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When our group arrived at the Compassion Child Development Center, we headed straight upstairs for lunch. We’d spent all morning visiting homes, so we understood the reality of what it looks like to live in extreme poverty. Without a doubt, one of the most humbling gifts that comes from a trip to visit your sponsored child is witnessing joy and hope amidst extreme poverty.

We were told to find a table and seat ourselves next to a mama and her precious babe. Most of the tables were already full, but as I entered, I noticed a seat available next to a beautiful mama and her sweet baby girl. I sat without hesitation.

Mama’s smile was radiant. Her skin, dark ebony. Her eyes told the story of her life. And as far as I was concerned? She was glowing with love and authenticity. This was going to be amazing.

We went around the table and made introductions. Dominick translated for us. I told her about my family, that I had a husband and three children, 12, 9 and 3 years of age. She smiled warmly and told me that she, too, had three children, a 10-year-old, a 5-year-old, and 2-year-old Megan. Sometimes as mamas, we just need to know someone understands our life. Anna recognized herself in me, and I recognized myself in her. The connection was obvious from the start.

Anna and her daughter, Megan, participate in Compassion’s Child Survival Program. Compassion International is passionate about ensuring childrens’ well-being, even before they enter the sponsorship program. So mamas and babies receive support as they journey through the reality of parenting and living in extreme poverty. Anna and her daughter have been the recipients of this great gift. Anna knows this is “substance to get through.”

Throughout the meal, Anna shared her story of everyday life in extreme poverty. It was humbling to be in her presence.

Anna had the opportunity to take a nail painting class that Compassion offers for moms. So Anna paints nails and cleans houses as a way to generate income for her family as she’s able. After her 10-year-old daughter heads to school in the morning, Anna brings the two youngest children to a friend’s house where they’re cared for while Anna works. Anna pays for the child care, but can’t afford all-day care.

So mid-day, when the 10-year-old is done with school, she walks to the friend’s house, picks up the 5-year-old and 2-year-old, and brings them back home. From then on out, the 10-year-old is responsible for watching the younger two. There’s no one else to watch them while Anna’s at work. Anna’s family lives far away, and her husband’s family is “not aware when she needs help.” So Anna has to “figure it out on her own.” She taught her three children from a very young age to take care of each other. When they’re home alone, Anna locks the door and gives her oldest daughter the key. She tells them to stay inside, and they do. This might sound risky to us, but this is the day-to-day reality of surviving in extreme poverty. Anna loves her children and does her best to provide what they need.

Anna’s baby, Megan, isn’t in the sponsorship program yet. She’s only two. But Compassion provides food and medicine for Megan. They offer wisdom for Anna’s parenting journey, as well as as education and encouragement so she can provide and be the mama she wants to be. In another year, when Megan’s old enough to enroll in Compassion’s sponsorship program, she’ll be in a much better place than she would have been otherwise. Living in extreme poverty is more bearable when you have hope for your child’s future.


“It’s good,” said Anna. “It’s just good.”

Anna revealed much of herself during our two hours together at lunch. We smiled. And we laughed. We discussed the hard realities of life in extreme poverty. But most of all? We felt joy. There was great peace in that place, at the table that day.

It didn’t take long for me to recognize that Anna was one of those rare people I’ve found in life that I know, without a doubt, could be a best friend – if only we lived closer. I sensed it in the deepest parts of me. This brave, beautiful woman living in extreme poverty was best friend material.

I imagined Anna and I chatting over lunch, with the kids running and playing. I imagined us at church together, singing together. I imagined this woman, with a life so different than mine, being my best friend.

I knew this was true. I knew this was right.

Anna lives in extreme poverty. I live in relative wealth. The reality is, we won’t ever be best friends here on earth. But God made us friends. He brought us together for one day on earth, so we could recognize each other as best friends in heaven. He promises unity in eternity, together forever, in heaven.

Then, we’ll know.

Then, we’ll go.

It’s time friend. It’s time to fellowship. As friends, best friends.


