Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hola Mis Padrinos (Hello my Sponsors)

   I am writing to you with much so much love for what you have done in my life. I am enclosing this picture for it is one of my favorites and will be a reminder have how you helped me to grow. I have appreciated everything you have done for me and my family. You were not my first sponsor. However you and your wife have done so much for me. I remember when I first went to the Compassion project. It was close to my home and I did not have to travel far. However it still seemed scary as we had to travel on roads that were not safe. My father had died and it was just my mother and I. We did not have much and she managed to earn some money by selling snacks out on the road in front of our house. She was excited for me that I had been picked to be part of the project and would have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. I was excited to be able to get a meal and do some neat things. I looked forward to attending each week and looked especially forward to the hot meal they served us. I remember getting only one letter from my first sponsor- it was a special day and made me feel loved. Sadly I did not hear from them again. Then the day came when I heard that I got a new sponsor. I was not sure why I had a new sponsor but from that first letter I got from you I felt very special. You have encouraged me and always made me feel important. I worked harder in school because I knew you wanted me to. I used to not really want to go to school. I was not even sure what to do with my life. I remember meeting you in 2007 and that was one of the things you really wanted to know about. "What are your dreams" you asked? I had not even thought about the future. I guess I just wanted to make it through each day. That day that we met I knew you were real and you really cared about me. I decided to work hard in school and to perhaps one day be a doctor. I knew you would be proud of that. You were like the father I did not have. I love you for that.
    You have faithfully written and I have every single letter. They are special to me. My family and I have been blessed by the gifts you have given. When things seemed to be going in the wrong direction sometimes a letter or package would come that brought both my mother and I so much hope. The best day in my life was when you came for my Quinceanera party. It is a special day when I turn fifteen. I am no longer a child but now a woman. I traded in my tennis shoes for high heels. Though that was symbolic it meant a lot. In fact that is why this is my favorite picture. It also symbolizes that before I got into the project how lost or scared I felt. Sometimes I did not know if we would have a meal to eat. Sometimes I did not not what the future held. If something happened to my mother what would become of me? As I went on I knew there were others that loved me especially Jesus. I think that if it had not been for you all I would never really truly know Jesus. As I have grown I now know that with hard work I can accomplish much. I am looking forward to having good grades this year so that I can perhaps also work some in a doctor's office and be a helper. I am sending one last picture that shows me now as a lady in my heels. You have helped me in this journey arrive at this point and I send you many blessings! Thank you for being my sponsor and giving me dreams and hopes. I love you.

(Note: This is the 4th assignment for our Blogging for Compassion Month- we were to write as a sponsored child. Linda has changed me as much as I encouraged her. I would not have had this adventure with Compassion if I had not met her. While some of the above is conjecture most of this is true based on our letters and visits! Sponsoring a child does make a difference! I encourage you to visit here and perhaps find your own "Linda". We had a goal of 3,108 children to get sponsored this month. We need to find 811 more. Will you reach out???? )

Friday, September 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

   Tonight I mourn the loss of a friend. Well it is not like they died but the business is now gone. Let me begin back about eleven years ago. My memory is not that exact but the key point is I never used to drink any hot drink let alone a coffee. My wife, Karen, turned me on to White Chocolate Mochas and I became hooked. I used to teach preschool right down the street near a local shopping center. I am not sure but somewhere around 2001-2002 a coffee shop opened called Huckleberry's. They offered a great mocha at a better price than the chains. I became a daily customer and was known for my twice a day visits. Sadly that shop went bankrupt mainly because I think of poor ownership. Right after that Huckleberry's II took over somewhere around 2004 or so. Again I was a daily visitor and became friends with the owners and staff. This was before I even became a sponsor with Compassion. Anyway that version lasted longer until about 2008 or so. This was about the time that I began to ramp up my ministry with Compassion.
     Anyway that latest version of Huckleberry's reached the point that they too had to close. It is not a great shopping center with a big draw but it had a grocery store, a Blockbuster, a local gym and a clothing anchor. However they decided to close and a new coffee store opened. Raenette Rogers opened a coffee and tea shop called Rogers. I know before she opened we got to meet. She did not know what a white chocolate mocha was but learned the recipe and I became a daily customer. We soon got to talking about Compassion and I discovered she was a Christian. The coffee shop actually sponsored a girl in Bolivia. They had her packet displayed on the wall and all of her information. They had Fair Trade coffee and were an awesome  local shop. I had child packets placed there as well as brochures. It was great! I do not know how many children we had sponsored there or how many donations were made through brochures but it was my own little Compassion spot.
      Sadly though the economy began to change. Blockbuster went out of business. A Wegman's moved across the street and the grocery store closed. The local gym went corporate and the shopping center itself seemed to lose its spirit. Rae still tried to make a go of it. She had to cut back the business hours as a cost saving measure which sadly meant I could no longer go in the mornings before work. I managed to go on Saturdays when I could. The new shopping center across the street (with Wegman's) added a Panera Bread which was the death knell for Roger's. Tonight I happened to be down at the shopping center as they were moving the equipment out. I said my goodbyes and she had saved my displays. I lament the fact that more and more small local shops are not able to stay in business. I feel a void now. I was not a frequent customer at the end but as we hugged goodbye I felt like I had lost a family member. This was a business owner who had a heart for the poor. It was neat having someone locally that loved Compassion and was a sponsor. Tonight as they close down the shop I think the light grew just a little darker. I am not sure what Rae's  plans are for the future but I know together we planted some seeds and made a difference in a little girl's life. I hope the blessings continue to multiply. God Bless you Rae!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pin it to Win it!

