Saturday, March 23, 2013

My day with Jimena

In celebration of my Jimena's 8th birthday, I'd like to share my memories of the day we spent together, November 6, 2012.

The morning of child visit day on our trip started very early for me, I think around 4:00 a.m. (which was actually 3 a.m. EST, since clocks in the States had changed the previous Sunday.) In those early hours, I listened to worship music on my phone and prayed about getting to meet Jimena.

When we went downstairs before breakfast, we saw Robin, another sponsor, who was planning to take a walk before we left for the day. I decided I wanted to go with her, and we took an enjoyable walk around a few blocks of Cochabamba, the city we were staying in, including a stroll through the morning bread market.

When we got back to the hotel, I found Dad, who had the big bag of gifts for Jimena and her family. As we found our groups and got ready, our trip leader Sean read Psalm 139 (a verse of which I had wanted to include on a card with Jimena's blanket, but hadn't.) After prayers, we got on the bus to head to the amusement park.

When we got to the park, I started getting really excited. We took one of the gifts — the soccer ball — as a "conversation piece" (even though, in the end, we didn't end up doing anything with it.) All of us sponsors came down a hill, and there were our kids. When we found Jimena, I gave her a big hug. I could feel her shaking with sobs, and it brought me to tears as well. I knelt down to be at her level, and got the first of many awesome hugs around the neck.

After the first meeting, our little group (which included Jimena; her mom, Amelia; her project worker, Marina; and our translator, Dawn) found a bench to sit down on. Here, Marina showed me some of Jimena's schoolwork (including her then-most recent letter to me) and gave me some photos to keep. Jimena had also made a craft project, a picture of a girl praying surrounded by Styrofoam shapes (I have no idea if Jimena knew at this point about my blindness or not, but it was fantastic.) Then, suddenly, Marina took the sun hat I was wearing off my head and replaced it with a "chulo", the Bolivian name for the hat with earflaps and a tie. I was so surprised and excited by this gift, and even more tickled by the "chompa," or big cardigan sweater that Amelia handed me next.

Then came an even bigger (or littler) surprise: Dawn said to Jimena, "Who else is here today." Very timidly, Jimena said, "My little brother." It turned out that Amelia had, inside a bundle of blankets on her back, brought along the newest addition to the family, six-week-old Luis, who was very well-behaved the whole day.

After this, we started having some fun. Jimena decided she wanted to go on the swings, and we went to the smaller swings that were like buckets with leg holes in them. I pushed her on the swing for a while, then decided I wanted to swing too (it's one of my favorite playground activities, even today.) So we found the more typical swings and Dawn pushed Jimena while I did some swinging of my own.

Partway through our swinging, Marina realized she wasn't feeling well and went to the pharmacy to get some medicine for her upset stomach. Once we were done with the swings, and a slide that neither Jimena nor I liked very much, Jimena and I thought we'd try the seesaw. Since there was such an obvious weight difference between us, she and I sat on one end and Dad helped by riding on the other. It wasn't the most comfortable ride for me, as I had to sit on the bar in front of Jimena, but we held on tight to each other and it was fun anyway.

After this little adventure, Dawn, Amelia, Jimena, and I sat together on the bench. I chatted a bit with Amelia about the family, once again getting all the names of the children (now 7 of them) and their father. Then we decided to go on the carousel, and while we were waiting our turn, Sean came by with some Play-doh for the two of us to play with. He jokingly said that Jimena could make a tactile map of her community for me, but we just made basic animalish shapes. Dad even joined in.

After going on the carousel, it was about time for lunch. This was about when we realized (or at least I did) that not all was okay with Jimena. She had been very shy all morning, but when Marina left, things started getting a bit overwhelming. During my chat with Amelia, I'd learned that they had come five hours by bus from El Alto (near La Paz) and stayed overnight in a hotel (*** Dad talks about the hotel, I don't remember Amalia mentioning it.***) This was Jimena's, and most likely Amalia's, farthest trip away from home ever...no wonder the poor girl was overwhelmed! We had chicken and potato wedges for lunch, and I learned that Jimena prefers vegetable soup (good girl!) Once Marina came back, Jimena did eat some of her lunch, and she seemed a little better.

After lunch, there were rumors of the weather turning bad (so far the day had been partly cloudy and breezy.) We were told to all meet by the buses and we'd go to an ice cream parlor.

One of my favorite memories of Jimena was walking with her. She was a fantastic sighted guide, holding my hand and stopping at every curb or change in terrain to let me know something was coming up.

Finally, everyone from the group met up, and after a long wait, a group photo was taken. The sponsors and kids/families got onto separate buses in order to go to the ice cream place, and Dad and I retrieved our bag of gifts.

We had a lot of fun at the ice cream place. When we got in and were sitting waiting for our treats, I asked Jimena what her favorite flavor is. She answered that it was strawberry. To my knowledge, this was the one time that she spoke directly to me all day...it was precious.

After eating our ice cream, we went into the playground area of the ice cream shop. Here, Jimena found a slide that she liked much better than the one at the park. She went down it around 15 times at least, with me standing alongside the whole time.

Then it was time for gifts and pictures. We got quite a few pictures of me holding little Luis, and even one of Dad holding him, but someone else on the trip took that one and we haven't seen it since. I handed out all the gifts (Jimena took to her sock monkey right away), and then as the grand finale, pointed out all the patterns I had knit into the blanket (tulips, rabbit, cat, lamb, hearts, cross, angel, butterfly, teddy bear, moon and stars, and Jimena's name in the top left corner).

Then it was time for prayers and goodbyes. When we were outside saying our final goodbyes, Jimena, Dawn, and I listened to the Spanish version of Hosanna by Hillsong. Then Jimena just held my hand until it was really time to go. Then we had another long hug, until next time.

