Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Never to Old to Change a Life!

     Do you see the girl above? She was a child that I had as part of the 5 Week Club I talked about in my last blog post and because of being apart of that club I have a story I would like to share with you.  Her name was Jaqueline and her birthday is July 21st. These are important to remember as they are the reason she is sponsored today.

     I had requested a packet for my participation in my 5 Week Club group. I had asked for an older child as I know they are often harder to find sponsors for. I also wanted a girl as I know they tend to write more letters and my last request was that she be from a South American country. I had her packet for a few weeks and I decided to share it with all my Facebook friends in hopes of finding a sponsor but, I had not luck and a few more weeks went by with no interest. See when I have a child packet I carry it with me as much as possible because I have learned you never know when an opportunity to share about Compassion and the work they do will present itself. So, one day I was on my way to school to pick up my children and I was running ahead of schedule which for those who know me they would say that never happens but, that day was an exception. I decided to stop and see my grandmother who lives close to the school. When I stopped she was sitting outside enjoying the warm weather as it was July. We got to talking and she mentioned seeing Jaqueline on my Facebook page. She asked some questions about what all was involved with sponsorship and asked if I had posted it for her to see and I said no that I was just looking for someone who would like to sponsor her. We talked about some other things and I went on my way to pick up the kids at school. It was a normal visit and I didn't give it much thought. A few weeks later I was talking with my grandmother again and she asked again if I had posted that girl just for her and I said no but, I asked why she asked that? She shared with me that they had the same first name but, that it was spelled alittle different and that they shared the same birthday. I laughed and said that I did realize that the name was the same but, that I didn't realize that birthday was the same. I know I should have remembered my grandmothers birthday but, I just didn't put it together. Again we talked about some other things and time went on.

   Jaqueline's packet expired and I had ordered a new child to share with people and out of the blue I got a text from my grandmother asking if I got found a sponsor for Jaqueline and I told her no that her packet had expired and that I had a new child I was sharing. She asked if I could see if she was still available. So I did some checking and she was still not sponsored so I asked them to put a hold on her for me. I then let my grandmother know that she was still available. See my grandmother is in her 80's and I never thought to ask her if she was interested in sponsoring her. My grandmother said she wanted to sponsor her but, only if I agreed to take over her sponsorship if anything happened to her. I agreed and she became Jaqueline's sponsor. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

5 Week Club....What is it and why do you want to be part of it?

     Several months ago I was asked by my Compassion advocate manager  to be part of a trial Facebook group at the time it had no name but, it was quickly became known as the 5 Week Club. It was a simple concept. A group of people were all members of a private closed Facebook group. The reason for the group was to give like minded (Compassion minded) people a placed to share their personal advocacy. The requirements were simple as all you had to do was request a child packet or two from Compassion and then to pray and share about your child whenever you could within the 5 weeks. Why 5 weeks? Because that was the time you would have the child packet before it expired.
First 5 Week Club Child

     The group was very rewarding and it made me to always have a child packet onhand to share. In the past I never wanted to order a packet as I thought that it was only reduce the chances the child had of finding a sponsor but, I quickly realized that it made we want to share more and that I prayed more than I had been in the past. The group was very successful and we had many children sponsored that may not have been sponsored otherwise and even if they were not sponsored during our 5 weeks time frame it wasn't for nothing. The prayers they receive but not only the person who had their packet but, by every member of the club. That's 18 or so people praying for each child every single day. Wow! What a blessing.
Current 5 Week Child
     This child is my current 5 week child that I have been praying for and sharing for the past 5 weeks. Her birthday is December 12th the same day that her packet will expire. Will you join me in prayer that someone sponsors her soon even if it is not during my time with her. Pray for her to have a safe and happy birthday and to find her loving sponsor. 

     If you are interested in be part of a 5 week club either let the folks at Compassion know or send me a message and we will get you started. It is an easy way to help a child who is waiting.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Looking Down.......

     This morning as I was getting my daughter ready for school I had a flashback to my time in Guatemala. It was all because I looked down. The first time it was at our first home visit in Guatemala. We had spent time getting to know this mother and her four kids. She had invited us to see the inside of their home where we spent some time learning about the family and what they did for a living. We asked the family and Compassion children all kinds of questions. But, it wasn't until we went outside to look  around and to play with the children that I looked down and noticed the shoes on this little girls feet.

