Back in 2011, I got a letter saying that the uncle of my Brazilian sponsored child Ana Cristina had been killed, and the family had to move away. Two weeks later I received an email from Hayley Hughes, a Compassion employee who had visited Ana Cristina’s Project. She took a photo of Ana Cristina holding one of my letters, and sent me many pictures and videos of the day.
This act blessed my heart so much, and it has been my privilege since then to give similar experiences to other sponsors when I have either met their child or given them gifts that the sponsor passed on.
In El Salvador I took a video of Loida and passed it onto her sponsor Lindsay. In Brazil I took gifts for Erica from her sponsor Jennifer, as well as a video and some photos. On this current trip I took gifts from four different sponsors to pass on to their children.
Friday (Sept 27) was my first day in Brazil, and I was visiting a sponsored child that wasn’t even mine. A few months ago, sponsor Brian Crawford posted on Facebook a letter from his sponsored child Jasmiel. It was incredibly impacting, as the young fella was having a difficult time, and showed just what a difference a sponsor makes in the lives of the children and families.
I contacted Brian to find out what part of Brazil Jasmiel was from, and he said Fortaleza, which is the same city that my seven are from. I offered to visit him on behalf of the Crawfords, and that’s where I found myself today. The Crawfords have two kids – one with Cerebral Palsy and also a newborn, so it was a privilege and an honour to visit their boy on their behalf. God was once again using me to bless others.
Jasmiel's mother recently left the family. This has led to all sorts of behavioural problems and presents a challenge for the Compassion staff who were caring for him. Jasmiel’s father is unemployed at the moment, and has three kids (Jasmiel has an older sister and a younger sister) to care for. All three kids in the family are sponsored which, in their situation, is literally the difference between life and death.
There were no Project activities on this day, as it was a planning day, but that didn’t matter one bit. Jasmiel was joined by his two sisters and two or three other friends, and we had a great morning playing soccer (with the ball the Crawford’s had given him), Australian football, table soccer, table tennis and jumping on the trampoline. This was the first Project I’ve been to that has a trampoline. I had a go, but didn’t last long – my knees don’t like me jumping J
I was blessed by the Project staff, so caring, friendly and enthusiastic. I have found that at each Project I have visited, I love it how God has set it up so that the Compassion kids, who are the most needy in the community, are surrounded by such love and care. They literally experience the love of God through these wonderful adults, and it transforms their lives.
We took a tour of the Project. The environment is always so colourful and child-friendly. I learned that the Project has been operating for 5 years, and has gone from 100 to 305 kids. We then had a delicious filling lunch, and there was no more trampolining after this.
Next we had a little devotion time, where the kids sang a couple of songs, and the 2IC Rosenilda said some encouraging things. I was humbled to be the first sponsor to visit the Project, and Rosenilda said that when they found out I was coming the staff were more excited than Jasmiel was!
I’ve said it before, but sponsor visits mean so much to the Compassion Project workers. They do an incredible job, literally giving their lives to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these kids and their families. I made sure to encourage them before I left, telling them that there are people thinking of them and praying for them. They are not forgotten.
Finally we had the home visit. The house belonged to Jasmiel’s grandparents, and was passed on to his father, so that at least provides them with some stability. It is basically a brick box, with some holes in the roof. It has a living area and one bedroom. I was told that Jasmiel and his father sleep on the bed, while his sisters sleep on the floor in the main, narrow living area, which has a rough dirt floor. Not sure whether they have any sort of mattress. There was a small stove with some kitchen utensils. Three little kittens wandered around the place (and got stepped on at one point), and there were a couple of chickens and a rooster in the backyard.
One thing I was so encouraged to see was that Jasmiel’s father clearly loved his kids deeply. He was pleasant to talk to, and joined in our games of football and soccer. In the developing world, when a family breaks up it is usually the father that leaves, so I was witnessing a rare thing. I can only imagine his frustration at not being able to personally provide for his family, but he is a godly man who hopes in God and is so thankful for Compassion being there to support him and his kids.
Day #1 in Brazil: Big tick