Here we go into the third week of Blogging for Compassion! So far this has been a blast. From getting the assignment to actually writing something I feel so energized. This week we are getting into another facet of Social Networking~the Pinterest board. This is where you can pin pictures, notes and other stuff to show your interests. Now of course I already had one and of course I had a board all about Compassion. Did you really expect anything different? The neat thing is that anyone can create a Pinterest account and enter the cool contest that Compassion is having. Just go right here and read all about it. Set up a board and enter the contest. Hopefully you can direct some people to this link from your board and even get some children sponsored on your own. If you check out the page the prizes are incredible. Gifts for either your sponsored child or their family. Talk about pinning to win it. You win and they win!!!!
If you would like to see my board it is right here. If you make one comment your link below. I would love to see it.
        As far as our goal of getting children sponsored this month through our blogging network we   are half way through. So far 1,515 children have been sponsored out of goal of 3,108. A little short of 50% but still an awesome response so far. Two weeks to go and 1,593 children still need to find a special sponsor. Will you help and be part of this?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Prayer to God

Dear God.......
      I pray to  you today with an open heart and a willingness to surrender my will to yours. I am thankful for the ministry you have given me to be an advocate for Compassion. You knew the road that I would travel to this point and the brokenness I would need in order to be effective. I know now you had a plan from the very beginning when we picked up a child packet from the table of a "spunky" little girl named Linda. At that point you called me to be a sponsor. I thought little of it at the time but you knew where it would lead me. Invited to visit Linda in 2007 I went to Honduras for all the wrong reasons. I still imagine you laughing when you heard me talking about going to be an "inspiration". How immature and  simple minded that was. That day that I met Linda you broke me and made me realize the importance of reaching out for the least of these. When Linda stepped out, dressed up, and broke into tears at the sight of us I realized the love that you had for me. I was her sponsor but in her eyes I was so much more. In her eyes I saw a reflection of the unconditional love you have for each one of us. I realized that just as I had chosen her for sponsorship you do the same for each one of us. In a sense each of us are your sponsored children. You have chosen us, you nurture us, you disciple us and you want us to reach for salvation. 
    I confess that sometimes I grow frustrated with my ministry. I try to hold on to the image  of that special day and try to convey it others. How hard is it to understand that we can make a difference in a child's life. You have called us to watch out for the widows and orphans. In the parable of the sheep and goats you said whatever we do for the least of these we are doing for you. I am blessed more and more with each sponsorship. I am blessed by being able to volunteer within Compassion to encourage sponsorships. I just pray that you would continue to open hearts to your words and lead them to find the fulfillment and joy that I have found. I realize that you know those that will be sponsors and it is not my words or pleadings that will change anything. Rather you already know who will be sponsored and by whom and all is done in your time. I can only ask that you continue to use me in your way to be an agent of change in this undertaking. 
   I am thankful for this opportunity. I thank you that already 837 children have been sponsored from all of us encouraging others through our blogs. As the next few weeks unfold I pray that more and more people will reach out through sponsorship. I have an opportunity this week to work at a concert and I pray that the words that will be spoken will bring people to the table. Lord I thank you so much for showing me what love really looks like. It is in your Son's name that I pray. Amen <><

Thursday, September 6, 2012

3108 Reasons to Sponsor a Child

So in the previous post I told you all about Compassion's Blog Month. Pretty cool idea. I have been fascinated with social media since its inception. I have a blog, a twitter account and a Facebook page. I do have a pinterest account but not a Tumblr nor have I figured Reddit out yet. However it is interesting how social media has impacted our lives. Facebook has been heavily used by Compassion Advocates to encourage sponsorships and to get the word out about child advocacy. I do not know the numbers but it would be awesome to see how many children have been impacted through these mediums rather than traditional means. The world is changing. However one thing remains constant and that is the fact that there are children that still need to be released from poverty. Jesus still calls to us to act when "the least of these" reach out to us.

      So this month Compassion, through its bloggers, are looking to get 3,108 children sponsored. That is a little over a hundred a day by people reading these blogs and being encouraged to make a difference. Prizes and incentives matter not to me. In my previous post I encouraged you to visit this blog and "click" through there so Michelle would get the credit rather than me. I only want to see us hit this goal and make a difference in these children's lives.

       I encourage you to visit this Compassion site and look at the children that need sponsorship. Pray for these children and pray that they will find a sponsor! Spend time in prayer perhaps asking God to open your heart and make a difference in a child's life. If you are a sponsor could you perhaps open your heart to one more? If you are not a sponsor will you take a leap of faith? I have done it five times and been blessed each and every time. Perhaps you just don't feel the calling right now but maybe you could help spread the word. Share the page and the blogs with others. Like a ripple in a pond lets see how this grows.

      If you read my posts you know I can give you many concrete reasons for sponsorship as I have seen it action and know how lives can be changed. However as I said this month there are exactly 3108 reasons to sponsor. Can you make one of those your reason to sponsor right now?