Cuteness from Columbia!

While it has been some time since we last updated everyone here, we had to come and share our latest letter from Kevin in Columbia! We plan to update our children’s pictures in the sidebar soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this cuteness!

 

Dear Andy and Miranda,

Hello dear sponsors and Dusty (the first time any of our children have greeted our cat by name!)! I hope you are fine!

I tell you that we celebrated Christmas in this CDC with games, songs, rounds for children and a special service. The food we had in this celebration was broasted chicken, French fries and soda. I spent my holidays at home taking outings to the park and playing with my friends and sharing with my family.

Tell me: How have you been? Did my sponsor Andy already get a job? Congratulations on your 10th anniversary! I am really happy for this celebration. Thank you for sharing this celebration with me and for your care and dedication to me!

The Bible verse for you is, Psalm 25:2

Kevin

Kevin drew us a picture.

It is of an airplane that is colored red, white and blue and has an American Flag attached to the tail. It says, “I fly to visit my sponsor and Dusty!”

Oh my! I just cannot contain the cuteness! Have you received any letters recently that just made your heart melt? We would love to hear about them!

A Week of Bittersweet Goodbyes

 

 

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

This is not the first time we have loved and lost, but that still does not lessen the ache. Just two weeks ago, I wrote our Compassion International children’s long-awaited update letters. Her letter was the last to be sent…

This week though, as I obsessively counted our children on the Compassion website, something was not right. I counted again… We were missing someone. Out of all of them, why did it have to be her?

I fought back tears and sudden breath-taking panic as I spit out the heart-wrenching words no sponsor wants to repeat as if they were grains of sand stuck helplessly in my mouth. “Um, we’re missing someone… She’s gone…” Andy knew exactly who, without me even mentioning her name, because my husband is just like that. He also knows me enough to know that I would not handle the ensuing phone call well, so without questions he picked up the phone.

Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, our precious Kate is no longer part of Compassion International’s program. We welcomed Kate into our Compassion family after watching the above video in May of 2009. After five beautiful years, her frequent and affectionate letters and words of love will be dearly missed.

 

That was Monday…

On Wednesday, after some tears and moments of raw vulnerability, we received an unexpected phone call…

 

In April of 2012, I needed a reason to continue teaching voice lessons beyond myself. Naturally, my reason came through an addition to our ever-growing Compassion family. His name is Miguel.

 

I came home from running errands this past Wednesday to Andy saying, “I received a call from Compassion today…”

Miguel was not supposed to graduate from Compassion’s program until 2016, but he apparently has the motivation I have lacked this past semester. While I counted down the days until my Christmas break began on December 12, Miguel completed two years of college in just one-year’s time! Therefore, he will be graduating in 2015—a year earlier than expected!

Thank you precious son for giving your sponsor mom and dad a few months of forewarning, and please know that we are so very proud of you!

 

As I shared with a friend recently, this is kind of like being a foster parent. While many are afraid to be attached to their foster children, anyone who has ever loved one of these precious ones will tell you that attachment is what they so desperately need. Child sponsorship is similar, in that it is easy and equally important to become attached, no matter how long God places these children in our path. For us, I can say that the blessings far outweigh the losses, and we truly reap the benefits maybe more than we even know. So, while this has been a week of bittersweet goodbyes and goodbyes-to-come, we rest in the knowledge that every word written, tear shed, prayer lifted, and penny spent is more than worth the price. We have loved and we have lost, and we plan to continue doing so as long as the Lord allows.

 

In honor of our precious Kate and Miguel, would you prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these Sunday’s special children?

Uganda

Uganda…

We first really learned about this beautiful country in Africa after connecting with a pastor who is serving in the capital of Kampala.

Uganda…

In honor of our new pastor friend, this is where we chose one of our first correspondence children through Compassion International.

