Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friend of the Poor

Four years ago while waiting to make some purchases for Christmas gifts at Family Bookstores, I glanced down at the table next to me of World Vision children's packets waiting for sponsors... and the first child I looked at had my birthday.  I always wanted to sponsor a child, and while I wasn't sure this was the one for me, it definitely grabbed hold of my heart to do something about it... now.  After some discussion with the gal at the counter, she logged me onto the website for me to search for a child... and the second child that came up on the screen was Dora.

And I instantly knew. 

Even now, four years later, this picture brings tears to my eyes, leaves me breathless with a sweet tenderness, and makes my heart sing.  There's nothing quite like that amazing surge of love that God gives for a new sponsored child!  I felt like heaven just open up and poured down love all over me for this precious sweetie.  I could hardly wait for her to show up on my account so that I could email her...  her birthday, and mine! were just days away, and I was sure that the staff at the other end would hurry to print out that letter and dash it off to her in time.  LOL... little did I know the patience I would have to grow in for dealing with communication to a child in a third world country.  But that's a story for another time.

I've had nearly 4 years of growing in a relationship with Dora.  While the letters took an exasperatingly slow time to arrive because of her remote location, I cherish her letters.  Since that first photo of the little 9 year old girl, she has grown into a lovely young teen.

I'm sitting here with a stack of her letters and photos from over the years, thumbing through them, reading again my glimpse into this dear girl's world and the changes that have occurred.  Her heart has been knit to mine from her first letter where she introduced herself to me, "My name is Dora, and I'm very beautiful..."  :o)  to one of her most recent, "You are a gift from God to me as my loving sponsor... thanks for giving me your unconditional love.  You are very important for me, and you make me feel like a very special girl. Thank you for making me part of your family like you have been part of ours.  I will always pray for you.  I love you very much!" 

It's an incredibly bittersweet time for me right now, because her project is now closing... the goals have been accomplished for this community to be on their feet and supporting themselves.  So that's a good thing.  Dora has written several times now of her interest in school government, which World Vision helped to facilitate, and she has written of changes in her community...  "Now we have dignified households, and we are healthier and have a better hygiene.  We go to school, and thanks to God for people like you, we are thriving."  Those words warm my heart knowing that she is being so blessed.

What's hard is knowing that the time for our relationship has ended.  I wrote my final letter to Dora this last week, and sent off all the final gift packages for Christmas, her birthday, and end-of-sponsorship gifts.  And I still felt a little lost... she's still in my prayers, and always will be, but well, I do miss having the privilege of communicating with her. Another child was suggested for me to take Dora's place, but after consideration and prayer, I was directed to a Compassion child from Dora's country.  Welcome with me this precious sweet girl, Daniela...  

Daniela's father has died, and her mother tries to provide for her two daughters by washing clothes for others.  We really don't have much to complain about, do we?!  Tears spring to my eyes all over again as I look at the picture of this precious child, and she too leaves me breathless with a sweet tenderness and makes my heart sing.  I've already written her three letters...  ;o)  and am quickly putting together some little gifts that will be hand-delivered by another sponsor who will be visiting her country in a few weeks.

Last week I was also blessed with a part-time job at Family Bookstores, the same one where I first sponsored Dora.  I am just so overwhelmed with the favor and kindness of the Lord in providing this for me so I can fulfill my part to provide for these sweeties.  As an incredible bonus, I get to advocate for children in poverty right on my job!  Each employee also chooses one or more of the children's packets to pray for these children and their future sponsors... I just am so incredibly blessed to be part of a company that has such a heart for the widow, the orphan, and the poor!!!

I am praying, hoping, and planning to go on a Compassion sponsor tour next summer to visit Daniela, and Lord willing, I will still be able to visit Dora even though her project is closing.  In one of Dora's letters from this summer, she wrote,  "I pray every day to God for the opportunity He gives us both to stay in touch through letters, and maybe one day we can talk together and you could come to my country."  I'm coming just as quickly as I can, and can hardly wait to hug both of these dear sweethearts.

I recently found this clip of another sponsor's visit to her child in Latin America, with the song, "Friend of the Poor."  I invite you to watch this, and listen to this moving song over again as you read on here to the rest of this blog post.

It is such a privilege not only to personally sponsor children in poverty and help to change their story, but to also advocate for others.  Would you consider being a "friend of the poor" to one of these children?

Little Prajakta is turning 5 years old this Saturday, November 10, and I think receiving a sponsor would be an incredible birthday gift for her and her family!  Try to imagine the setting for this little girl who loves to play with dolls... homes have cow dung floors, plastic sheet walls, and hay roofs. Well, I can't imagine having to raise a child in these conditions, or having to live in them myself either, for that matter!  Prajakta lives in India with both her parents and one sibling, and her father is sometimes employed as a laborer, earning the equivalent of $35/month.  Remember, for that $35/month that the daddy is able to earn, they get a home with cow dung floors, plastic walls, and a hay roof.  But the good news is that for a little over $1/day, you can sponsor Prajakta, and you can change her story. Her project is IN267, and I have her packet until 12/7/12.

Ariyando is 7 years old, his birthday is May 2, 2005, and he lives in Indonesia with both his parents and two other siblings.  His father is employed as a farmer, and Ariyando helps at home by caring for animals, running errands and cleaning.  He enjoys playing with cars, listening to music, and playing group games.  Typical homes have dirt floors, brick walls, and thatched roofs, and the average wage for the subsistence farmers in his community is $32/month.  His project is IO669, and I have his packet until 11/16/12.  Will you be a friend to this one who is poor?

I've saved a very special boy for last... and one hard part about being an advocate is that there's so many that I want to sponsor myself!  Many Compassion sponsors have a huge heart for some very needy projects in India, specifically IN860 and IN864.  This boy's project is IN864...  and I have his packet until 12/7/12.  Mangesh  just had his 8th birthday this week, (11/2/04), and he has been waiting over 7 months for a sponsor... that is a very long time for a young child to wait!  Mangesh lives with both his parents and two other siblings, and he helps by carrying water.  He enjoys playing hide-and-seek and other group games...  kind of sounds like there isn't much in the way of actual toys to play with, does it?  His father is sometimes employed as a laborer earning the equivalent of $70/month.  Typical homes are made of dirt or cement floors, tin, bamboo or cardboard walls, and tin, plastic sheet or cadboard roofs.  This is poverty that most of us here in the US will never face let alone even see. Will you be the one to extend hands of blessing in the name of Jesus to this boy and his family? 

I speak blessing over you as you minister to others in Jesus' name, and change their story, one by one.

With blessings,