I could barely contain my tears as I sat at the lunch table next to Anna that afternoon in the Compassion Child Development Center. I took it all in. God’s love washed over me. His vision for His people was clear. This is what heaven looks like. This is what heaven feels like. Moments later, Amanda, another sponsor on the trip, approached and shared quietly “I’m in heaven. I always loved Compassion, but now I’m sold.” I sat in wonder, tears readied to burst free.

A sentence came to mind as clear as day. I broke out my journal and wrote it, right there at the table as I sat next to Anna and Megan, so I wouldn’t forget.

This is a constant joy and grieving of what we see could be and will be, with what is.

Anna and I got up from the table, walked down the stairs of the Compassion Child Development Center, and strolled slowly down the street to her local church. I soaked in the moment once more.

We sat next to each other in a big circle of chairs at church. I was one foot away from Anna as she shared how Compassion has helped her so much. I was there to see little ones run wild and free, just like our littles back home. I was there to witness her friendship with other mamas and babies served by Compassion

We were there to hug good bye. We were there to bid farewell with love. We were there to go with hope.

We’re all living in poverty, really. We’re all in need of something greater to hold us together, to give us hope, to give us a reason to keep on living. For me and Anna, it’s God, sweet Jesus. Our love for Compassion International unites us. Compassion gives us “substance to get through.”

Between now and heaven, I’ll wait courageously, knowing God will reunite us someday. Between now and heaven, I’ll rest in peace, knowing Anna and her sweet girl, Megan, are in good hands with Compassion International. They’re in God’s good hands. Before long, Megan will be eligible for a sponsor. I pray her sponsor will fully grasp the gift they’ve been given. I pray her sponsor will know the beauty of child sponsorship, so it won’t be as much about the financial support as it is about the sharing of hearts through letters, love and friendship.

Will you sponsor a child today? The impact you have when you sponsor a child is incredible, immeasurable. Your sponsorship means so much to those living in extreme poverty. We can’t imagine what it’s like to live in such poverty, but we can extend a hand and say “I’m here. You can do this. We can do this together.” Let’s give. Let’s receive. Let’s live as friends, united with one purpose. To love one another. Click here to sponsor a child.


This blog post is part of a three-week series I’m writing about my journey to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. Click here to read all the posts from my series!

Be sure to check out my fellow travelers’ most recent blog posts! Kris Camealy wrote a beautiful post about hospitality amidst poverty with “Generous Hands Are Blessed Hands,” and Sandra Heska King wrote a sweet post about a 45-year old single man, Luke, who visited his sponsored child, titled “What Happens When Sponsor Meets Child.”

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!






Yesterday was incredible. I sensed God everywhere and was 100% convinced I’d tasted a bit of heaven on earth. At the end of the day, I was certain I had three or four blog posts worth of stories to share about Compassion International and all the amazing work they’re doing with children here in the Dominican Republic.

But friends, yesterday was also crazy long. We didn’t get to writing until 10:30 p.m. I hadn’t taken my usual nightly pre-writing shower, and once I did start writing, I had a hard time getting out of my head and into the groove of my true heart. I stayed up drafting the post until 3:37 a.m., woke up at 7:00 a.m. to get ready for the day, began editing at 8:00 a.m., and by 8:30 a.m., I was in absolute tears. The post needed a major rewrite. There was no way it was going to get published before we needed to leave for the day.

I walked out to the empty courtyard and sat myself on a white chaise lounge. Tears streamed uncontrollably down my face as I typed a Facebook message to my blog readers explaining why there was no promised post for the day. I was a mess. An utter disaster. There was no hiding it from anyone.

This was NOT what I had planned.

This was NOT the way I wanted this to happen.

This trip was my dream come true, God’s dream for his girl. And in my mind? I was messing it all up.

But I have to admit, from the second I sat down on that chaise lounge, God began speaking to me. Sun streamed down on my face all 45 minutes I typed, even as tears streamed abundantly.

I finished the Facebook post and pressed publish. There was just enough time for me to run up to the room and grab my stuff. Today we were going on the bus to visit our sponsored children. I was determined to enjoy every moment of the day with my sweet sponsored child, Meranyelis, and not let this get the best of me.

