Sunday, October 7, 2018

Brazil Compassion Adventure, September 2018

I have devoted the last twelve years of my life to sponsoring with Compassion International.
75 kids sponsored from 26 countries. I have also visited over 40 kids and their families in 12 countries.

In September 2018 I went on my tenth trip, visiting Brazil for the fourth time. The trip looked different in a couple of ways to when I first planned it. The original plan was to take my wife Sharon with me, but when we found out she was pregnant earlier in the year we decided it was too risky for her health. I had also hoped to meet my sponsored child Ana Cristina one more time before she graduated, but I found out that she chose to leave the Compassion program and therefore I was unable to meet her.

11 of the 12 kids I visited on this trip were on behalf of friends, so on the surface this trip was "not about me." But given the amount of time and money I sacrificed, and due to my fallen humanity, I often made it about me. Internally I sometimes harboured attitudes of disappointment and frustration when things did not go as I expected or the kids did not respond as I'd hoped.

The Bible says that those who give to the poor are giving to God and He will repay them. On this trip I was repaid in full and then some left over. Everywhere I went I was the recipient of lavish and extravagant hospitality and love from staff and kids alike. I was welcomed and treated like some sort of hero when I don't really feel like I deserve it. Songs, dances, parties, smiles and hugs all especially for me. It was humbling

The reality these kids face is beyond anything we in the developed world can understand. Danger, violence and poverty are part of their daily lives. The children are so innocent and vulnerable, but through the church and Compassion they have a safe place where they are loved and can learn and grow. Compassion Projects are places of life, love, joy, peace and hope.

On this trip I visited 12 kids and their families at seven different Projects:

Visit Day #1 - Alice (BR110) on behalf of her sponsors Garry & Helen Zimmerman
I sponsored Alice until I moved to the Philippines in 2014 and her sponsorship was taken over by my friends Garry and Helen. I have visited Alice and her family four times

Visit Day #2 - BR453 (just Project visit)
I had visited this Project twice previously when I visited Jasmiel and his family on behalf of his sponsors Brian and Lisa Crawford. Unfortunately Jasmiel had moved away and was no longer going to the Project, but I asked to come back anyway because of my previous experiences at the Project.

Visit Day #3 - Gizelle and Estella (BR417) on behalf of her sponsors Hannah & Eric Hinojosa
I visited these two girls and their families on my previous trip to Brazil in 2016

Visit Day #4 - Sara, Dafyne, Weverton (BR417) on behalf of their sponsors Naomi Harrison, Bill & Karen Berry, Elizabeth Berry
I visited Sara and her family in 2016, and was visiting Dafyne and Weverton for the first time.

Visit Day #5 - Jessica (BR458) on behalf of her sponsors Amanda & Bruce Newton
I sponsored Jessica until I moved to the Philippines in 2014 and the Newtons took over the sponsorship. I have visited Jessica and her family four times.

Visit Day #6 - Larissa (me) and Emily (BR329) on behalf of her sponsors Leandro & Kes Candido
I was asked by my friends the Candido family to take a gift to their sponsored child in Brazil. The plan was to give it to the Compassion office and they would deliver it to the Project. Two days before the visit I looked at the gift and they had written her child number, which started with 'BR329.' I thought "Hey! I'm visiting BR329 on my birthday!" and was able to arrange to meet Emily and her mum at the Project. 

Visit Day #7 - Eduarda & Lara (BR322) on behalf of their sponsors Kayla Groth and Corinne Goodchild
This was my first visit to BR322 and it was a great day. Both girls were very responsive and friendly and the Project is a shining light in a dangerous community. We weren't able to visit Lara's home because it was too dangerous to go there.

Visit Day #8 - Lorene (BR432) on behalf of her sponsor Judy Myers
This was my first visit to BR432. The kids were curious and friendly and Lorene was bright, beautiful and talkative. After seven days of me having to drive all the conversations it was great to be able to sit back and listen to her talk.

Groups of Kids at the Project

Fun and Games: I love to have fun, and I always take Uno, Dominoes and an Australian football along to the Projects. When I get the chance I jump on a guitar or a drum kit too.

Welcome & Birthday Stuff
I was overwhelmed by the love I received at each Project. Banners, processions, songs, dances and cakes all for me. It was very humbling.