Uganda…

This is where the Compassion bloggers were five years ago, and where they are again this week celebrating five years of blogging that changes lives. I mean, it really changes lives. These bloggers are:

Learning lessons about writing and life

Writing about a boy and his best friend

Sharing what Grace really looks like

Sharing how we can help to end slavery and

Reaching around the world through the World Wide Web to encourage sponsors like you and me

 

Wait, you are not a sponsor yet?

 

No worries. You can join us in releasing Uganda’s children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Be sure to follow and support the bloggers as they finish their week in Uganda and beyond.

Day 18: Take a prayer trip across the world

Welcome to day 18 of our 31 days of compassion. Today, we want to take you on a trip, and you can choose your destination from 26 countries throughout Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Asia. You can even travel to specific regions of your chosen country, such as the northwestern region of the Dominican Republic, the Amazon region of Ecuador, the rural region of Kenya, or the central region of Thailand. You do not need an airplane to take this trip. You just need some time and the willingness to pray for the people you will learn so much about.

 

When choosing your country and/or region, ask yourself these questions:

 

• Has the Lord placed a specific country or people group on my heart?

• Do I have a connection to someone in a specific country or region?

• Is there a culture I have always wanted to learn more about?

 

Where did you choose to travel today? What did you learn about the country and/or region you visited and its beautiful people? What were you led to pray for these people in response to your exploration? Please share your experience in the comments, and encourage others to travel across the world and pray for those they meet along the way.

 

31 Days of Compassion

I have glimpsed the truth

It was a cool October afternoon as we sat at the table enjoying lunch. This was Andy’s birthday, and we were spending it at our first-ever Compassion advocates gathering. We had been blessed to lead worship and the songs of worship and “Happy Birthday” still rang in my ears.

 

She approached our table and introduced herself. Amidst the other voices in the room, I barely noticed her accent, but what she said next I will never forget. “I am a formerly sponsored child.” I was blessed into seconds of stunned silence as I franticly tried to collect the questions, thoughts, and emotions fighting to burst forth from within. Looking back now, I do not remember my exact response, but I feel it was pitifully inadequate compared to what I should have said. If I could relive that experience, my first-ever experience of meeting a formerly sponsored child, this is what I would say.

 

Thank you

 

• Thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me, and letting me know hope is possible.

• Thank you for helping me to believe that our sponsored children can truly be released from poverty in Jesus’ name, and that my meager, and sometimes self-imposed inadequate investment in God’s kingdom, is making an eternal impact.

• Thank you for letting me glimpse the truth—Christ—amidst the lies of poverty

 

I have met and communicated with more formerly sponsored children since that cool October day, and while each story and experience is precious and unique, they all have one thing in common. Each of these formerly sponsored children inspire me and allow me to glimpse the truth. While as sponsors we tend to hear how blessed our children are because of our investment in their lives, I believe we are the ones who are blessed by them investing in us. Our attitudes and perspectives have shifted, we look at life and the world through newly opened eyes, and we have a passionate purpose that goes beyond ourselves. Communicating with these formerly sponsored children makes me feel closer to our sponsored children in a way, because they are a piece of proof that Compassion International’s ministry works, and releasing children from poverty is possible in Jesus’ name. So, to all of the formerly sponsored children I have or will ever communicate with, I would like to say:

 

Thank you

 

• Thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me

• Thank you for being a piece of the proof

• Thank you for allowing me to glimpse the truth

 

Please, watch the below video and allow Anita Charles, the first-ever formerly sponsored child we had the privilege of meeting, to share a bit of her story with you. Then, prayerfully consider allowing the Lord to open your eyes, shift your perspective, and change your life by releasing one of these beautiful girls who have been waiting for more than six months for a sponsor from poverty in Jesus’ name.

 

 

 

Three words of love

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Cor 13:3).

 

If you were to describe love in three words, what would those three words be? If I could give you three words to describe love, they would be:

 

Sacrifice

 

Love sacrificed his own life for you—for me—for Love. What would you sacrifice to share with Love about the king who sacrificed his throne and life for her?

