Please check out Aliya’s blog as well. Her latest post sums up the trip beautifully.
Please check out Aliya’s blog as well. Her latest post sums up the trip beautifully.
When I walked over to the table and picked up that card one Sunday after church I thought I would love to meet this girl. It's probably not that realistic though. I looked at her picture every day for months, prayed for her, wrote her letters and sent her pictures. I even bragged about her as if she were my own for over a year. Then one day I picked up another card with a little boy on it and hung it right next to Ruth and prayed for both of them often wondering what it would be like to be a child living in poverty and having a stranger write to me telling me they loved me and were praying for me. I think today I found out. When my name was called the Compassion representative began to look around for my sponsored children and I pointed and said they're right there! I began to walk down the hill and Eduardo ran as fast as he could toward me and jumped right into my arms and squeezed me as tight as he could. After a bit I set him down and looked at Ruth and she jumped right in my arms as well squeezing me as tight as she could. It's really incredible to love and to be loved by someone you've never met before. We spent a few hours at the park playing, looking at animals and having lunch together. Both kids were holding my hands all day and I received and gave more kisses today than I can ever remember. I could never have imagined that a few letters, prayers and encouraging words could create such a bond. I'm so thankful for this opportunity that God has given me. This is a day that will cherished forever by Ruth, Eduardo and me!
On Thursday March 5th, I had the honor of becoming the sponsor for Lizbeth Lizarazu. I could not say "no" when I saw her picture on the Compassion packet. I know I have seen her face before. I am not sure if I saw her packet on Compassion Sunday at Church or if God placed her image on my heart. I was able to meet Lizbeth later in the day. She gave lots of smiles and hugs. My daughter Abby sent along a small container within which she placed a small stuffed dog, stuffed goose and several bracelets. We didn't know how it would be used but felt that God would provide a special person. Lizbeth and her mother were all smiles with the relatively small gift. We also placed a picture of our family within the container. I wrote our names and the ages of Abby and Joshua on the back. My last image of Lizbeth, as our team was leaving, was her holding the container close to her chest with a huge smile on her face.
It is an amazingly humbling experience to grasp all the wonderful blessings God has bestowed upon our family and have the opportunity to share a small amount with such a beautiful child. To whom much is given, much is expected. We are far from rich as measured by USA standards but abundantly so when measured against the majority of the rest of the world. It really puts things in perspective when the cost of sponsoring a child is basically the cost of eating out once a month. I have to do a better job of putting my "needs" and my "wants" in the proper priority and never let the memories of this trip and the families and homes escape from the forefront of my mind.
I should get to see Lizbeth again today along with Ever and Carlos during our Fun Day at Mariscal Park. No words can describe what a wonderful experience this trip has and continues to be.
Gods Blessings, Your brother in Christ
I had the blessing of going into the loving home of Felicidad who is a 24-yesr-old mother of three. Her son is 5 and is in kindergarten so we did not get to meet him. He is a child born out of rape. Her daughter, Cielo, is 3 and is stunningly adorable. Sweet face, engaging eyes, and ready for independance. You just wanted to squish her cheeks and love her right up! Felicidad is expecting another child in 5 months and is living with the father of this child.
Once we arrived at the home, the mother came to open the gate. The home had a front yard of dirt. To the right was a bathroom hole and a rock/dirt area for playing with toys. To the left was an area for the egg laying ducks where the mama securly protected her ducklings. Cats greeted us as well. Straight ahead was an open area with a clothes line, coops for critters, shovels, wheelbarrows, and a motor scooter.
Felicidad was proud to show us her room. She made a "Bienvenidos" (welcome) sign for us that hung above the opening to get home, her 'door'. She explained that she lives with her mother, brother and his family and that this room was built just for her and her family. VERY proud to have her own room. This room was constructed out of sticks as braces to hold the tin and cardboard walls where light filtered in. There was a double bed taking up the whole back wall as you entered. Above it were scripture verse, and learning posters. She did have a refrigerator but no hanging light. Next to the refrigerator was a sewing machine table and the cooking corner. She had a small table in front of the sewing machine where she demonsrated for us what she learns through Child Survial Program. The instructor from the program bragged on what a good student Felicidad was. Felicidad beamed. She said that she was very greatful to the program because they have taught her how to be a better parent. She has homework, like teaching Cielo how to brush her teeth, and learn her ABCs.
Soon her mother entered and was introduced with great affection. Clearly this was a wonderful bond. Her husband also arrived and was introduced as a good husband and was given many kind words regarding caring for Cielo in the mornings while Felicidad goes to work.
Our gracious host offered us boiled cinnamon water and an egg & tomato sandwich on incredible tasty bread. Amazing hospitality and with a joyful heart she shared that she talks with God and doesn't know why he doesn't answer. We prayed with her and assured her she is heard and well loved.
