Frisbee Fun

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Children playing frisbee with Aidan at NI-155 near León, Nicaragua.

In a trip that was loaded with emotion while experiencing a new culture, observing Compassion’s effect in people’s lives and even meeting our sponsored children in person, there were plenty of beautiful, light-hearted moments as well.

One day after lunch, a fellow sponsor brought out some frisbees to play with the children of the project. She invited Aidan to join in, and it became apparent it was a game the children weren’t going to let him quit easily.

In fact, one little boy named Javier, whom Aidan nicknamed “the ninja” because of his interesting poses while catching and throwing the frisbee, kept Aidan busy long after the other children had tired of the game.

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Children of NI-155.

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Children of NI-155.

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A boy from NI-155 playing frisbee.

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Javier playing frisbee with Aidan.

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Javier playing frisbee with Aidan.

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Javier playing frisbee with Aidan.

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Aidan and Javier after a long round of frisbee.

Hope

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The home we visited and surrounding area.

Our group waits at the entrance to the small lot, calling out a greeting to those living there as several skinny dogs run toward us.

The afternoon heat has been relentless, the humidity soaking our bodies and our clothing as we made the short walk from the nearby Compassion project just minutes earlier.

We are six sponsors, a translator, the Compassion Nicaragua tours specialist, and a local project worker with her daughter. And we are all here to visit one young woman, who is enrolled in the Manos de Compasion Child Survival Project.

The project gives this young mother training in parenting and job skills, and in doing so, it gives her something even more valuable in an area overtaken by poverty… hope.

The young mother’s name is Magdalena, and she is 19 years old. She shyly invites us into her home, where we crowd in to ask her questions while admiring her beautiful daughter, 6-month-old Maybelline.

As Maybelline sits on the bed slapping at the blanket and grabbing her own feet, Magdalena tells us that her husband couldn’t be here for the visit today because he is picking up his final paycheck from a job he recently lost. We tell her we will pray for him to find work soon.

The floor is hard-packed dirt, and the red brick room holds a bed in the corner with a few feet to spare on two sides. There is a tin roof and two doors to the room, but no windows.

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Magdalena in her outdoor kitchen.

Magdalena takes us outside to show us her kitchen area. She has potable water, an area to cook and wash dishes, and a hammock for the baby to rest in while she works. She explains that through the CSP, she learned to bathe her baby safely in this area. Wet babies are so slippery, it is hard to imagine wrestling with one on the cement surface.

In the distance, she points out a river that floods sometimes. She says it has never reached her home, but has come close.

Her little family lives on this lot with her mother-in-law, who has her own home just a few steps away. We jokingly ask her if she gets along with her mother-in-law, and she smiles and says she does.

Before we leave, we are able to give Magdalena a gift bag from Compassion. It is filled with essentials like flour, sugar, rice, beans, dehydrated milk, cereal, cooking oil, soap, laundry detergent and toilet paper.

We pray for Magdalena and her family, and say our goodbyes, trusting that God will watch over this young woman and thankful that she has the support of the CSP as well.

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Carlos, Compassion translator, holding baby Maybelline.

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Magdalena with the items supplied by Compassion.

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Magdalena’s home.

Manos de Compasion

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A young mother works on a project in the Hands of Compassion sewing room.

In a room buzzing with activity, young mothers are busy cutting patterns from cloth, sewing new outfits, practicing and perfecting a trade that may give them financial support in the future.

There are young children running in and out of the room, and babies playing in a crib in the corner, as the women work. Many patterns hang from a nearby wall, and the women will learn to make each one.

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The sewing instructor, holding a pattern, explains her program.

These women are part of Compassion’s Child Survival Program (CSP), which currently has 30,269 mothers and babies enrolled worldwide. This project near Leon, Nicaragua, called Manos de Compasion (Hands of Compassion), is serving 43 women. Of these, five are still pregnant, while the remaining have had their babies already. Mothers can stay in the program until their children turn three years old, when the child is registered in Compassion’s sponsorship program.

The sewing instructor teaches the women using five treadle sewing machines. She shows us some items they’ve made, including a toothbrush holder for the children at the project, and a nurse’s outfit for the CSP director, Julissa, who is going to nursing school.

When the women aren’t learning to sew, Julissa teaches them valuable parenting skills and covers topics like nutrition and health and shows them how to stimulate and teach their babies.

