Monday, February 1, 2016

Stay - Ecuador, Day 2

"I'll bet you'll want to bring ten of them home with you."

I've heard this several times since announcing my trip to Ecuador. In every case, I laughed along. I understood the sentiment and honestly, now that I'm here? Well, yes, of course part of me wishes we could be Goshen neighbors rather than the trans-continental kind.

Today I met my family's newest sponsored Compassion child, Josue, age five. I sat knee-to-knee with his mother, Veronica, in their one-room living area/bedroom, and she spoke with quiet confidence about her growing family, her three-week old daughter asleep in her arms. Her eyes wore the love of a proud mama. Their home pulsed with tenderness for each other. "Joanna has great conviction. She knows who she is and stands for what she believes." "Josue is," she laughed. "But also very affectionate and caring." I nodded along, sharing bits and pieces about my youngest back home. Oh, the fun they would have together.

Then I asked my favorite question. "What are your wishes for your family?"

She had two. First, that they would grow in their trust in the Lord. Second, that they would desire to serve their community.

But she wasn't done. She talked about the wishes she once had for herself, to go to university, to be an accountant. She sat on the edge of her bed, cooing at the infant in her arms. "Now I only hope we could have our own home one day. I pray God would heal my husband's knee."

Nodding toward her children both wearing school uniforms - expensive attire required by the public schools and provided by Compassion - I knew the dreams she once had for herself had been transferred without hesitation to them. It is through Compassion's Child Survival Program (for new moms and their babies) that she came to know Jesus ten years ago. Now, with her two oldest children sponsored, she has no reason to place limits on where God might take them. She has no cause to hedge her bets or keep her expectations in check.

This is a mother who understands the vastness of the kingdom of God. 

Perspiration beaded her nose while we chatted through an interpreter. I felt that familiar urge bubble up inside me, How can I keep her near? What can I do to make sure I don't lose her? It's hard to explain why this might happen, but I had to remind myself there would be no joint grocery-store runs in our future. Her family would not eat soup at my table. Our kids would not play chase at the park.

Still, as precious as Josue and Joanna are, as slow as I was to pull back from our goodbye hugs, I do not want to bring them home with me. They are loved deeply and cared for well. That some of their physical need can be met through a small portion of what I spend each month on trivial things is an honor I do not take lightly. That I get to pray for them by name and remind them of their worth from afar while supporting their rich life together is an honor. That they do not have to fear the fracture of their family is orphan prevention at its best.

When I say I carry all of you with me, I'm not trying to be cute. Your kind company fuels me for this task that feels much too big. In gratitude, I offer back to you the gift of linking arms with a family across the world, for the betterment of each of you. You have the chance to draw a wider circle by sponsoring a child. Your thirty-eight dollars each month, and even more importantly, your prayers and notes, impact all of them. And if you already do this, I'm asking you to do it again.

Father Gregory Boyle asks, "How much bigger is the God we have than the God we think we have?"

Tonight, the mountains of Ecuador spread out around us. Humble homes filled with vibrant, hopeful people twinkle just past the window glass. And I wonder, how much bigger is the kingdom of Heaven pulsing and alive right now than the kingdom of Heaven we scarcely imagine beyond our own front door?

The kingdom of heaven is you, me, Veronica, and Josue, all trying our best.
It looks like passing the baton of need and sacrifice, taking a lap, and trading off.
It settles around us thick, like grace.

"I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me." Psalm 30:1

Follow along as Ruth shares about the smallest, biggest step.
Follow along as Ashley shares about the youngest Compassion children.

* Images via @mikevarel

*Amazon affiliate link


  1. We sponsor a child and it is nice to follow your journey. Safe travels.

  2. Big Sis.... I wanna meet our Newest member of the family and learn from his own mama. So much love. So much faith!
    Xoxo lil sis

  3. Thank you for this post. My dad was once a sponsored child and it's amazing how far he was able to go in physical things like education and career. No one in my life right now would look at me and guess this about my family. And he has lots of rich stories to tell of the great aunt who raised him in the slums of Hong Kong, while we also got to meet his sponsor father (does that make him my sponsor grandfather?) when he visited from Australia. So cool.

  4. Thanks you for sharing and we recently signed up to sponsor a 12 year old girl from Ecuador 2 days ago. It is great to see pictures and hear stories from this area. We are very glad to be part of this ministry.

  5. That Gregory Boyle... SO right.

  6. This is why we just keep continuing to sponsor through Compassion. So grateful you gals/boys are documenting this trip and reminding us of the reality this compassionate connection. You're putting skin and bones on a few dollars a month and emails and written notes. Love it!

  7. Praise God for you opening your heart to those in need. I have not sponsored anyone in a long time but I always remember the joy of giving. Thanks to you I hope to sponsor again very soon. Very inspirational of you!

  8. I love these posts so much! I felt like God was asking me to spencer a child and I signed up last week...then your posts showed up on my feed and I feel like it was confirmation. And it's so amazing to get a better look at how my child is living. Thank you for going on this trip and for sharing it.

  9. I just love these posts so much! Thank you for sharing your trip!

  10. How awesome is our God to have this all happen. So amazing and blessed u r. Thank u for sharing.

  11. How awesome is our God to have this all happen. So amazing and blessed u r. Thank u for sharing.

  12. Shannan, unexpectedly, I was hit with a wave of tears as I read your posts about Ecuador and checked out the Compassion website. One of my greatest fears is that I will settle for "comfortable" instead of offering myself as a living sacrifice during my stay here on earth. I think it's really easy for us as Americans to get caught in a guilt trip, but I don't want to stay in guilt trip mode. I want to love freely, out of a sense of God's own love and acceptance of me. Thanks for showing us a really special way to do that.

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