One of the main reasons our church felt pulled to go to Guatemala is that over one hundred children in a certain Compassion center in Salama, Guatemala are sponsored by families in our church. Our mission trip ended up being way more than just visiting this center, but it was one of my highlights. Rich and I began sponsoring Yerlin about a year ago and have sent her a couple of letters and pictures. I've told many people already, but I have always loved what Compassion does. We had a sponsor child as long as I can remember growing up. I've always wondered what it would be like to actually meet them. I still can't believe I've done it!
This is the sign that welcomed us to the center. The children go to their various schools in the morning and then twice a week in the afternoon they come to the center for Bible lessons, physical activities, help with school work, etc... They also usually come on Saturdays.
This is Yerlin's parents and grandfather! Her grandfather actually works at the center. This is pretty amazing, really, since a great number of the children have been abandoned by their fathers. Yerlin is blessed to have believing parents and a stable father and grandfather. Praise God!
It took quite a while to get this little one to warm up to us. She is only 4 1/2 years old and pretty shy. Her parents were shy, as well. But by the end of our visit she was running up to us and hugging us.
I mean, how cute is this little thing?? She was very much dressed up - in her authentic local dress.
This is Yerlin's class. She is at the far left of the picture. The younger ones had the largest class.
I wanted you to see the staff it takes to run the center. These are the local staff that work every week to share Christ and enrich the lives of these needy children.
Compassion was amazing. They provided a translator for each family that was there to see their sponsor child. I was able to connect with a number of other children who are sponsored by various friends of mine. One of the teachers (the lady in pink and black in the picture) took my list of children and gathered them all up for me to take pictures and talk to each one.
We were able to put on a VBS for a day for the center. As I led songs, Yerlin didn't take her eyes off of me :) At the end of the day, we were given one last half-hour to give her a gift and pray with her and say goodbye. Her grandfather prayed for us and our family - a moment I won't forget! It was truly a day we'll remember for the rest of our lives!
If you have even considered sponsoring a child but don't yet, or even if you do already and doubt whether it's worth it... doubt no more! Your little bit of money a month is doing incredible things for extremely needy children! If you are a sponsor, let me encourage you to write to your child. Yerlin has 2 brothers that are also sponsored and they have never heard from their sponsors. Never even one letter. I know it's hard to make the time for it, but it really means a lot to those families. I really think it takes the ministry to a whole new level. Don't miss the opportunity!!