like that when I fully grasp the significance and impact of a sponsor. God is using me to literally be a father to the fatherless, to give Laura words of encouragement, which she doesn’t necessarily get from anywhere else.” But it’s not all serious, heart-wrenching moments. Well, a lot of it is, because it’s God working on and through a man as he travels great distances to shower his children in love. But David also shares lots of tales of fun and laughter as he celebrates his birthday at a Compassion project, plays the drums for the children every chance he gets and introduces everyone to Australian football, or “kicking the footy.” (I think that’s the right phrase!) David is a humble and caring man, who at one point sponsored as many as 50 children through Compassion. Most recently, he spent a year in the Philippines working at an orphanage, and now he is back home in Australia, where he is a teacher. You can learn more about David by visiting his blog by clicking here. You’ll get a thorough review of Compassion’s sponsorship program in reading this book. I highly recommend it. “Go into all the World,” can be purchased by clicking here, here, here or here. David describes a sponsor’s role quite well when he writes: “The one thing I can tell you after visiting so many of my kids is that in my own strength I alone am completely inadequate for the job of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. It is God alone who can release them and give them joy, hope, freedom and an opportunity to dream, despite their circumstances. I am merely an instrument he is using to show these precious people his love for them. There is nothing I’d rather be doing.” Read “Go into all the World,” and maybe you, too, can become God’s instrument in showing His love to His children.

A Gift


Jose and Kerri looking at one of the bilingual Bible story books I brought to Nicaragua to give to two of my children there.

Jose and I looked over the book together as I explained that my own children have the English version of it at home. Now we could read the same stories, although separated from each other by so many miles, a special connection to bridge the distance.

It is a bilingual Bible story book called, “The Jesus Storybook Bible.” I love this book because the stories are well-written, the artwork is beautiful, and there are notations with Bible verses at the beginning of each story telling where to find it in the Bible.

So this week, as my family prepares to celebrate Christmas, and Jose’s family does the same, I will think of them as we read:

“And there, in the stable, amongst the chickens and the donkeys and the cows, in the quiet of the night, God gave the world his wonderful gift. The baby that would change the world was born. His baby Son.”

I’ll think of Jose, and his beautiful mother, and pray that they are enjoying God’s wonderful gift as much as we are.


Jose and Kerri


Jose reads the inscription on the inside cover.


Beautiful artwork


Kerri fills in the “Presented to” page with Jose’s name and the date.


Spanish and English versions side by side on each page.

Faith, Love and Family


Our group with Michael’s family.

After an emotional meeting and goodbye with my newest sponsored child, Marlon, our group gathered outside to go on a home visit.


A door to one of the homes.

This would be our second home visit that week, and it’s a unique experience, giving us sponsors the opportunity to see the home of a child attending the project we had just toured. It gives a better understanding of the child’s home environment and of the family’s needs. And once again, we were able to give the family a huge bag of groceries provided by Compassion.

As I waited to board the bus for the short drive to the home, a light-eyed boy in a purple shirt came up and hugged me. I told him my name, and used my shaky Spanish to find out his… Michael. I said, “Miguel?” thinking he was giving me the English version. And he said, “No, es Michael.” Venturing a little more in Spanish, I was able to find out it was his home we would be visiting that day, and that his sister also attends the project.

We arrived at the home to find that it was a cluster of small buildings on one lot, surrounded by a fence pieced together like a puzzle of sheets of metal and wood. There were 16 family members living there, including Michael’s parents and four siblings, his grandmother, and some aunts, uncles and cousins, and it looked like there were three separate small homes. Chickens pecked at the dirt near us.

Michael’s grandmother and aunt sat in rocking chairs outside, and we gathered around to visit with them and the rest of the family. The grandmother told us she had recently come home from the hospital, where she had been admitted for heart problems.

In the mish-mash of tin roofs and patched-together homes, two things stood out to me.

First, there was a definite love of God in this family. There were phrases spray-painted on the doors and walls inside the compound attesting to this, including one that said simply, “Dios” or “God” in English. An uncle sat outside throughout the visit, and seemed interested in discussing his faith. He wanted to know if any of us were pastors, and at the end of our visit, he led a beautiful prayer for us.


Michael holding his sister.

Michael’s grandmother talked about their church, and told us that Michael’s father had recently begun attending with the family. She seemed pleased with this new development, and we were all happy to hear it. He seemed a little embarrassed by the attention. She shared with us that Michael’s sister has been baptized, and they are hoping Michael will be baptized soon. Then she asked each of us to tell her the names of our churches.

The other thing that stood out was a definite love of family. This group clearly cared for and respected each other. The teens were quick to bring out the chairs to seat their grandmother and aunt at the start of our visit, and they hovered around both ladies while we were there. Michael held his baby sister for quite a while as we all talked.

After prayers and hugs, we gave Michael’s family the bag of groceries and climbed on the bus to drive back to the project.

I had a good feeling that with faith, love and Compassion’s help, this family is richer than many.


Carlos translates the conversation as we visit.


Michael, his older sister and his father.