Today I met two supermodels. Not really. But holy cow, aren’t these two sisters gorgeous? These two girls are sponsored by two separate Australian families with Compassion here in the Philippines. Aira, on the left, is 17 and hopes to become a teacher. Dhesthile, on the right, is 13 and is mostly happy playing volleyball.
They both help lead worship in their dilapidated shell of a church in an area here called The Island. They call it that because several times a year, houses are flooded up to their waists.
Aira wants to stay there and teach. She wants to stay because she’s already investing in kids, and she knows them by name.
She knew that little Margie down the road lives with her single dad and brothers because her mother left to become a prostitute.
She also knew that of the kids in the neighborhood, two still don’t have sponsors. Aira prays that these friends will soon.
Hope begets action
“Live simply so that others may simply live.” This well-known quote from Mother Teresa has been floating through my head all week as I’ve worn the necklace you see here that Lisa made. Live simply. It’s resting on my heart right now, literally and figuratively.
I mean, I’ve more or less believed this for awhile now. My family and I have lived abroad and seen the simplicity of other cultures first-hand. I’ve lived on the Serbo-Kosovar border in the former Yugoslavia, not long after Miloseviç swept through with his atrocities. I’ve visited Russian orphanages mere months after the Iron Curtain fell.
But I admit that this week has been the first time I’ve seen real, hard-core, true poverty with HOPE enveloping each of these hearts. These kids, loved on individually by Compassion sponsors, have hope. Their families may live in homes not larger than the bed I’m typing on, but they have hope. You can see it in their eyes.
So… How do you process all this? What’s the take away? What can you do, as a family, to bring hope to families like the ones you’ve seen all week?
You already know that it costs $38 monthly to sponsor a child through Compassion. It’s not much by our North American standards, but I understand that it would take a bit of sacrifice for some people. I’m not made of money, either. That legendary tree-sprouting-money-leaves still isn’t growing in my backyard.
Maybe you want to give, but you’re not sure where to find that extra money. Here are some ideas.
1. Start living on a monthly written budget, and include a line-item of $38 in your giving. You’ll be surprised that once you write down your monthly financial plan and give every dollar a name, it goes farther than you think.
2. Sponsor a child with your book club, Bible study, or play group. $38 divided by several families is almost nothing. If college dorms can do it (and they do), you can, too.
3. Skip one meal per week, and set aside the money you’d normally use to eat for your family’s Compassion fund. It’s only one meal — as your stomach gurgles, you’ll be reminded to pray for the millions worldwide whose tummy growls all day long.
4. Skip two lattes a week — $8 per week is $32 monthly. Heck, even simply downgrade your usual drink from a latte to an americano. At Starbucks, this would be an almost $200 difference annually.
5. Eat one meatless meal per week. Skipping just one pound of ground beef per week can easily save you $20 per month.
6. Switch from cable to Netflix. Not only will you watch less television (always a good thing), you’ll save about $30 monthly.
7. If you normally eat out twice a week, drop it down to just once. That can easily be $40 weekly saved (or 4.2 kids, in Compassion terms).
So… yeah. I’m going to keep doing some of these things. I’ll start doing some others. I’d really like it if you joined me.
Did you know that if you’re a sponsor, your child can rattle off your first and last name and where you’re from without batting an eye? I loved asking kids all week who their sponsors were. “Mr. Brian Chun from South Korea.” “Mr. Robert and Mrs. Julie Hill from Colorado.” It was precious to hear their staccato voice resound your names with a smile on their faces.
8. Write letters. I had no idea how much sponsor’s letters mean to these kids. No idea. Eva, a volunteer teacher with Compassion, told me today that she sees a remarkable difference in academic, social, and emotional progress between the kids who get letters and the ones who don’t. It broke my heart to hear prayer requests from children that they would receive a letter from their sponsor.
9. Write letters to kids you’re not financially supporting. There are kids whose sponsors don’t write — head here for information on how you can write on their behalf as a correspondent. These kids will love you for it.
10. Have your children draw pictures for your sponsored kids. Such an easy, inexpensive, meaningful way to bless these kids. There’s a good chance these drawings will become artwork for their walls. I’ve seen your kids’ scribbles, taped to their dilapidated cardboard walls.
So there you go. Ten things. Ten little steps we can each take to make life a lot easier for a child.
We board our plane in just a few hours, and my fellow bloggers and I will head back to our homes and squeeze our own children. I’ve got a suitcase full of laundry, and come Monday morning, it’s back to making oatmeal and reading stories on the couch.
After today, you’ll get a little break from hearing about Compassion and the Philippines. (But don’t be surprised if you hear about it again in the not too distant future.) Yet I hope that Aira’s simple prayer stays with you this weekend, as it will with me as I rest on my long flight over the Pacific:
That more of her friends will get sponsored.
Sponsor a child. Really. You’ll be blessed as much as the child you’re blessing — try it and see what happens. You’re giving these kids hope, but your family will be the better for it, too.