Felicidad shared that after work she sews. We asked her to show us what she makes. She knew exactly where to under the bed and grabbed plastic bags. Out came knit leggings for women and baby pants. Remarkable skill put into them. Some of us wanted to buy them, so humbly she let us. Since she did not have enough finished, she said she would deliver them to the hotel.
We said our goodbyes and started walking back to the project site. Not far from her home, we heard her calling for us. She and her husband chased us down the street wanting to give us our change! We assured her that it wasn't necessary where she breathlessly and sincerely thanked us and went about our way.
Last night (March 6), Felicidad, her husband, and a tired Cielo delivered the clothing items purchased and left the hotel where we then proceeded to run down the street to tell her thank you and give one last hug.
It seems like we can be so happy with the little things we have and can be very generous hosts offering simple things and yet we are always running. It is a beautiful thing to know that we have friends and family to run to, but really we are always running into God's arms. He loves each of us so very much!
Such a light was shining on March 4. Through the walls of the home, to the humbleness of Felicidad's gestures and voice... God is working here in Cochabamba!
Have you ever tried defining poverty? I mean really trying to write out a definition? Is poverty the lack of resources? Lack of material goods? Lack of water? Lack of housing? Lack of knowing Christ?
Approaching Ruth's home it looked like most homes in the area. Concrete, bricks, dilapidated wood, cardboard and or tin used as protection. Walking up her crooked and uneven concrete stairs we learned that she doesn't own this home. She shares it with her sister and her family that live downstairs and her mother resides upstairs in a room next to hers. We were lead into a room no bigger than 10x12 that contained no window; just a single florescent light bulb. In that space she had one bed and a set of bunk beds, a table, and a dresser. On the chipped concrete floor bags and boxes were neatly organized and stacked under beds and tables. Her cooking supplies shared space on table along with some knitting projects; which she tries to make to earn some money. Ruth shares this space with her 3 children, ages 9, 5, and 9 months. We gathered in front of the bunk beds on plastic chairs and Ruth had welcomed us with a Coke and a bun. She was anxious to show us how the CSP (Child Survival Program) works and shared all the information she was studying along with what her 5 year old was learning at the project. It was when we began to ask Ruth about her life that the dark, sober, and ugliness of poverty reared it's head. Through tears we learned that the children's father had once been a esteemed member of the church, an elder. He began drinking and his life turned away from Christ and into more sin. He has never met his baby and hasn't seen the older children in years. When he comes back home he stays with his family and completely ignores his that at one time was shared with Ruth. He has a job but supplies them with no money. Ruth shared with us how she prays for him to come back. She shared how difficult it is to be in a small space with 3 children and how she can't work steady because of the baby. Also mentioning to us that some days are hopeless for her and she doesn't know how she can go on. But, because of Compassion's CSP program she has a hope in Christ. The 3 of us prayed over Ruth and her children. We prayed for affirmation in who she is in Christ and how her studying and being in God's word is the best encouragement she can get. Ruth's visit was a sober reminder that sometimes poverty is not a choice. Ruth believed she had married a good husband one that would be with her and her children and didn't choose her husband running from Christ or the family they created. She planned on being provided for not abandoned. She didn't chose to rent a home or have her mother become ill that she could not help with the children. And yet, she would still take him if he came back. What Ruth has is Compassion and the staff who love on her like 'Jesus with skin.' The 5 year old who is a sponsored child ensures that Ruth is in the word of God and using it with her children. A staff person from CSP comes to her home at least once a week to love on Ruth and her family and see what needs are there. Ruth is not hopeless, while her surroundings may seem dark and dreary, Ruth is given hope through the Compassion project and because someone, such as yourself, chose a to sponsor a child.
=) With a Smile, Sarah Kolling
I had the privilege of accompanying Dana to her home visit, to visit her sponsored child, Leonel, and his parents. The event was very surreal, and couldn't have been more perfect if it was scripted. We met Leonel at "the project" and walked to his house with his mom, Maria. The initial visit was full of hugs and the biggest smiles possible, then it was on to questions. The conversation began in a lighthearted fashion, then became more personal, surrounding dreams and some personal difficulties. It became obvious that Dana's sponsorship had made the world of difference to this young family. Through tears, Maria described how she had learned so much about how to raise her child, and was now learning about how Jesus had so much more love for her than her less than perfect human father. This new understanding has made such a huge difference in her life and has a new trust in God which has caused her to be seeking God on a whole new level. The finale was sweet as Dana took off her own necklace and put it on Maria, explaining that God is her rock, and that He will never let her down. Lots of hugs and pictures and tears and smiles that displayed perfectly the love of Christ ended the day. Another miracle. Thank you God! Todo gloria a Dios
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