It still seems fresh in my mind. Waking up ridiculously early to get to the airport. Sitting on a plane for an hour waiting to take off. Navigating a long line at United’s customer service counter to get on a flight to JFK after I missed my connection. Still so fresh. Exactly one year ago, as I’m typing this, I was on a plane headed for Amsterdam. I was with 40 people whom I had just met a few hours prior and we would spend the next 12 days together in Africa. I think I can speak for all of them when I say we would come back changed people.
Over the course of those 12 days I saw culture and lifestyles that were completely foreign to me. I experienced sadness and heartbreak. I saw the effects of poverty first hand. But these would not define my experience. I spent those days seeing what can be accomplished by God’s people. I saw Compassion’s work up close. I saw what sponsoring a child can do. Yes, there was still hardship. Yes, there was still troubles. But in the midst of these things I experience something far greater. I experienced joy, laughter, love, and hope. I experienced God.
My 12 days in Africa forever changed me. Some experiences have faded a bit over the year. Some will never leave. I continue to think of my 40 fellow traveling buddies often. I’m thankful for each of them. I remember our day on safari with almost childlike wonder. In my mind I still see the smiling faces of beautiful Tanzanian children. I will be thankful for the rest of my life for the day I got to spend with Mwajuma and Fadhila, my sponsored children.
I came home with a renewed and deepened commitment to Compassion’s mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. I came home with a changed perspective on American life.
Tanzania will never leave me. I will forever be grateful that God gave me the opportunity to go. One year later, I find myself longing for another adventure. Hopefully, one day, God will bring that to pass. My heart yearns for Thailand. There is a little 9 year old girl there and I long to wrap my arms around her just like I did with Mwajuma and Fadhila. My sweet Wannaporn lost her mother to cancer last May and I so much want to hug her and tell her I love her.
7 years ago our family selected Mwajuma from Compassion’s website as the child we would sponsor. At that time I could not even have imagined how this little African girl with the slouchy socks would change my life.
I don’t always make the right decisions. I don’t always act when I should. However, this is one decision I know I got right. Sponsoring children through Compassion has given us perspective, given us joy, and given us a chance to be obedient to God.