Compassion Sunday story, by Laurie

  • July 4, 2014

There are certainly three highlights of our Guatemala trip but I want to talk mainly about two.  That said, ask Gavin about the 450 teeth that were pulled one day on a village medical team, or Nila about the lab work she did that day when over 800 patients came to the clinic set up in a school! Amazing.

Overwhelmed, fighting for past passions, fighting to be what scripture tells us.  This is why I really needed to go on this trip to Guatemala.  Life can take turns and the stresses of our own individual lives can really overwhelm and possess us in a way that it is difficult to see beyond ourselves.  I am starting to weary, but it is very clear to me that I need to fight to keep giving as Christ calls me, because if I lose that fight I lose oh so much.

How are you feeling?  Triste.  I did not need a translation for that word. It was loud and clear.

Two highlights of our trip to Guatemala this spring break are Josephina, and Compassion.

About three years ago I had been to Guatemala alone to visit my sister. We had a divine appointment, as in the power was very real and awesome.  We randomly met this couple who were in desperate search of two things, a bus fare to Guatemala city in order to get medical treatment and pieces of items to put together for their daughter to attend school.  Josephina, the mother of 7 children, two of whom were being cared for at an orphanage has breast cancer.  She had help from an individual at one point for her treatments, however that opportunity had disappeared and she needed to continue treatments.  Her daughter was begging to go to school.  None of the other children were in school and she had gone for only one year and had to drop out due to her mother’s illness and lack of funds.  My sister knows Spanish so the communication was easy. My mother and sister both are breast cancer survivors and my sister was able to encourage Josephina who was wearing a head scarf to cover her bald head.

By the end of our interaction with Josephina it was clear to both my sister and me that God was appointing us.  After we said our good byes we arranged things with a nun at the orphanage that two of her children lived at and my sister agreed to pay any medical expenses and I agreed to pay the school fees for Heidy and her sister.  Over the past three years we have gotten updates and report cards from the girls. Heidy was first in her class last year and second in her class this year.  I could see the competition in her eyes, she may prevail again.  Stan and I are now supporting four of the five children living with Josephina in the way of school fees and supplies. The youngest will start school next year.

We were very excited about this visit to Josephina’s home.  The children did not know we were coming, we went to their school to gather them. It was quite an experience for me as that large metal gate from the school yard was flung opened and four children came running and hugging and just about knocked me over!  So incredibly grateful are they!

 

How are you feeling?  Triste.  Josephina is sad, very sad and overwhelmed.  She sat on a stool in her dirt floor, corrugated metal home in tears.  She is losing her battle against breast cancer.  She now has tumors in her lungs and on her neck, just a few more months to live on this earth.  Her husband is an alcoholic and is rarely there.  Her biggest dream is that her children would be able to graduate from school.  Stan and I very humbly told her that to the best of our ability we would see that all her children would graduate.  Her tears increased, but were now mixed with gratitude and hope.  God gave my sister and me a divine appointment a few years ago, and a way to help.  Our money and letters go through my sister and the nuns.  A divine appointment and I can’t wait to see where this is leading.

Our second highlight was visiting my mother’s compassion child Anthony.   It was so interesting to see this project and we were blessed by the tutors and workers at the project.  This particular church is growing.  100 percent of the money for the expansion of the church is coming from the congregation, not compassion.  As the money trickles in they construct part of the project… so they are literally building a church around and above the smaller existing church.  Once they get all that done they will demolish and remove the inner church.  This of course is done as it will take years to complete and in the mean time they still have a place to worship. This project has many bunnies.  They raise them to sell them, but more importantly they are teaching the older kids how to care for them and they give the older kids a pair to take home and start their own little business.

While we were in the office looking over the extensive file they had on Anthony, the whole family showed up.  My oh my, what a beautiful family!  Mom, Dad, Anthony 8, Juanita 4 and Patrick 2.   What impressed me most about this family was their strength.  Their circumstances were much better off than many I have seen in Compassion, yet it was very clear to me that we were helping and supporting true leaders, even down to little Juanita, what a personality they all had.   When we were in the home Anthony ran off and brought a frame to me of a picture of my mom and dad.  I started crying because I had not expected that and because my dad has passed away.  Immediately Anthony was hugging me and comforting me.  He didn’t know why I was crying, but when I explained it they were all very sorry for my loss and that somehow they had caused me pain.  And I look at that family and know my Dad would be so proud to sponsor them because of their leadership and industry that was apparent.

Though the Compassion visit was much more structured and intentional in its birth and its ongoing relationship, it is still a divine appointment.

Not everyone has the opportunity to randomly meet someone on the street like Josephina and respond to God’s call.  Compassion provides us with an excellent avenue to give and love as God calls us. Like me some of us may be tired and weary and life has taken us on a ride we didn’t expect.  We need to give and look outside of ourselves and be Christ’s aroma.

 

As I was running this Friday I saw a small tree blooming!  I had to take a closer look because it looked like there were beautiful blossoms coming out of a dead fallen branch.  As I looked closer, the dead fallen branch was just leaning up on the rooted healthy blooming beauty.  I thought to myself, wow I feel like that dead branch, but if I lean into Christ what beauty I can be and what aroma I can send forth.  Can we lean into Christ in our weariness or wherever we are and allow Him to support us and be that beautiful aroma to others in need?  I believe we are called to do this.

There are many places to give and get involved.  I present you this morning with one option, one that I know works, we all have the opportunity to reach out to a child in need and sponsor a child and start a relationship and let them know that you are there for them and they are valued.  Compassion works with the local churches exclusively to ensure holistic care for your sponsored child. It costs 38 dollars a month. It has been around for a very long time and is a very reputable organization, come talk to me at the table about its reputation and listen to what God might be calling you to do today.  A divine appointment for you and for a child. To learn more about Compassion and / or to support a child, go here.

 

Note: since Laurie told this story, Josephina has passed away. Her children are being cared for by the local nuns and the kids are still going to school. If you would like to know more about supporting Josephina’s children, please contact Laurie.