This is Mugendi.
This is Mugendi's mom.
And this is the story of the best letter I've ever received.
First, a little background information. David and I started sponsoring Mugendi through a program called Compassion International almost 3 years ago. For those who aren't familiar with Compassion International, its a child sponsorship program that provides food, healthcare, education and spiritual formation to the children it serves. Compassion works through local churches in various countries who are interested in becoming child development centers.
Other than making sure our support arrived, responding to letters a few times each year, and trying to remember to pray for someone I'd never met, our sponsorship didn't impact my life much. Until this week last year.
Last year, several of my favorite bloggers wrote for Blog for Compassion's trip to the Philippines. Even though the culture is very different from Mugendi's I was captivated by the stories they told. All of them were incredible, but I've added links to the 3 that impacted me most:
Like this one about this woman whose kitchen is flooded 9 months of the year who still finds time to volunteer at her child's compassion center: Rosa's Story
Or this one about Compassion's incredible financial accountability: Ever wonder where your money goes?
Or this one about how would my heart and actions be different if Mugendi was literally my neighbor: Imagine If...
Take the time to read just one.
God used these stories to help break David and I's hearts for the needs of our overseas neighbors. We decided to sponsor an additional child, commit to writing them both at least monthly, pray for them and send a family gift to Mugendi's family.
A family gift is an additional amount above the normal monthly sponsorship that benefits the entire family. Families might buy housing materials, livestock, seeds, or anything else that might be needed. When you send a family or birthday gift through Compassion, 100% of it goes to the child/family and nothing is taking out for administrative costs. The child development center staff works with the family to help determine what items are needed/wanted. We waited and waited to see what our family would choose to do.
Last week, a letter arrived, thanking us over and over again for our gift. Mugendi's family was able to buy fruit to sell at their stand in the market. Seeing the smiles on their faces (this is the first photo we've ever received of Mugendi smiling) was priceless.
I think sometimes, when we're faced with the reality and scale of poverty in the world, it paralyzes us. We wonder if our drop in the bucket can make a difference. God doesn't ask us to solve global poverty. He does ask us to recognize all we have is a gift from him and to be faithful with it. When I look at how comfortably we live, as others struggle to live at all, and I know our family isn't there yet.
If you're looking for a way to give of your time, love and finances and share Christ, I definitely recommend Compassion. Whether or not you feel called to that, I encourage you to follow the Compassion bloggers this year as they go to Tanzania, May 6th-11th. Mugendi lives just north of where the bloggers will be spending most of their time in another city that borders Lake Victoria. I can't wait to peek inside what his daily life is like.
The button on my sidebar will link you to all the writers, but if you can only follow one of them, I recommend Shaun Groves.. If you have any questions for me about sponsorship or Compassion, I'd love to tell you more.