      This little girl had spent the last 30 minutes sitting on my lap giving me hugs and smiling at me and I never once noticed her shoes. I remember thinking how much she reminded me of  my own daughter back home. She was the same age and height as my little girl. They both loved to go to school and they both had a smile that would melt your heart.  I had heard this little girls story and even though they had so much in common they had very different stories. This little girl had no bed, she had hand me down clothes and few toys if any to call her own. She had no father to tell her how  special she was or to show her love she so desperately needed.  My daughter on the other hand had all those things.
     I spent only an hour or so with this little girl but, she changed me! Oh how I wish I could tell her sponsor just how special this little girl is and that even in spite of her life story. She is not bitter or angry but, just the opposite she is full of Hope, Love and Joy.

     So your wondering why the flashback..... Well this morning while getting my daughter ready for school I looked down again and I saw this little girls feet right here in front of me in my house.

     It is easy for us here to say ok we need to go buy a new pair of shoes for school and then to go out to the nearest shoe store and get them but, what if your a little girl in Guatemala or a boy in Haiti how do you get a new pair of shoes? The one answer to this question I can give is that you say ok we need to buy a pair of shoes and you send your child a gift (money for shoes).
     Every little bit can help so much. So I ask you can you spare an extra ten dollars this month? If you can please consider sending it to your Compassion child this month. Don't wait because it just could be a desperately needed  new pair of shoes.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Gifts for Life

     I got the privilege of getting to spend a week in Guatemala this month where I had the chance to meet, talk with and play with many Compassion children both sponsored and children waiting for sponsors. It was incredible to see how happy these children were even with their economic situation. They had every reason to be unhappy and bitter but, the loved poured out of these children. 

Girls in Guatemala having fun.

     As we spent time with these children at their projects and homes we asked many questions and one question in particular got the same response. We asked these children "Does your sponsor write to you?" in so many cases you would see the child break eye contact and their head and eyes would drift down toward the floor and you would hear the answer "No". Let me tell you it doesn't matter what language they speak you know the answer when you hear it. 

     So, because of this often seen reaction to our question I have made it a priority to talk with sponsors about the importance of writing letters to their children. It can really make all the difference to a child. You can make a difference not only today but, what you say to a child can have lasting effects that last a lifetime. Don't get me wrong the sponsorship money is very important to these children but, the personal relationship comes because of the letters we write. This is where you learn about your child and their life in another country. A life that is much different than ours here at home. This is also where they learn about their sponsor who lives far away but, cares and loves them even though they have never met. This is could be the only encouragement they ever get as a child. It could be you telling them how good they are doing in school or that you love them. Children that get letters keep them as special items and are proud to show them off. I was sadden because I didn't get to see this while I was in Guatemala. 

Child getting a letter.

“I love to get my sponsor’s letters. I love it especially when there are photos of my sponsor. My sponsor loves me and sent me a nice photo of her. She wrote that she prays for me."

     This is what children that get letters say about them. Is this what your child would say? On letter day at the project is your child one that celebrates getting a letter or one that celebrates because their friends got letters?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Theft in Guatemala!

Today, I woke up early as I am still on home time so, I figured I should just get ready to go for the day.  After, I was ready I headed down to make my daily Face Time call to my family back in the states. It worked out well that Guatemala was an hour behind my home this meant everyone would up when I called. I talked to everyone  a briefly and told them of the plans for the day. Then I spent a few minutes praying about the day and then off to eat breakfast.

After eating breakfast the 5 pastors and myself loaded onto the bus to head to our first Guatemala Compassion project. It was about a 30 minute drive to the project where we were greeted at the gate by the project director,  about 20 mothers with their babies, pastor and even the mayor of the little town. As we entered the gate there was music playing and firecrackers. They has seats for us and we sat down and everyone took their turn greeting us. Then they presented each one of us with a hand made doll that symbolized a trade that they did to earn a living. We then climbed the stair to the top of the hill where the church was. The church was all decorated and we entered to have a quick program and then it was off to tour the facilities and to see the newly opened CSP (Child Survival Program). It open been opened two weeks before we came. It was two rooms that were painted very nice and they had tables, chairs and toys for the babies.
Our tour ended and we all climbed back onto the bus to go to our first home visit of the trip. As we drove for 10-15 minutes, I interacted with a boy name Alexander. I would say he was 6 or 7 but, he seemed to have some delays and vision problems. I gave him a small matchbox car which he really liked but, had to hold very close to his face to be able to see. He was so happy about it and he played with this car the entire day.

