Colombia Day Three: Music, Dancing, Games, and Hiking

One thing I have learned from going on these Compassion trips is to have no expectations and be prepared for just about anything. As a Type A personality, I kind of like to have a plan and have control over...well, many things. But one thing I love about these trips is that I learn to follow where He leads.

When you first arrive at any Compassion center, there are always many children eager to greet you, and some that you kind of connect with right away. These sweet kids crowded around me to squeeze in for a picture before the official welcome began:

Everybody smiling in Colombia!

After we all got settled a bit, the church and the children welcomed us all with songs and dancing. Here are just a couple for you to enjoy:

After the welcome, we all split up into groups and started playing games with the children. For a bit of time, many of us were outside playing dodge ball (the youth group at my church would have been proud of me!), then I ended up inside playing another ball game.

The challenging thing about this game was, we had no translator right there with us. So imagine, trying to learn a new game, and not speaking the same language. Makes for an interesting interpretation of what we were suppose to do! We tried following along with what was happening and how the ball was being tossed around, but we just couldn't figure out the game. After a bit of time, one of  the translators was able to make his way over to give us a helping hand. Ah! Things were much more clear now!

Working together on a puzzle

Before the trip, I found a few simple puzzles to bring along with me. So I pulled one of them out for this group of boys to work on.

Job well done!

It was great to see them work together to put the puzzle together. I was able to show them where I lived compared to where they live. 

After our time of games with the kids, we split up into our groups to head out for home visits. Somehow I was paired up with all the people from Colorado and we ended up hiking up the side of a mountain! Really! I was thinking I would be ready to climb Half Dome after this! 

It was incredible to see how many houses were built along this mountainside. And these were not houses like we are used to in the United States, these were basically small shacks built from concrete bricks or tin, probably no bigger than most people's bedrooms.

Once we arrived at the home, I recognize one of the girls from the center that I had met just a couple of hours earlier. We begin some good conversation with the mom and her daughters. We asked the daughters (two of them are sponsored) if they had any letters from their sponsors. Immediately, the younger one shares with us a stack of letters.

Letters from Nelsy's sponsor

This letter is from almost three years ago, and little Nelsy still hangs onto it and has a special place for all of the letters she has received from this faithful letter writing sponsor. It was encouraging for me to see this because some of the other children I spoke with at the center told me that they do not receive letters from their sponsors.

Letter writing is not a requirement for sponsorship, but I sure do wish that more sponsors would realize how important letters are to these children.

Gifts for Nelsy and her family

Before we left Nelsy's home, we were able to pray with her and her family, leave a gift, and gather for a group photo.

Visit with Nelsy and her family in Colombia

Then we began our hike back down the mountain to the center:

Hiking down the mountain from our home visit

The view was really beautiful from up there. But when you think about it, at home in the United States, people pay millions of dollars for homes to be built on the sides of hills like this one to have a view like this overlooking cities and oceans. In this community, only about half of the people are working, and those who do work earn about $134 per month. Quite the contrast, isn't it?

These families have everyday struggles to provide for their families and have to overcome things we can't even imagine.

But they keep going on.

They keep climbing those hills and mountains.

They keep sending their children to those child development centers.

They have hope, knowing that their children can pursue their dreams.

They are learning to trust Him to provide for their daily needs.

Most of us have our daily needs met.

Compassion kids in Colombia

Would you consider giving a bit to help one child have a bit more? Maybe today is the day where you can follow where He leads you to make a difference in the life of a child.

Compassion Blogs on Pinterest

Some of you may know that I spend my mornings helping to manage Compassion's Pinterest account. Over the past three years, I have seen and pinned a lot of ideas I have found on Pinterest and on the internet to help make letter writing more of a priority for sponsors, and to help them find creative things to mail to their sponsored children.

But for a while now, I have wanted to have one place, where Compassion Bloggers can share their own blog posts, so that other Compassion sponsors can read what these amazing men and women share about their own experiences with Compassion.

So this morning, I created a group board on Pinterest!

Compassion Blogs Pinterest board

I am excited about this new board and the possibility of reading more stories of how Compassion is impacting sponsors and their sponsored children.

Would you like to join us? Leave a comment below with the link to your Pinterest profile and I will add you to our board.

