Friday, June 24, 2016

Compassion Trip, Report #3

During our second day in Riobamba, we visited - and learned a lot more about - the Child Development Sponsorship Program (CDSP).
We also learned at the beginning of the trip that Compassion is "big" on acronyms. *wink*
Compassion International partners with local churches around the world who reach out to children in poverty in their communities with practical help and the hope of the gospel. As we met with the pastor of the church which runs the Compassion center in Riobamba, I was overjoyed to hear his commitment to the children AND the gospel. He spoke of their church's mission to reach the families in the community for Christ, by first reaching their children with care.

That is - families in poverty will gladly allow their children to be helped by the church, and the church in turn invites the families to come and hear the good news of Jesus.
And that's why Compassion partners with local churches, instead of running the ministry themselves from afar: because the local church understands the community and its needs.

While we were visiting the CDSP, we were allowed to see the meticulous records (both financial, and personal for each child and his/her progress) which Compassion requires the centers to maintain.
They were impressive. We learned these records are a requirement of Compassion International for the purposes of integrity and plenitude. Testimonies were given of the ways Compassion has worked through the local church to grow children and families, and help them in times of extreme need.
And then, the fun began!
It was our "A Day in the Life" activities day. That is, we divided up in to our family groups and went to spend time with a local family whose children are involved in the CDSP.
My group visited Nancy's home.
Nancy (15) and her sister (9) are both part of their local Compassion center's CDSP, and live in the mountains with their grandparents. We went home with them to help prepare a field for planting potatoes.
Yep. There we are!
Swinging large hoes to till the ground in preparation for potatoes. Grandma (63) and the girls were right there with us working the ground. And let me just say - at 11,800 feet above sea level - one who is not used to such elevation cannot work long without absolutely needing to take a break and catch one's breath. (Not to mention to allow one's heart to begin returning to a reasonable rate.) And it's a bit embarrassing to have 63-year-old Grandma and 15 and 9-year-old girls work along non-stop. *blush*
In addition to the work, we had time just to visit with the family.
And that's when my heart started breaking.
The reason Nancy and her sister live with their grandparents is because their mother died during child-birth with their younger sibling (who also died). Nancy's grandmother told us through tears that she is afraid to die, because she doesn't know who will care for the girls when she and Grandpa are gone.
We were separated by language, but I pray our hugs and presence and prayers were a faithful testimony of God's love. And I pray God will reach into their hearts to assure them that HE will care for those girls for all of eternity.

When the work was over, we went back to the Compassion center for lunch and play time.
And we did lots of both!
However, we'll skip the pictures of lunch and go right to play time.
It was a wonderful day - full of fun, hard work, heart-stretching, and new understandings.
And the best was yet to come.
I'll tell you about it next week. *smile*


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