I know I've already said all this in recent posts, but Shaun Groves is calling for our Compassion stories on his blog and my story was too fragmented, being discussed in several posts. So here is a consolidation.
My introduction to Compassion International was when I was in youth group. My youth director became very involved with Compassion, and chose a child in Rwanda for our youth group to sponsor. We all brought in our spare change and such from week to week and together were able to make the monthy payment in that way. I still remember the horror that spread across that room of teenagers when the child asked in response to us asking him if he had any pets, that yes he did, he had a dog, and he was very very fortunate to have the dog because it would go out and kill small animals and bring the meat back for him to eat. Wow....
So when I got out of college and got my first job, I decided this was something I wanted to do. At that time, Compassion just sent you a child -- there wasn't all this browsing and choosing stuff going on -- and they sent me Staurin, an 8 year old boy from the Dominican Republic. He had a sad look on his face, and they said he was performing below average in school. I was thrilled to see that just a year later, the sadness was gone, there was a look of hope in his eyes, and his school performance had improved and was marked as average.
One of the saddest things about Staurin is that right after he began his sponsorship, he wrote me that he was now living with his grandmother, because his mother had to move away to find work so that she could provide for his siblings. A couple years later, she did return, and Staurin's family has lived together since, but it showed me just how much they valued the program, and how necessary it was for his family. My guess is that his mother had to leave to find work, but Staurin was left behind with his grandmother so that he would be able to continue in the Compassion program. For his mother to value Compassion so much that she would be separated from her child so that he could participate really says a lot. Staurin is 16 now and wants to be an engineer.
A couple years later, I decided to sponsor another child, and Compassion now had a few pictures online. I selected an adorable little girl from Colombia named Astrith. She looked like Punky Brewster in her brightly colored mismatched clothes. :o) Unfortunately, the internet wasn't then what it is now, and children who were chosen on the website weren't automatically removed -- they had to be manually removed... and someone else had already selected Astrith before I did. I still have her picture saved on my computer and pray for her when I see it.
Compassion sent me Angie at that time, as she was the same age as Astrith and from the same country. I'm glad they did for I just love Angie so much and can't imagine if I'd never gotten to meet her. Angie was only 4 when I sponsored her, and her mother and oldest sister Leidy wrote the first few letters. Angie will be 11 next month, and is so sweet and affectionate in every letter, and always so grateful that she can attend the Compassion program.
Last year, I decided to sponsor a child with the same birthdate as Little Girl, my niece, and I kept searching the website until I found Marsabi, who is now 5. Marsabi and Little Girl write letters to each other and draw pictures. Little Girl was so excited at Christmas to make Marsabi a Christmas card. She carefully drew a picture of Baby Jesus in the manger, saying she wanted to make sure that Marsabi knew what the real Christmas was all about. She speaks of Marsabi often, and when she put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child this year, she hoped that maybe, just maybe, her particular box would make it to Marsabi. :o)
And little Rebecca from Uganda, age 5, is my newest little girl. I was already feeling burdened for Africa, but not really sure what to do about it, and then BooMama announced this trip to Uganda! The decision was sealed, and it was just a wait to see which child God had for me. Long story short, it was Rebecca, and so I look forward very much to getting to know Rebecca and her family.
I think my Compassion family is complete, but there's a teenager from Uganda my heart is burdened for, and I keep hoping someone will sponsor him. If nobody does, I might just have to take him in too... :o)
Current pictures of my four can be found in this post.
I've been a believer in Compassion's ministry for nine years now, and have seen the value it has had in my own life and in the lives of my sponsored children. But the bloggers' trip to Uganda has really opened my eyes to just HOW great the need is. There are so many children without hope right now... we can change that... we CAN. If everyone would sponsor one, just think of the miracles God could perform for Uganda. Please sponsor a child now!