Spreading a Little Neighborly Love

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share with my church family about my most recent Compassion Sponsor Trip to Colombia last month. Here is what I shared:

“Many of you know that I went to Colombia last month on a trip with Compassion International. Many of you prayed for me and our team of travelers. I want to thank you all for your prayers!

 So today, I want to share three things that stood out to me on this trip.

Playing with Snapchat filters at a Compassion project in Colombia

1.    The first church we visited in Bogota is a church that has been a Compassion partner church for some time. They are now at a point that they only have sponsored children that are ages 16 to 22. The day that we visited this church though, the church was filled with children of all ages. Because Compassion provided resources and training to the local church, they have become equipped to serve the children and their families in their community on a daily basis. Eventually, there will be no more Compassion sponsored children at this church and that is a good thing!


On the day we were there, I loved watching the kids that were taking some music theory classes and learning how to play the drums. This little guy in the video even played the drums during the worship service we attended the next day.

Reunited with Lina in Colombia on a Compassion trip

2.    On a sponsor trip, we have a day set aside that we spend the day with the child we sponsor. On this trip, we went to a park south of Bogota. This park is nothing like Disneyland, but most of these kids have never been outside their community. Since I met Lina on my last trip to Colombia four years ago, I was really looking forward to seeing her again! We had a really great day together, but at the end of the trip, while we were walking out of the park, she was prompted to talk to me. She told me she wants to study early child development, but her family does not have the money to put her through the schooling. After some time talking with her (through my translator) and encouraging her, I was able to talk with my trip leader and they are going to see if there are any funds available for Lina to be part of the Youth Development Program. This is a program set up to provide additional training and education past secondary school for Compassion sponsored children who qualify. I would love for you all to be praying that Lina is accepted into this program!

Before I share the third thing from my trip, there is another short video for you all to watch:

3.    The conductor of this orchestra is Juan. Juan grew up as a Compassion sponsored child in Colombia. He was able to go to school, he was able to have enough food to eat, he was able to learn about Jesus. Now he is a worship leader at his church, he gives music lessons, he was a translator on our trip, and he has been leading this group of musicians, who at the time of this video, had only been practicing together for a month. He was given hope and an opportunity.

Spreading a Little Neighborly Love

These Compassion children all are just looking for one person to give them the hope to escape the poverty they were born into. The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is enough.


If you have ever thought about sponsoring a child through Compassion, I would be happy to answer any questions for you and help you release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name. Thank you!!”

So what does all of this have to do with spreading a little neighborly love?

These brothers and sisters in Christ who I met on this trip are being the hands and feet of Jesus and helping more children know about the gospel and God’s love for them.

Sponsors around the world are being the hands and feet of Jesus by encouraging and praying for their Compassion sponsored children.

Some of you will read this and not be ready to sponsor a Compassion child.

Can I ask that you consider doing one thing this month?

Do you have $18 that you can donate right now?

Make a donation to Compassion’s Malaria Intervention Fund.

Over 50 years ago, your neighbor, here in the United States, might have contracted malaria and died.

Today, children in many parts of our world die from malaria.

A simple insecticide treated net can help provide protection from this deadly disease.

Will you spread a little neighborly love and make a donation today?

Colombia Day Six: Our Final Day

Our final day in Colombia was spent at a church with the most energetic, passionate pastor I have ever met. Here is a video of his sharing with our group at the end of our day together:

So you know if he had this much energy at the end of our day together, you can just imagine how much energy he had at the beginning of our day!

Our day at this center started like many other center visits with presentations by the children. But I don't believe any of us were prepared for this (be sure to have kleenex handy...):

I know you may want to pass over the video, but don't...it is one of the most precious things I have ever watched.

Yes, God is in this city in Colombia.

And He is in many more cities just like this one.

In many more communities and countries around our world.

He is waiting for His people to do His work to share with His children just how much they are loved by Him.

I am not saying that you need to sponsor a Compassion child. 

Sweet little girl Compassion Colombia

But if you have ever felt that tug at your heart...

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
— https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+58%3A6-10&version=ESV

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.


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 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.