In a continuation of the story about our trip to the Dominican Republic in January, I need to tell you now about visiting our sponsored children, Junior and Francisco. Nothing could have prepared us for what happened.
We spent a whole day with both boys and their mothers. I didn’t realize Junior would be much taller than me now; he had been so small five years ago. His mother, Rubia, came with him as she did last time. Rubia and I are fast friends now — we’ve cried together, hugged and shared our concerns for our children. Unknown to me until that month, Junior was leaving the Compassion project, and we would not see each other again. I had known all along that he was special to me, but I had never dreamed I was just as special to him. He cried nearly the entire day that we were together. His mother and I cried just as much. He and I cried on each others’ shoulders most of the time. It was a very bitter-sweet reunion. I told him I would never stop praying for him, and that God would fulfill his plans for him, wherever he goes. Junior was especially sad that we would not be able to write letters to each other any more. So was I. You can imagine how difficult it was to part ways that day, but how grateful we all were that God had brought us together again one last time.
Mindy and Francisco had a wonderful day together. They had taken us to a ranch where we could look at various animals, use the swimming pool, play games, or have a picnic lunch. We found out that Francisco’s family were Christians now! Remember how the neighbor had said, “They need to know Jesus?” Well, they did come to know Him, and the family was doing much better. The father still could not do the small appliance repair that he had done so well before his accident (which severely injured his hands), but Francisco was learning the skills from his dad. The most special thing to me about being with Francisco and his mother, was that every time she walked past me she would put her hand on my shoulder, or give me a hug or pat my back. She knew I was the one that had gone home five years ago saying, “This boy needs a sponsor.”
On our way home from the day, after Francisco and his mother gave a tearful farewell to both of us, Mindy and I were riding on the bus and looking through all the hundreds of photos and movies she had taken. We giggled to see Francisco jabbering away in Spanish to the camera and then running to do a cannon ball into the swimming pool. We laughed about Francisco’s first ride on the back of a small burro, and watched him being thrown about in the swimming pool by the wonderful young man that translated for us. But in a few minutes, I heard Mindy gasp, and she said, “I just deleted all my photos!” We couldn’t retrieve them, and they were lost forever, except in our minds. After a few moments, the only thing I could think of to say was, “God has just brought you down to Francisco’s level of poverty. He didn’t have hundreds of photos to take home from this day.” She liked that. It was true. Now, those memories stay in our minds even stronger, perhaps, than if we’d had her photos to review.
Finally, Mindy had said the whole week that she wanted to sponsor an additional older child. Out of the child packets available to us, she chose Oscar. I had been trying all week to get child packets in her hand for the projects our group was going to, but she randomly chose Oscar. I found out our group was not going to his project, which was #247. Our bus was going to another project 30 miles away — we were on the way, and the group leader was standing in the front of the bus describing the other project to us. I was sitting in the back of the bus praying, “Take us to #247…please take us to #247!” But then I remembered this wasn’t right, and I said, “No, Lord — You know which child Mindy should sponsor. You take us to the place You want us to go.” I opened my eyes, and our bus pulled up to Project #247! I jumped out of my seat & exclaimed, “Mindy — let’s go find Oscar!” — and the rest of the amazing, emotional story is told on a previous post here. Oscar was sponsored that day by Mindy, and his life drastically changed.
This week, we hope to see Francisco and Oscar again. Can you imagine our joy and excitement? I look forward to seeing Francisco and Oscar’s mothers again, if they are able to come. The children are always accompanied by a Project Director, Pastor or Teacher when they come to visit their sponsors. Sometimes a parent accompanies them as well. It will be a very special week, indeed! We will keep you posted about our activities this week — and share more photos!