Remember the movie A Christmas Story? Remember how Ralphie ran home from school every day to check the mailbox? How he waited with bated breath for his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring?
I've been just like Ralphie for the last 11 days.
Every day I race home from work to check the mail & see if the thing I've been waiting for has come.
Every day for 10 days I was disappointed.
And yesterday, on the 11th day, it was there. In my mailbox. We were very excited.
Hmm? What's that, darling? Oh! You're wondering what on Earth could be so exciting?
I posted a link to this fantastic organization a few weeks ago. I heard about them when this blogger and this blogger went on a fascinating journey called Blogging Through Kenya. I watched their journey through terribly impoverished areas. I read the stories (and watched the videos) of young adults who were sponsored as children, and the difference their sponsors made in their lives. I studied their photos of the landscape, the conditions and - most importantly - the faces. The children, living in slums, hungry, and... smiling.
My heart was moved. I wanted to do something. How could I not? I saw those faces, the hope... and I was moved. Matt & I talked at length. He had all kinds of very logical, manly questions. Why help a child in some other country & not one in the U.S.? How do you know this is a reputable organization? What percentage of the money we send monthly goes to actually helping the child? (It's a little above 80%, by the way, which is a high percentage for international aid.) I anticipated these questions, and had done my homework. I also prayed for my husband's heart to be moved the same way mine had.
And so, we decided that we would sponsor a child. God has blessed us. We felt compelled to give something back. So, we went to the Compassion International website to find a child to sponsor. I must admit that this part was a challenge. How could we choose just one? Also, it felt... odd... to look through all those photos of children in need. It felt a little like "shopping" for a child. But we prayed for God to show us which child He would have us support. We knew we wanted to sponsor a child who is about the same age as Tyson. We knew we wanted to sponsor a child from a relatively small family so that we could be sure to send enough stickers, etc. for all the children in the family to share. We hoped to find a child who's profile would suggest that we could find something in common, something to share.
And then we saw her. Her name is Michelle. She is seven years old. She loves to sing. How perfect is that? When I looked at her eyes, I couldn't help but think that I was looking at an "old soul." We felt pulled to sponsor her. And so we did. And I waited with bated breath for the new sponsor packet so that we could send her our first letter.
So, what does it mean to sponsor a child through Compassion?
Sponsorship means sending $38.00 per month to Compassion, who in turn sends it to the mission project in that child's community. The workers in that community act as case managers. They work with the child's family to determine what is needed. Food, clothing, a home, vocational training for the parents, etc. In addition to this monetary support, we also get to send letters to our child. Our plan is to mail her a letter, plus photos, pictures from Ty & Riley, stickers, etc. once each month. As sponsors we are encouraged to share with Michelle encouragement, stories of our faith and prayer requests. The program is one of discipleship, and although the children and their parents are never required to choose a walk with Christ, they are given opportunities to attend church, learn about Christ, and develop a relationship with him if they choose to do so. We started raying for Michelle and her family the same night we made our commitment.
There are many opportunities to help this organization improve the lives of these children. From one time gifts, to child sponsorship, to being a correspondence sponsor (which means you sponsor a child with encouraging letters), Compassion makes it easy to make a real difference in the life of a real person. A real child. I hope that you will visit their website. I hope that you will pray. I hope that you might be moved, as we were, to give something of ourselves to help a child in a place where help is so scarce.