We gather pretty paper and stickers. I have actually printed out pictures from my computer, something I rarely do.
And we sit to write. To our children.
Nehemiah proudly calls him, “my friend Jonathan,” and talks about Africa as if it were a place we might go visit this afternoon, like the park or a friend’s house.
He has no concept of oceans and continents and worlds apart and different.
He has no concept of poverty. He is three and knows only comfort. His belly has never ached in hunger with skin stretched tight over ribs as tiny and frail as spun glass.
He has never known sickness without end, or the death of one of his parents, or the hopelessness that can come from a life with no choices. No dreams or vision.
But he does know friendship. His friend Jonathan. And he loves to paste on stickers of trucks and bugs and scribble nonsensical pictures in vibrant Crayola hues. And when we get the letters from his friend, Jonathan, and the updated picture of this somber faced little boy and his hand drawn pictures of the Compassion center, his home or his family, the worlds apart don’t seem so far.
He likes soccer, wants prayer for his mother, and is excited for his next birthday.
Compassion has given us a bridge over the continents connecting our hearts. It has allowed each of our children in Africa to become friends and family. We have 5 sponsored children. Two from World Vision and three from Compassion. All in Africa.
We are done having children of our own. My uterus called it quits after three C-sections and the doctor informed us that no more were possible without serious maternal risk. Since my pregnancies were so very difficult to begin with, we accepted that this was the end to our family.
Three beautiful children. And most of the time, I’m ok with that. But sometimes, I wonder what a fourth would look like, if the fifth would laugh at the things I think funny, or if the sixth would be a boy or a girl. I sometimes see big families with their mob of children gathered around them like a flock and I become wistful.
And I know that adoption is an option, but really at this time in our lives, it’s not. For many reasons. So, while I haven’t totally overruled that option for someday, for now I have found joy in our sponsored children.
We started with the two in Ethiopia through World Vision, little girls, Habiba and Rehimet, the same ages as my oldest son and daughter.
Then we added a third through Compassion International, Jonathan, from Burkina- Faso:Nehemiah’s friend. And Tsion, another little girl from Ethiopia. And after the last Compassion bloggers trip, we added Zahara, a teenage girl from Tanzania.
I feel like our family is complete now. Sometimes it seems like a lot. But truthfully $38 per month for each child is nothing compared to the cost of having child number four or five and we weren’t able to, so God gave us these sponsored kids instead. And after reading the posts from the bloggers who have gone on Compassion trips, I know the money is being well spent and our kids are given the best chance for a life of hope.
As for us, I know God will provide. He would’ve if we’d had a large family and he does now. And I know that this family, the ones in my arms and the ones in my heart far away were each chosen by my Father just for my mama heart.
So we paste stickers and draw pictures and Nehemiah talks of when we are going to visit his friend Jonathan in Africa, “maybe tomorrow”, he says.
Yes, maybe someday, I smile.
If you sponsor a child, I’d love to hear how it’s changed you or your family, or ways you involve your kids in the process. I have seen some great ideas on Pinterest for letter writing, which is the best part of our sponsorship.