Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Smiles across the Miles
This post has been rattling around in my brain for a while now, but I just couldn't decide exactly how to put my thoughts into words. It's no secret that I love children. My Will and Kate are just about the best thing that's ever happened to me. It is such a blessing to teach 3 year olds on Wednesday nights and 3rd grade girls on Sunday mornings. The days of being Mrs. Schloss to 23 (or 25 or 28) 1st graders were such a fun adventure. In my high school days, I was always clamoring for a babysitting job.
As the days go by and I find myself getting older (this is still such a shock to me!) and having new experiences, my perspective changes. There are so many children in our world who go to sleep at night without having had a full meal all day. They don't have clean water, much less clean clothes. There are literally hundreds of thousands who have no mother or father in this world. The need is overwhelming and sometimes the solution feels overwhelming too. There is adoption, foster care, inner city ministries, financial support of an orphan/children's ministry at home or abroad. The possibilities of support are as numerous and varied as the needs. The one I'm writing about today is just one small part of the solution: child sponsorship. We sponsor children through World Vision. Please visit their website to see the wonderful things they are able to do all over the world (including here in the United States) because of monthly sponsors, you will be amazed and blessed to see how the workers of World Vision are able to use a considerably small amount of money to change the lives of a boy, his family, his neighbors, his community, his country, and his world.
Many articles, books, and posts have been written on these matters and can give you great detail of where your money goes and how it is spent and how that translates into the life of these precious children. I want to tell you about our side of the equation ... how child sponsorship affects our family.
About four years ago, we took Will to a Third Day concert. We were all enjoying ourselves SO much (well, I thought I might be having a heart attack because the beating I could feel in my chest was matching the rhythm of each new song they played - told you I was getting old!). Will was especially enjoying the loud music while sitting on his dad's shoulders so that he could see over the crowd. During intermission, they showed a video from World Vision that talked about child sponsorship. When we were leaving the concert, we stopped by the World Vision table to talk more with the representatives there. Will picked up a packet from the table and the rest, as they say, is history.
That night we were introduced to Charles from Uganda through a packet of information and a few pictures. He is the same age as Will and we thought that was a perfect fit. Will and Charles are growing up together. They've shared drawings in letters mailed thousands of miles across the sea. Now, they're both learning to read and write and can communicate this way through letters. In the info packet, it explained that the sponsored children love to have a photograph of the family who is sponsoring them. I didn't expect the excitement I saw from Will when we got a new photograph from Charles. Will has a picture of Charles beside his bed and we have one in the kitchen. It's not unusual for Charles to come up in our conversations or in our prayers. Will thinks of him so often. Recently during Will's bedtime prayer, he said, "Thank you that we got to find Charles in all this world and thank you that we get to be a part of his family." Charles is making a difference in Will's life. It's my prayer that their relationship will continue to grow stronger through the years and that they will have a bond through Jesus Christ that will never be broken.
For Kate's 1st birthday we started sponsoring Jeanette who lives in Burundi. She and Kate share the same birth day and year! We have a bookmark with Jeanette's picture on it that Kate keeps in her children's Bible. Every night before we read our Bible story, we play "Jeanette, where are you?" and Kate searches her Bible for the beloved (and very wrinkled) picture of our precious friend. (You can click on the picture above to make it appear larger) Some nights we talk about how sweet she is. "Look at Jeanette's sweet nose - it's just like Kate's!" "Jeanette has such a pretty smile." Other nights we talk about what we think Jeanette might have done that day. "Do you think Jeanette played in the water today like Kate did?" "I wonder if Jeannette helped her mommy cook the food?" And one of my favorite things is to hear Kate talk about where Jeanette lives. (I wish I had a video, because my interpretive spelling will definitely not give her cuteness justice!) "Jeannette lives A-free-ca. Kate lives O-ka-homa." After we read a Bible story, we sing the same songs before bed. One of them is "He's got the Whole World in his Hands." We always include a verse of "He's got sweet friend, Jeanette, in His Hands." Although Kate has never played with Jeanette or shared lunch with her, or giggled endlessly over who knows what ... talking about and praying for Jeanette is tops on Kate's list for the bedtime routine. My prayer for these beautiful girls is that they will grow to love Jesus at an early age and that they will be faithful in their walk with Him.
Could things be more different for Will and Charles or Kate and Jeanette? Probably not. Are the most important things the same? Absolutely. Will we ever get to meet them face to face? I don't know, but it is enough for us to forge this relationship with them and their family in the hopes that we will meet them face to face before the throne of God in heaven. God is working all around us in and through the lives of children. Too often we think of reasons why we can't get involved, but I hope that we will all begin to look for the ways God wants us to step up and act on our love for Him. Charles and Jeanette have made a difference in our lives - We will never be the same.