Connections: Compassion Blogging Trip Day 4

This post was originally published May 9, 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 TONIGHT at 8 p.m. ET on Twitter as we tweet live with the blogging team.

Please also join me in remembering the time that I spent learning about the work Compassion is doing in Tanzania. 

Compassion Tanzania
When I agreed to join Compassion on this week’s blogging trip to Tanzania, I knew that I would make connections that would impact me in ways I could never imagine. I hoped to connect more to the organization that my family has supported for some time. I hoped to connect more with the home country of one of the children my family helps to sponsor.  I hoped to connect with our new sponsored child, Mektrida.  I hoped to connect with my fellow bloggers as we shared this life changing experience.

But the connections that I have witnessed during this trip are nothing short of affirmation that God’s hand is in all that we are doing this week, his plan being laid out before us as clearly as a map, leading us to share the story of the children of Tanzania with the rest of the world.

It began with the little things.  The email I received asking if I would consider joining Compassion on a trip to Tanzania was the third time a similar opportunity through other organizations had come before me. Each of the other two times I chose work obligations over the leap of faith, but this time I felt that God was trying to tell me something…loudly.  Today is not only my sponsored child, Meke’s, birthday, but it also my son’s birthday.  I needed to give up being with him as he turned six to support Compassion, spending today in Africa, the home of Meke.  It was a decision to sacrifice and ask my son to do the same, but it somehow not only felt like the right decision, but also felt necessary.

Next was when we received the information about our newest sponsored child, Mektrida, and the similarity in her name to Meke’s.  As I shared yesterday, I felt goosebumps when I heard the Child Development Center staff call Mektrida, Meke.  Connections…

Earlier this week we met with a family whose children, Doto and Kurwa, are both enrolled in the Compassion Child Development Center near their home.  Twins, they go by the traditional names Doto and Kurwa to indicate first and second born.  Both children were new to Compassion, and while we learned about the family’s situation and how Compassion was helping to release them from poverty, it felt very much like only the beginning of the story.  And I wanted more.

Today God provided much, much more.

We began our walk up the steep hill to the home of another sponsored child, and it was not until we were nearly there that I realized a second child was joining us. I asked the name of the boy whose home we would visit.  Doto. The other child following?  Kurwa, his twin sister.

Unlike the other family whose twins were enrolled in Compassion, this Doto and Kurwa had been involved for a number of years.  We were welcomed openly into their home by their incredibly grateful and gracious father, who invited us to sit with his family.  Doto and Kurwa proudly showed us the many letters from their sponsors, pieces of paper to us, treasures to them.  Their father spoke to us about how Compassion International has dramatically changed their lives, providing an education to their children and hope for the future to the entire family, hope that someday these two children would move the whole family up and out of poverty.  He shared with us that family gifts from Doto’s sponsor, a trumpet player in the U.S. Navy, have allowed them to purchase the supplies necessary to build their home, which houses seven family members.

Another connection.  Just yesterday my fellow blogger, Jolanthe, left a home visit with a heavy heart, realizing that just $120 would allow the family she visited to build their home and live together under one roof.  Today she saw the next chapter of the story.  She was able to witness another child’s home built to completion with money from his sponsor’s family gifts, and her hope for the home of the first child was renewed.

We walked back down the hill to the Child Development Center to meet up with the rest of the blogging team before leaving Mwanza to complete our journey in the city of Arusha.  We were met with the smiling faces of the center’s children, eagerly waiting for us to return, covering us in hugs and grabbing for our hands.  I looked from face to face, asking “Jina lako nani?”, what is your name in Swahili.  We continued to walk down the hill, joining the crowd of children waiting in the shade of a tree.

And then my eyes connected with this smiling face.

I knew her immediately.  Yesterday during my time in Mektrida’s incredibly financially depressed community, we spent hours with a large group of children who all lived in the same area of concrete block homes.  Many spoke to my heart, their wide eyes fascinated by these strange visitors to their homes, and many impressed me, their ability to pick up our English words quickly.  But one girl became my friend.  This older girl – maybe 11 or even 12 years old – appeared out of nowhere halfway through our visit, towering above the smaller children, her smile shining.  She called me missus and helped me calm the children while we played with bubbles, her own excitement for this new treasure barely able to be contained.  She allowed the other kids to take their turns first and we exchanged a knowing glance and a nod, a promise that I would protect her chance to take a turn if she continued to be the calm in the chaos.

It didn’t make a bit of sense, this familiar face from a community appearing at a Child Development Center and not the same center where Mektrida attends and receives services.  Could I be mistaken?  But I knew I wasn’t.  I walked over to her, she embraced me, and I got the translator’s attention.  Did she know Mektrida?  She laughed, smiled, and nodded yes.  Was she just with me the day before playing with bubbles?  More laughter and nodding, a stronger embrace.

Jino lako nani?


Damari, we are friends.

Yes, missus.  

I believe that there is a plan, and that God reveals moments such as these to remind us of His plan for all of us, for each of these children, for their families.  I also believe that His plan includes more children being released from poverty in Jesus’ name as a result of this trip and these posts, sharing our experiences and connections, and leading you to make your own.

I have made and felt so many connections this week.  Will you connect with a child in Tanzania right now, a child who needs you? 

Please sponsor a Compassion child today.

Compassion Tanzania


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  • God is in the business of making amazing connections. I see it so often when working tables at Compassion events. He pulls child and sponsor together through some detail like a name, a birthdate or some other unmistakable sign. In our case, for our first sponsored child, it was the look in her eyes that drew us in. She seemed scared and unsure and I had this need to bring a smile and hope to her face.

    You can see how Precious has changed if you scroll to the end of this post. She now has confidence! She’s growing up lovely and healthy.

    God directs these connections and I just have to praise Him for the way He does!

  • As I pour over each of these posts I think how radically different things can be if we put others first in all we do. If we sacrifice our comfort to insure the most simple and basic of needs can be met for others…I would find myself a roller coaster of emotion, giving away all I have with me hoping it could help. Thank you so much for being willing to sacrifice so that so many people can learn through your journey…

  • While working at a Compassion event last weekend, we heard the most amazing connection story I have heard yet. The child packets were placed on the seats in the auditorium. A woman came to the table with tears still in her eyes. She told us that the birthdate for the child on that packet, was the same exact date that her friend had died when she was 18. What had always been a hard day for her, will now be one of rejoicing that she can pour into this child! God is willing to work in our hearts when we are willing to let Him in.

  • Oh what a beautiful post. I love hearing how God lines up all these little things to remind us how in control of everything He really is. Beautiful!

  • Beauty reveals itself not from the outside but rather from the inside looking out. What beauty eminates from these children and the love just keeps flowing out. Thank you for sharing!

  • God works in so many ways to help his children if we are just willing to be the instruments in His hands. We have experienced similar life-changing paths as we have done humanitarian work in Nicaragua and Bolivia. My husband and 13 year-old daughter are in Bolivia right now, delivering much needed medical supplies and building up schools. It’s so exciting to be a part of this type of service to the world, and sharing these stories inspires many others. Thanks.