Monday, March 28, 2016

Dreaming Outside the Box

This hippo is a funny gift I received from a friend for my graduation from college last year. I have not yet given it a name, but have decided it is a "he" (don't ask me why--I really have no idea). I decided to take him along on a trip to Florida last year and take a picture of him at the beach for my friend who gave it to me. At the time I was, symbolically speaking, just dipping my toes into this place called "The Outside World", full of anticipation as to what might be in store for me as a BA: TESOL graduate.

I had high expectations for 2016. It was supposed to be the year that my dreams came true. And, in a way, one sort of did--but then my hopes of continuing to do that same thing were dashed to the ground and the dream died. I am thankful for the two months I had with my new Ugandan friends, but I can honestly say that so far, this year has not gone "according to plan" (as if anything ever does)!

Today I took an important step in achieving a dream I have had since I was 14 years old: later this year (approx. September or October), my very first novel will be published by a Canadian, Christian publishing company! Eight years of hard work have gone into the manuscript and I am sure more hard work is to come before people will see the finished product. It is definitely a day to celebrate. But with that decision being made, I mentally made decisions about the rest of my year.

To put it plainly, I do not have very much money. I have determined my dreams and goals for many years based on whether or not I have the money to do a certain thing. Ever since I saw Misgana's picture in 2011 I have longed to go to Ethiopia to meet her. Compassion Canada is hosting an Exposure Trip to Ethiopia in January 2017 and I desperately want to go, but when thinking about the decision to make payments toward publishing my book I automatically thought "well that trip won't be happening now."

Why did I assume that? At the church I attend, we just finished a series about how we tend to put God in boxes. We assume "my God can't do that" or "my God won't do that." Which is ridiculous, seeing as He is all-powerful, but we do it all the time! And I know that I have done that a lot lately. My train of thought was "I barely have enough money to get this book published. I will not have enough money to go to Ethiopia" and basically said "God won't do that for me. He can't do that for me. That is a lot of money and that is asking too much of Him." WHAT? Yes, I actually thought those things. Just earlier this evening, even.

Who's to say that between now and January next year, God will not lead me to an amazing job that pays well, that will help me save up money to go to Ethiopia? Or that He won't provide in some other miraculous way that I could never have expected? He may choose not to, but the point is that He can. He has the power to do things far greater than I could ever imagine! By assuming what He can and cannot do, I am not allowing Him to work in my life as fully as He could be.

I may not go to Ethiopia--that may not be in God's plan for me. He may be lining something else up at this very moment that I have no idea about! But the point is that I, and we all, need to trust Him. We need to stop putting limits on what He can do. 

So those are my reflections for the time being. What has God been teaching you lately?

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Four Emmanuel's

There are four children named Emmanuel who are a part of my life. The first is my Compassion correspondent child in Bolivia. The other three are part of the Asante Children's Choir from Uganda. Today, 3 out of 4 of these boys need your prayers as they are going through some difficult situations.

First up is Emanuel L., my correspondent child in Bolivia. He is 7 years old, and we share the same birthday. When he was sponsored he had been waiting over two years. Today I logged on to MyCompassion and he wasn't there. I received the shocking news that his financial sponsor had to cancel the sponsorship, and I did not find out in time to write him a final letter. I also do not have the finances to take him on as my fourth sponsored child. I can imagine right now he is probably confused and hurt, and I wish there was something more I could do to help him understand. Please pray for peace, and that God would watch over him and take care of him during this time. Please pray that he will have a new sponsor soon.

Three out of the six boys in the Asante Children's Choir are named Emmanuel! Here they are, all together in a picture. Yesterday, the children were riding horses and Emmanuel K. (in the back) and Emmanuel S. (left) fell off. Emmanuel K. has a sprained ankle. Emmanuel S. has a badly broken arm and is seeing a specialist today to determine if he needs surgery. Neither of these boys will be able to drum or dance for awhile now, and I can imagine that is pretty devastating for them. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, and for healing for these two boys.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Prayer Request: Kaveri

At long last, I have heard from Kaveri (my parent's sponsored child). The theme of her letter was "My House." I learned that her house is made of bricks. Her family gets water from a water tank and they have electricity in their house. She has one brother and one sister, and enjoys singing and playing with her friends. Her family has two buffalo.

She says that she likes the picture of my dog that I sent her, and that she loves snow. She says that pink is her favourite colour. She loves my family and "she is happy and excited because of you are with her and you are part of her life" <3.

I got an email today saying that Kaveri's project is under suspension for 3-4 months due to administrative issues. We cannot send financial support during this time but can still write letters. If the project does not fix the problems Compassion has found, the project will not be able to run anymore. Please pray for wisdom for everyone involved in this situation, and for the children at the project during this time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Exposure Trips: A Leap of Faith

Have you ever wanted to meet your sponsored child face-to-face, and see their country and experience their culture for yourself? Did you know that through Compassion there are opportunities to do just that? Today I am excited to have Jennifer share her experiences from an Exposure Trip she went on with Compassion Canada. Jennifer is a Compassion sponsor and advocate who lives in New Brunswick with her family.

