Unforgettable Jonathan


Jonathan with his mother.

My eyes had been open all week, taking in the poverty, the difficulties and challenges, and the sometimes seemingly hopeless situations of the families we visited.

My heart was full of the details of their lives, of their struggles and their hopes. I saw the pain in their eyes as they shared their stories, the raw, human pain, and it hurt to see it. There were broken families, alcoholism and even death, all to be dealt with in addition to unimaginable poverty.

And on the last day of home visits, we met another family living in poverty, this time in a dangerous “red zone” in Guatemala City. This family also was struggling with challenges, but my heart was too full, there was no more room to squeeze in this family’s story. Or there was room, but this family’s reality hurt too much to let it in.

It was like the last drop of water before the bucket overflowed, and frankly, I was tired, and didn’t want the bucket to overflow.


Jonathan receiving gifts as his sister, holding her baby, looks on.

Somehow unable to take in even one more detail, I can’t remember the name of the woman and her child, whom we were there to meet. And I can’t remember the name of the woman’s mother, who lived next door. But I can’t forget the woman’s little brother, Jonathan.

The beautiful boy, 9 years old, with jet black hair and bright green eyes, striking eyes if you were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of them.

He stumbled out of the door with his mother following close behind, as we met his sister and baby nephew. He was clean, well-cared for, dressed in a nice button-up shirt with a collar, but it was clear in his manner and in his walk that something wasn’t right.

He kept his head down, shuffling around in random paths, like a toddler, and his mother followed him, keeping him safe, as if he really were a toddler. The uneven ground he navigated, cluttered with rocks, buckets, bricks, posing danger every few steps.

Jonathan’s mother told us her boy had a seizure when he was three years old. He was a healthy boy at the time, walking and talking as he should at that age. But after the seizure, Jonathan had to learn to walk again. He hasn’t learned to talk again.

Taking in the horror of that life-changing event, imagining this mother seeing her healthy son completely transformed was difficult to comprehend. But trying to imagine Jonathan’s future now, in this place, was even more difficult.

He is already almost his mother’s height, growing stronger and taller each day. How will she follow him and keep him safe in a few more years, when he outweighs her, when he grows into a man? How will she protect him in this harsh environment, where his disabilities make him especially vulnerable?

And why? Why would God give this family this particularly difficult challenge?

It’s been five weeks since we met Jonathan, and still I have no answers to these questions. My heart breaks for him.

So I recall these verses:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matthew 6:26

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20

God has plans for Jonathan. He cares for him, and is with him always.

I will pray for Jonathan often, and ask you to do the same.


Jonathan’s home.


Laundry at Jonathan’s home.



A Young Artist’s First Sale


Willy, 9, with his painting.

We met Willy after worshipping at his Compassion center’s church in Comalapa, Guatemala (GU-490).

When the service ended, sponsors were directed to the fourth floor of the building. There we found a room full of child painters sitting next to their masterpieces, which were displayed on easels creating a maze of artwork throughout the room. Even more paintings adorned the walls.


Kim translates as art teacher Filiberto addresses our group.

The project director explained that in a community known for its artistry, a painting class was a good fit at this Compassion center.

Willy’s teacher, Filiberto, told our group that he was teaching the children about lines, shapes, perspective, warm and cool colors and complimenting colors.

Judging by the quality of the paintings displayed, Filiberto is a highly skilled teacher, instructing equally skilled students.

As we walked through the room, squeezing between easels, the talent on display was unbelievable. Most of the children in the class were between 8 and 10 years old.

Then we saw Willy. His oil painting of a volcano at the edge of a beautiful lake with a flower-filled shore was beautiful. The perspective, the colors and the shadowing and depth proved this student was learning well. He told us this painting took him two months to complete.

“¿Cuántos años tienes?,” I asked Willy. (How old are you?)

He answered “nine” in English, with a shy smile.

We asked his name, and posed for photos with Willy, and when a translator told him we wanted to purchase his painting, Willy’s smile grew.