All the bags I’d packed for Meranyelis were sitting on the bed. Three plus my own backpack made for quite a heavy load. I couldn’t help but believe these bags represented the loads I’ve packed for myself, the pressure I’ve placed on myself to be enough, to do enough, to perform enough. It was almost ridiculous how heavy the bags were. Tears continued streaming from my eyes, even as I closed the hotel room door.

I passed an employee as I walked down the hall to the elevator. “Buenos Dias,” he said, as he smiled and nodded gently.

In the elevator, I looked down at the (in)courage bag I brought filled with gifts for Meranyelis’ family. Words screamed like lightning to my soul. Redeemed. Just as you are. Jesus. Courage.

When I got downstairs, I tucked myself away in a little nook where nobody could see me, broke out my “A Penny for Your Thoughts” journal, and began scribbling the words that were swarming in my brain. Amanda, another sponsor on the trip, approached and asked how I was doing. “Not good, I’m having a really hard morning,” I said. She smiled and gave grace in her usual loving self.

I got on the bus and fellow writer, Kris Camealy, was there holding a seat for me. She knew something was horribly wrong. Yeah, I told you there was no hiding this from anyone. Kris proceeded to speak words of encouragement over me. She told it to me straight as I cried and stared at the white leather seat with gray stitching in front of us. Her words rung true and refined my soul.

“You don’t fit.”

“Your 5-point method isn’t going to work anymore.”

“You have no idea what you’re doing.”

Sometimes you need a friend to remind you what’s true about you. It sounds brutal, but Kris was right on all counts. I have no idea what I’m doing, and it’s okay. Kris promised me it’s okay. She told me she’s excited for me and all God’s about to do in my life.


So there I was, in line, about to meet my sponsored child. I’d gathered myself enough to be presentable, to be ready for this life-changing experience of meeting my sponsored child, Meranyelis. But when I broke out my camera and tried to take a picture, I realized I’d forgotten the charged battery in the hotel room. If you know me at all, you know this is a worst nightmare scenario. Amy with no camera on the day she’s meeting her sponsored child? Horrible. Terrible. No good. Very bad day. Seriously. I had no other choice than to ask for help. Thank the Lord, Lairsz, a photographer, is on the trip and committed to taking pictures for me.

At this point, it was clear. God was trying to work something out in me today, whether I liked it or not. This planning, this preparing, this scheduling, working, trying hard and producing every aspect of my life so it was good and right and perfect? It wasn’t going to work anymore. God wanted me to surrender it all.

It was time to meet Meranyelis, the highlight of this sponsor trip! She was beautiful, stunning in fact. But at first she looked scared out of her mind, like me.



We sat down at a picnic table and after some conversation, Meranyelis presented me with a gift. She’d created a beautiful picture of a home. At the bottom of the bag were two bracelets she’d made, one for each of us, both the same. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I said.

The girl led me from then on out. From the second I laid eyes on her sponsored child picture on the Compassion International website, I knew she was a leader in the making.



Meranyelis wanted us to play hand games and sing songs. I didn’t know how to do these things. I’m not good with my hands like that. But I sang the songs and played the hand games anyway. Because I love that little sponsored girl, and the repetitive movements were soothing to my soul.

Then she wanted to go swimming. The water was freezing cold. We were shivering, but stayed in the deep anyway. Because I love that little sponsored girl, and the cleansing properties of the water were soothing to my soul.

Meranyelis found a volleyball, another one of my worst nightmares. I hate volleyball. With all my life, like the worst ever. But I swallowed every bit of my third grade self’s pride and played anyway. Because I love that little sponsored girl, and healing the past’s hurts was soothing to my soul.

There was rhythm to the tossing of the volleyball back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. As I watched my sponsored child throw the ball, then catch it, the words give and receive washed over me.

Give and receive.

Give and receive.

Give and receive.


