Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guatemala - Part 3, Maribel

This is Maribel, the young girl we sponsor in Guatemala through Compassion International!

We have been sponsors for years through Compassion.   We have sent our money, written faithfully, and enjoyed hearing from our sponsored children.  Compassion has always encouraged sponsors to visit their children, but until now, the "why" did not seem so important.

When you meet your sponsored child, you naturally expect there to be a level of joy, but we were unprepared for the love we would feel immidiately for her and her family.  The first day meeting, we were able to attend a church service with Maribel and I just sat and smiled, overwhelmed with the fact that I was sitting there with my daughter on one side and her on the other.  Our second day together was spent at a local water park.  The girls got to swim, we all (Maribel came with her sister) ate lunch together and then got ice-cream, we exchanged gifts, chatted about life and had a marvelous time!  The love, joy and thankfulness that they showered back on us was indescribable.  It was a day and an experience that I, and hopefully my daughter, will never forget!  The hugs, the smiles, the timid speech back and forth with translation in between, the prayer of blessing over her family, and the tears goodbye.

After meeting Maribel, I can honestly say that our letter writing will definitely be much more personal!  I have seen first-hand the incredible bond that is formed between child and sponsor.  It is much more than money.  The children appreciate the care and opportunities your sponsorship provides them at the centers, but the relationship with and letters from their sponsors are their prize possessions!  As a Compassion Advocate, if there was one message I could convey it would be to write, write, write your child and begin saving now to go meet them some time in the near future!  It will change your life and theirs!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Guatemala - Part 2, The People

I can sum up my view of the people we met in Guatemala in one sentence...They were fabulous!  We were overwhelmed by the beauty of the children, love they showed us, the gratitude and blessings they bestowed on us, their obvious love for the Lord, and their pride and joy for Compassion and the hope it offers them!  We were a little disconcerted in the beginning, by their show of gratitude to us.  We were so grateful to them for sharing part of their lives with us and felt we had not done anything deserving of the honor they were showing us.  When we asked our "Guatemala Queen," Sandra (aka trip leader), she shared with us why.  Because of Compassion, the children here in San Marcos have hope for a future.  You are the face of Compassion and the face of their sponsors.  This is a way for them to show their gratitude for what the Lord, Compassion, and the finanacial and emotional support of their sponsors has given them!  You especially represent their sponsors.  To them, their sponsor is a member of their family!

Needless to say, the time spent with the children in Guatemala was priceless!  The morning we walked into our first center, they welcomed us with applause, and song!  Outside waited a band made up of children from the 11 different centers in the San Marcos area.  What followed was a parade through the streets, leading to the town center and the start of their 2-day sporting games!  We thoroughly enjoyed walking in the parade and were overwhelmed when they played our national anthem and displayed our American flag at their opening ceremonies for the first time ever!  We had a blast participating in and watching the 2-day sports spectacular!  The children played so hard, were such good sports, and had a blast!  We even got to try and teach some of them some Ultimate Frisbee and American football! :)

At the second center, we got to work in their bakery (a small room on the street with a table and a stove), where they are teaching the children some life skills for their future.  We also got to visit some homes of the children from the center, worship with them in a church service, and participate in a talent show that showcased singing, drama, musical instruments, mime, etc, all performed by children from the various centers!  We even performed a little interpretive movement ourselves!  It is something we will never forget!

I can truely say we fell in love with these people!  They have such a heart for the Gospel and for the children and families in their communities.  The pastors and directors of these 11 centers have crossed cultural divides and joined together for the benefit of the children and they are seeing amazing results!  One comment that really struck me and that I heard a couple of times during our week, was..."You can tell a Compassion kid just by looking at them.  It's in their eyes, their behavior, and the way they carry themselves."  What an amazing testimony to the work of Compassion and these local churches and centers who are fighting this battle over poverty and lost souls and standing in the gap!  Their passion and sacrifice inspires me!