If you ask me what my hopes are for my children, at the top of my list would be loving Christ in treasuring the Gospel and serving others by applying the good news of Christ.
Believing, loving, and doing all things unto Him. Isn't that what every mother dreams?
Today I experienced a first: riding in the back of a small pick up truck with my oldest, Caleb, as we wound up the steep and rocky highland hillsides of Otavalo, Ecuador. Ashley and I, along with our boys, had been invited to the home of Angelica and her family. They were shy and quiet, but had agreed to having us spend time in their home, learning the way they do everyday tasks.
"What are your dreams for your children?" I ask through my translator, who delivers my question in Quechua. Angelica's mother quietly offers, "I want them to love God and to have a good life."
I nod in knowing agreement.
We are there to learn about their everyday life, so Angelica's father shows us how to harvest the quinoa from their stalks. All I can think about, as my palms turn fiery red from the friction, is how big that bag we purchase from Costco is. 5 minutes of rolling the stalks against the bark of the log, and I may have yielded a tablespoon of quinoa.
Angelica's mother teaches the boys how to feed the pigs, and her father demonstrates how to prepare the Sambo melon for their food and the pig slop. I take in all that's surreal in that moment: The million dollar view of the misty volcanos, sparkling San Pablo Lake...next to the hard life of a family who lives to survive each day, to give a future to their daughters, to help their neighbors, and to give back to God.
That's it. Believing, loving and doing all things unto Him.
They tell us they eat only what is produced in their small garden (half of what we see belongs to someone else.) Angelica's parents grow and sell crops, but only make $50-60 a month.
And yet, Angelica's mother lets me know:
"Before our crop is harvested, we always give the first 4 rows to the local church as an offering. Always. We know that even despite our circumstances, we are blessed by the Lord,"
And I wonder why we, those who have plenty, can be so slow to return back to God that which is His in praise and thanksgiving?
Believing, loving, and doing all things unto Him? ...how can we say we believe if the gospel doesn't become sacrificial good works born out of our transformed hearts and a love for Christ?
Angelica, was recently sponsored through Compassion, but has not yet received any letters. I watch her face...and I'm still amazed each time we visit a family and realize that child sponsorship represents opportunity and relationship to them...not money and handouts. That's not child sponsorship. I've learned so much about Compassion's heart for releasing children from poverty this week, and it's not faceless assistance.
A sponsor is a person who loves and spurs you on. Another human being that says, "You are valuable. You can learn anything you set your mind to. You can become who God created you to be. I believe in Jesus...and I believe in you."
That's what a child sponsor communicates, so often through letters. And since Angelica had not received one yet, I decided to be her letter today, in the best way I know how.
Talking, painting, sitting side by side. We're created in the image of God and we can reflect His beauty through creativity...we are more alike than we are different. I tell her she's loved and that she can keep painting God's creation with this new set of paints and journal.
I painted the view from her home, and she painted herself on a sunny day. We signed our names and exchanged paintings. Today, I got to be Angelica's child sponsorship letter in a real and tangible way.
We deliver the same gifts we've given at each home...
- a Bible...to believe
- a Spanish print from my shoppe of Lamentations 3:23-24...to love truth
- and a large bag of rice, beans, and essentials...nutrition to do all things unto Him.
As we wind back down the mountain in the back of the pick up truck, I think on the fact that a mother's dream for her child:
...to believe and love Christ, and to do all things unto Him...
...doesn't just become the benefit of a child sponsored, but also a child of the family that chooses to sponsor.
Though my son had the opportunity today to learn about Angelica's life through harvesting quinoa, de-seeding Sambo, feeding pigs, and showing kindness and love to others because he loves Jesus, he can do these very same things through relationship with our own sponsored son without hopping on a plane.
THIS is the beauty of child sponsorship: That we not only give the gift of opportunity for another mother's child to believe and know Christ, and to do all things unto Him; we get to give that gift to our own children at the same time. It may be ONE child, but you're investing in many lives through child sponsorship.
The #compassionbloggers team shared on social media tonight: We don't win anything by setting and meeting any goals for number of sponsored children this week in Ecuador, but we've got our hearts set on 200 lives changed. Read their amazing posts here...(Ashley on the significance of letters, Shannan on whether there's real hope for change, Bri, with an open letter to the young girls of Manta.)
Photos on this post by Ashely Ann Campbell.
WILL YOU JOIN US and FIND ONE CHILD TONIGHT WHOSE LIFE TO CHANGE...AND WHO WILL CHANGE YOURS?
Because of grace,