I can’t think of a better way to kick off this series about our sponsor trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International than to tell you all about the sweet girl I’m going to visit!
Miss Meranyelis is the third of four sponsored children we’ve added to our family. Yes, I’m sold on child sponsorship. And thank the Lord, my husband has embraced it whole-heartedly as well! Miss Bethchaida was the first sweet pea we sponsored through Compassion. Then we added Mr. Djino! And our newest addition to the family is Mr. Charles, a just-turned three-year-old boy with a prosthetic leg whose sponsorship was long awaited, but miraculously came through last month! I was incredibly blessed to visit Bethchaida, Djino and Charles last February on a sponsor trip to Haiti with Compassion. The trip was worth every penny. I’d return in a heartbeat.
Now let’s get back to Miss Meranyelis. We’ve only sponsored her for six months, but let me tell you, I am so excited to meet her! Here’s why…
When I was in Haiti on the sponsor trip last February, I realized that I really loved interacting with the older girls in the Compassion projects. The young girls were super cute, of course! But the older girls were engaging, more than I imagined. I loved the conversation we had, and felt a strong connection with a few girls in particular. The time I spent with the older girls made me realize the notable positive impact we can make on these girls living in extreme poverty. One day they’ll grow up to be women, leaders of their communities and countries. It’s an absolute honor to pour into their budding lives.
So I knew, without a doubt, that the next child we’d sponsor would be an older girl.
When we decided to move ahead with another sponsorship, my husband gave me free rein to make a decision as to who it would be! When I told him it was going to be an older girl, he reminded me I shouldn’t restrict myself to one particular gender or age, but that I should be open and allow my heart to be led.
I opened the Compassion website. “Sponsor a Child Today” flashed big and blue on the top of the screen. I chose Dominican Republic from the “Where in the World” drop down menu. And I left gender and age preferences blank.
Pictures of sweet girls and boys in need of sponsors flooded the page. Some were younger. Some were older. Several captured my attention. But there was Meranyelis, sweet Meranyelis. (Um, yeah. I knew she was the one from the second I saw her face and that confident, a little bit sassy pose.)
But I have to be honest, I tried to ignore the call I felt to sponsor Meranyelis, at least at first. My husband’s words played on repeat in my head…be open, let yourself be led. So I kept looking, kept clicking on pictures of boys and girls to see if perhaps they were the one. When I finished searching page one, I clicked to page two. After I’d made it through all of the children, I refreshed the screen. Some of the faces were familiar, but there were new faces, too. And there was Meranyelis, sweet Meranyelis.
I repeated this process – page one, page two, refresh the field of children in need of a sponsor – three, maybe even four times. Meranyelis popped up every time. She was one of the only children that didn’t fade in and out of my search. She was ever present, always there.
So I admit all the time spent searching and over searching was probably a little overkill, but it served its purpose. God was LOUDLY and CLEARLY speaking to me. Sponsor Meranyelis! She’s the one!
I finally surrendered to the fact that my hunch was right from the start. We were going to sponsor an older girl, and now I knew her name. Meranyelis!
I’m so excited to meet his sweet girl, y’all, and pour into her life during our precious time together. I have a little insight into Meranyelis’ life and past that makes me love her even more. A few months ago, I called Compassion to find out more about Meranyelis’ family. Her mother is alive, but doesn’t live with her. She lives with her father, aunt and grandmother. Meranyelis doesn’t have any siblings, but she has four best friends she named in one of her letters. She enrolled in Compassion’s Child Development Sponsorship Program in 2006 when she was three years old, and she’s had three sponsors prior to us.
I don’t understand why Meranyelis was born into extreme poverty while other kids live in wealth. I don’t know why she isn’t living with her mama. I’m not sure how she feels about being an only child. And I haven’t a clue as to the heartbreak Meranyelis’ three prior sponsors experienced when life circumstances forced them to discontinue sponsorship.
But these things I know for sure…
None of us know the WHY behind everything that happens in our lives.
But God works all things together for our good.
Our lives are joyful. And our lives are incredibly painful.
Regardless of the joy and pain, we’re loved. Deeply loved.
And so goes for Meranyelis.
She’s experienced pain and poverty, but she’s deeply loved. By God. Family. Friends. Compassion International. Prior sponsors. And our family. Love’s written all over her face.
She’s sweet. She’s kind. She’s smart. She’s a little sassy. And she’s going to be a leader in her community and country. I just know it.
It is an honor to be Meranyelis’ sponsor through Compassion International. And it is going to be a delight to meet her. To ensure she continues to be released from extreme poverty is the least I can do.
I can’t wait to tell her how precious she is. I can’t wait to hold her hand and ask her all the questions I ever wanted to know. I can’t wait to sit and play and walk and talk with this girl who’ll turn woman any day now. And I can’t wait to let her know. You are loved. You are chosen. God chose you. And so do I.
Perhaps you’re curious about child sponsorship. Or maybe you’ve felt called to sponsor a child, but haven’t taken action yet. Now is a great time! Who knows? Someday you might find yourself traveling to meet your sponsored child! Sponsorship is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. I pray that gift for you, too. So take a leap of faith. Click here and take a peek at all those sweet faces. There’s one special child waiting for your sponsorship.
This blog post is part of a three-week series I’m writing about my journey to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International January 10-15, 2015. Click here to read all the posts from my series!
If your heart has been touched by the words in this blog post, would you be so kind as to share it with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and via email? I would be oh so grateful. The more we spread the word about Compassion and the great work they’re doing, the more sweet children will be released from extreme poverty. Thank you, friends!