Colombia Day Five: Meeting Lina

The night before our planned Fun Day with our sponsored children, we received quite a surprise! Becca, one of our awesome trip leaders was praying at the end of our evening together at the hotel. She was kind of taking her time too. Imagine our surprise when we opened our eyes and saw a big group of children in the front of the room...it was all of our sponsored kids!!!!! I immediately jumped up from my chair, my chair fell backwards, so I turned around to pick it up. By the time I stood back up and looked around, there was a beautiful young lady standing next to me. And I knew exactly who it was!!

Meeting my sponsored child Lina in Colombia

There are no words to describe this moment...none at all! How do you put into words the moment of meeting someone you have loved from miles away, someone you have prayed for, someone you have exchanged letters with, someone you never thought it would be possible to meet in this life?

We didn't have long to spend with the kids at this initial meeting, but it sure helped to alleviate some of the nervousness that we had been experiencing about the next day.

Our fun day with our sponsored children was spent at a water park near the coast of Barranquilla, Colombia. I really didn't take a lot of pictures this day because we spent a lot of time in the water! Lina had never traveled outside of her community, so she had never been to the coast of her country. This was her very first time to the Caribbean Sea!!

Angelica (the center director from Lina's project), me, and Lina loving our day at the beach!

Angelica (the center director from Lina's project), me, and Lina loving our day at the beach!

Me, Lina, and Mauricio (our translator)

Me, Lina, and Mauricio (our translator)

Even though we spent a lot of time in the water, we still had time to talk quite a bit.

I learned that Lina almost left the program before we started sponsoring her. Her previous sponsor didn't send her any letters. Angelica told me that when the letters we sent to Lina when we started sponsoring her made a big difference in Lina's life.

Did you hear that?

Letters...a few words written on a page to encourage a young girl who lives thousands of miles away from us.

They.made.a.difference.

The thing is though...not only have those letters made a difference in Lina's life...they have made a difference in my life.

Almost every month, I set aside time to write letters to our Compassion sponsored kids. I don't write really long letters.

But in each letter I share a Bible verse and remind these kids that God loves them.

Doesn't it make you feel good when someone reminds you that God loves you?

Maybe if my words don't convince you that child sponsorship works, maybe this will:

Are you ready to make a difference in the life of a child living in extreme poverty in Jesus' name?

Explore Their World Printable

When we first started sponsoring a Compassion child in Colombia five years ago, we were eager to learn more about that country. 

Learning about Colombia

We found Colombia on the globe and read more about the country where our sponsored child lives. As we were learning about Colombia, I thought this would be a great way to learn more about all of the countries where Compassion is working.

Compassion Colombia Facts

I created a pretty simple printable for us to discover more about each of the countries where Compassion is working through the local churches to release children from poverty in Jesus' name. Since that time, I have been wanting to create something to share with others to help them on their own journey to help educate their children about the countries where Compassion is making a difference.

With help from my creative husband for adding the fun doodles, I now have an Explore Their World Printable to share with you! By clicking on the above image, you can access this printable to use with your own family.

In the future, I hope to add a few more printable images covering a few other topics to help your family build a relationship with your sponsored child. Enjoy exploring!

Our First Launch

When your children are little, many older moms always tell you to enjoy the moments you have with your children because the time goes quickly.

My children playing pirates

The days turn into months, and the months turn into years. After all the good times and hard times, you finally arrive at that moment.

You know the one, the moment when your first child is ready to leave home.

Working at the Compassion Mobile Experience

Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to volunteer at many Compassion events. Concerts, conferences, and the Mobile Experience, Matthew has graciously come along side me to be my traveling companion.

Then, an incredible opportunity came about for Matthew. One that would give him an opportunity to travel around the country, and be a part of making a difference in the lives of children waiting for sponsors with Compassion.

Matthew heading to Nashville

On Sunday, we dropped Matthew off at the airport so he could fly out to his new job! He is now employed at Brewco Marketing Group as a Brand Ambassador for Compassion with their Mobile Experience!

