Monday, June 4, 2012

One Meal A Day

After meeting my three Compassion sponsored children from Kenya in March, I was happy, happy, happy to open the mailbox last week and find two letters, one from Mary and the other from Naituati!

Mary began her letter with, "Hello Julie, I am so happy to write to you just a few days after we met. I have been fine and I hope that you are fine too and that you arrived to your country safely."

In the letter, her grandmother, who Mary lives with, thanked me for sending her gifts and for including Mary's brother and sister as well. I remember Mary opening the backpack that contained gifts for her family. She kept laughing shyly and putting her face in her hands. Her smile was as wide as it could go. Her social worker who sat nearby kept explaining, "Mary is happy. She is just so happy!" Inside that bag were towels, cooking utensils, blankets and soap for her grandmother. For Mueni and Isaac there were clothes, school supplies, washcloths and an assortment of classic toys....jump ropes, matchbox cars, marbles and soccer balls!

  I stuffed it as full as I could get it. It weighed 15 pounds and dwarfed Mary when she put it on her back. And this was one of three backpacks she had to take home with her. Believe me, there was no complaining. Her social worker carried two packs for her as Mary stumbled and swayed down the path to her waiting bus.

 The letter continued with Mary writing that she had shared many of her gifts with her cousins and friends, "which made them very happy." It makes ME happy imagining the joy and pride Mary must have experienced to be able to share and give those gifts to her family and friends. They all have so little and share so freely. I saw it happen several times while in Kenya, children sharing at every opportunity.

"I have currently closed school for holiday (the month of April) and I am attending holiday tutoring for mathematics and English at my Compassion project and I am looking forward to perform better in them. I am looking forward to meeting you again."

Meeting all three of them again is definitely something I want to do in the future, when they are older.

One other interesting item on this letter from Mary was her drawing. She used a crayon and drew a goat, a fruit bearing tree, a house, a hen........and get this.....a TICK. I  did a double take on the tiny, oval shaped bug with legs coming out at the sides. It really does look like the ticks we have here in Maryland and other parts of the U.S. I had no idea there were African ticks! Going to go look that one up!

Naituati's letter arrived shortly after Mary's. She said she was so happy to have received two letters from me recently with "smart photos".  She is working hard in school and at home, and spends a lot of her time playing with her siblings, fetching water and washing utensils. "We use a lamp for light at night as we do not have electricity."

In one of my previous letters, I had asked her what she ate during an ordinary day. Her response....."In the morning I drink tea and eat food in the afternoon." This confirms what the social workers told me, that one meal a day is typical along with tea in the morning. I'm still trying to swallow the idea of one meal a day and it's not going down too well.

"Julie, my bed is clean and nice and I always remember you when sleeping and I pray for you." I can picture my sweet girl wrapped up in the fuzzy blankets I gave her, murmuring a prayer for me as she drifts off to sleep. What an honor. Incredible to think that we are connected in such a way, and through a God who loves us both so much.

Naituati also thanked me for the family gift I sent before I left for Kenya. "My sponsor, I love you for sending me a gift. I bought a dress and another sheep and I am so happy about it." So she has TWO sheep now which, as a Massai girl, must make her very proud.  The dress she wore on the day we met was clean and plain, obviously handmade. I hope she sends me a picture of her new dress!

Here's Naituati after pulling a jump rope out of her bag of gifts. She did not wait a moment to try it out! This girl smiled non-stop the entire day. Do NOT go by the standard photo from Compassion to try to discern your child's personality!

If you are a Compassion sponsor, sit down and write your child today! Your letter will speak loudly into their life....that they are loved and remembered.
I have a eye-opening story from my adventures in Kenya to share in my next post that illustrates just exactly what a letter or a gift from you translates in their heart. I share this story every time I get up to speak to a church or group. I will never, ever forget that moment......