Colombia Day Two: Child Survival Program

Day two of our trip took us to a coastal community southwest of Santa Marta. The church we visited has been in the community for the past 20 years and has partnered with Compassion for 7 years now. Currently, they are making a difference in the lives of 340 children and their families.

CSP moms and their babies

Today, we learned about the Child Survival Program, or CSP. Currently, the Child Survival Program is in operation in all 26 countries where Compassion is partnering with the local churches. This program is a little different from the child sponsorship program. The CSP functions to assist pregnant and new moms until their child is three years of age, and it is more of a home based program.

On this particular day, the moms and their babies spent time with us at the church, entertaining us, helping us with a craft, and answering questions we had for them. The one thing that really impacted me here was one mother's answer to a question about what they are learning as part of the CSP:

 "We are learning to love our children."
Child Survival Program baby

These moms and their families are learning about the importance of the church in their community. Many of the families are now attending church...together. They are realizing the hope of the Gospel and how it can transform their lives, and the lives of their children.

Child Survival Program home visit

In the afternoon, we split up into groups to visit homes of the CSP moms. Our group visited Jamie and her family. Jamie was a gracious hostess and gladly welcomed us into her home. She told us that she likes spending time learning about God and Psalms is her favorite book of the Bible. Luis, the father of her two children, is really happy that Jamie and Luis David can attend the CSP. Jamie told us that she receives a lot of encouragement, is learning income generation skills, and is learning how to help Luis at home.

Jamie and Luis have dreams for their children to finish their studies and find a good career. They are really no different than any other family. Don't you have the same dreams for your children?

By partnering with Compassion's Child Survival Program, you can help give moms and babies a chance to thrive. And not only thrive physically, but to thrive spiritually as well. In the past year, over 4200 moms came to know Christ as part of the CSP around the world.

For $20 a month, you can help support a CSP and help moms and their babies today!

Colombia Day One: Morning of Music

My Compassion trip to Colombia was at the end of February and I am finally making time to share some of my experiences with you!

Let me just start by saying, before you leave for a trip, you have every intention of taking tons of photos, jotting down lots of notes, and hoping to remember so many details about all that you experienced. Since this was my second Compassion trip, I knew things would be a bit different.

But on this trip, I actually took less photos than on my first trip. Don't worry, I still have plenty to share. I really wanted to connect with the children on this trip, and not just be capturing moments on my camera.

One thing I am really happy that I did do on this trip was capture more moments on video! Since we arrived in Colombia late in the afternoon on Saturday, our first visit on Sunday morning was to a local church, just outside of Barranquilla. The really good news is this church is one of the church partners, so some of the sponsored children would be attending this service also!

Are you ready to see some of what we experienced that first morning? You are in for a treat!

So here is the pretty incredible thing about technology...while in Colombia, I was always three hours ahead of the time zone at my home. Since I knew we would be heading back to the hotel after the service on this morning, I was able to send these videos to my son. Then he was able to share them at our own church service in California that same morning! It was a great way to share a bit of what I was experiencing with my church family back home.

This was just the beginning of our week in Colombia, and I have a lot more to share!

Nurturing Dreams and a Free Printable!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about Crystal Stine's Creative Basics course and shared a few images I had been able to create with the very helpful information she shares in the course.

Well, the 30 day challenge is over, which means...I get to share a FREE printable with you today!

At first, I had no idea what my printable was going to look like. But as we got closer to the end of the month, and I started using the same fonts in Canva to create my quote images and realizing the message I wanted to share with my readers, it really just came together.

Earlier this week, Crystal had use create a new Facebook and Twitter cover photo. Honestly, I was quite happy with my cover photo. So with a little resistance to the assignment, I created this cover photo:

My new Facebook cover photo

This is one of my favorite photos from our Compassion trip to Mexico. I just love all the joy filled smiley faces of these children. Because of the local church and faithful sponsors, the dreams of these children are being nurtured.

Creating this cover photo helped to realize I could create a printable that I know people who care about children would love. So, here is a FREE printable for you:

Click on the photo and you will be taken to my Google Drive to print this PDF file

Click on the photo and you will be taken to my Google Drive to print this PDF file