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Compassion International

It’s been my privilege to partner with Compassion International in doing my presentations.
I’ve supported them financially for years because I concluded they are one of the most effective non-profit organizations on the planet.
I’m usually able to display packets beside my booktable which display children from impoverished countries waiting to be sponsored.  A person can make an enormous difference in a kid’s life with just a few dollars a month.

Recently I got to see first hand the absolutely wonderful ministry Compassion carries out.  They are so thorough in assisting children in need—physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally.  It’s a marvelous way to take kids in the worst of circumstances—not just out of poverty—but to wholeness and fulfillment.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Here’s the journal of my trip in 2010.

EL SALVADOR – COMPASSION INT.
Monday, May 3
Got up at 3 am and drove north from Gulf Shores, AL.  There are a few other people on the road at this inhumane hour?
Soon I’d be sitting on the tarmac an hour in the rain because of a steady storm moving up from the Gulf.  Oh yea pull away from the gate and then tell us Atlanta is restricting incoming flights.

So you’re accumulated-tired.  So stressed about the flights.  Pilot’s words disarmed my indignation: we’ll try to make it as smooth as possible, just a few bumps.  Was a smooth take-off in the rain, through clouds.
Had to weave past storms somewhat.  And in extended, moderate turbulence you get nervy again.  So I began to pray, poured myself up to God, in fact.  Centered on praise in the heavens.  And I didn’t just get out of fear, I was bounce-through-the-window happy.  Pretty dramatic emotional response to this prayer.

And I did make it to the Atlanta to San Salvador flight.  There was Ryan O’Quinn, and some other Compassion guests.  Thank goodness I got to lie down in my row the whole way.  It took the edge off the lack-of-rest.  I was quite giddy looking down at our plane exit in Central America.
Bused a long way around San Salvador to the Compassion headquarters there.  Nice building with grounds, tour through cubicles, ask questions.
Have lunch under gazebo.  National Director Gillermo tells us his story.

Tuesday May 4
Drive toward western ES, child development center ES-705, in Ahuachapan.
The kids are waiting in line with welcome signs for each of us, as our buses pull up.  Clapping.  Find the kid holding up your name, takes you into the church, sit by us.

And their kid band strikes up Contemporary Christian Music.  Dancing ministry.  This will prove to be one of several choke-up-moments.  There’s something about hearing praise in the style that touches you most, expresses your feelings most, in this culture thousands of miles away, and several economic steps down, that makes the Body of Christ a yank on your heart strings.
They’ve got a program.  Welcomes.  Even girl exposition on a psalm.
We introduce ourselves up front, with favorite animal sounds.  It’s funny.

Break up into small groups for the tours.  Have sewing and cosmetics workshops.  Classes in which they talk about spiritual, physical, emotional and cognitive development.  Yes it’s a wholistic trip out of poverty.  Couple of teen boys are on the subject of purity with teacher.  Want to know our thoughts.  I weigh in, in Spanish, about how the goal is this wonderful complete love with a woman, preparing for that union, not just what you don’t do.
Yea we’re all sinners, but have this ideal.
Kid liked what I said.
Later added, if you start now trying to understand the emotions of a woman, you’ll attract them big time when older.
In another class I commented about the privilege of thinking about this wholistic development at such a young age, as opposed to when you’re 50 and most of your life is gone.
So it felt good to actually contribute a little.

Missed soccer.
Had lunch at tables back in church, more CC music.
We go off to do home visits, through narrow dirt roads that barely accommodate our buses.  Group # 2 ends up at a line of shaky houses, grandmother and kids.  Yea I’ve seen all this from childhood, but there it is, the bare un-colored, un-finished look of domesticity.  Father too, next door.  His poverty includes four jobs.  Works with teens at church.
At first it was the politeness of hosting strangers in your home.  Question and answer.
But after he asked us about our biggest experiences as believers, things deepened.  He confessed to being military-like in his parenting, no love from his parents.  It got intense.  Grandmother now crying, words can’t express her appreciation.  Father’s hopes.
We’re praying earnestly at the end for this family.

