About two weeks ago, we got some sad news in the mail. Remember my friend Mugendi? His family decided to leave the Compassion International program unexpectedly last month. After 3 years of practically perfect attendence at the Child Development Center and even more letters than usual exchanged this past year from both of us, Mugendi suddenly stopped attending. I could have never imagined how sad I'd be to receive this news. There really is a Mugendi shaped hole in my heart.
Compassion gave us all the answers they could. The staff isn't really sure why Mugendi's family is leaving the program. It could be that they need Mugendi's help around the home or in the marketplace or simply that as he's gotten older, he's chosen to no longer participate. Typically, at least 2 home visits take place to attempt to remediate the situation before a child is removed from the program roster so we feel confident that every appeal has been made that can be.
On our end, there's only one thing left to do. We get to write a "final letter". Assuming his family hasn't moved by the time it arrives, it will be the last piece of mail delivered to him from us. From what we hear, he'll likely keep it for at least the rest of his childhood, along with our other letters. That's weighty. There are so many things I wanted to write more about when he got older, and now...I have one letter.
One letter to tell him what a special young man he is. One letter to remind him that he is made in the image of God, that poverty is not what defines him. One letter to share scriptures I hope he never forgets. I wrote that letter this afternoon, tomorrow I'll put it in the mail, and in all likelyhood that will close Mugendi's chapter in our life.
Compassion offered to match us up with another young man Mugendi's age in Tanzania, but we aren't ready. Both of us fervently hope that Mugendi will be one of the 10% or so who return to the program after a brief hiatus. I am however, slowly accepting the fact that this may not be the case and, if not, would love to sponsor another child again. I know we'll probably choose our new child the same way we chose Mugendi.
We sorted by "longest waiting child" and looked at photographs until one spoke to us. Today, just to see how many children are "longest waiting" (waiting for sponsorship for more than 6 months) I did a quick search. I was astonished to see that 29 children have been waiting over a year for sponsorship. They are mostly from Indonesia and Honduras.
Likely, these children are in the same situation Mugendi was in when we became his sponsors. They've signed up to be part of a newly opened Child Development Center and are just waiting to be sponsored. They may already be receiving services like food, education and spiritual formation or they may still be waiting. I don't know. What they are definitely not receiving are letters of encouragement and caring.
If you'd like to consider sponsoring one of these children, just follow this link: http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/child-search-results.htm?cboLongestWaiting=Yes
If you want to read more about why I'm a big fan of the work Compassion does click here: http://joyonthejourney.blogspot.com/2012/05/best-letter-ive-ever-received.html
It takes 2-3 months for mail to travel to Mugendi's village in Tanzania and 2-3 months for reply to make it back here again, so don't expect any rapid updates! While I mourn our loss of connection to Mugendi, I know God's plans in his life are much bigger than one American family. I have complete confidence that "he who began a good work in [him] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."