Saturday, January 26, 2008

Compassion International

From 1993 to 2005, we sponsored a little girl from Ecuador named Gabriela, through Compassion International. This is an organization that helps low-income children by providing vitamins, health care and education, including Christian teaching. They are supported by donations from people like you and me.

We'd always wanted to do something like this, but were wary of it, not knowing how the money was actually being spent. After much research, we decided that we'd give our money through Compassion. We've not been sorry.

Gabriela was our first experience with this, and we were her only sponsor until she graduated from high school. At that time, she was no longer eligible to be sponsored. The only regret I have is that we are not permitted to have personal contact with any child we sponsor, once they graduate from the program. We do still pray for her though.

The highlight of our years of sponsorship came in 1994, when I was able to meet Gabriela in person. We'd had an exchange student from Ecuador living with us during the 1993-94 school year and in December after she'd returned home the previous June, I flew to Quito, the capital city where she lived. I enjoyed nearly three weeks there with Karina and her family and I'm indebted to them for making it possible for me to meet Gabriela.

The drive from Quito to Guayaquil, where Gabriela lived, was a long one, taking us eight hours to make the trip. While it's not so far in miles, much of the terrain was through the Andes mountains, making for some slow going.
We met Gabriela in the lobby of a hotel in downtown Guayaquil and it was tearfully happy meeting. Small for her age, I scooped her up in my arms and we gave each other a big hug. She spoke no English at all, but I had brushed up on my Spanish enough that we were able to communicate. The Compassion representative was also there to help when translation was necessary.

No translation was needed, however, when Gabriela and I discovered that we knew one of the same songs. With tears streaming down my face, Gabriela sat on my lap and we sang "Jesus Loves Me" in unison - she in Spanish and me in English. I really can't describe how that felt to be united with her in that way.

It was a beautiful day and we walked through the park, marveling at the giant iguanas and the gorgeous flowers. There was an amusement park nearby where Gabriela was happy to ride a few rides before we took a taxi to her house. There, I was amazed at the living conditions and how very little in the way of material things her family had. Yet, here was a happy little girl who was loved very much. She had all she really needed. I learned a lot that day.

We have a new child to sponsor now. Maria Belen is also from Ecuador and perhaps I'll have the opportunity to meet her as well. Karina and her husband still live in Quito and I hope to be able to visit them there in the next few years.

A new letter arrived yesterday from Belen's mother. Belen isn't old enough to write them herself, so her mother does it for her. It was the same with Gabriela until she was able to write to us herself. The letters always come translated, although most of the time I'm able to understand them myself. My spoken Spanish, however, has deteriorated to the point of being useless, unfortunately.

We keep Belen's picture on the front of our refrigerator so that we see it daily and are reminded of the responsibility we have towards her. Not only will she benefit from our financial help, but God hears our prayers for her. We believe He is blessing her through our sharing what God has given to us.


Visit Compassion International.


Earth Girl said...

What a beautiful post, especially that moment of singing with Gabriela.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

It is wonderful that you actually got to meet Gabriela. How very kind a compassionate of you both to do this.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have often wondered if these outfits were scams. It is wonderful that you can help someone like this. And to get to meet her is very special. Good luck to your new daughter of compassion.

Nancy J. Bond said...

You are very fortunate to have met your sponsored child. We sponsored two children from Columbia through Foster Parents Plan years ago -- sisters, one at a time. It was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done and I still have drawings and letters from them. I would love to have met them.

Shady Gardener said...

What a wonderful opportunity and memory you have made for all of you, having actually been able to meet.

I, too, have sponsored children through Compassion, Int. for a number of years. At this time, there are two in Bolivia. It's such a blessing to be able to participate in this way, knowing that nearly all your $ goes directly to the children.

A heart-warming post :-)

Kylee Baumle said...

Earth Girl ~ That moment was just so amazing, and we have it on video! Gabriela was as happy as I was.

Robin ~ It's really such a little thing, but it means so much to those kids.

Lisa ~ I think that thought goes through all of our minds when we consider doing something like this. It's too bad that so many organizations have made it tougher for the good ones.

Nancy ~ Sisters! That's wonderful! I wish you'd been able to meet them, too. It really makes it all real. You can see pictures but to see with your own eyes really speaks to you in a whole new way.

Shady Gardener ~ It's really special, isn't it? I hope you get to meet one or both of them someday!

David said...

That really is a great way to share some of what you've been given. I often wonder why I've been given so much and other people so little; I think that the gifts come with a responsibility to share. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

hi kylee, this was wonderful to read on a dreary, rainy day. thank you!

Shady Gardener said...

It would be a wonderful experience, should we be able to meet. Perhaps someday. :-)

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