Julissa keeps a three-ring binder for each mother in the program, tracking each baby’s milestones and medical appointments. She also makes home visits to the mothers and babies, giving both much-needed care and attention.

If you are interested in supporting a CSP similar to Hands of Compassion, please click here. Your donation will help to prevent illness, give children a healthy start, provide training to mothers, and offer spiritual nurturing while Compassion ministers to the whole family.

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Julissa in the baby room.

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A mother and baby in the sewing room.

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A toddler napping at the CSP.

Meeting Marlon

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Marlon with Aidan and Kerri at his Compassion project.

He sits in a plastic white chair by the doorway, shoulders hunched forward, eyes down.

That’s my first view of my newly sponsored boy, Marlon. He’s seven years old, and we are about to meet for the first time.

I have never met one of my sponsored children before this day. My son Aidan and I chose this boy from a stack of child packets during our flight from Miami to Managua just days earlier.

As we prepared for this trip, we purchased three backpacks and filled them with gifts for our other three Nicaraguan boys. Then we decided to sponsor one more boy during the trip, so back to the store we went. One more backpack and a few other items later, and we were ready.

While looking through the packets on the airplane, we narrowed our choices down to two boys. In Marlon’s photo, he had a bit of a scowl, and his information showed that he lives only with his father. There is no mother mentioned. My heart broke for him when I read that, and I knew he was the child for us.

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Marlon’s Compassion photo.

The night before we visited Marlon’s project, Aidan and I filled his backpack and wondered what our meeting would be like the following day. We’d seen many videos of joyous children at the moment they learned they had been sponsored. The videos showed tears, hugs and smiles from both sponsors and children, the start of beautiful relationships around the world.

But our meeting with Marlon would not be like this.

As we approach Marlon, he is surrounded by other children from the project. Korina, Compassion Nicaragua’s tours and visits specialist, is nearby, ready to translate for us during this special meeting.

She tells Marlon that I am his new sponsor, and I kneel down in front of him, and can see right away that he is closing down quickly. He is nervous, probably scared, and continues to look down, unable to meet my eyes. As more children gather around us, he begins to cry quietly, wiping at his face quickly as if to hide this fact from the rest of us.

Of course, this has me in tears instantly as well, and I tell him not to worry. I tell him it’s OK to be nervous, and that I have children at home who would be shy and nervous in a meeting like this as well.

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Marlon surrounded by the crowd.

To break the ice, I give him the photo album I brought for him. I go through each photo, introducing him to each member of my family, as Korina translates. He gives very little response.

I give him the soccer ball we brought for him, and he holds it in his lap. I begin to show him some of the items in the backpack, as Aidan takes photos, and the other children press in to see. We don’t get far before I suggest that he explore the bag on his own at home, as I can see this curious crowd, the pressure of my presence, is just too overwhelming for this young boy.

I move to the chair next to him, and we take some photos together, but I can feel the tension in his back, and it is difficult to give him his space, when I really want to wrap him in my arms and tell him there is nothing to worry about.

Marlon’s young aunt is with him at the project on this morning, so I ask her to tell me what his life is like at home. Her answer is not easy to hear.

She says Marlon lives with his father, grandmother and two brothers. His mother left him when he was a baby, and he has only seen her a few times.

I pat the knee of this brave boy sitting next to me, whose heart has been broken and battered already, at such a young age. I marvel at this perfect match for sponsor and child, him abandoned by his mother as a baby, and me by my father at birth, similar scars on our hearts.

We sit together quietly for a while, and the crowd, losing interest in us, begins to move away.

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Marlon shows interest in his backpack.

Marlon bends over and touches the backpack. Progress, I think. He struggles to adjust the straps on the bag, and I reach in and help him. He doesn’t seem to mind. He discovers the ball pump in a side pocket of the bag, and I use hand motions to show him where the needle is, how to put it in the pump, where it goes into his soccer ball.

So we have connected in a small way, but our time is up. I promise to write him many letters before I stand to leave, patting his knee one last time. It is not easy to walk away from this boy.

And I pray he will remember these moments when he begins to receive my letters, that he will remember the love in these moments, and that we will meet again in the future, to continue to build this blessed relationship.

Fuente de Vida

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Fuente de Vida church, in San Benito, Nicaragua, is partnered with Compassion project NI-176.

