This post was originally published May 6, 2012, during my time in Tanzania with Compassion International. Currently Compassion is in the Dominican Republic with a group of bloggers, sharing the story of how Compassion is releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Please follow their journey in the #compassionbloggers hashtag and through the Compassion site then join us Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on Twitter as we tweet live with the blogging team.
And now, my story begins…
Today was the first day of my week long journey with Compassion International, traveling to Tanzania with a team of bloggers to learn more about what Compassion is doing to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
I am a planner, but from the start, this trip has forced me to embrace the saying, “Let go, let God.”
Not one moment of the trip was in my hands from flight locations and times to dress code to the daily itinerary. I decided very quickly after signing on to be part of the trip that this was entirely in God’s hands, and I needed to give it up to him. I wouldn’t be creating spreadsheets to decide on the best hotel or writing daily itineraries on bright yellow legal pads. Instead I would need to go with the flow.
Even so, I thought I knew enough about the plans to be prepared for what I would experience here. I could not have been more wrong. Yes, there were a few shocking moments on our way here, from missing our connection and spending ten hours in the Amsterdam airport to flying past Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s snow capped peaks so close I swore I could touch them. But those moments could not even begin to touch the overwhelming surprise when we went to our first Child Development Center visit today.
I was overwhelmed with the intense poverty I saw all around me as we drove to the center.
I was overwhelmed by the joy on the children’s faces when they saw us, joyful simply for our presence.
I was overwhelmed by the claps and ululations when, led by Compassion’s Shaun Groves, we went before a group of children and their parents and heard from one mother about what it has meant for one of her children to be a sponsored Compassion child.
Despite this sense of being inundated with thoughts, emotions, and information, there are two lessons from today that I must share before we begin it all again tomorrow.
1. When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are not only changing the life of that child, but you are affecting the entire family positively. As we were told today by our leader Shaun, the opposite of poverty is enough. The goal is not to move these children into the lap of luxury, and yet taking care of the basic needs of one child suddenly allows more resources to their siblings, less worry to their parents, a stronger opportunity for the entire family to form a relationship with Christ. Simply moving the dial from not enough to enough is sometimes all it takes to change the life stories of whole families.
2. There are kids in Compassion’s child development centers who are waiting for a sponsor right now, and who are already receiving services. In fact, in the center we visited today in Mwanza, over 50 of the 230+ kids currently in the program are still in need of a sponsor for $38/month. Once those children have been matched to a sponsor, more places will open up for other kids in the community who could benefit greatly from the programs and services provided by Compassion.
What can you do to help? All week while I am in Tanzania, I am asking my readers to think carefully and pray sincerely about sponsoring a child in Tanzania. I look forward to sharing more about my experiences each day and hope you will continue to follow along!
Read the reflections from my fellow Compassion Bloggers at CompassionBloggers.com.