Monday, April 11, 2016

The Trip that Changes Lives, Part 1

In 2004 I started my relationship with Compassion International.  In 2011 I participated in my first sponsor tour to visit my sponsor child in Peru.  It was the trip that changed my life.  (If you go back in the history of this blog to October 2011 you can find my thoughts from that trip.)  The experience was more amazing than I could have imagined-I had NO idea what to expect when I signed up for the trip.
Kids are kids!

Last month I participated in my second sponsor tour, another life-changing trip.  This time I went to Haiti, a small island country just south of the US.  I thought I knew what to expect since I had participated in a tour before.  Yes, some things were similar, however, Haiti is different from any country I have ever visited.

This time there were only 18 people on the trip, half the number of my Peru trip.  This provided an intimacy that joined our hearts and souls together quickly.  I am so grateful to have gotten to spend time with these lovely people and to now call them friends.

My family group visiting this family's house
The poverty level of Haiti was astounding to me.  I thought if I waited long enough and tried to form thoughts for a few weeks that I would be able to put into words what I experienced, but I am still having a hard time coming up with words.

When I got back from Peru I had severe wealth guilt.  I don't know if that is a term, but that is how I felt.  For months I couldn't go shopping and took super short showers.  I couldn't justify my 'wealthy' life knowing how the people in Peru were living.

When I got back from Haiti, however, I didn't have that same feeling.  I still can't justify the imbalance in the distribution of wealth in this world.  But, I think the poverty was so deep that I just could not/ cannot even think of comparing the wealth/poverty levels of there and here.

Hanging out with like-minded people who also sponsor children and encountering life in a completely different country are definitely life-changing experiences.  However, the biggest life-changer for me was, again, experiencing Compassion's ministry.

Our group with the office staff at one of the centers we visited
Every person I met who serves at the churches, child development centers, and in the offices has a love for Jesus and children like few others I have met.  These staff and volunteers believe loving children and their families, teaching them, and sharing Jesus' love with them is the most effective way to end the cycle of poverty.

And, walking through the villages, there is an obvious difference that child sponsorship makes in the life of a child and family.  Playing with and sharing time with the children at the centers was an incredible experience.  These faces are imprinted on my heart.

Family who benefits from Compassion sponsorship
Somehow I thought I was going to be able to write one blogpost about this trip.  I just had to add "Part 1" to the title of this post because it is getting too long.  Thank you for sticking around this long.  Please come back for the next parts soon.  I am sure there will be at least two more posts!

Silly selfies

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