I50A5165We agreed it was time for a snack, so we got out of the pool and I grabbed my wallet. Before we left, I asked Meranyelis’ tutor if she wanted anything. “No,” she said. “I’m fine.” At the snack bar, I asked the translator if she wanted anything. “No,” she said. “I’m fine.” We purchased two small bags of Doritos for who knows how many pesos. I only had a $20 bill, nothing smaller. The snack bar employee had no change to give, so another male translator overheard and paid our bill in full. “Gracias,” I said with humility.

Give and receive.

Meranyelis, the translator and I proceeded to walk to a quaint little treehouse on the far side of the property. Meranyelis took the lead as we climbed the rounded staircase. There we sat, just the three of us in a tiny wooden treehouse all alone. It was completely quiet. At that point, we’d lost the photographer so there was no option to photograph this holy moment. It was just God and the three of us in the tree.

We talked about family, friends and girl things like our favorite colors up there in that treehouse. Meranyelis and I ate Doritos and licked our orange fingertips as we chatted about small things, everyday things, holy important things. We let the time slip away as it may. Nobody knew we were there. In fact, when we finally decided to wander our way back towards the group, we discovered everybody had been looking for us. It was time for lunch.

“We lost track of time,” seemed the only response.

We ate. We found the photographer. And we went back to that treehouse because I’d promised sweet Meranyelis a picture in that place so we could remember.



When it was time for us to give our sponsored children the gifts we’d brought from home, I went back to the bus and grabbed those three heavy bags for Meranyelis. I was honored to give her the gifts, of course. But something had changed in me. I didn’t want to spend time showing Meranyelis every gift I brought her from the USA. I wanted to spend more time with her. I wanted to spend more time giving and receiving, together.

So I showed her bag one and explained, this is for your family. I showed her bag two, the most important one, the bag with purses my daughter and I packed for Meranyelis and her friends. Then, I showed her a handful of things from bag three before I decided I’d leave the rest up to Meranyelis to discover at home, in secret, as a sweet surprise from me.

I didn’t need to show my sponsored child how much I loved her with gifts. I had already shown her how much I loved her with myself.

Give and receive.

Give and receive.

Give and receive.

Will you sponsor a child through Compassion International? You’ll give life and hope to a child living in extreme poverty. But you’ll also discover the hidden treasure of child sponsorship. You’ll learn to receive. Click here to be connected to Compassion International’s website where you can view hundreds of beautiful children waiting for a sponsor. Give and receive. Today.


This blog post is part of a three-week series I’m writing about my journey to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. Click here to read all the posts from my series.

Be sure to check out my fellow travelers’ blog posts from yesterday’s adventures. Sandra Heska King shared “Why We Can’t Stay in Our Corner of the Forest.” And Kris Camealy wrote a thought-provoking post titled “One Way To Build a Future.”

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!






If you live on less than $2 a day, you’re considered to be living in extreme poverty by the world’s standards. Compassion International releases children from extreme poverty in Jesus’ name in the most beautiful ways.

Shortly after we arrived at the Compassion Child Development Center this morning, we began a time of arts and crafts with the sponsored children. We tried to plan our arts and crafts in advance. But really? When it came down to it? We needed to just be present with the children. The paper, stickers, glue sticks and puff balls were just a vehicle for fostering relationships.

The Compassion staff seated the children in rows on the floor in front of us. The children sat quietly and patiently. Truly I tell you, they were little angels.

I had a bag of materials I’d brought from home, so I sat down on the floor and began distributing paper and crayons to the children, one by one. Each child received one piece of white paper and two crayons of their choice. I was amazed at how long the children were willing to wait for one piece of paper and two crayons.

My heart was full. Completely full. But the task of distributing the materials to all the children in my presence was a little overwhelming. There were so many of them and only one of me.

Then, I felt peace wash over my heart.

This is why we’ve traveled so far.

This is why sponsor trips are powerful.

This is why God wants us here, to speak truth to these children about who they are.

This is why 40 people traveled two thousand miles, to let these children know they are precious in His sight.

Scripture settled quietly in my soul…

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…and he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” (Mark 10:14-16)

At that moment, I knew I needed to focus on one child at a time and let them know with all my heart that they are beautiful.

So I finished distributing materials to the children. We colored. We glued cotton balls. We put purple owl stickers on white pieces of paper. And then, as I developed relationship with each child and felt led, I asked if they wanted their picture taken.

