Compassion. I was working as a teacher at the time and Ben was working in the Admissions Department of the University we had both attended.
We had his photo hanging on our refrigerator (above) and I remember us talking about how scared he looked in that photo--the first one we ever had of him.
Fast forward 12 years until last week, when Ben (who now works for Compassion), visited Bolivia for the first time on a work trip.
Not one to miss an opportunity to meet our sponsored child, he arranged to have dinner with him, his mother, and his sister.
That scared little boy that we started sponsoring 12 years ago is now a confident young man and we were both overcome with excitement at the prospect of Ben getting to actually meet him and hug him in real life.
Of course, I would have loved to have gone with him and meet him too, but I was so happy that Ben would be able to meet him for the both of us. And thanks to the wonders of the iphone, I was actually able to talk with him face-to-face via face time!
It was amazing.
I was completely overcome with emotion and by the end of our conversation, we were both crying.
I've been sponsoring children through Compassion for about 16 years now. And I've written letters and received letters, but never have had the chance to speak face-to-face.
I have had the chance to meet other graduates of the program (one actually lives in my neighborhood!) and recently traveled to Guatemala and visited several projects and met other sponsored children.
Every time I meet one of these formerly sponsored children or currently sponsored ones, my view expands and I learn something more.
This conversation was no different.
I wanted to share one thing that he said to me that has stuck with me for the past several days and will probably stay with me forever.
I was speaking to him through a translator and I said, "Look at you! You are all grown up! I remember when you were just a little boy and we had your first photo on our refrigerator."
He smiled and said, "Yes, things change. I am grown now. But oh, how I wish I could relive that day when they came and said, "You have a sponsor--it's Ben and Vanessa. " I've asked God if I could relive that day again--just for that moment because it was one of the most wonderful moments of my life."
Sponsorship is so much more than a check you write every month. It's more than the letters and the prayers. It's a child--a real child--a real PERSON who is just waiting for someone like you to share a friendship with.
It's a chance to speak encouragement and love and hope into a child who may not have much of that in his or her life.
Sure, the money for the school books, uniforms, food, or medicine helps and is necessary, but it's really about being someone who cares.
Having a sponsor means there is someone on the other side of the world who cares about him and that can make all the difference in a person's life--especially a child living in poverty.
If you sponsor a child, I hope you get a chance to meet him or her one day--it's truly and amazing and humbling experience. And if you don't yet, I'd love for you to check out Compassion to read more about what they do and how you and your family can help change the life of a child living in poverty.
I'd be happy to answer any questions you have also!
|All grown up.|