So I’m traveling again this week. But this time it’s not to celebrate an anniversary or a birthday. This time I’m going halfway around the world to a place where a bit of my heart lives to see a girl named Rukia.
I started sponsoring Rukia through Compassion International a little over three years ago and it has been amazing watching her grow up through photos, reading the letters she writes me, and then last year, getting to meet her for the first time. I had the immense privilege of not only getting to spend a day with her at a zoo near her home, but then also getting to visit the Compassion project that she attends once a week (where she receives health care, meals, academic tutoring, and spiritual growth through classes) but also getting to go into her home and visit with her mother.
Words cannot really describe what it’s like to cross the muddy threshold of a 10×10 mud hut in the middle of the largest slum in East Africa and step into the home of a woman who is raising 7 children (5 her own, and 2 grandchildren) against all odds. Whose dirt floor had been covered by a tarp and swept. Whose tiny couch was slip-covered in plastic and whose windows were adorned by lacy curtains. In one corner was a tiny end table adorned only with a lace doily and a framed photo of my husband and I. Through the sound of the afternoon prayers from the local mosque broadcast on a loudspeaker, Sharifa told us of the HOPE she has that Rukia will grow up safely and healthy and will achieve great things. She is confident her daughter can escape the cycle of poverty. And through Compassion, she’s doing just that. While many girls in the slums drop out of school early on and fall prey to prostitution or other dangers, Rukia is enrolled in high-school and her grades have improved every year since she became a sponsor child. Her mother beams as she talks about how her daughter has become a sweet, obedient girl who is helpful around the house. She is a proud Mamma…and so am I. She reminds me of what is important in life. It’s humbling to read a letter from a teenager in an East African slum who tells me she’s praying for me.
When Mary-Hall and I started this blog, we had no idea that it would take on a life of it’s own as it seems to have. A few weeks ago through a series of emails the idea came to us…why not use the blog to accomplish a greater purpose? My husband and I not only sponsor four Compassion children, but he has worked for Compassion for almost 14 years, so it’s certainly a ministry near and dear to my heart. And since Mary-Hall and her husband also sponsor a child, we decided that we’d love to help other children be “released from poverty in Jesus’ name.” You may have noticed that the blog has gotten a few new features since our last post on Friday…we’ve added a Compassion banner that you can click on to head straight to the sponsor-a-child portion of the website…and we’ve added a Compassion page at the top of the blog. (We’re still tweaking that one, so bear with us.) If you choose to sponsor a child through Compassion….we’d love to hear about it. Or if you ALREADY sponsor a child with Compassion…we’d love to hear about that as well. And if your prayer list needs another bullet point this week, I’d appreciate you praying for hubs and I and the 11 others that will journey to Kenya tomorrow to see firsthand the work being done there through Compassion International. I’ll try to post an update or two while we’re gone…so check back for updates. And now…I’ll leave you with a few more pictures.