As far back as I can remember, volunteering in some capacity has played an important role in my life. The latest is one that has enlarged my heart’s capacity to truly love, empathize, and want to give in a way I’ve never known was possible.
Several years ago I felt a stirring in my heart to sponsor a child from a third world country. My love of children and desire to make a difference, even to just one, and to step outside of my “circle” and comfort zone, fueled that desire even more.
Having a tendency to be somewhat of a skeptic–not always a bad thing–led me to do some thorough research on organizations available. That research led me to sponsor through Compassion International whose focus is on the spiritual, physical, social and educational needs of a child.
I could speak volumes on how wonderful the program is, but what I want to focus on here, on Thankful Thursday, is how grateful I am to participate in this program and in the lives of these precious children. What began as sponsoring one child has progressed into sponsoring three.
The financial contributions each month are a very small price to pay for what I get in return. And it makes my heart swell with gratitude to have the means to be able to reach out and help others. However, it is the written correspondence with the kids that enriches my life beyond my wildest dreams.
To receive a letter with a school report card enclosed, the pictures their little hands took the time to draw for me, to hear how they spent their birthday and receive a photo of them with the presents they bought with their birthday money (usually beans, rice, flour, and shoes or pants) makes me realize not only how financially blessed we are here, but how spiritually rich these children are.
And when they tell me what they’re learning through their Compassion studies, their favorite Bible verse and that they are praying for me… Wow! They’re praying for me?! It brings tears to my eyes. And I close my eyes and give them a hug in my mind. Circling them in arms of love and joy. And immense gratitude.
Here is a brief overview of the children who have changed not only my life, but my heart. Who have taught me the meaning of true richness.
The first child I sponsored is Amede from Togo, Africa. This sweet boy is now 7 years old and in first grade. Homes in his vicinity are typically made with dirt floors, mud/earth/clay/adobe walls, and roofs of leaves, grass or thatch. Amede loves to play soccer. 39% of the families in Togo live on less than $1.25/day.
The second child I added to our family is Alex who lives in Tanzania, Africa. Alex is 13 years old and in 6th grade. He lives only with his mother, as his father has died. Life expectancy is low due to HIV/AIDS and malaria. Homes in Alex’s area have floors made from brick, block, or cement, walls of mud, and roofs of tin or corrugated iron. Alex loves to play soccer and draw cars. Here, 58% of the population live below $1.00/day.
Then there is my latest addition, my sweet Mamounata from Burkina Faso, Africa, who is 8 years old, in second grade, and loves to draw. Homes where this precious child is from typically have floors of dirt, walls of mud, and roofs of tin or corrugated iron. 57% of the families live on less than $1.25/day. Every 30 seconds a child in Burkina Faso dies of malaria.
I truly believe God led me to these beautiful children not only to help them get the food and water, medical help and vaccinations, and education I can help provide, but to teach me the real meaning of love and wealth. Of what it means to truly give of oneself. Because these children give me more than I could have ever imagined.
I truly am so thankful. And beyond blessed.
All is Grace.