 So, as we drove down this dirt road there was a cloud of dust trailing behind us. I don't think that that road got many cars on it and I am sure that we drew some attention as we went but, after a few minutes we came to a stop next to a field. Their didn't seem to be any plants but, the ground had been made ready to plant. We walked down a dirt path a little ways and then you could see the home that we were visiting. It was made of blocks and rocks and the roof was made of tin.
As, we approached we were told the story of how this family came to be part of the Compassion program. This mother was caring for her three daughters and two sons. She only had help from her mother. We were told of how the father had went to the United States to work to be able to send money back to the family but, the money never came and neither did the father. So, the mother was left to do it alone that is when the local pastor heard about them and with Compassion's help all three of the girls were enrolled into the program and each has a sponsor.

We were invited into their home and as we entered we were offered to sit on the edge of the two small beds that were in the home. The youngest girl was sitting on the edge of the bed and she was quickly told by her mother to get up so we could sit down. Once I sat down in the recently vacated place where the girl had been sitting I got her attention and offered to have her sit on my knee. She jumped over to my lap and sat down. I would look over at her to see a huge smile on her face. As the time went on she seemed more at easy and I could feel her begin to relax and she grabbed my arms and pulled them around her like I was hugging her. Then a few minutes later she rested her head on my shoulder. When, I looked at her she was smiling so big and that's when it happened she stole my heart! I thought to myself this little girl that was the same age as my daughter had never had a loving father who showed her that she was important and loved but, today she felt that love. As our time went on we had gone outside to look around and to blow bubbles with the children when I noticed my little friend was gone. I  had wondered where she had run off to when she came back carrying a bunch of notebooks. I found out that they were her school books and she showed me each one of her books. In one of the books she had pages of very neatly written letters which we went from A to L. I told her how good her school work was and to keep doing her best. I am not sure if she could understand a word I was saying but, the smile on her face said it all.

We spent some time talking with the family and mother told us of the hardships they had and even that day they were worried about having enough food to eat. We asked questions and we found out that the two youngest girls both slept on a wood board on the concrete floor because there was not enough room in the beds for them and that because of this both girls had been ill. When the time came to leave we took some photos with the family and we gave them the gifts we had brought them for sharing their story and home with us. It was toothbrushes, toothpaste, wash cloths and most importantly food. They were so overwhelmed the mother was emotional. We surrounded the family and prayed for them. As, I get to the end of the dirt path I turn around to take one last photo and entire family was smiling and waving goodbye to me.
But, it wasn't really goodbye yet for my little friend and I...........

Guatemala Compassion Office Visit

Today I got up and after a Skype call home our day began by eating breakfast at the hotel and then we gathered all our stuff and checked out of the hotel and headed to the Compassion country office. It was a short drive from our hotel. It was a small four story building. When we first got there we met the country office director and had two slide presantations. The first was about the country itself and showed us all the beauty of the country and then the second presantation was on how Compassion works here to serve the 44, 000 children in the Compassion program here. We got to see each of the different departments. One of the ones I found most interesting is the cooraspondance department. It was so interesting to see how the children and sponsor letters are handled once they reach the country office. We saw many letter that the children had written that we being processed. 

While I was at the country I left gifts for five children who have sponsors at FCC or I personnally know. These children are going to be so surprised when these gifts get to them. I wish I could have been there to see them get them. The cool thing is Compassion will take photos of the children with their gifts and these photos will be sent to each sponsor.

After our office visit we drove to a place to have lunch and then a 4 hr. drive into the mountians. It was so amazing to see how the country changes from the large city to the more rural counrty area and to see how different these people live in comparison. They would plant their crops and very steep hills. You would almost be so tired by the time you got to the top you would have any energy left to work your field. 

When we arrived in our hotel in Quetzentenango we checked in and then to s short walk around the city. We got to really see the culture of this area. We were able to check out the local church. It was an amazing structure built in 1905. We were able to go inside and look around. People were constantly coming and going. Amazing place!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Arrived in Guatemala

After starting my day at the firehouse at 6am it is now 11pm and I have arrivaed in Guatemala. Pastor Trevor the senior pastor at Fairfield Christian Church and I are on a vision trip with Compassion International. We spent all day traveling and i am worn out. We plan to visit the country office tomorrow morning and then we will drive 3.5 hrs. to the area that we will be staying for the next week.