He grabbed the painting, and we made our way through the crowded room of artists, following Willy downstairs to record the purchase and pay for the painting.

His joy and excitement over his first sale was evident as he smiled and bounced continuously, and Willy’s painting is now a treasured piece of artwork in our home.


Willy and Logan


Kerri and Willy


Willy’s framed painting hanging in our home.

Meeting Favian


Logan, Favian and Kerri at the Vista Real Hotel in Guatemala City.

On a gray, cold December afternoon, while my family and I drove home from church, I sponsored Favian.


Selfie of Favian and Kerri

His photo on the Compassion web site had caught my attention as I looked through children’s profiles earlier that week, so I saved the link to Favian’s information, and continued to consider sponsoring him.

When he was still on my mind that Sunday, I told my husband about Favian, and showed him his photo on my phone. “What do you think,” I asked him. “Should we sponsor him?”

My husband replied, “Yes.”

It was Favian’s birthday that day, and it was my husband’s birthday, too, so we already had a special bond with this special boy.

I could not have imagined on that day that I would be sitting in a hotel lobby in Guatemala five years later, waiting to meet Favian in person.

We had shared many letters throughout the sponsorship, which ended when Favian graduated the Compassion program. Several months after his graduation, he found me on Facebook, and I was overjoyed to hear from him again.


Logan and Favian

And now, after an exciting week spent traveling Favian’s country, visiting Compassion projects and playing with hundreds of children, I waited nervously with my son Logan and our translator Liz to meet one child, one young man, whom my family had grown to love over the years.

When he walked in with the project director from his former Compassion center, I hugged Favian tightly and kissed him on the cheek. He was dressed nicely for our meeting.

Our small group sat together in the lobby and visited for a while before walking to the dining room for dinner with the other sponsors and translators on the tour.

While we talked, I shared with Favian the story of when I first sponsored him.

He was soft-spoken, but our conversation flowed well. We knew a lot about each other, from letters and Facebook conversations, but we had never seen each other in person or heard each other’s voices.

We confirmed some facts we already knew, and asked questions about things we didn’t know. We shared a meal together, and dessert, more conversation and laughter. And all too soon, it was time to for him to leave.

So we posed for photos, and we prayed together, and we hugged and said goodbye, and my heart was filled by our meeting, but already hoping for the next one.

A Unique Home Visit


Clara, with her youngest daughter Melanie, and two sisters-in-law, making skirts.

Visiting families living in poverty is not easy. Often I fight back emotion throughout the visit, overcome by the difficult circumstances in which the family is living, then leave with a heavy heart, resigned to the unfairness of their situation.


Todd, Anna and Logan riding in the truck.

But the visit to a home in the little mountainous community of Cantón Paxot II in Guatemala was unlike any I’ve experienced.

Our adventure began in the back of a pickup truck, much to the delight of the two teens in our group. We traveled bumpy backroads in the truck, the got out and climbed a narrow, steep dirt path to Santiago and Clara’s home.

There we were greeted warmly by the family, which had covered the courtyard floor with fresh pine needles to welcome us. This is a custom usually reserved for celebrations, and the scent was wonderful.

As we visited with the family, asking about their lives on the mountainside and sharing about our own lives as well, it became clear that this was a strong family, united in faith and love. They were happy to share their lives with us, and wanted to learn about us, too.

Santiago works as a day laborer, while his wife, two sisters and mother sew and embroider skirts to be sold at the market.


Walking up the path to the family’s home.

Clara showed us her kitchen, complete with wood-burning stove and corn boiling in a large pot for making corn tortillas and tamales. The family also has a water filter provided by Compassion and water from a faucet.

Their three daughters, Shirley, 7, Ashely, 5, and Melanie, 3, were quiet and shy throughout most of the visit. Because they are Mayan, the children haven’t learned Spanish well, yet, and speak Kiche instead, so our questions to them were translated from English to Spanish by our translator, then from Spanish to Kiche by their parents. We were told the younger children in the community could only speak Kiche.