They all said yes.

They weren’t grabby. They weren’t swarmy. And they weren’t demanding.

They simply said yes.



After I took each child’s picture, I showed it to them. I looked them straight in the eye and told them “bonita,” the Spanish word for beautiful.

They smiled.

They simply smiled.

Actually? They glowed.



















It was then that God gently reminded me I’d spoken with all girls.

A sweet boy whom I’d never met before approached and simply said “thank you.” I was deeply moved, so I hugged his dear soul and told him “de nada,” you’re welcome.

I asked if he wanted his picture taken.

He said yes.

Simply yes.

After I took his picture, I showed it to him. I looked him straight in the eye and told him “muy guapo,” Spanish for handsome.

He smiled.

He simply smiled.

Actually? He glowed and encouraged two friends to have their pictures taken as well.

Muy Guapo.


Muy guapo.


Muy guapo.


Muy guapo.


I asked the boys to tell me their names. Estevan was named after his grandfather who went to war. “You are a brave warrior,” I said. Jose wrote his name in white on black paper. Estevan, too.

I told them I would remember who they are.

Muy guapo.


Handsome. Beautiful. Precious in God’s sight.

Will you sponsor a child through Compassion International? These kids are real. They live in extreme poverty, on less than $2 a day. But your sponsorship makes a significant difference with just $38 a month. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make. Click here to connect to the Compassion International website where you’ll find a beautiful child quietly 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. Click here to read all the posts from my series!

Be sure to check out my fellow travelers’ blog posts from today. You won’t want to miss their stories! Sandra Heska King shared her experience at a home visit with How to Spoon Hope, and Kris Camealy wrote an eye-opening piece titled Why We Can’t Afford to Close Our Eyes.

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!





DSCN6188I’m empty. Barren. Hollowed out.

A vessel, in waiting.

I’ve strategically seated myself in the corner of a large food court in the Miami International Airport. I can, quite literally, feel walls on either side of me. Green and black tile on one side, mirrored glass on the other. I’m tight in this little nook all by myself, and this is the way I like it. At least for now.

In 3 1/2 hours, I’ll be joining a group of 40+ souls. We’re traveling together, today. We’re on our way to the Dominican Republic for a sponsor trip with Compassion International. While we’re there, we’ll see the amazing work Compassion is doing to release children from extreme poverty. Mamas will testify to the pain poverty’s brought to their doorstep. Babes will cry. And babes will laugh. Kids will swarm. And kids will hold our hands, sit in our laps and snuggle in for security. We’ll drive through slums. We’ll visit humble huts called homes. Tin roofs with holes and mucked up streams will surround us. And we’ll wonder why in the world did we happen upon comfort and wealth in our corner of the world while there’s undeniable poverty here? Our sponsored children will travel miles across the countryside, from all different directions, to meet us. We’ll hug and love, we’ll play and linger long in each moment. And in the end, we’ll wonder where the time went.

Miracles are in store for this sponsor trip. Yes, that’s certain.

This trip is anointed. By God. For God.

He is here. In this place. Waiting for us to arrive. To do His work. To do His will.

So here I sit. Empty. Barren. Hollowed out.

I’m a vessel, in waiting.


The week started great. I made a to-do list on Monday morning. It was a page long, and included everything I needed to do between Monday morning and Friday evening to prepare for my departure from the house this morning at 2:45 a.m.

I kept the list simple, only things that HAD to be done for my blog and for the trip. Five peoples’ laundry and house cleaning didn’t even make the list. I was getting down to the business of this sponsor trip, and I was going to give it my all.

I was doing well on the list. I really was. I published my first pre-trip blog post early in the week and had another planned for yesterday.

One by one, things were getting checked off the list. I was on my way. Smooth sailing.

