Sunday, September 30, 2012

Brazil - pics of BR-329

Hi! I'm still getting my brain in order processing what I've seen and done in my visits to my Compassion kids in Brazil the last three days, much of which is beyond words, to be honest. In the meantime, here are some pics to give you an idea of what I've experienced:

4 y.o. Larissa. She warmed up to me about a minute before she had to leave. Hopefully the start of a special sponsorship

The church of BR-329. This pic is stuff to sell to raise money to send a missionary to Senegal. I  LOVE that! They're sending a missionary from the barrios of Brazil to Senegal!




Larissa at gift-giving time! I gave each child a large soft toy lamb and a necklace (soccer ball for Christian).  The siblings received a small clip-on Koala and an Australian postcard. The family received an Australia-themed clock and a small Australian flag.

Larissa enjoyed playing with the Australian football.


Pure gold!! This was just before she had to leave, but it was good to get a smiley photo.
This is Monalisa my oldest (18 yrs) but newest sponsor child. I have only sponsored her for 4 months and she is about to graduate from the sponsorship program. I don't remember being impacted by a person like I was when I met her yesterday - beautiful, intelligent and humble. She has dreams to be a vet, and is applying to become a Leadership Development Program (LDP) student with Compassion. With God's help I have no doubt she can do it. The scientific calculator is thanks to my friend Steve.
X-ray of Monalisa's broken leg, which she did falling down the stairs three weeks ago.
Monalisa and family
With Nathalia, who is a Program Facilitator for the area. She was at all three of my Project visits
BR-329 runs a nursery for 2-4 year olds on a separate property nearby. This is where Larissa spends most of her time







The staff of BR-329 have huge dreams and vision for their Centre. They serve 680 children and they currently have some massive renovations going on. They want to have all their programs and activities on the one property. 





With 17 y.o. Alynne. She is in 10th grade and wants to be a lawyer. She is about to depart the program because she and her mother have both recently got jobs, and their circumstances have improved sufficiently that they no longer need Compassion's assistance.




With a group of teenagers from the Project BR-329
Interesting snack, made by one of the mothers at the Project - banana wrapped in ham and cheese, then cooked in the oven for 20 minutes...


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Two days to go...

I'm about to embark on a journey that I know will be life-defining. I am going to Brazil with Compassion International to visit ten of my sponsored children, and I can't wait to see what God will do.

God has used Compassion International to define my life's purpose - the reason why I have been created and been given the gifts and talents I have. I can't tell you how amazing it feels to be aware of this, and be living it. 

I currently sponsor 48 children from 26 different countries, all in the name of serving God, and sharing His love with others. I have struggled often with the difference between the "haves" and the "have nots", the fact that I'm so materially blessed, and others live in rotting garbage dumps.

Over time, instead of wrestling with "why", I have learned to just say "thanks" and do my bit to use what I have to bless others. I do it because I believe that only the things done for God will last beyond this world - the Bible calls them "eternal treasures". I want to live for a purpose higher than myself. I want to be able to look back and see that I made an eternal difference in people's lives - that because of me, people came to know Jesus.

Compassion is a Christian child-development ministry that works with local churches in 26 countries around the world to release children from poverty in many areas, including spiritual, physical and emotional. It is absolutely, unashamedly all about Jesus. No one is forced to believe anything, but the reality is, when you come face to face with the overwhelming love of God, it is hard to resist.

My sponsorship journey began in 2006, with Daila from Colombia. At the start of 2011 I was sponsoring 7 kids, and sort of went a bit crazy during the year. By the end of last year I was sponsoring 40, and was debt-free and financially better off than I had ever been, proving that you can't out-give God. I am now on 48, and am in an even better position financially.

Sponsorship is so much more than sending a cheque, or having a "pen-pal". Whatever your motivation, whether it's for God or something you do because you're a "good person", when you sponsor a child, you are literally saving and transforming their lives. The little money that you send is used to feed, clothe and educate your child, and your words in the letters are SO IMPORTANT!! They give the child and their family encouragement and hope.

My involvement with Compassion has resulted in some amazing moments this year. I have been able to meet two incredible formerly-sponsored young people - Richmond Wandera from Uganda, and Michelle Tolentino from the Philippines. Both are serving their communities and beyond, doing fantastic things for God. I was also honored to meet Compassion president Wess Stafford who, along with Bono and Martin Smith from Delirious?, is one of my heroes. I even invited him to come with me to Brazil, but I understand he's a busy man :)

In January this year, I put my Brazil visit plan into action. I will be meeting my children and their families individually over three days, seeing their houses and their Projects. On Monday October 1, which is my birthday, I will be meeting all ten children, as well as their guardians and siblings, and taking them to a Fun Park. My mind boggles at what God has planned for this day.

One thing I am blown away by is the number of people who are invested in this trip, whether they have donated money, gifts or have simply been praying and are committed to praying - Friends, family, church people, school people, Facebook people, OurCompassion people, blog people. God has taken my little loaves and fishes, and is multiplying them to encourage, inspire and challenge so many people!

I sponsor nine girls and one boy in three different Projects in Fortaleza - Ana Cristina, Jessica, Pamella, Taina, Alice, Ana Alice, Katyelle, Monalisa, Larissa and Christian. Ana Cristina was my first, and through my relationship with her, God stirred my heart for Brazil above and beyond the other countries, and gradually I ended up sponsoring the others. Larissa (4), Katyelle (17) and Monalisa (17) are my newest additions, and I have not received a letter from them yet. I look forward to getting to know them in person.

Fortaleza is a big tourist city - lots of beaches, nice and warm. Unfortunately many of the tourists  consider taking advantage of children to be part of "having a good time." I understand child prostitution and drugs are a huge problem. 'Twill be interesting....