"We apologize for such a small home," they say through our translator. But the sincere smiles of Luz and Segundo were more than enough welcome for us. "No, no. It's amazing," my oldest -- 13 yr. old Caleb -- retorted, with the nervous energy that comes with being invited into your first home in an impoverished community in Quito, Ecuador.
But I knew what he meant. I knew what his heart was pounding: It's amazing that you've welcomed us into your home. It's amazing you have such a contented smile. It's amazing you're sharing the one thing you've got in abundance: Hospitality.
We'd already experienced that warm hospitality from Luz and Segundo's church this morning...the church that partners with Compassion International to provide health and medical aid, nutritional food, educational assistance, and most importantly - the hope of Christ- to their girls Erika, Thalia, and Tatiana.
No banner, sign, or acknowledgement of Compassion was needed, or found as we walked into the church; the immense welcome from a community impacted by the one-on-one investment made to individual children and their families through child sponsorship more than let us know that they were a grateful people. It was a church service unlike any other I'd attended. (Um...we may have done some Ecuadorian dancing. Forget cookies and coffee; this should be a part of every church's New Visitor's Reception. *wink*)
Children and families from neighboring communities impacted by Compassion joined us as well -- to the tune of 100 children. I don't know much Spanish, but I understood these words they sang, "Dios puede..." God is able. I sang those words confidently along with them because it's true in any language.
And back to visiting our first home in Quito...
The road that leads to Luz and Segundo's home winds and dips and carves through dirt, debris, littered hillsides, and seemingly endless miles of stray dogs and half-built concrete block structures.
They pull up a few chairs across the bare, rough concrete floor, and offer us a seat. "You all have so much joy on your faces," I say through a translator. "But, if you had worries, what would be your greatest concern that I could pray for?"
The translator lets me know: Segundo has inconsistent work. They want to own this house they rent; they don't want to be suddenly evicted. They want this home to belong to them...and they want a home to belong to.
The girls light up when we ask about how child sponsorship has changed their lives. They immediately pull aside a bedsheet hung from the ceiling, dividing the entry/kitchen/living room from their bedroom. "Look!" Erika says, "I have my sponsor's picture in here." In a home with nearly no decor and no room for anything but storage of the essentials, the decorated and framed photo of her Compassion Sponsor's family speaks volumes to me...
...you learn a lot about someone by what they put on their walls, even when they have very little. What we surround ourselves with usually showcases where we look for inspiration, beauty, and HOPE. I should know...that's the heart behind GraceLaced Shoppe, after all.
So, you must know what a joy it was for me to present them with a Spanish Jesus Storybook Bible, and a New Every Morning in Spanish print, I created last week in preparing to come. I let them know: "This is one of my favorite verses. It reminds me that today and it's hardships are not the end of my story. The mercy and faithfulness of Jesus Christ is new each and every morning. If He is able to redeem us from a life of sin, how much more is he ABLE to sustain and provide for his own."
We say our goodbyes and leave with a circle of prayer, and I get back on our truck knowing that He who provides chooses to do so by causing hearts to invest in hearts, by one family changing the lives of another, around the world. HE IS ABLE AND WE ARE WILLING.
Friends....I saw firsthand what $38 a month and letters of hope and love provide a child and her family. It can't be done without each ONE investing in another ONE. Change a life here.