Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bolivia Mission Trip 2014 - "Hey Webster, it's a verb."

compassion [kuh m-pash-uh n] noun.

a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Compassion International is a program set up to release children from poverty and enabling them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.  The is a bucket load of information I could share about how our $35 a month makes a difference.  While we visited the project in Bolivia we were welcomed by the leaders and pastors to see first hand where every single penny goes.  What every single penny does for that child.  And the over-pour of gratitude for each sponsor.  The passion this organization takes is far above any passion I have ever seen.  The biblical based structure this program runs by is outstanding.   
But is it really about $35?

Seeing the richness of the hearts and souls in the Bolivian community was breathtaking.  They are rich beyond words.  Our $35 is nothing more than a guarantee for those essentials in life; meals, holistic education, medical check ups, and sometimes simple items such as shoes or a toothbrush.  But the relationship...the relationship...is something that can move mountains.  The encouraging letters, the sharing of each other's family and daily life, the praying for each other; these are the things that ultimately alleviates suffering...on both sides of the fence.

Don't believe me?  Success is a God thing.  And God has his way of showing up in perfect time.
Meet Raquel (red "HOPE" shirt).  She is pictured here with her father, sister, and mother.
Raquel works as a translator for Compassion.  She was with us all week.  In fact she is always appointed to my sister-in-law's group as they go every year.  She has become friends family to all of us.

The last day in Bolivia, we were able to kick back and visit some amazing scenery of mountains and waterfalls.  Even though we didn't need a translator to "look at landscapes," we were honored to have Raquel come with us.  The hour drive took us past her parent's home, where we picked up her mother who joined us.  We spent the day taking in the scenery and loving the company of each other.  (Pictures to follow on that.) On the way home, Raquel mentioned we would be going past her old Project.  That's right, Project.

Raquel was a sponsored child.  Her mother shared with us how she and Raquel's father were very young when Raquel was born.  Jobs came and went.  They were scraping to get by.  Never once did they let go of trusting God.  At a young age, Raquel received the great news of a sponsorship...from Colorado, USA.  Hre mother spoke of this blessing with such powerful gratitude.  Life-changing gratitude.  She spoke of how many times just putting a clean blanket down to sleep on was all they could do, but now they had faith their child had that extra support.  Support that came in the form of a meal, enrollment in the Project, medical attention, life-skills training, and the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So with the mention of driving past her old Project, we didn't hesitate on asking to stop.  And here it is...
The gate was locked, but we could see the church connecting the classrooms with a center courtyard in the middle.  There was no one there, but just coming off the week we did, we could all vision kids running through the dusty courtyard, laughing, chasing, playing, singing praises heard through the church windows.

Now God speed.  Raquel turns around.
Standing there is an older gentleman.
It was her Compassion leader.  The minister that guided Raquel, and many many many other children, through the program at this very Project.  The surprise in Raquel's face for this reunion was pure joy.  She had not contacted him.  He has not been a director there for years.  Neither knew the other was going to be there.  Someone knew.  She translated to us that "he felt like he needed to walk by the gates that evening to check on something."  I guess you could say, unbeknownst to him, we were the something.  Oh ya, did I mention he had keys to the gates?  Yep, he sure did.

We were let through and guided around by Raquel.  She emotionally shared with us her days there.  Her days there because of her sponsors.  Goosebumps at the presence of God in this place....then and now.
There we stood for a picture.  A picture, that if taken 20 years ago, would have looked much like the ones from my previous posting this week.

Raquel ended this heavenly moment by sharing her personal story of her sponsorship.  A sponsorship that allowed her to grow in faith, be taken care of, and learn life skills such as English as a second language which ultimately is why she has the successful job as a translator today. 
And remember how this sponsorship is so much more than the $35 a month?  Raquel continued to share with us in a voice that began to crack and tears began to well, "the letters."
The letters from her sponsors kept her going, encouraged her, gave her hope.  So much, that she took those letters with her to college, and on days she would get down, they were pulled out and re-read.  She still has every single letter to this day.  My friends, this is the relational part.  This is where you see Compassion International change the life of those in poverty one child at a time.  Full circle.  Today the trip came full circle.

But the circle didn't end there!  As we got back on the bus and continued down the road, Raquel had planned a surprise for us.  We were able to stop at the large acre plot her parent's now own and her sister's family live on.
It. was. amazing.
But it wasn't always.
It began as a run down piece of land.  The family has worked the ground, built from the ground up, added gardens, and made a gorgeous plot of land.  It even holds a large patio area where they rent out to families for reunions, weddings and such.  The wood poles were even hand carved.  All done by Raquel's family.  The other piece of Compassion...helping parents to learn skills and trades that will support their family.  Ever hear the saying "give a man a fish and he eats only one meal, but teach him to fish and he eats forever?"  Well, add eat forever, and feed his family, and then feed his community.
What a joy it was to walk their land.  Spend time with the family, laugh, press and drink pure sugar cane, taste the fresh roasted pumpkin, pick and eat tangerines, drink from the coconut strait off the tree, and fellowship with a family that shares compassion with every passing person they come in contact with.  This day was the result of a family in Colorado, many years ago, saying "yes" and turning the meaning of compassion into a verb.
Matthew West - Do Something
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how'd we ever get so far down
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don't You do something?”
Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don't You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something
I'm so tired of talking
About how we are God's hands and feet
But it's easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It's alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don't know about you
But I'm sick and tired of life with no desire
I don't want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
I'm gonna do something”
We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
But we're never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won't stand still


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