Today marks the halfway point of my trip in Mexico, and I wanted to commemorate this special day with a special post. So this post is dedicated to my sponsors.
Sponsors are a big deal to the kids here in Mexico. When work groups from the US come down, the kids are constantly looking for their sponsors. If one kid’s sponsor comes down, I’ll get asked several times by other kids, “When is my sponsor coming?” It’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching question, and my answer is always the same: I don’t know.
But that’s not the only sponsor conversation I have with the kids. We spend some evenings chatting about letters they’ve received, writing letters back, and admiring gifts sent by caring men and women who love these kids. Sometimes the kids ask how I got here. Those are the best conversations. I get to tell them about my sponsors.
My sponsors are a bit different than those of the kids. I know most of my sponsors. Many of them held me when I was a baby. Others have lived on the same college campus as me for at least a year. Others endured the long junior high and high school years with me. Others are family members who have invested in every trip I’ve ever taken. One is the church I grew up at, the church that introduced me to this amazing organization and gave me my first opportunity to come down to Mexico three years ago. Then there’s the church that has never met me but chose to raise money for me. And these are just the sponsors who contributed financially! These are like the sponsors who send money to ensure that their sponsored child receives food, clothing, a good education, presents at Christmas, and much more! These sponsors mean the world to me and to the kids because without people like this, we could not continue life here. Those who contributed financially to my trip ensured that I would be fed, given transportation, and be able to spend my summer focused on the kids in my home. Without them, I would not be in Mexico at this point.
There’s another type of sponsor though. These are the sponsors who write letters to the kids, who send gifts when they can, and who richly invest in the life of a child in another country. I have sponsors like this. As with this kids, many of these sponsors are the same as those who have contributed financially. Others, however, could not afford to write a check for me trip. Instead, these people committed to pray. Some of them are like my roommate and my family, checking up with me on Facebook or through email. Others are like you, Dear Reader, who check my blog to see how things are going. Knowing that there are people who think of me and are praying for me makes a huge difference! A short comment, a quick note, or anything that lets me know someone is thinking of me matters more than you know. My mom sent a packet of letters from my family down here just the other day with a pastor from my church who works with this ministry. I think I was about as excited as the kids are when they receive letters! I paraded around with the packet, telling anyone who would listen that my sponsors had written to me. They also sent bilingual books for the kids that I am thrilled to read with the kids. Living in a foreign country is hard. Working with abused kids is hard. Take the time to think of who in your life is in one of those situations. Write to them. Call them. Tell them you’re thinking of them. Ask how they’re doing. Be ready to listen to something hard. You don’t realize what it means to us. We need supports. We need anchors. I have a friend in Kenya right now, and I realized I hadn’t talked with him much during his time there. Having spent 6 weeks in Mexico, I deeply regretted the time I wasted not paying attention to his life. Yes, we’re having the experiences of our lives. But we’re also seeing things that are hard. We’re speaking a language we don’t know well. We need sponsors who contact us. Without them, I could not have lasted these past 6 weeks, and I wouldn’t be able to last the next 6. That isn’t to say I don’t like it here. I love it! But life in a foreign country is hard. Culture shock can last longer than you think, and even when you’ve acclimated, you can be surprised.
Finally, there’s a 3rd group of sponsors. These are the work groups who come down for a week of their summer, investing in the ministry here. These groups can be a huge blessing. Just yesterday, my fellow intern and I said goodbye to a good friend and his church. This friend came down 2 weeks ago and led two groups from his church. He had plenty of his own responsibilities outside of us, but he took the time to invest in the interns as well. He modeled service in ways I couldn’t have expected and showed the students from his church what it means to “see a need and meet it.” We interns didn’t even realize that we needed him when he first got down, but by the time we said goodbye last night, we didn’t know what we were going to do without his kindness and the kindness his church showed us. Several leaders from that group also invested deeply in us, even though they were only here for a week or two. We were not just background players to them. We were people–co-laborers and friends. These sponsors made a lasting impact on our lives in a week (at the most two). And you know what? They made the same impact in our kids’ lives too. After we said goodbye last night, I walked back to the house with some of the kids. One of the girls asked if the group was leaving. Through teary eyes, I told her yes. She sniffled, saying she would miss them. One of the boys tightly clutched a gift from one of the group members. And as we walked back to the house, I was immeasurably grateful for these sponsors–the ones who made an eternal impact in a week’s time. Without them, my weak days would overpower me. But God has sent us helpers who work alongside us and build us up.
To my sponsors:
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ… For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
–Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
I can’t thank you enough. My friends, my sponsors, my fellow laborers–I miss you all, but I am unable to express my gratitude for your partnership in this work in Mexico! I don’t know how I’m going to leave in another 6 weeks, but when I do, I am grateful to know I will have your support in returning as I do while I am here.
¡Dios les bendiga!