I sent out about 120 Christmas cards this past holiday.
I have no idea how many greetings my college friend Julie sent out, but I can only imagine that she sent just as many or more than I did.
What was interesting about Julie's letter this year was that it wasn't just about her adorable family. It was so much more.
Julie and her husband volunteer with Compassion International by working to find sponsors for children in need. A large portion of her letter was about a boy named Gilbert who lives in Kenya and needed a sponsor. Her family had been praying for Gilbert - her young children had been looking at his picture every day and praying that he would get a sponsor.
Her letter didn't end with a simple "Happy New Year, " but it asked us to consider changing the life of this little African boy.
Rewind nearly nine years.
When my Beloved and I first became parents, my compassionate man decided that for every child we add to our family, we would sponsor a child in need.
Dickson, a little boy from Zambia, was our first sponsored child through World Vision. We have written to and received letters from him over the years. We still sponsor him each month and he is 21 years old. I'm waiting for the day when we are contacted to say that his sponsorship has ended. Usually, that happens when he has a wife and family of his own.
When Sauce was born, we started sponsoring Salile. She lives in Malawi and has been our most communicative sponsored child. Her letters usually come with a good story and lots of love. My favorite was when she told us that while she was washing the family dishes in the river, she dropped one and was unable to retrieve it. She thought she would get in trouble, but her mother simply laughed.
That letter made me lighten up with my own boys. Salile turns 15 this year.
Rufus arrived two years later and together, my man and I couldn't pass up a little girl in Haiti named Mylove. Mylove was born on our anniversary and will be nine this year. She looks just as cute as her name.
Before Squirt was even conceived, we knew we were planning on a fourth child in our family, and we came upon the opportunity to sponsor my boy Vitya in Russia through a wonderful organization called Children's Hopechest.
I had the opportunity to actually go to Russia and spend a week with Vitya and it gave me new perspective on sponsorship. He is a real boy with a real life and a real lonely heart.
Although I still have contact with Vitya through a Russian friend I made while visiting, the Russian government discontinued Hopechest's program in his area and our formal sponsorship ended.
So, back to Christmas. We had four kids in our Christmas picture this year, but sponsoring only three children in need.
I waited several weeks before I emailed Julie. I thought I could get Gilbert off my heart if I heard that someone snagged him soon after her letters went out.
What do you think she said?
Sadly for Gilbert, he was still waiting for a sponsor.
Luckily for us, he was still waiting for a sponsor.
I didn't even say yes right away. I told Julie I would get back to her and she told me that she and her family would be praying for our family.
Hmmm. Didn't take long. Pretty clear answer when God puts it in your mailbox at Christmas time and reminds you of a small promise you made when you started your family.
I have to tell you, our experience with Compassion has been awesome. Gilbert's birthday was coming up (he looks like he's five, not TEN!) and we were able to go online and donate a gift specifically for his birthday.
Then we got our first letter from him.
For less than the price of one dinner out per month, we were able to add some love into Gilbert's life and hopefully make a significant impact on his family's future.
But it isn't about us or the money. It is about the relationship we're forming.
Some things I immediately love about Compassion are:
- They typically only sign up one child in each family for sponsorship, but it helps the family as a whole.
- They don't support people within poverty, they enable them to work their way out of it by helping them start their own business and support themselves.
- Sponsors are able to attend a Compassion trip and actually meet their sponsored children.
Guess where I envision taking my men someday? :-)
Compassion has an awesome practice of sending bloggers to visit
They are in Kenya now and I'm addicted to the updates and scanning their photos for a glimpse of my Gilbert. They are showing me what I learned in Russia - that these children are real and while we are helping to rescue them from poverty, they can rescue us from wealth.
When wealth means giving $1.25 a day, I don't know anyone who couldn't be a part of the rescue.
And would you consider sponsoring a Compassion Child?