Shirley and Ashley are both in Compassion’s sponsorship program, which often indicates special need by the family, as Compassion usually registers only one child per family.

Shirley excitedly showed us the letter she has received from her sponsor. Ashley hadn’t received any letters, yet.


Santiago at right, with two of his daughters, his wife Clara, center, and two sisters at left.

Shirley’s parents proudly presented her report card to us as well. She is excelling in math and a subject called “citizen education,” and she told us she likes school.

During the visit, the women taught Todd and his daughter, Anna, to sew, and seemed pleased with their efforts.

After we presented the family with a gift of grocery items, and posed for group photos, it was time to say goodbye, and Santiago extended an invitation to us to visit again anytime.

And I walked away feeling very positive about this family, with this verse in my mind:

“But as for me and my household, I will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15


Shirley with her report card.


Clara with her daughters, Shirley and Ashley, in the kitchen.


Clara and her daughters open the gift we brought for them.

Faraway Friends Finally Meet


Osmar and Logan just minutes after their first hug.

After quick hugs and photos, the boys were off and running, making good use of every minute of their short day together.

Logan and Osmar have shared letters through Compassion International for about two and a half years, and they finally met in person last week in Guatemala City.


Logan and Osmar

It was no surprise that the two were instant best friends. They have many things in common, including a love of sports and big smiles. Both love to help their mothers cook meals. They even share the same position in their families: third child, with two older brothers.

Within minutes of meeting, they each wore the same blue Dodgers baseball hat and jersey as well.

They filled the day playing soccer, air hockey, basketball and ping pong, racing through an obstacle course several times, and pausing only briefly for lunch. They hugged often and always were smiling, having fun even when a translator wasn’t around to bridge the language barrier.

After lunch, the boys exchanged gifts before they were running again.

Logan sponsored Osmar in February 2013, and this was the day that brought that sponsorship to life. He had traveled to Guatemala with me and spent the week visiting Compassion projects around the country, learning how the program works and playing with children at each stop, but today was the day that mattered most to him.

And when the time came for goodbyes, it was clear the day had impacted both boys greatly.

Tears and hugs followed, and after our initial farewells, Osmar managed to find Logan in the crowd again, running back for one last hug.

Logan already is making plans to visit his Guatemalan brother again in the future.


Osmar and Logan with Osmar’s mother, Delores, and the correspondence director from his Compassion project, Yancy.


Laughing during lunch.


Quiet time together.


Air hockey


One of many hugs


The final goodbye

Strength through Mourning


Delmi and her mother, Adela, share with us a photo of Roberto, Delmi’s father, who died in an accident less than two years ago.

The devastating loss of a husband, a father of four beautiful daughters… it happened almost two years ago.

The date was Sept. 9, 2013, and it was the same day Compassion project GU-492 opened in San Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala. It was a day that would change the lives of 9-year-old Delmi and her family members forever.

As our small group walked to visit Delmi’s home, project workers explained the family’s situation to us. They said Delmi’s mother, Adela, had a very difficult time after her husband’s death, including dealing with depression. They told us Adela continued to struggle, and that her daughter Delmi would receive more help when the project hired a new counselor.

So we walked up the steep path to the family’s hilltop home, and we didn’t know what we would find there.

The yellow-painted brick home sat on a hillside, overlooking the community. It felt fresh and clean on that hill, after walking the busy streets below. There were trees offering refreshing shade, a worn bench on a covered porch looking out over countless tin-roofed homes. Potted plants with flowers added color, while chickens wandered and pecked the ground beneath brightly colored clotheslines.

It seemed to be a peaceful refuge.


Delmi shows us her basketball medals.

And there we met the family. Adela, the mother, introduced us to her daughters, Dulce, 15, Delmi and Fatima, 4. Her oldest daughter wasn’t home at the moment because she was studying for school, but we would meet her later in the visit. We also later met the girls’ abuela, Adela’s mother who lives nearby.