What country did you visit?
My husband and I traveled to El Salvador, Central America in 2014.

How long were you there?
We were there about 6 days.

What sort of activities did you do while you were there?   
We had the chance to visit many different projects. While at each project we got to do a home visit with a sponsored child and their family. We also had the opportunity to visit the El Salvador head Compassion office, which was probably the most eye opening experience. We also had a few hours to shop at a local market where most of us got our authentic El Salvadorian art and souvenirs. Oh, and I can't forget Child Visit Day which is always exciting!

Did you notice any similarities or differences between Canadian culture and culture in El Salvador?
There are many differences that I noticed while on this trip. The first would be that they are overly friendly. What I mean by this is that we were treated like royalty while we were there. Most people we encountered would smile and wave. It was also clear that family was so important to them. We met grandmothers who had given up EVERYTHING to raise their grandchildren. Although we see that here in Canada, it is very rare. Food, the food is very different. While in Canada we can't seem to nail down one dish that is truly Canadian food, well maybe poutine, El Salvador has a wide range of foods that are unique even from other Latin American countries.

What is one of your favourite memories from the trip?
I could give you a list of many different memories but I will limit it to two:

The night before visiting ES700, my husband and I decided to sponsor another child. We fell in love with Jeferson David who reminded us of our son. The next day we got to visit ES700 where Jeferson David attended. He would be told that he has a sponsor while we were there. We would get to meet him. It is hard to explain the emotions that go through your mind when you are able to meet your sponsor child, especially when they do not even know that they are sponsored yet. They called him up on the stage just after another introduction of sponsors was done. They told him he had a sponsor, and that those sponsors were actually in the room. That is when my husband and I went up and I introduced myself. You cannot help but love these children but when it is a child you are now sponsoring it is a different type of love. 

We got the chance to meet his grandmother who was raising him as well as his two cousins that she had taken in. Instead of traveling with our group, we got to visit with Jeferson David and his grandmother. The entire time she kept on thanking us and crying. 

The second highlight is Child Visit Day. It started by us being told that we had to stay in the bus until our names were called. We could see all the children lined up. Emotions at this time are very high, especially when you are near the end of the line.

Finally our names were called and I started running to my group of 4 children who were running to me. This is where I met Giselle (10), Lea (9), Marco (7) and Fatima (6). Jeferson David arrived later.We walked around the mini zoo for some time and then we headed for the pool:

We had time to talk with our children's guardians and project workers and learned a lot about each child. Possibly the most beautiful moments happened when we got to spend time with each family and give the gifts. This is when we got to pray for each family individually. There are no words for this so pictures will have to explain it:

What would you say to someone who is considering going on an Exposure Trip with Compassion Canada?
I would say do it! Going on an Exposure Trip is so eye opening, not only to the ministry of Compassion but for the individual going. You learn about yourself. I know my first trip in 2011 opened up a whole new world for me. I know there are some people who will say it is not in my comfort zone...what I tell those people is the moment you open yourself up to this experience is when God is going to work in your heart and you will forget about your comfort zone.

This is not just a trip. This is an experience of a lifetime. You are traveling with people that after 6 days become your family. Friendships are forged between this team because you are not just experiencing Compassion alone, you are experiencing it with your family. Since 2011 when I traveled to Ecuador I am still in contact with many of my teammates and know that across Canada I have a unique family.

Sometimes you need to leap before looking...this would be one of those times!

DID YOU KNOW that Compassion Canada is leading another Exposure Trip to El Salvador this year? The trip will be taking place from May 28 to June 4, 2016. There may still be a few spots left! For more information call Compassion Canada at 1-800-563-5437 or email

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Visitors from Africa

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. A lot of things have been going on, including a visit from my Ugandan friends (The Asante Children's Choir)! They had a performance in my town this past weekend and were able to stay for a couple of days. Here are some pictures from their visit!

The choir is touring Western Canada until June. Please keep them in your prayers!

I am currently working on a Compassion-related guest post to share with you. If you want to learn more about Compassion Canada's Exposure trips, check back here tomorrow :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Celebrating Milestones!

Hello everyone! Since this blog only exists because a young girl from Ethiopia (Misgana) became an important part of my life, I thought I should update you on some exciting Compassion-related news from her country:

Compassion has been working in Ethiopia since 1993, and as of today they have registered their 100,000th child in the program!

This little girl is Betelihem. She is the 100,000th child to receive help from Compassion in Ethiopia! I am guessing that she is now waiting for a sponsor, so you may see her picture pop up on one of Compassion's sites in the near future :)

Betelihem is from southern Ethiopia, just like Misgana. According to Compassion, this area is "home to dozens of different ethnic groups" and the main religions are Protestant and Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and Islam. Compassion also says that "About 90 percent of the state's families live in rural areas, working as small-scale farmers. This state is responsible for about 40 percent of Ethiopia's annual coffee production." Challenges that children face in this area include frequent food shortages, lack of safe drinking water, and children not being able to attend or finish elementary and secondary school.

Compassion Ethiopia is working hard to help these children grow and thrive in a challenging environment. Congratulations, Compassion Ethiopia, on all the amazing work you have done so far!