Sunday, November 13, 2011

Compassion International

Remember that time I had a blog? I feel like I'm always thinking 'as soon as I get through _____ I'll have time to breathe.' And then whatever I was working on is over and the next thing is right behind it. Thus completely ignoring the blog.

But that's not at all the point of this post. I have been surrounded by Compassion International lately. Our church church is extremely missions-oriented. They partner with Compassion and many, many others. Recently there was a woman who came and spoke at our church that was a Compassion child and now works in social services in Atlanta. It was extremely touching and she just couldn't say enough about how much she valued the people who sponsored her. My mom and sister went to El Salvador over the summer with Compassion and got to meet their Compassion family. The children (and families of the children) who are sponsored through Compassion are SO, so grateful. Our pastor went on one of many trips with them several years back and as soon as he entered the home of one family, they went and showed him an old microwave that they had painted and were using as storage in their house, and it was the place where they kept their letters from their Compassion sponsors. It was the first thing they showed him when he arrived, their most prized possession. The woman who spoke at our church said the same thing. She lived for letters from her sponsors.

This is Sterline.

Patrick and I have sponsored her for years now. We try to do a good job of writing her fairly regularly, but I really want to do a better job of writing more often. (Especially since Compassion now lets you send emails and upload pictures online to send to your sponsored child. I really have absolutely no excuse not to do it.) Sterline lives in Haiti, near Port Au Prince. Luckily, she lived through all the destruction in her area. Well ok, we know it's not luck, but we won't go there right now. That, again, is not the point of this. The things that gets me about Sterline is the things that she writes to us. When I look at our lives compared to hers, the difference is honestly ridiculous. When we think of things that are going on with us to write her about, if we think about it in the same way we would be sending an email to a friend, it's typically things like a vacation we recently went on, or updates we're making to our house, or Patrick is training for a marathon, or whatever. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things.

However, on our honeymoon, we sent her a postcard from Maui because we were thinking of her. She loved it and said it was beautiful. And that she had never seen the beach. Y'all. She lives in Haiti, which is an island. Not far from Port Au Prince, which is ON the water. And she has never seen the beach. She has never left her little village. She ended her letter by stating that her parents were having trouble getting work and then asked 'is there poverty in your country?'

Here's the thing. I don't think there's anything wrong with us telling her about our lives, the way they really are. I don't think that we're flaunting how wonderful our lives are to her, and I don't think she's ever felt that we are. I think she likes to hear about the things we do. I don't think she was trying to be rude when she ended a letter about our vacation asking if there was poverty in our country. She was 9. But of course she wonders that... of course she wonders how in the world there could be poverty in a country full of Americans who can afford to sponsor Compassion children and go on vacations. Of course she wonders that... when we give her money at Christmas, she uses it to buy rice. When I get gift cards or money of any kind, it's a given that it won't be used on a necessity. It's a gift. In my world, gifts are for luxuries. In hers, they are for eating.

Again, I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with us taking vacations or buying things or whatever. I don't think there's anything wrong with sharing things that excite us with our Compassion kids. But her description of her life, and her wonder at a vacation, is a sobering reminder of how much they need us. And when we think about how much money to give her for Christmas, or her birthday, or just in general, it's good to remember she's going to use it for food. And when I get an email asking if I'd like to consider visiting my Compassion child, and my first thought is that no, I really have no interest in visiting Haiti, it's a very good reminder that in fact it does not matter one bit whether I'd like to visit Haiti. It matters that I know it would change my life to see Sterline in her life. And the fact that her sponsors would come to Haiti to visit her would hopefully speak to her about how much she really does matter to us. That even though she is one of MANY children living in poverty in Haiti, she matters. In reality, we aren't just sponsoring Sterline. We're feeding her parents as well. When she needs medicine, it comes from Compassion. When she hears about Jesus, it comes from Compassion. She has stated in every last letter we have gotten from her that she is praying for us. We get updates every now and then about Sterline, and sometimes she is a 'below average' student. But she loves Jesus and she prays and that matters a LOT more than being an 'above average' student. I think I have a lot to learn from Sterline.

I know there's not a huge following on this blog, especially since I haven't used it in so long. But in case you stumble upon it, please PLEASE consider sponsoring a child through Compassion. There are so many kids waiting on sponsors. It's not terribly expensive, and many of them literally need it to survive. Everyone who has an experience with Compassion International reaffirms that they are doing amazing things around the world, and they are using their resources in the best way possible. It's a very well-respected organization. Please consider sponsoring, and if you do, please remember to write to your child.

And that is all! Maybe I'll blog again before 2013.