Drive up mountains to Hotel Santa Leticia.  Wow cool woodsy lodge in the manicured grounds, woodsy room.
We’ll do super in the conference room, with three LDP, Leadership Development Program, students sharing testimonies.  Lot of weeping from two.  It’s a huge impact on a life, no doubt about it.
Group de-brief.  Leave early, drop in one our guides 1 & 2.  Love joking with them in Spanish.

Wednesday May 5
After 6, OK now we have a modest breakfast, imitating US I guess.
Head down to ES 709, an Assembly of God church outside of Sonsonate, with rented houses here and there for the project.  Welcomed again, with the three LDP students in the band, in charge of this tour.  One does quite the sermon, pretty good take on Jesus and the storm.
Theatre ministry, which is movement to a song.  Not bad.  Really cheered at the resurrection expressed.

Walk around in our groups to classrooms, including computer workshop.  Got a CD.
Like handing out lunch.
We get big food packets, at people’s houses.  Ours has three daughters, the usual, cement, brick, corrugated roof house, dirt yard with mangos and bananas.
Mom embroiders, Dad’s truck driving is seasonal.  Mom talks like a Christian, says she needs to get back to church (for the girls’ protection.)
I like praying for all at the end.

Now off to the CIP place, where they’re just starting to raise goats, chickens, rabbits.  Plan is to make money to build a place where the whole project can happen.  Local churches do the facilities.  Compassion sponsors the kids.
There is actually an animal that’s a cross between a sheep and a goat.
Rush back to site where construction has begun.  Pray for that too.

Now one of the Compassion staff will have a talk with the guys who (we didn’t realize) began following us around.  It’s a gang-intensive place.  They were thinking of revenge because of a buddy killed by an American in the US.  She said we were different.  Quoting Scripture, one could finish all the texts.  Breaks my heart, she said, you’re not living what you know.
Anyway really challenged them, ended friends.  What a gutsy witness.
You pass by towns, all the big stores have a guard with a hand-shotgun out front.
Civil war ended in the 90s for pity’s sake.

Thursday May 6
Well I had diarrhea in the night, like roomy Tony has had.  Woke up somewhat tired; sure don’t wanna stop the bus.  No breakfast.  But Ryan and Nate encouraged me to go, gave me pills that stopped it up.
We hit another area of Sonsonate, ES 861 at Iglestia Apostolica Roca Eterna, more in town.  Now the welcome feels more dramatic than ever.  It’s the celebrity equivalent of a gauntlet.  Get a lei.  Walk through clapping cheering kids and parents lined up, led by student.
Coconut milk.  Little kids do traditional dance; we are led up to imitate.

Into the church, another band.  Introduce ourselves, woe I’m getting tired.  And one of the more inspiring church skits I’ve seen.
Pastor was a sponsored child.

They’re going to home visits.  I lay down in the back of the bus.
Oh it seems like forever back to the hotel where they drop me off.
And I’ll spend the afternoon crashed.  I’m strengthless, a miserable bug all over me.  Can’t imagine doing a presentation tomorrow evening!  So I pray, very positively, claiming the actions of Jesus the Healer, breathing rest.  Could I like pop into cured mode for a change?

Still thoroughly wasted in the evening.  Do one granola bar.
And it’s thundering, pouring tropical rain.
A lot of obstacles to me making my appointment on Friday.
Waking up in the night still miserable.

Friday May 7
But somehow waking up at 4:30 I wasn’t in the same place.  Departing this early, a little tired, but not in the same crushed misery at all.
Even get to talking with the talkative threesome toward the end, about presentations.  Fun bunch, like most of the people in our group.  Southern Gospel.
Make it plenty of time.  Uncloudy.
Walk around the mall-airport a bit, granola bar.
I’ll just attempt to rest the whole flight back, breakfast served.
The Bridge
Here I am in LA!  With bag.  Every obstacle destroyed.  Able to do “Chosen Garment” at The Bridge in the evening. Thank God.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion