Cantót Paxot II, Guatemala: Sponsor a Child

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The road to GU-479 in Cantón Paxot II, Guatemala.

After a 3-hour drive north from Antigua through lush mountains with beautiful valley views, we were greeted by firecrackers upon arrival at Compassion project GU-479.

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Children lined up to greet us when we arrived.

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Playground at GU-479. New classrooms are being built at the right.

Compassion International has been partnered with Metodista Paxot II, a church in the community of Cantón Paxot II, Guatemala, since 2012. The area is home to about 1,500 residents, and the most commonly spoken language is the Mayan language Kiche.

Children lined up outside of our buses to shake hands and greet us before leading us down a rural road to their project, where they performed many traditional dances for us, including a dance to honor St. Thomas, the dance of the monkeys, the stealing of the bride dance, and the dance of the bull. It was an honor to be among the first group of sponsors to visit this project.

The staff and parents were warm and welcoming in this remote community, where we learned the most common health issues are intestinal diseases and respiratory illness. The community has water and telephone service, but needs employment opportunities, public transportation and vocational training. Most adults are unemployed, but some work as day laborers, earning the equivalent of $75/month.

Please consider sponsoring one of these beautiful children from this project:

Jaymerson

Jaymerson, born Sept. 9, 2007.

Jaymerson, 8, lives with his parents and six siblings. He is responsible for gathering firewood and running errands, and his father works as a farmer.

He enjoys soccer, basketball and playing with cars, and he attends church activities and Bible class regularly.

Jennifer

Jennifer, born March 24, 2005.

Jennifer, 10, lives with her parents and one sibling. She helps care for animals and makes beds at home, and her father works as a farmer.

She enjoys playing house and playing with dolls, and her performance is average in school. She attends church activities and Vacation Bible School.

Fernando

Fernando, born May 29, 2008.

Fernando, 7, lives with his parents and two siblings. His duties at home are carrying water, gathering firewood and making beds, and his father is a farmer.

He enjoys playing soccer, swimming and playing with cars, and he attends Bible class regularly.

William

William, born July 9, 2004.

William, 11, lives with his parents. His father works sometimes as a farmer, and there are two children in the family.

He enjoys playing soccer, ball games and bicycling, and his school performance is average. William also attends Bible class regularly.

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A view of the area with the church in the background.

If you are interested in sponsoring one of these children, please contact me.

Sponsorship costs $38/month, and the benefits to both the child and the sponsor are priceless.

Compassion has worked in Guatemala since 1976, and there are more than 130 child development centers in the country, serving more than 32,400 children.

Compassion works in 27 countries world wide. If you would like to sponsor a child in another country, please click here to see children available for sponsorship.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Jefry on the go carts.

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Jefry driving his own boat.

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

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Ready to play ball.

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Roller skating with some help.

Jewels of Christ Student Center

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Jewels of Christ Student Center, NI-102

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

StivenNI

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.

ErickNI

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.

OnellaNI

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.

CesarNI

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.

KarlaNI

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?

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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.

JuanPabloCO-WV

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.

DeborahUG-WV

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.

OpherZA-WV

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.

DianaBR-WV

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.

The Meeting

In a trip that was full of new experiences, sights and sounds, filled with emotion, with each day ending in exhaustion, heart overflowing with God’s blessings and love, everything came together in these brief, beautiful moments. I met my boys.

Yes, meeting them was the main purpose of this journey to Nicaragua. If not for them, Aidan and I would not be there. But we had experienced so much already, changed so much already, how could there be more?

But of course, there was more, and it began with this meeting.

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Anxious sponsors listen as Kim, our tour leader, reads off bus assignments before the children arrive.

After much anticipation, a sleepless night, and an early-morning wake-up filed with anxiety and nerves, Aidan and I headed to the hotel lobby, loaded down with gifts for our boys. There we joined the other sponsors on our tour, and listened closely as our leader, Kim, read off our bus assignments.

Five buses would be arriving shortly, carrying our sponsored children, and we were excited to learn that we’d be on the first bus!

Finally, we saw the buses pull up in front of the hotel. The first sponsor from our bus headed out and hugged his children, then they posed for photos. At this point, it was becoming difficult to hold back the tears. I squeezed the hand of the sponsor in front of me, and moments later, she walked outside to meet her beautiful young lady, followed by more hugs, more tears, more photos.

And it was our turn.

I handed my camera to Kim as Aidan and I walked through the lobby doors, and I saw Jose walking toward me. We hugged, I kissed him and cried, and we hugged some more. Then we tried to pull it together enough to pose for a few photos.

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Meeting Jose for the first time.

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Aidan, Kerri and Jose after our first hugs.

Before we had a chance to recover, Esteban walked into my arms. The little pudgy 5-year-old, whom I had sponsored almost four years ago, who had asked me to visit in his letters, was now a thinner, taller boy, and hugging him at last was a wonderful feeling.

As soon as we finished our hugs, little 3-year-old Jefry cautiously walked up and greeted me. I only started writing to Jefry at the end of August. In fact, he hadn’t even received a letter from me, yet, and that, along with his age, left him a little unsure of what was going on. But he followed Esteban’s lead, and joined in the celebration, posing for photos after hugs.

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Finally hugging Esteban after almost four years of sponsorship.

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Aidan, Kerri, Esteban and Jefry.

We climbed onto the bus together, where I met each boy’s mother and project tutor, and I must admit, I had to ask for everyone’s names again later because it was all I could do to just be in the moment with my boys, hardly believing I was sitting next to them on a bus in Managua.

To break the ice during the drive to Play Zone Park, I gave each boy the soccer bracelet my daughter had made for them, and a little photo album full of family photos. We all looked through the photos together, Esteban making sure Jefry turned the pages in his album right along with the rest of us.

It was a beautiful start to an unforgettable day.

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Seated on the bus, traveling to Play Zone Park.

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.

Five Beautiful Children

As a Child Ambassador for World Vision, I have five children for whom I am advocating right now. Please take a look and see if any of them touches your heart. Maybe one shares a birthday with you or a family member. Maybe you share a hobby with one or are particularly interested in their country. If you see a child you would like to sponsor, please contact me. You can make a difference in the life of one of these children.

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Ganesh is a 5-year-old boy living with his parents and one sister in an Indian slum. His father is a driver and struggles to meet the family’s needs. Ganesh likes to play ball games.

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Elder Aroldo, 8, lives with his parents, two brothers and four sisters in Guatemala. His father is a farm laborer. Elder Aroldo is in primary school, helps at home by gathering firewood and likes to play with toys.

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Nuredin is a 10-year-old boy living in Ethiopia with his parents and one brother. His father is a farmer. Nuredin helps at home by caring for animals. He likes to play basketball and enjoys drawing.

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Seraphine, 12, lives with her parents, two brothers and three sisters in Rwanda. She helps at home by gathering firewood, and she likes to play ball games. Seraphine is in primary school, where she enjoys learning a foreign language.

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Mariney is a 13-year-old girl living in Colombia with her mother and extended family. In primary school, Mariney enjoys art. She helps at home by sweeping floors, and she likes to play hide and seek.