Compassion by the Numbers

For the past four and a half years, I have been serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for Compassion events in Northern California. In this role, I do a lot of behind the scenes activities to make sure that there is volunteer coverage at all events in Northern California where the Compassion sponsorship opportunity is being presented. This could be any number of events: conferences, concerts, Compassion Experience events, etc.

Our region can be extremely busy!

Over the last six months, I learned that we had 19 events in our region.

For these 19 events, we had 449 volunteers.

At these 19 events with these 449 volunteers, 1293 Compassion children were sponsored!!

What? Say that again!

Compassion children sponsored at events in Northern California so far in 2019

One thousand, two hundred, ninety three children!

That is basically FIVE Compassion centers of children!!

Compassion children in Colombia

But the thing I love about Compassion, it is not about the big numbers.

When one child is sponsored, it changes that one child’s life.

That child will have their basic needs met.

That child will learn about how much Jesus loves them.

And when that one child decides to follow Jesus, it impacts them for eternity.

When we look at the overall issue of global poverty, we can feel stuck.

Compassion is helping each one of us tackle global poverty, one child at a time.

I would love for everyone who takes the time to read my blog to sponsor a Compassion child.

Will you sponsor a waiting Compassion child today?

All About Me

Are you a new Compassion sponsor? Or have you added a new sponsored child to your family?

One of the first letters we receive from our Compassion sponsored children is an "All About Me" page where they share some of their favorite things. I loved receiving Emerson's first letter this past week. Emerson is our newest Compassion child. We added him to our Compassion family when I was in El Salvador in February. I didn't have a chance to meet him while I was there, but I am looking forward to getting to know him through letter writing.

Emerson from El Salvador

In his letter he shared that his favorite game is soccer, his favorite food is beef and chicken, and his favorite color is blue.

So I thought, what if I create a page sharing some of my favorite things to send to him?

Using Canva, I created this page to send to Emerson:

All About Me page

The page was fairly easy to create. I chose a background and selected a color that I liked. Then I started adding boxes and changed the opacity so the boxes ended up being a light blue. Next, I added photos and text to the boxes with some of my favorite things. Then I saved the creation as a jpeg which makes it easy to add to an online Compassion letter.

When you write a letter or send a card to your sponsored child, you can upload a full page 'photo' like this to your letter or card. 

Our sponsored children want to know more about us and what are lives are like where we live. I sure hope Emerson enjoys learning some of these things about me.

What have you shared with your sponsored child lately?

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 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.


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?

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.

My First Post Visit Letter

It has been just over a month now since my Compassion trip to Colombia, and I have been hesitating to write that first post visit letter to Lina.

I was eager to upload and print out photos of my trip to mail to her, they have been here on my desk for at least a couple of weeks now.

So why has it taken me so long to write that first letter?

When I sat down at the table to start that letter and started looking at the photos of my time with Lina, the tears started falling down my cheeks.

Spending time with my Compassion child in Colombia

How do you even express in words what a trip like this means?

We had such a precious time together. I learned more things about Lina that I wouldn't have known if I hadn't made the trip. Precious things that fill my heart with so much joy!

But I also learned a couple of things that will keep me in continually prayer for her.

So what did I write to her? I told her I was so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to travel to Colombia to meet her. I asked her to thank her family for the sweet gifts and for allowing her to travel to meet me. Also, I asked her to thank her travel companion who chaperoned her on her very first airplane rides! 

Most of all, I reminded her that God loves her more than anyone and He has a plan for her. This is the most important thing I can share with each one of our Compassion children, each and every time I write to them.