This was such a great way to start off our trip in Asia!
I got to meet my Compassion kid today. I was so excited, I was actually nervous. I have never loved someone so much that I have never met. She is a sweet and shy girl named Yothika who just turned 11 yesterday. After scaring her with an American birthday party (complete with hats, noise makers, and a cup cake with candles) I gave her the gifts that I had brought for her. She had never seen a Barbie or a head band for your hair. It took her a while to understand what to do with Play-Dough (it helped that Wally explained not to eat it). But out of all the toys and clothes that I gave her, the thing she kept going back to was the picture of my dog that I had put in a small family photo album. It was the smallest thing, but for some reason it was something that made me feel closer and not so different from her.
Yo had a big day. It was her first time in the big city. In fact, it was her first time ever out of her village. We took her 88 stories up to a rotating lookout point. You could see on her face that she was trying to size everything up. How could a city be so large and yet the cars just got so small. We went to go get something to eat and took Yo for her first train ride. Over all she was pretty quite but on the train she got this huge smile. She explained how excited she was to be able to go back and tell her friends all that she had done and seen. The thing was, we were not done yet. The girl had never had ice cream! We had to fix that and that huge smile came back. While we ate our ice cream it gave us some good time to just talk.
I always wondered what it was like to be the parent of a sponsored child. Do they struggle with pride in allowing someone to help? Every question went away as I talked to Yo’s mom. She repeatedly thanked me. She was just a loving mom that wanted better for her daughter. Yo’s family works farming rice, in fact, Yo’s brother had to quit school to work in the field. Compassion is that chance for something better for Yo. It’s the difference that allows her to stay in school, break that cycle of poverty, and think about what she would like to be one day rather than what she has to be out of necessity.
Yo just flat out asked me, “Why did I pick her to sponsor.” I told her it was because she was special. To be honest when I looked for a kid online I was looking for a kid that needed to hear that. I wanted the child that had been on the list the longest. I wanted an older kid that knew what it meant to be chosen (and a lot of the times the older kids get chosen last for sponsors. It is like puppies, people want the cute little one). Yo also has allergies and gets marks on her face as a result. I looked at this kid’s picture online with no smile and a bunch of clips in her hair and wanted to be the one that told her she was beautiful, God loves her, I believe in her and that she is special. And I did just that.
Before they left I got to pray with them. With the hugest lump in my throat and more love in my heart than I have felt in a long time, I prayed. By the end, Yo’s mom was crying and I was unable to make eye contact with anyone. But I realized that I wasn’t just this distant sponsor that sent money, I was a part of their family. I am a little girl’s role model and a mother’s hope for her daughter.