Thursday, September 26, 2013

Compassion Adventure 2013 - Revisiting Jacqueline in Ecuador (Day of Joy #2)

 In January I visited seven countries in South and Central America, and saw 14 of my Compassion sponsored kids. What I saw and experienced, particularly in Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua absolutely wrecked my heart and spirit. I believe God was trying to give me a glimpse of what he sees every day, but then He also showed me the hope in the form of Compassion, and the impact they are having on children and families.

My third-last visit on this trip was to Ecuador, where I met 6 year-old Jacqueline. Looking back on that day I see God’s mercy. I think he thought I’d seen enough hard stuff, and gave me a day of complete and pure joy. We went to an amusement park, and she just had the time of her life.

On this day she conked out after lunch and fell asleep in my arms on the ride home. It was an incredibly profound moment for me. I am not a parent yet, but that day I felt the love of a parent for their child. I reflected later that God was teaching me about trust, and the way a child trusts when they fall asleep in your arms is the way He wants people to trust Him.

So, when I was planning the trip for September 2013, Brazil was definitely in, and Colombia and Peru were definitely in because I hadn’t visited the two kids in those countries. Then I thought “How can I go back to South America and not go to Ecuador again?” So, nine months after the first visit, I was back.

Jacqui lives with her parents, and is one of five children. Her oldest sister is twenty, and has a son and a daughter, so Jacqui is a “Tia” at six. She also has a twin brother, and two other older sisters. I didn’t get to meet her father last time, as he was working as a security guard at a mall. Mama makes and sells leggings and pants. She has a little workshop set up in their home. It is one of the nicer homes I have seen in my visits to my sponsored kids.

When I arrived at the Compassion Ecuador office, the first thing I did was catch up on things since our last visit. They had been facing eviction from their rented house, but thankfully they had been able to negotiate a deal with the landlord, and so were still there. I asked about their pet rabbit, unfortunately it died after falling down the steep steps in their house. However, now they had a little black puppy. I asked about the father’s job. He chose to leave his security job, since he had to work too much and didn’t get to see the family much. He was now washing cars at the mall with his brother.

Jacqueline is only in first grade, but she is already facing enormous challenges in her schoolwork. She struggles in most areas, and this is only compounded by the fact her twin brother is very bright and finds it all easy. She is actually facing exams later this week to see if she will pass to second grade.

We went to Volcano Park, the same amusement park as the previous visit. I am very blessed not to suffer from altitude sickness, as we were a LONG way up. As it was Tuesday, a normal school/work day (Jacqui had been given the day off school), the place was empty, and we actually arrived 45 minutes before it opened, so we had some time to kill.

Jacqui is one of the most outgoing, animated and affectionate little people I know. She “took me to school” in the art of two-way conversation. She would talk for five minutes straight, then handball it over to me with a “Now it’s your turn. What would you like to say?” She even threw in that question that she will learn is pretty useless to ask a man: “What are you thinking about right now?”

We talked about anything and everything, and I sang some songs with her (which I naughtily forgot to do last time). I got the Australian football out and we had a bit of throw and catch, as well as races in the vacant car park.

Before we knew it, the park was open, and it was rides, slides, trampolines and sideshows galore. I went on with her when I was allowed to, and once again was caught up in the pure innocence and joy of being a child. I had brought her a large Dora the Explorer soft toy (a gift from one of my students) and it was literally half her size. We played on of those whack-a-mole games and I won her another little soft toy. She was happy to have a friend for Dora.

Lunch was KFC at a local mall, which just happened to be the mall where her father works, washing cars with his brother. He travels over an hour each way, six days a week. It was great to be able to meet him. We had a short, friendly conversation based on what I knew about him already, and I encouraged him for working hard to provide for his family, which now consists of 5 kids and 2 grandkids.

God has blessed them in that both parents are able to work, and then throw in Compassion for that bit of extra help. Three of the five children are sponsored.

We then went to visit their house again, where all the siblings (and the little black puppy) were waiting for us. Jacqui’s twin brother is a little circus. He was non-stop, and his little niece and nephew were toddling around following him everywhere. In between that and the puppy running around licking faces, I was able to have a good conversation with Mama and the older sisters.

Mama is struggling to juggle everything involved with trying to work and raise 5 kids and 2 grandkids (I’m sure many of you can relate to that), but her faith in God is strong and sure, and she is so grateful for the extra help Compassion provides, particularly in regard to school supplies. I learned that Tuesday and Saturday are the days she sells the pants and leggings she makes, but she had taken this day off in order to be with me and allow Jacqui to have her special day.

There’s something humbling about the sacrifice of the poor. God is doing great things in this family, and He has given me a front row seat.


  1. Beautiful! Love the photos. I hope someday to meet one of my Compassion children. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Wonderful recap of your joyous day with Jacqui!!

  3. What a precious girl!!! And what an amazing family. Thanks so much for sharing about your time with Jacqui!!