When we first sponsored a child through Compassion, we never thought we'd be able to visit our child. Last Friday, we were able to meet Florianlyn! :D
First, in the morning, she came to the resort, earlier than expected! Guess she was as excited as we were? ;) As we approached the van that she came in, I had to pinch myself I couldn't believe it! The girl that I've gotten to know through a few letters and the picture pinned on our fridge was going to be standing right in front of me in seconds! First came her tutor/case worker, Conchita.
Then, there she was.
Hair cut short, shying behind her mother's leg. Introductions were made and we went and sat around a table. She was very shy, no smiles, no words. The language barrier prevented me from saying much to her, but my parents spoke a language she understood, and Conchita was there to translate, so we had a bit of communication. We gave her her gifts, books, clothes, school supplies.
And finally, a smile spread across her face as a doll emerged from the backpack. It was priceless.
Some time later, Jhon and Julius arrived. Remember them? The ones who got sponsored through my mom by my aunt and "almost" aunt? :)
They came for lunch and we introduced them to their sponsors through pictures. We gave them their gifts. They were a bit less shy, probably because they knew each other, but I still couldn't talk to them! Man, I wish I had picked up Filipino during my childhood! :P
Here's a picture of the 3 kids, my brother and I looking at [petting, in the boys' case] the turtles at the resort:
[Totally off topic but important: My brother and I are both wearing Pocket Change Apparel t-shirts, which gives it's profits to Compassion. Check them out on facebook or twitter or their website, they rock! :D]
We ate lunch, and we found we had leftovers. We invited all three families to take some home, and as she packed up the food, Florianlyn's mother said:
"This is a grace. There is food for dinner tonight!"
I've never ever in my life worried about whether or not there would be dinner on the table tonight. But it seems that Florianlyn's family worries about this everyday.
Broke my heart.
Then, we parted ways. Jhon and Julius and their families back home, us and Florianlyn to her project and church. We drove to the Child Development Centre on the one main road in Masbate. Seriously, it's like, "Do you wanna go this way, or that way?" :P
The pastor, one of the board members, and all of the teachers at the CDC met us at the church.
Despite the poverty around them, they were so joyful, all smiles. Joy, the type that only comes from God. We looked around, and it was just. so. cool. No other way to put it. :P
We talked and chatted and it was just great to learn about their programs and learn about them. Then the pastor prayed for us, which was really, really, great. Here's a picture of everyone together:
Lastly, we went to her house. It was smaller than a typical North American master bedroom. Her, her parents and her two sisters all live in there. No kitchen, running water. Made of tin sheets and hollow blocks. Hole in the roof, covered by a tarp.
But again, despite all this, hope reflected in the eyes of Analyn, Florianlyn's mom.
"When she grows up, she wants to use the education she is getting to help her family, all because of Compassion."
So cool. And I'll pray often that she is able to finish school and reach all her dreams.
And then it was time to say goodbye.
I'd only heard a few precious words from her. Seen a few precious smiles. Had a quick day to breathe the same air as her, and now it was time to say goodbye:
She was caught up with her new things, but my mom and I still each got one quick, precious hug. Glad my dad got a picture of it. :)
It was a day where I saw poverty, hopelessness, despair.
But those things were overcome by the joy, faith and hope.