Surprise Blessings

During our 5-hour stay in Bogota between flights, we had the privilege of stopping by Compassion’s country headquarters.  We had very little time, and had been delayed by typical city traffic, unfortunately, but what a special treat it was.

The friendly faces of two men were wonderful to see, and Leo (on the right), who guides and coordinates all visits of Sponsors to Colombia, was eager to show us around and introduce us to other staff members, and to tell us stories of Compassion’s work here.

First, we met several employees in the sponsor/donor relations department.  They minister to 91,000 children in Colombia, and these are the ones that handle letters, photos, visits from sponsors, and the details of the child survival program, among others tasks.

Each sweet person here shared about their jobs and about some of the specific children involved in this ministry of “Releasing Children from Poverty in Jesus’ Name.”

We saw where the letters are sorted to go to various child development centers across their country.

I think this is the very box where my letters go, when I write to Gerlan!

Thankfully, thousands of letters stop in these bins on the way to children that are eager to hear from their sponsors, and the number is growing, as the Compassion app (on phones) and online accounts have made it so much easier to send letters.  The ones that are sent digitally from your account or phone, are printed in the partnering country, just like these were, so they can be translated and handed to the child in person.

About this time I received the first surprise of the visit.  They introduced us to Luz Ariana, Manager of Support Engagement.  She manages all the other people on this floor, including Leo, who has the job she previously held.

Luz is a formerly sponsored child!  The moment I heard that, I asked to have my photos taken with her, because she’s a beautiful example of the difference that Compassion’s ministry makes in a child’s life.  Here she is — beautifully released from poverty and giving back to the very same ministry that rescued her!

If that wasn’t enough, the next desk we stopped at was another formerly sponsored child who is responsible for Child Protection.  She works with highly vulnerable children, working out the legal matters that need to occur, protecting them, speaking up on their behalf, and finding ways to prevent more atrocious acts of endangerment.  These may be children that are being abused, involved in child slavery or trafficking, critically ill or malnourished, or any other dangers that so often afflict the weakest, most vulnerable of all.  What a huge responsibility she has, but I know that her heart is big enough to meet the task, and that her trust and confidence is in the Lord, who knows and sees all, and has power to change the direction of a child’s life for the good.

Oh, how honored I felt to meet her, too!  She said that the photos on the walls throughout the building constantly remind all the employees of the reason for their work: these little faces are what it’s all about.

If that was not enough, we had another surprise coming when we went upstairs to the financial department — a third formerly sponsored child is working in this area.  There were many other employees that we met–techs, mechanics, administrative employees, and others–but at this point I don’t think I saw much more than these three — precious, capable, formerly sponsored children!  And this sweet, young girl, had a photo of her sponsor on her desk that she was quick to show us!  She wants to remember where she came from, who supported her in her release from poverty, and why she works on behalf of so many other children facing the same struggles that she faced growing up.

Aren’t these three girls beautiful?  Oh my, this really made my day!  I’m so very thankful for this ministry of Compassion International — for the integrity, perseverance, careful attention to detail, and for the fact that it’s always about individual children–not a number, not a face–but an actual, living being who was created with worth and value, and who we have the privilege of supporting through sponsorship, and developing a relationship with along the way.  How very grateful I am to all of you who sponsor.  If you don’t sponsor a child yet, and would like to, you can contact me or choose one here and I know their life (and yours) will never be the same!

 

La Candelaria

We barely had time to make a quick stop in Bogota’s “La Candelaria” — the old city.  Perhaps we’ll have time to explore more of it in the future, but for now it was wonderful to see the buildings, square and mountains beyond.  Beautiful!

Bogota Street Art

On our final morning in Cartagena, we got up early for our flight out of Cartagena via Bogota, and ate the delicious pastries Luis had brought for us!  Also, it happened (by God’s design, I believe) that we had a five-hour layover in Bogota before our flights out of Colombia.  Sarah and I were headed one way and Chris another, but all three of us had time to rent a taxi to see Bogota up close, including a very special and surprising encounter, which you will see in my post on Friday.

These are some of the photos we took, first, upon arrival at the airport (notice the fun sign), and then on our way to the “old town” of Bogota.  The street art is wonderful!  We didn’t have time to explore some of the more famous areas of street art, but what we saw was beautiful!

 

 

The Dab

These are the final scenes of Cartagena from our Compassion trip to visit our sponsored boys.  What a beautiful city!  We will never forget it, or our Colombian friends that we love so much!  We left early in the morning for a connecting flight in Bogota.  Watch for posts from Bogota next week, but — in the meantime —  can you spot the dab?

Cartagena Beach

Our hotel was on the beach in Cartagena, Colombia, so we enjoyed walking along the shoreline in the mornings and evenings.  Our hotel was nice; it was a high rise, but we did walk along the beach to see the one I stayed in on my previous visit.  Since I was alone I chose to stay in a facility where I wouldn’t have to leave for meals.  This is the beautiful Hotel Caribe, which you can see at my previous post .  It has several different dining options and was perfect for my short stay in 2013.

This is the hotel we stayed in this year — the InterContinental Cartagena.

We enjoyed the beautiful beach scenes that we saw each day.

 

 

 

 

 

Chris’ New Friend

These are the final photos of our evenings in Cartagena, Colombia.

We found a really nice man named Abraham selling original paintings of the city. We purchased some of the small ones and he willingly posed for a photo.  I love this, because it’s the people of any country we visit that we love the most, and we always want to support them when we can.

While Sarah and I were busy buying keepsakes, Chris had found a new friend, too.  They had a great time playing, and Chris was in no hurry to move on.  He took his time with the toddler.  What a hoot!  Sarah posted this on Snapchat.