But life threw a curve ball at me on Thursday morning. I’d intended to spend the day planning, preparing and checking off my list. Instead, I spent the day in relationship, managing the unexpected. I didn’t want to spend the day that way. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t joyful. It wasn’t uplifting or inspiring. I didn’t want to have the day I had. I didn’t want God to give me that kind of day. Didn’t He know I was supposed to be leaving for this sponsor trip with Compassion International in two days? Didn’t He know He was putting a little damper in the fulfillment of my childhood dreams? Didn’t He know this wasn’t good timing?

But I dealt with it. Yes, we dealt with it. That unexpected situation? It desperately needed tender loving care that day. Whether it was two days before my sponsor trip with Compassion International or not. So we tended. We did the hard work of dealing with reality and facing battles as they arose.

I lost the day. Or should I say, I gained it in authentic relationship and trusting God would make up the difference?

So came Friday. I was frantic. My to-do list no longer seemed short. It seemed long, very long. Let’s be real, the situation still needed tending. And yeah, there was that list.

Let me remind you, I was frantic. My mind was racing. My body was going a mile a minute to keep up. I even dropped the babe off for four hours at a home daycare so I could attend my daughter’s school program and pack for the trip in peace and quiet. I should have been doing well, and I was for a while. But the hours slipped through my fingers like seconds. I went and went until the end of the day. I was a stressed mess, waffling between high emotion and complete emptiness.

Before I knew it, it was 9:10 p.m. and I was just getting into bed. The alarm was set for 1:55 a.m. I was down to 5 hours of sleep if everything went perfectly.

The clock ticked. I was hot and uncomfortable. I tossed and turned. I was wide awake. 11:55 babe woke up crying. I moved to the chair to try another sleeping position. Nothing worked. I was wide awake.

By the time 1:18 a.m. rolled around, I realized there was no way I was going to sleep one minute this night before the Compassion International sponsor trip. Sleepless and stressed was NOT the way I wanted to start this trip. Sleepless and stressed was NOT what I had planned for this day.

So I started praying.

I put my hands on my head and prayed I would write the words He wants me to write.

I put my hands on my eyes and prayed I would see what He sees.

I put my hands on my heart and prayed I would feel what He feels.


Then I got up. And I started moving into the day. Because this is the day that the Lord has made, and today He invited me on a sponsor trip.

I tried to sleep on the plane. But it didn’t work. Believe it or not, people were talking! Big, loud plane beeps stirred me awake the second I started falling asleep. My seat mates had to get up to go to the bathroom. They ate the most disgusting smelling peanut snack. And people kept rustling their plastic bags.

A few minutes after I gave up on sleep, the attendant announced “Buckle your seatbelts, we’ve begun our descent into Miami.”

So here I am. At the Miami International Airport. I’m waiting for my 40+ travel partners to arrive.

I didn’t get my second pre-trip blog post published yesterday.

I didn’t get a minute of sleep last night.

And I’m empty. Barren. Hollowed out.

I’m a vessel, in waiting.

I’m remembering the words I wrote last August 8, 2014, in a blog post announcing this sponsor trip I’d be taking to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International

“The moments will be orchestrated by God himself. The stories, prepared in advance for us to tell. May our words be a vessel through which He speaks truth about the value of every human life.”

I’m empty. Barren. Hollowed out.

A vessel, in waiting.

This isn’t the way I wanted to start this trip.

But apparently, it’s the way God wanted me all along.

Hollow. Empty. Barren. A vessel for Him to occupy. So He can live, speak and work through me on this trip. Blessed be the name of the Lord. If I must be empty, may I be filled with Him.

This week, I’m joining Compassion International on a sponsor trip to the Dominican Republic. I’m not on the ground yet, but I’m on my way. It’s an honor to share this trip with writers Kris Camealy and Sandra Heska King. Join us, will you, as we capture all the beautiful stories on our blogs? Perhaps as you hear more about Compassion’s great work with children in extreme poverty, you’ll be moved to sponsor a little one yourself. Click here and you’ll be directed to the sweet faces of children waiting for a sponsor

This blog post is part of a three-week series I’m writing about my journey to the Dominican Republic. 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 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.





Dearest Friends,

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.

3kiddosNow 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!





  1. Valerie Hubel says:

    Love!! So excited for you; how wonderful that you have been able to meet all of your sponsored children.

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