 

Beautiful

 

If you are like me, you can think of at least one person who has demonstrated and exemplified beautiful love in your life. Who is your example of beautiful love? Would you honor that person and pass on their gift to tell Love that she is a beautiful gift from God?

 

Patient

 

1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is patient”. The Lord patiently waits with arms and heart wide open to receive each of us as his children. No matter what we do or how many times we make a mess of our lives, he is always there waiting. Love has been patiently waiting for 203 days, with arms and heart wide open, to receive the news that someone has chosen to end her wait for a sponsor. Will you be the one to choose Love and end her patient wait?

 

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:6-7, 13).

 

Plan B: A major update on our Dominican Republic trip!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

As we have prepared over the past year to go to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International, we have been blessed by the many prayers and overwhelming support. In order to travel this November, we needed to guarantee we could have the funds available in time for our United States travel and lodging, immunizations, and other incidental expenses. To not lose the already paid for Compassion portion, we needed to make our final decision by the end of August as to whether or not we would go in November. We will not be traveling to the Dominican Republic in November of this year, but instead go to plan B.

 

Anticipating that the funds would not be available in time, we began the process of transferring our registration from the November 2013 trip to the April 2014 sponsor tour. Compassion has graciously agreed to transfer our non-refundable deposits for November to April. The Compassion portion of the April trip is less expensive than the November trip, so we will not owe any additional money to Compassion by traveling in 2014.

 

Through gracious and unexpected donations, we have met our financial goal! Words could not express how humbled we are by the generosity of those of you who donated in faith and support for this dream to be realized! However, as the transfer process was already started upon receiving the final donations, it would not be feasible to reverse the transfer process without major complications and the possibility of not traveling at all. Being that the April trip is over 6 months away, we will also have more time to purchase domestic airfare and lodging, get our immunizations, apply for our passports, ETC. In all honesty, we are breathing a sigh of relief about this. Moreover, the April 2014 Dominican Republic sponsor tour is an extended weekend trip that runs from Friday April 4 through Tuesday April 8. As Andy and I are both college students, we feel this extended weekend trip will better suit our schedules instead of juggling coursework while working diligently to enjoy the weeklong tour in November. With this change of plans, we would appreciate your continued prayers and encouragement.

 

Prayer requests

 

  1. As the November trip dates draw near, please pray for our emotions, as we will not be traveling during this time as previously planned.
  2. Please pray for our final preparations over the next few months to go smoothly and without complication.

 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We look forward to keeping you updated as our plans progress and the trip draws near.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

A year in review: Update on our Nov 2013 Dominican Republic trip

It was a year ago today when we first shared with you our dream of traveling to the Dominican Republic this November with Compassion International as part of a sponsor-exposure tour. On this trip, we will experience the ministry of Compassion first-hand, meet our sponsored child Vladimir, and raise awareness about Compassion’s ministry through our blog and future opportunities. Much has happened in the past year, and we wanted to write and update regarding our fundraising efforts and specific prayer requests.

 

Fundraising updates

 

First, we would like to thank those who have donated to this trip. As a result of our saving and donations, both the Compassion International expenses and our passports have been funded. We are still raising funds for remaining expenses including travel and lodging within the United States, immunizations and Malaria medications, and any other incidentals we may encounter. In continuing to raise the needed funds, we are in the process of researching and planning various fundraising activities, and we look forward to updating you on their success when the time comes. As stated before, any money raised above and beyond the costs of this trip will be donated to Compassion International upon our arrival home to aid their ministry in the Dominican Republic. If you feel led to donate towards this trip, please feel free to go here to do so. Please keep in mind that donations are not tax deductible, as we are receiving services in return for expenses paid.

 

Prayer requests

 

We have seen the Lord work miracles in this past year, and we are trusting that he will continue to do so. Here are some specific prayer requests that we would like to share with you.