The sun hitting the tin roof of the church in San Benito begins to warm up worshippers as the service goes on, but we hardly notice as we are treated to so many children’s performances, songs, puppet shows, and even a skit.

Upon arrival earlier that morning, we were greeted by a barrage of popping balloons, a firecracker welcome, as the children gathered to greet us at the gate. Their little hands reached out to touch us as we walked past, and shy smiles welcomed us to their church, Fuente de Vida.

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The children of NI-176 welcome us to their church.

I was surprised when I saw the church name painted on a wall I passed on the way to my seat. Fuente de Vida, Fountain of Life, is the name of my church at home. The church where I was married 19 years ago, where all of my children have been baptized, where my family continues to attend today.

I’ve always heard God is in the details, so why am I surprised by this beautiful reminder of home as I am missing my own family this Sunday morning?

Two young girls stand at the pulpit now, ready to sing, as the opening notes to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” are played. They sing a worship song in Spanish to the tune of that 1960s hit, and despite a lack of comprehension on my part, the song is deeply moving to me.

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Girls singing a worship song in Spanish to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”

It is ironic, as this church service has been anything but silent. This is a group full of energy and love. We have clapped energetically to the rhythm during most songs, and we can hear children playing, chairs moving, even full conversations all around us throughout the service.

After a short message by Pastor Jesús, the service winds down, and we are given cake, baked by the project’s own bakery students, and bracelets, made by the project’s jewelry-making students. We are treated with love and hospitality by our brothers and sisters in Christ at Fuente de Vida, and I suspect this is a service I’ll not soon forget.

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Two young children just before singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Feet” (yes feet, not toes).

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The children performed a Noah’s Ark puppet show.

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Pastor Jesús with Carlos translating.

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Children drinking juice after church.

God is Good

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Jose and Aidan enjoying the waterslide at Play Zone Park in Managua.

We are two mothers sitting side by side, watching our sons laugh, play together.

They are climbing the inflatable waterslide’s ladder, then racing down the slide, two boys from different countries who became fast friends this morning. After they tumble into the water, make their splashes, they resurface with huge smiles and climb up again.

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Jose and Aidan

We laugh, too, every once in a while. We are both mothers of sons. She has three, and I have five. But mostly we are quiet, sitting together in the shade, finding refuge from the heat, taking in the scene in front of us.

Our translator asks me, “Is there anything you want to ask her?”

His job is to translate, to encourage us to communicate, and he is very good at this. But he is also a young man. How can he know that mothers don’t always need words to communicate? Mothers can be content watching their sons build a friendship, marveling at their sons from different worlds together, laughing, splashing more.

Is there anything I want to ask her? Of course there is, and questions buzz through my head like a swarm of bees. How can I narrow it down? Which questions are most important?

By nature, I often enjoy silence more than talking, and she seems the same, this mother of my sponsored child. This hard-working woman, whose struggles I can only imagine, has taken a day off from her duties to visit an amusement park with her son to meet me, her son’s sponsor, who lives more than 2,000 miles away from Managua.

Our time together is short, and my questions are many, and as our translator patiently waits, I desperately choose one.

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Jose and his mother

“Can you ask her, what is Jose like at home?,” I say.

He asks, and she answers, “He is obedient.” She says he plays well with his 5-year-old brother and helps him a lot.

I nod and say, “That’s good.”

But she isn’t finished.

She tells our translator that Jose sometimes becomes so emotional when he reads my letters to her that he cries. She says he can feel how much I care for him in the letters.

I can feel my throat tightening as I take this in, as we continue to watch our boys together on the waterslide, smiling, sliding, splashing.

Then she tells our translator that I sent Jose a financial gift earlier this year. She says she is so grateful for the gift.

I had sent money in March for Jose’s 11th birthday.

She explains that the gift arrived at a very difficult time for her family, that they were struggling, and it enabled them to purchase shoes for Jose and food. She is very grateful, she says again. Unsure and awkward when accepting thanks, I nod again.

I take a deep breath to push back the emotion, and I explain this gift was from God, not from me. He blesses me, and in turn uses me to bless her. And his timing is perfect. He knew when they would need the gift.

After my words are translated, she nods, and I nod. We hug each other, our eyes watering, then look ahead at our sons again, side by side. I swallow hard as my throat tightens again.

Our translator watches us, then says simply, quietly, “God is good.”

