Living With Compassion

 

Live Simply

If there’s one thing that can turn a bad day into a good one every single time it’s connecting with my Compassion kiddos. I can be having a terrible day at work, but if at the end of that day I come home to find a letter from one of my three kids in the mailbox, it’s like the dawning of a new and better day. I learn so much from them on how to be thankful for the smallest things in life, about praying for one another and asking for prayer for our families, and that less truly is often more.

I look at today’s kids with cell phones in kindergarten, people of all ages texting or otherwise immersed in phone or computer games and social media instead of connecting with one another in person and it makes my heart heavy. Trust me, there is no judging going on here. Me, my children and my grandchildren are all active participants of this movement. But it saddens me, nonetheless, to see that we’re moving away from personal contact with others, from living relationships with others, to cyber relationships.

I watch as we in this country become so obsessed with things, when my Compassion kiddos are simply trying to stay fed and clothed. And yet they’re happier and richer than anyone else I know. One of my kids, Alex Mandari, from Tanzania sent me a letter last week thanking me for his birthday money. With it he bought clothes, shoes and food. Buying all that with the small amount I sent him shows me he’s a master at making the most of a dollar. He tells me what he learns at the Compassion Center on Saturdays, about the goodness of God, how it’s important to listen to Him, and tells me every time he writes that he’s praying for me and my family. He’s a fifteen year old boy going on fifty in terms of wisdom and life lessons.

I began my sponsorship with these three angels wanting to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. To share what I have with those who have not. However, what happened is that they are the ones who daily make a difference in my life. They teach me about faith, unconditional love, and the power of prayer. They teach me that giving is a gift to the giver. They give to me of their lives, their worlds, their enthusiasm and zest for life, and the best part of humanity I could ever hope to experience. They aren’t just my sponsor kids, they’re part my family. And I’m so richly blessed!

Alex M. Amede Mamounata

Alex, Tanzania, 15                         Amede, Togo, 8                      Mamounata, Burkina Faso, 10

I have come across criticism a time or two for sponsoring outside of my country when we have so much need here. My answer is that thank goodness there are so many people with so many different interests. My answer is that it doesn’t matter where you give and who you give to, only that we give to each other. My passion lies with these three children and the people who make up their worlds, and also the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’m so fortunate to have these passions laid upon my heart.

I would love to hear how you volunteer your time and support others and to hear how it has enriched your life, the giver of self, time and finances. It has paid me back far beyond what I’ve expended. 🙂

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

Carpe Diem

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

Thankful

My top three for the week:

3.)  My faith giving me confidence that my dear friend Guy is home with Jesus after a long, brutal struggle with liver cancer. He’s home and free.

2.)  Amazing friends who make the journey of life so much sweeter.

1.)  Unhurried time and conversation with each of my boys individually, talking about anything and everything, as laughter and hugs abound. I’m so blessed to have my boys! They are so good to their mama. 🙂

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“The most beautiful necklace a mother can wear is not gold or gem, but her child’s arms around her neck.” –Author Unknown

What tops your list for the week?

 

“M” is for…

Mamounata.  And Alex and Amede.

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These three precious children have changed my life. They’ve taken me out of my own self-centeredness by sharing their lives with me.

Mamaounata is 9 years old, from Burkina Faso, and likes dolls and group games; Alex is 14, from Tanzania, and likes soccer and singing; and Amede is 8, from Togo, and likes soccer and group games.

Before I had begun sponsoring these kiddos, I had been praying for some time that God lead me to an area in which He wanted me to serve. A way to serve that would glorify and honor Him in the way that would make the biggest difference to His children.

And He led me to Compassion International, where I looked at these three angels and my heart was so deeply filled with a need to love them, that I knew it was right.

Sponsoring them has been such a gift and a blessing, receiving their letters in my mailbox turning a difficult day to one of gratitude. Hearing that they are praying for me? Wow! Reading that they bought clothes, rice and beans with the birthday money I’ve sent them? Again, Wow!  They tell me their favorite bible verses, what they’re doing in school, who their best friends are, ask me how my family is and that they pray for me, they draw me pictures, and on and on. The blessings are endless.

I have had people ask me why I choose to help children in another country when we have so much need right here in our own. To that I say “Each of us is called to serve in our own unique way.  I was called to this, and it’s not for me to say ‘No.'” As long as each of us is serving in some way, helping in some area of need, the world will be a much better place.

Being of service isn’t time taken from us, it’s life given.  Giving to those in need isn’t giving money away, it’s an investment.  For me, there is no better investment than investing in the life of a child. And I have so much life to live and so much more investing to do.

albert-schweitzer-quote-service

Peace.

An Opportunity to Pray

Prayer
Last Saturday I worked an event for Compassion International in a for a movie showing of Son of God. My duties were to show up an hour early to set up the display and hand out information cards to all movie goers as they entered the theater and then display child sponsorship cards as they exited. During the movie, I was able to sit and watch with the rest of them, and it was the best portrayal of the story of Jesus I believe I’ve ever seen. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

But I digress…

As I was handing out the cards before the movie, one man looked at it and asked, “What is this?” After I gave him a very brief explanation, he handed the card back and said, “I can’t even afford my own kids. Thank God for the complimentary tickets.” Initially I was taken aback, but it quickly turned to compassion for this man. Thank God, indeed. His statement demonstrated such humility. And, yes, thank God he received a complimentary ticket so he would be able to share the story of Jesus with his children.

I had an opportunity to pray for that man, and for the others as they accepted the card I handed each of them. I prayed that God would speak to each individual heart in that theater as only He knows what each needs most.

I had another man tell me the people coming in behind him were atheist. My answer? “Wonderful!” with a broad smile. “Welcome!” And another prayer sent up to a loving Father who welcomes all.

After the movie, as I was displaying child sponsorship packets, I had an opportunity to speak with others who already sponsor a child. One woman told me of her trip to Tanzania to visit her sponsored child. As she spoke of the poverty, a level she admitted she was nowhere near able to comprehend or prepare for, her eyes lit up as she told me what a life-changing experience it was.

As I drove the 45-minute drive home, I had time to consider the opportunities that were given to me that evening to pray. As if I need an opportunity at all.

And it struck me that as I was praying for God to speak to each heart in that theater, he didn’t miss mine. He spoke to me in a way He knew I would hear.

He blessed me as I reached out to bless others.

He showed me that there are so many areas to serve, and no one way is the right way. As many people as there are, there are at least as many ways to serve.

The man who admitted he couldn’t afford his own children? He served by blessing me with gratitude for what I have. He reminded me to be grateful for what I have rather than want what I don’t.

The atheist? He served by giving me a chance to love without discriminating. To accept and not judge. And to be welcoming rather than drive him away. The fact that he was coming to see the movie Son of God? Beautiful.

The woman who spoke to me of her life-changing experience in Tanzania? She served by moving forward, if only an inch, the recent plea of one of my sponsor children of when I will come visit her. My sweet Mamounata in Burkina Faso. And that inch is one inch closer to making a child’s dream come true.

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Peace.