I would love to be able to visit Jimena again sometime, probably in a few years, when she's older and maybe less shy. I'd love to meet the rest of her family too. I’m pretty sure that if and when that happens, she'll be taller than me (she seemed to be growing like a weed just in that one day we were together.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bem vinda, Idalina!

This isn't the post I was planning to write -- I'm PLANNING to write Bolivia posts -- but my Compassion family just keeps growing. On New Year's Eve -- the day of my last post, in fact -- I was assigned 16-year-old Jean Bosco from Rwanda as a correspondent child, my third. Today, March 20, I received his first letter to me. He thanked me for Christmas money (donations made to the Christmas fund are all pooled so that every child gets a gift, whether or not their sponsor sent money or not), with which he bought rabbits. I'll ask him about the rabbits in the next letter. But my really exciting news, and the reason for the strange looking words in this post's title, is that today I was assigned 12-year-old Idalina from Brazil as a 4th correspondent child. Usually, 3 correspondent children are the limit, but Compassion asked for correspondents for 150 more kids last week, and I requested a girl from either Honduras, India, or Brazil, any of which would be a new country for me. In my mind, Brazil was the last choice, but as soon as I read Idalina's info I got really excited to write her, so excited in fact that I still can't think of the right words. I'm going to sleep on it and see what happens tomorrow. I know that part of my nervousness is my own self-consciousness about my rusty Portuguese, which I haven't spoken with a Brazilian in years (Portuguese comes in Brazilian and Portuguese flavors, like US and UK English.) Another part is something more akin to "I can't believe I get to love on this girl." Something just tells me we are going to have a fantastic relationship. :)

Monday, December 31, 2012

#oneword365 - awareness

Two weeks ago, I read on Compassion's blog about the challenge of having a single word to focus on during the coming year. I had read about this challenge throughout 2012 and thought I might give it a shot in 2013. So I started pondering what my word might be. I thought about the goals I had been mentally setting for myself, mostly involving organizing my life a little more. I pondered and prayed about it and was finally given the word "awareness." This word seems very appropriate. I want to be more aware of myself, of how I'm feeling and how my feelings, thoughts, and actions affect each other. I also want to be more aware of those around me, so that I can be a more caring person and hopefully not as hurtful as I have been in the past. I would also like to be more organized, as I said before, and not be so forgetful. And of course, I'd also like to be more aware of God's working in my life, of the ways I'm growing in my relationship with Him. I know that all of this will be quite a challenge, but I'm willing to trust in God's help to make me a more aware person. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Friday, December 21, 2012

test

I want to see if this posts. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Saturday, December 15, 2012

updates to my Compassion family

Hello all!

It has been months since I last wrote in here, but it wasn't for lack of desire. My computer has been a real pain as far as accessing Blogspot, but today I found Blogbooster, an app I can use to write blog posts on my phone. Still no pictures, but c'est la vie.

Now, there have been updates to my Compassion family since September. Early in October, Angel was pulled from the program in order to work and help support his family. I had actually been expecting that this might happen, since he had mentioned occasionally having to miss time at the project in order to work.

As it happened, when Angel left, I had my eye on an 8-year-old little boy from the Philippines named Querubin. I was drawn to him because he's below average in school, and again, I like his name (it means Cherub in Spanish). I sponsored him in very short order, and I've already received a first letter from him. Since he's young and having trouble in school, his older half-sister wrote it for him, the first time I've had letters from a child's sibling. Considering he had been waiting more than 6 months, it could be that the first letter was prepared in advance.

In other very cool Compassion news, I received 2 letters at the end of September from Solange in Rwanda, both written in August. I was especially excited to hear that she was able to buy goats with some gift money.

I'm thinking that soon I may have another child to tell you about. In the past week, Compassion has announced that they have 300 children that need correspondents, and I offered to take one on if possible. There was some confusion on my part as to what to say in the e-mail, but hopefully something will come through.

In my next few posts, I will finally be posting about our trip to Bolivia. I will say right now that it was a fantastic trip, so full of blessings and love, and one week was entirely too short. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Sunday, September 9, 2012

a new little cutie I'm watching

Yesterday I was glancing at the Compassion International site and found 3-year-old ruddy. from the Dominican Republic I don't usually get drawn to the little ones, but something about this little guy grabbed my heart. I know I can't sponsor him right now, but maybe you can? I'd love to know about it if you do.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roxana 0 sponsored, and talking to kids about sponsorship

Good morning all. I hope you all had a nice Labor Day weekend. I'm happy to tell you all that Roxana from Guatemala, who I featured here last week, was sponsored! Now, I'll possibly find a new child to pray for, but perhaps it won't be one that grabs your heart as much. If so, you can look at many more children on Compassion's page of children waiting for sponsors. If you have children and are thinking of sponsoring, you can look through the available children with them and try to find one with the exact same birthday as your child. Then, whether you sponsor this child or not, you can talk to them about praying for this child. Each child's page lists the living conditions, family situation, diet, and common health problems, all possible things for you and your own children to pray for. Speaking of young children and sponsoring, I'll tell you a story about something that happened this weekend. After church, my friend Carrie asked me about when my trip to Bolivia is. Once we started talking about it, Carrie's 4-year-old son asked where I was going. Then her 8-year-old daughter asked if she could visit a child that their family sponsors in Uganda. When Carrie explained that her daughter would need a lot of shots, that conversation was pretty much over, but I hope that that desire to visit their sponsored child doesn't go away entirely. Since this girl is still only 8, I know that there will be plenty of time for her to think about these things and maybe consider going when she's older.