What Else Could Go Right?

In just three days, I’ll be leaving for a Compassion tour in Nicaragua.

It’s a trip I’ve been hoping to take since first becoming a sponsor through Compassion four years ago, but the weeks leading up to this trip haven’t gone exactly as I had envisioned them.

In that vision, I would have set aside more time to read my Bible, some inspirational faith books and maybe some other sponsors’ blogs about their own trips. I would have spent more time in prayer preparing my heart and mind for the trip ahead. I would have begun writing in my trip journal already. I would have gone into this trip feeling mentally and spiritually prepared for the days ahead.

Instead, the past four weeks have been an exhausting string of medical issues in our family.

First, my youngest son needed to have a tooth pulled. Everything went well, and he bounced back quickly after a day of everyone smothering him in love at home.

Then three days later, my daughter had surgery on both legs to correct a toe-walking issue. She came home in two casts, to be worn for almost five weeks, but her surgeon assured us she would be up and walking in those casts within a few days. That was hard to imagine in those first few days, as it was painful for her to bear any weight at first, but about five days after surgery, she began making short walks around the house. She’s still sore and can’t be on her feet for too long, but she’s healing and getting around now.

The following week, my sister had surgery to remove a large tumor. The two weeks leading up to this unexpected surgery were filled with anxiety and concern that the tumor would require radiation or chemotherapy treatments after removal. But we were all thrilled when the entire tumor was removed, and testing indicated no further treatment would be necessary other than annual monitoring to check for regrowth.

Not even one week later, my husband had knee surgery to fix an old skiing injury. That procedure also went well, and he is slowly healing and getting back to normal.

Finally, just last week, my youngest son had an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist. His regular pediatrician heard a heart murmur during his annual physical this summer, and referred him for a follow-up. At the time, he assured me that children often grow out of heart murmurs, but he felt it best that my son be seen for it. So I took him in expecting to be told the murmur was nothing to worry about.

Instead, my son was diagnosed with a heart condition that eventually will require valve replacement surgery. In the meantime, he will see a cardiologist annually, for life, to monitor the condition. He’s four years old.

There was a time when news like this would have had me asking, “What else could go wrong?” There was a time I would have been shouting that question, especially following the previous three weeks of medical ups and downs.

Thankfully, God has given me a different response this month. I am feeling blessed beyond words, and here’s why:

I live in a place and time where all of the medical issues of the past month are manageable. Having a tooth pulled is better than dying of infection. Surgery to correct a walking issue will save my daughter from future complications with her legs and feet. My sister is cancer-free due to great screening and medical care. My husband will ski again this winter with our children, rather than sit on the sidelines. And by the time my son needs surgery on his heart, procedures and techniques likely will have improved to the point that the surgery is even more safe than it is today.

So although I haven’t had the peaceful, meditation-like preparation I was imagining before this trip, and although I still feel a bit frazzled by the month’s events, I will step on that airplane Thursday ready for the next adventure. I am ready to see what God has in store for me, and I look forward to finding the answers to, “What else could go right?”

Nicaragua Countdown: Four Weeks!

After months of counting down the days until my son and I leave for Nicaragua, today we find ourselves with exactly four weeks to go.

Excited doesn’t begin to describe how we are feeling about this upcoming trip. 

Medically, we are ready. Yesterday we started taking the typhoid vaccine, which comes in capsules. We also have a prescription for malaria to take while we are in Nicaragua. And I was lucky enough to require a Hepatitis A shot as well, which I got last month. Aidan got to skip that as he’d already had the vaccine.

Logistically, we are ready. We have begun to organize and pack the gifts we are bringing to our children, and are planning out what to take for ourselves. Our plane tickets have been purchased, and the airlines have already canceled some of our flights, so those have been rescheduled. Hopefully that won’t happen again. We got our passports months ago, so we are all set to travel.

Mentally, though, I’m not sure if we are quite so prepared, but that’s all right, because I don’t think this is the kind of experience that allows for complete preparation.

Sure, I’ve spent hours reading other sponsors’ blogs detailing their own visits to their Compassion children in countries all over the world. I know the general order of these trips: visiting the country office, visiting some projects, then visiting my own children.

My son and I are even practicing some Spanish phrases relating to soccer so we can play more easily with our boys on visit day.

