Have I told you about our little savings account?
When we lost Annie, so many kind people (maybe it was you!?) gave us money.  It overwhelmed us beyond belief.  Peter and I decided that the money in this precious savings account would be used to help others in their grief and also to help others know Christ.  We’ve been able to do some amazing things for some amazing people with that money.

When we received this opportunity to travel to Ecuador, we felt God prompting us to use a bit of the money from this savings.

I think of Annie all of the time.  But during this trip, I saw her face in so many of the little children.  I was acutely aware of my grief.

We traveled to the Esmeraldas region of Ecuador to visit a group of mamas and their babies.  Compassion’s Child Survival Program ministers to the poorest of the poor.

When we arrived at the Project, we were greeted by a line of sweet women with their babies.  We were told to hug the Mamas and kiss their babies.  Most of these Moms were very, very young and often babies are seen as a burden, so for us to love on them meant a lot.  The memory still brings tears to my eyes.  Walking through that line of babies, many the age that Annie was when we lost her, was so hard.   I just cried and cried.  I don’t even really know why.

Later I found out that many of these babies would die without this Compassion project.  They are just too poor.  This particular project, run in partnership with a Salvation Army church, has 44 Moms and babies.

Once a month these moms get together to learn a craft.  Not a fun little pinterest craft . . . a craft that will help them learn some sort of trade that will enable them to earn money.  Three times a month, a tutor will go to each of the Mother’s houses.  She will teach a basic skill to the child and do a devotion with the Mom.   She’ll spend about an hour in the house loving on these families.

We were able to go with a tutor to experience a home visit.

We met Carina, who has three small children and a husband who travels to work and is gone for weeks at a time.  We watched the tutor teach her daughter a basic lesson on colors, and we all smiled as the little girl grabbed the yellow crayon and colored the banana!  So simple . . . but it makes an amazing impact on these families.

While the tutor was doing the lesson, I found myself surrounded by children and I began to hand out stickers.  One little boy began to smile and laugh with us.  Our translator said, “Did you hear that?  He just called you ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle'”.

Before we left, we prayed for Carina and her family.  That’s when we found out that the little boy who called us Aunt and Uncle, Allan, had been experiencing a health problem that really worried his Mama.  She had been trying to sell extra food each day in order to take him to the doctor.

I looked into her eyes and saw the look that I had worn on my face during the month I knew Annie was sick but couldn’t find the right answers.  And I realized that a Mama’s love and concern for her child crosses all language barriers.  I knew that desperateness and the growing pit in her stomach.

I could only cry because I remembered.  The difference?  We didn’t have to scrape together money before we could figure out what was wrong.  We were able to get the best help for Annie, without even thinking about the finances.

Obviously, even the best couldn’t save our girl.  Allan, though, could be different.

It rocked me.

Peter and I talked to the Compassion staff about Allan.  He captured our hearts and we wanted to support him.  He is ‘ours’ now.  For the next years, when we write to him, we will be able to picture his face, his family, his home.  He will get medical help through Compassion’s Complimentary Interventions Program and hopefully he will get better.

This is one of the gifts that God has given us.  When I see him, I see Annie.  Our loss enables us to reach out to others, to care for others in ways that we didn’t know existed before we lived this grief-life.  You know, one of the things I prayed when we lost Annie was that our pain would not be wasted.  I continue to long for my hurt to have a good purpose.  Often throughout my days God shows me the little ways that He allows me to use what He has handed us.

But this?  This was huge.  God showed me the extent of His power to bring something deeply good out of something deeply painful.  When we trust God enough to allow Him to turn our eyes off of our own pain and instead look into the eyes of someone else who is hurting, we find the soothing hand of the One who heals.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (The Message)

P.S.  This video explains it all so well– much better than my botched words . . . watch it!