Around the time Peter and I got married, we started sponsoring a boy named Jefferson through Compassion International.
Back then, he was just a bitty thing.
Somehow in those early years as poor newlyweds, we were always able to spare enough to pay his monthly support. We would write him letters and we got letters back from him.
We had kids (lots of kids) and we wrote to him about each one, even sharing our sad news with him.
Much like teenagers in the United States, Compassion has a hard time getting kids to stick with their program after they hit 13 years old. Sounds familiar, huh? In fact, only 37% of Compassion kids actually graduate. They are working hard on developing soccer, drama, and art programs to engage these kids to keep them off the streets.
But Jefferson has beat the odds. We are so proud of him.
We were able to spend a day and a half with Jefferson. He travelled, along with his Mom and youth pastor, eight hours in a bus to see us.
On the night we met him, we were so nervous. We didn’t know if he would like us, and we weren’t sure if he would feel out of place (he was the oldest sponsored child– most other children were much younger). Each child stood at the door of the room and they called our names one by one.
The sweetest memory I have is seeing him in that doorway. All of a sudden, he raised his hand to wave to us. Later he told us (through the translator): “You looked just like your pictures! I knew it was you!”
We ran to him. There are no words to describe how amazing it was to put my arms around that boy.
Compassion did a great job putting us all at ease that night. They threw a huge party with singing and congo lines and balloons and confetti. It was so fun and the initial awkwardness slowly disappeared as we got more comfortable speaking through the translator. Jefferson was so very nervous that he could barely make eye contact with us.
At one point in the night, I found myself alone at the table with Marta, Jefferson’s mom. All of a sudden, tears were in her eyes and she started talking to me rapidly in Spanish. She put her head in her hands, crying uncontrollably. I was speechless. I went over to her and put my arms around her. Later when our translator returned, I told her, “I could not understand your words, but I am a Mom, too, so I know exactly what you said.” We cried together. It was then that I realized the difference we had made in this one boy’s life.
The sacrifice we made for Jefferson was minimal. A little money. A few letters and pictures. Prayers and encouragement. I had no idea the impact we made in him and his family.
Even more so, I wasn’t expecting how deeply I would love him and his family, how sacred our time with him would be, how quickly God would weave our lives together.
The next day was a whole other adventure . . . .
P.S. Jefferson and his Mom were happy and we laughed tons . . . until we got out the camera. Then they would go all straight-faced on us.