But I sense in this trip something bigger than I can imagine right now, as if there is some grand experience on the horizon, and I’m peering ahead, trying to see it, but it’s a little fuzzy right now. I guess it will be more clear in four weeks.

For now, I’ll focus on preparing my heart for meeting three special boys in Nicaragua, while sharing the whole experience with my own very special boy.

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Esteban

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Jefry

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Jose

Sponsorship Opportunity

As a child advocate with Compassion, I have five children for whom I am currently looking for sponsors.

These children are all from Nicaragua, where I will be visiting during the first week of October. I have a special offer for anyone who sponsors one of these children: I will carry a gift to your child for you.

This is a unique opportunity to connect with your child by picking out and surprising them with something outside of Compassion’s mailing guidelines. By Compassion’s guidelines, only paper products up to 1/4-inch in thickness can be mailed due to customs restrictions.

In the past, I have been blessed with the chance to send special gifts to my own sponsored children, and it has been so fun to choose something special to send, then to hear from the child later how much the gift was enjoyed.

Please consider sponsoring one of these precious children or praying for them to be matched with a sponsor soon.

Allison

Alisson, 4, lives with her parents on the plains of Reparto Schick in Nicaragua, where the average monthly income is $97. Her father works as a laborer, and there are two children in the family. Alisson is in Kindergarten and enjoys playing with dolls and playing ball games and group games.

Jefry

Three-year-old Jefry lives in the community of Barrio Motastepe, Ciudad Sandino, in Nicaragua. The average monthly income here is $100 per month. Jefry lives with his parents, and his father is a laborer. He likes playing with cars and playing ball games.

Crisbel

Crisbel is four years old and lives with her parents. There are two children in her family, and her father is a laborer. The family lives on the plains of Neighborhood Hamburgo, where the average monthly income is $45. Crisbel is in Kindergarten and enjoys playing group games.

Milton

Milton, 4, lives with his parents, and there are two children in the family. He lives in the community of Barrio Motastepe, Ciudad Sandino, where the average monthly income is $100. Milton’s favorite activities are soccer and other ball games.

Brandon

Brandon will be 7 years old on Aug. 7. He lives with his mother, who is employed as a laborer. There are three children in the family, and they live in Barrio Motastepe, Ciudad Sandino, where the average monthly income is $100. Brandon is in Kindergarten and his favorite activity is soccer.

Preparing to Meet Esteban

Esteban, 8, lives in Nicaragua.

In less than three months, my son Aidan and I will travel to Nicaragua. It is a trip I have been dreaming of making since I first became a Compassion sponsor in 2010.

While there, we will have the opportunity to spend a day with Esteban, who is among some of the very first children I sponsored in 2010. For almost four years, Esteban and I have been exchanging letters, and very slowly building a relationship.

Through photos, I have watched Esteban grow from a chubby little 5-year-old, who looked just past being a toddler, to a taller, thinner 8-year-old boy.

I remember the day I chose to sponsor Esteban. While looking through the many faces of children available on the Compassion web site, his sweet little face stood out. When I clicked on the link to read his profile, I found out his favorite sport was baseball. I was sold. How could a life-long baseball fan pass up this boy?

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The first photo I saw of Esteban when I sponsored him in 2010.

In his first letter, he wrote that he wants to become a doctor when he grows up. So not only a baseball fan, but a boy who can dream!

He lives with three brothers, very close in age to him, and it seems he sometimes lives with his mother, and sometimes with his grandparents. We’re collecting some small items to bring for him to share with his brothers! They live in a rural area, about 6 miles east of the country’s capital, Managua, which is where our visit will take place.

As I re-read his letters in preparation for our upcoming meeting, my heart melts again each time I come across one of his requests for me to visit him. I am so thankful that it will happen soon!

Who Will Sponsor?

Who will sponsor one of these beautiful children from Nicaragua?

I am traveling to Nicaragua in October, and will take a package from you to your new sponsor child if you choose to sponsor one of these children. This is an exciting offer because Compassion sponsors are limited to sending paper products to their sponsor children due to customs restrictions. But when a sponsor carries a package to the country for you, the package is then delivered to your child.

In the past, I have been lucky enough to be able to send packages to my children with several generous sponsors, and my children loved receiving the items I sent. As an added bonus, I had a lot of fun shopping for my children. I have sent items like colored pencils, pens, pencil sharpeners, journals, Hot Wheels cars, marbles, small teddy bears, hair clips and head bands, and even t-shirts.