I am over the top excited for him, but I have definitely had some weeping moments over the last couple of days. So much of my life has been poured into my children. I am not sure if there is anything that anyone can say or do that makes this any easier.

But I do know one thing...I completely trust in the Lord that this is His plan for Matthew at this point of his life. As much as we will miss him while he is not in our home, we know that he is going to be making a huge difference in the lives of many children around the world.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

Colombia Day Four: Building for the Future

When working at Compassion events, a couple  of the most frequently asked questions are 'How much of the money is going to the children?' and 'What is the difference between the $38 per month and the $45 per month option?'

Having traveled with Compassion twice now, I have seen firsthand that the 'at least 80% of each $38 per month' is making a difference the lives of many children. Children are being clothed, children are being fed, children are receiving medical attention, children are being tutored, and children are learning that Jesus is their Savior.

But what about that extra $7 per month? Often at an event, we share with potential sponsors that the extra $7 they can contribute goes toward disaster relief, malaria prevention, medical needs, and other priorities in the country where their sponsored child lives.

On this trip to Colombia, our group was able to see how one project used the funds from this 'extra $7 per month' for the benefit of many children in their community.

David, my greeter at this Compassion project

When we arrived at this center, we each had our own personal greeter. David was my greeter (I just love his hair!) I have to tell you, these centers really go out of their way to make each one of us feel so special. In a way, I feel like a representative for many sponsors when I have been blessed to go on these trips. Which is one reason why I love to share my photos and experiences with you.

After our initial greeting, we split up into groups to spend time in the classes with the children. But before we got to the classroom, this pretty much stopped each one of us...

Sponsors names on the wall of this Compassion project

...wait a minute...those are our names on the wall! We were all overwhelmed that this church and these children would be so excited about our visit that they would spend the time to remember us this way! Wow!

So, our little group spent time with the little guys. The kids in our group were pretty quiet to begin with. The teacher handed out some plasticine (modeling clay) to each of the children. And a couple people in our group did a bit of face painting on the children.

Compassion Colombia sponsor tour
Compassion Colombia sponsor tour

Soon, most of the children started warming up to us. But little Angelica, oh! She ended up being a delightful chatty little one!

Angelica, she loved making animal sounds for us

I noticed there was an ark painted on the wall of the classroom, so we started asking the kids what sounds the animals made. Angelica spoke in such rapid Spanish and she made many animal sounds. She was such a delightful and energetic young lady!

Compassion sponsors covered in stickers

Before we left the classroom to prepare for serving the children lunch, the kids covered us with stickers. And yes, we kept them on for most of the day!

Lunch duty at this Compassion center

We had quite an assembly line going serving up food and washing dishes to feed the children in shifts. It was quite hilarious at times (and warm with all of our serving gear on!)

One of our fearless Compassion tour leaders

And if you ever let someone else use your camera while on a trip, you never know what you might find on your memory card when you get home!

Complementary Interventions Funds in use

After lunch, the staff and volunteers shared with us one way they were able to apply for and use some of the Complementary Intervention Funds. Basically, that extra $7 per month that I talked about earlier in this post.

Finished Complementary Intervention Fund Project

The staff showed us a binder filled with applications, receipts, and many forms that were necessary for them to apply to have some of the Complementary Intervention Funds available to help them build onto their existing building to add more classroom space and another bathroom. Many community members came alongside the church to help with the building process. So this was truly a community project to help build the future for many more children in this community. More children will come to know Jesus because this church, and this community see the importance of investing in the children.

Thanks to Cassandra for this photo!

Thanks to Cassandra for this photo!

Before we left this project, the staff and volunteers painted our hands so we could each leave a handprint on the wall.

Pieces of my heart left in Colombia

I don't think any of us realize how much love we have to give until we leave bits and pieces of it on these trips. Praying that one day I will have the opportunity to go back to this center and love on these children and this church body again.

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.