We visited with the family while enjoying a special orange drink Adela had prepared for us. During that time, I saw a strong and courageous woman in front of us, a woman hurting deeply, possibly shattered by her loss, but forging ahead for her children.

Adela supports her family by selling snacks at a nearby school. Her own mother does the same job.

She spoke glowingly of her mother, whom she said taught her the value of hard work, raising her own family without a husband. Adela said she prays every day that her mother will never leave her because she doesn’t know how she will go on without her.

She clearly receives a lot of support from this woman and loves her very much.

Adela shared with us that she reads out of Psalms from her Bible every night; that she can’t go to sleep without reading it. She said it is difficult when her youngest daughter is upset and cries for her daddy; that it hurts her because she feels helpless.

Delmi, who entered the Compassion program when it opened, showed us the medals she’s won playing basketball. She makes good grades in school and wants to earn a science degree. Adela’s hard-working example obviously is rubbing off on her daughters.

And much too soon, it was time to say goodbye to this special family. We prayed with them, loved them, took photos together and said our goodbyes. And while there doesn’t seem to be a tidy, happy ending to wrap up this family’s story, there is reliance on God, love of family, and Compassion’s support, which is more than many hurting families have.


Adela with three of her daughters.


The view from Adela’s home.


Our group with the family.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child in Guatemala, or in any of the 27 countries around the world where Compassion works, please click here.

Sylvia’s Hope

We made the 15-minute walk through the busy, dusty streets of Joyabaj, Guatemala, to visit Sylvia and her family in their home.


The walk to Sylvia’s home.

The sidewalks were narrow, and the bumpy, brick-paved streets were noisy with traffic, the smell of car exhaust in the air. We often had to pause our conversation during the walk as the noise drowned out our words. It was the same walk that Sylvia makes each week when she attends her Compassion project, GU-892.

When we arrived, Sylvia and her younger sister and brothers were waiting for us. Giggling, they led us through a narrow passageway between gray brick walls, turning right down another narrow path before coming to their home at the end.

Sylvia’s stepmother welcomed us into their one-room, dirt-floor home, where we found seats on the two beds, where this family with five children lives.


The narrow walkway to Sylvia’s home.

There in the dark room, we learned some of Sylvia’s story, while the shy 10-year-old stood in the doorway, listening, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, one piece constantly falling forward and needing to be tucked behind her ear, in the same manner as my own 10-year-old daughter.

We learned that Sylvia enjoys attending her Compassion project, that her favorite activity there is making crafts, and that although she is 10 years old, she is behind in school, only attending first grade.

We also learned that Sylvia’s mother is an alcoholic, who neglected Sylvia and her younger sister, Julessa, 7, often letting them roam the streets, dirty and hungry. Her father and stepmother gained custody of the children earlier this year, and her stepmother recounted how difficult it had been to tame the wild girl.

She said at first, Sylvia only wanted to run in the streets, but over time, she learned to stay closer to her new home, where she was being taught how to care for herself, to do chores, to be a little girl who is part of a family who loves her.

This love was evident in the eyes of Sylvia’s stepmother, who told us she used to see the girls on the streets when they still lived with their mother, and she would clean them up and feed them. We commended her for her obvious love for the girls, and she explained that she herself had been an orphan; that she loved children, and had always been drawn to the children in her village, who loved to hear her stories.

In front of us stood a woman, prepared by God through her own difficult childhood, for this time in Sylvia’s life. Who better to care for and love this motherless girl than this woman, who also had been motherless?

Sylvia’s stepmother’s name is Esperanza: hope.


Sylvia with her stepmother, Esperanza, her sister and two brothers.


Sylvia’s stepmother, Esperanza, shows us her kitchen, where she cooks to feed her own family with five children, as well as her husband’s mother.


Syliva and her family say goodbye to us, along with her grandmother, who lives nearby.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child in Guatemala like Sylvia through Compassion, or in any of the 27 countries around the world in which Compassion works, please click here.

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 MommyMaleta.com! 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:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GtatefulGiving.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeamKEight.

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/stewkaz/.

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.