The general request is that you be able to fit the items for your child into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, and you’d be surprised what you can squeeze into a bag that size.

These are the children for whom I am trying to find sponsors:

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Jervin was born Sept. 11, 2004. He lives with his parents, and there are two children in the family. He enjoys soccer, playing with cars and singing. Average income in his area is $120/month.

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Elizabeth was born Aug. 21, 2005. She lives with her parents, and there are three children in the family. Elizabeth likes playing with dolls, ball games and running. The average income in her area is $60/month.

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Teofilo was born July 14, 2004. He lives with his parents, and there are two children in the family. He loves playing ball games, hide-and-seek and playing group games. The average income in his area is $45/month.

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Yarely was born Feb. 11, 2005. She lives with her parents, and there are five children in the family. Yarely enjoys bicycling and playing group games. The average income in her area is $41/month.

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Jordan was born Sept. 9, 2007. He lives with his parents, and his father is employed as a laborer. Jordan enjoys singing, bicycling and listening to music. The average income in his area is $100/month.

If you are interested in sponsoring any of these children, please contact me. If you’d rather search for a child on your own on Compassion’s web site, please click here.

Sponsor a Child in Nicaragua

As the countdown continues for my trip to Nicaragua, I will be looking for sponsors for children from the area. If you choose to sponsor one of the five children for whom I am advocating, I will take a package from you to Nicaragua to be delivered to your new sponsor child.

Compassion’s mailing guidelines allow for sponsors to send flat, paper items to their children, but this would give you the opportunity to fill a gallon-sized ziploc bag with other items. Popular gifts to send include small stuffed animals, journals, pencils, t-shirts, toy cars – really anything you can fit into the bag.

These are the children for whom I am looking for sponsors:

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Heydi is five years old. Her birthday is Dec. 18, and she lives west of Leon with her parents. Her father is a laborer, and there are two children in the family. Heydi enjoys art, playing with dolls and playing ball games. She is in Kindergarten.

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Randall is six years old, and his birthday is Feb. 14. He lives with his parents in Northern Managua, and there are seven children in the family. His father is sometimes employed as a seller in the market. Randall likes soccer and playing with marbles.

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Jeisni is seven years old and lives in Chinandega City with her mother, who is employed as a laborer. There are two children in the family. Jeisni enjoys playing house, art and bicycling. Her birthday is June 20.

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Juan is five years old, and his birthday is Dec. 29. He lives east of Managua with his mother, who is employed as a laborer. There are two children in his family. Juan likes playing with cars, art and running.

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Marco, 11, lives southeast of Leon with his parents. There are three children in the family. Marco’s birthday is May 7, and he likes soccer and playing with cars.

Compassion has been working in Nicaragua since June 2002. Currently there are more than 21,765 children attending more than 105 child development centers in the country.

Nicaragua, Not Ireland

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I’ve wanted to travel to Ireland ever since I was a kid. Something about the green, rolling hills, stone castles and friendly people just seemed to call to me.

I knew my ancestors came from Ireland, and I was always told my red hair came from there, too. I knew that one day, I would go there.

So last month as I waited for passport photos with my sons, it occurred to me that my first trip out of the country would not in fact be to my beloved Ireland. Apparently God has other plans for me, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

In fact, I am so incredibly excited about the first time I will use this passport that I’m not sure how I will survive the wait.

This October, my 14-year-old son Aidan and I will travel to Nicaragua with Compassion International. We will visit Compassion’s main office in Managua the first day, then we’ll see some of Compassion’s projects during the next two days of our tour.

Finally, on the fourth day, we will meet our two sponsor children and spend the day with them. We’ll have a translator with us, so we can really get to know these boys in person.

By the time we meet them, we will have sponsored Esteban, 8, for almost four years, and Jose, 11, for one year.

I’m already collecting items to bring to my boys. I have teddy bears, Uno games and children’s Bibles in Spanish so far. And I have a list of other gift ideas that continues to grow.

So the countdown is on. In just seven months and a few days, I will hug my Nicaraguan boys tight, my son and I will shower them with love, and all of us will share wonderful memories of being together.

I may not be headed to Ireland yet, but I can’t think of any place besides Nicaragua that I’d rather visit this year.