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