 

  1. Please pray for wisdom, peace, and strength for the Compassion staff who are working tirelessly to plan this trip.
  2. Please pray for everyone planning to travel, that all needs would be met and every heart would be open to what the Lord would have in store.
  3. Please pray for the Lord to prepare the hearts of the children, staff, and families in the Dominican Republic as we long to be a blessing and minister to them while we’re there.
  4. Please pray for Andy and myself to continue trusting the Lord for the finances and other trip needs to be met.
  5. Pray also that we will have grace, patience, and flexability with one another before, during, and after we travel.
  6. Please pray for anyone who reads our blog. As we hope to raise awareness of children in poverty and the ministry of Compassion International, please pray for the Lord to open hearts and lead who he sees best to join us in meeting the needs of these precious children.

 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We look forward to updating you again as the weeks go on and our departure draws near.

Happy 10th birthday Tatiana!

When a child joins our Compassion family, they truly become part of our family. This means that we have the joy of celebrating their birthdays, and this is just what we did this evening in honor of our precious Tatiana from El Salvador! Tatiana turns 10 years old today. We are blessed to have her as a part of our lives.

As part of our birthday celebration for Tatiana, we listened to Spanish Christian music and made our own version of chicken tacos for dinner. After dinner, we then took time to send a birthday letter to Tatiana using Compassion’s online letter writing tool. We chose a special birthday template and shared in our letter just how precious Tatiana is to us and some specific prayers we are praying over her life in this year to come.

Do you celebrate special holidays that are important to your Compassion children? Do you have any special ways for celebrating your Compassion children’s birthdays? Have you incorporated any of their traditions into such holidays as Christmas or Easter? We would love to learn how you celebrate your Compassion children throughout the year.

If you would like to change the life of a child in El Salvador, we want to introduce two precious children to you!

Gabriela

11-year-old Gabriela attends the same Compassion center as our precious Tatiana, and she lives with her mother and siblings. Gabriela enjoys art, playing with dolls, and hide-and-seek.

You can learn more about the urban region of El Salvador  where Gabriela lives here.

Howar

7-year-old Howar shares his birthday with our Tatiana, and this precious boy has been waiting 333 days for a special sponsor to change his life! Howar lives with his parents and siblings and he enjoys singing and playing with marbles and cars. Howar is struggling in Kindergarten and could use some words of love and encouragement. Would you give this special boy the life-changing birthday gift of sponsorship?

Compassion bloggers in Nicaragua

Being part of the Compassion International Bloggers Network, we love virtually joining each team of bloggers that represent this network as they travel a couple times a year to learn about Compassion’s ministry. Some bloggers travel with Compassion more than once, and others have never seen poverty and hope contrasted up close. This week, a team of bloggers is in Nicaragua and we wanted to share their trip with you. That’s right, you can travel to Nicaragua without ever leaving your computer.

 

First, if you are unfamiliar with Compassion International’s work in Nicaragua, read about it here. Once you have been introduced, take a deeper look through the eyes of these bloggers. We want to highlight a few posts that have captured our hearts this week.

 

Have you ever wondered if hope could be possible amidst the trash? Could life be treasured in the city dump? Read this post to get one blogger’s beautiful perspective and join her as she meets her sponsored child.

 

We all know that Scripture tells us to care for the orphans time and time again. Did you know that we can prevent the label “orphan” from being given to a child? Yes, we can. Yes, you can. Read this to learn more.

 

Last Sunday was Father’s Day. I grew up without my earthly father in my life, but I met my Heavenly father when I was young. I could never imagine my life without Jesus. I pray you are as blessed as I was by reading this post about a daddy’s love.

 

Now that you have seen the photos and read the words, would you please pray about doing more? Would you show 9-year-old Engels that he is treasured and loved by his daddy Jesus? Would you reach out and love 15-year-old Walter and let him know he can reach his dreams?

 

Thank you for traveling to Nicaragua. Be sure to follow the bloggers that are there for a couple more days. Also, please pray for these bloggers, their families, and everyone they meet. Please pray for the words, the strength, the grace, and the gentle reminders that they are helping to change countless lives.