Compassion UK: Betty Sander’s visit to Columbia

When I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with Compassion UK to Colombia in Feb 2019, I jumped at the chance.  This was the 1stvisit to Colombia by Compassion UK and we were joined by Compassion Netherlands (again a 1stfor Compassion UK to travel with another country).

I have been sponsoring her for 10 years.  I told Melanys that I didn’t choose her, because I didn’t know which child to choose.  Esther Wood had profiles from Compassion Sunday, and I knew I wanted a girl and preferably from South America.  Esther prayed over the profiles and chose Melanys for me.

My sponsored child, Melanys was 17 and would be 18 in March.  If she had decided not to go onto further education, my sponsorship would end on her 18thbirthday.  So, this was the only opportunity to meet her.

What particularly encourages me, is that Melanys finished school at 17 (same as me) and has started university in January (at the same age I was).  She is studying International Business & Commerce (I took Business Administration in college).  I feel the Lord matched us up perfectly.

My heart is bursting with joy and love for her and her family. I am so proud of her. She had turned into a wonderful confident young woman, with a hope for the future.  Her heart is also full of Jesus and is not hiding it.

We had a day together at a water theme park, where there was 150 of us. Each sponsored child had a guardian (mother & sibling, or project director) and a translator.  We had so much to talk about.

She gave me a gift of a wonderful long, hand written letter, Spanish scripture cards and a bag of Colombian sweets and snacks.  I gave her a small backpack of gifts for her and her family, as well as school supplies.  When I chose the gifts, I did not know she was at University, so it was my surprise, when she so excited about the school supplies, as she had particularly wanted them for her course.  (I think God’s hand must have been on my shopping list!)

I asked about her family and her friends.  I apologised that I did not write enough (sometimes, only once a year). She gave me her displeasure about this. Knowing what I know now and seeing the impact that the letters and photos have for the sponsored children, I said I would let those people know who have sponsored children to remind them to write more.  It helps build their confidence to know that someone in another country loves them and keeps in touch.

As she had brought the project director, as her guardian, I asked many questions of the project.  It appears that some children, from the time they are 3 to the time they are 18 or 19 and leave the project; have not received 1 single letter from their sponsor.

Would you imagine just writing to your children or friends or family, just once a year, and still hoping to have a fruitful relationship?  Could you imagine never getting a letter, when the other sponsored children are getting letters?

I would encourage you to write, this month to your sponsored child.  And if you do not have a sponsored child, then encourage someone you know to write their letter.  It really does make a difference.

With regard to gifts for the child, family and project; you may already send birthday or Christmas gifts to the child.  The project team, work with the family to decide best how to spend the gifts monies. What you may not know, is that sometimes the family uses the family gift to buy food, as their cupboards would really be empty.  And sometimes, the family decides that the family gift be used for extra items for the sponsored child.  So please do consider giving family gifts.  

I gave my 1stproject gift to her project in November, but did not really know what it is done with it at the time.  I know now, that the church and project team, pray over the funds, and spend it in the area that it is needed most.  I asked the project director was there any pressing needs, and she replied that 2 of their school rooms do not have a floor yet.  So, I received an idea of costs from Julio and will be praying on how I can help with that.  My encouragement to you, is to consider giving a project gift.

On the project work day, the Church had identified families in particular need who would benefit from having the front of their homes painted. This is Nicky and Paul, with the translator and the family.  A church family member was also with each “home” group visit.

When asked “what colour would you like your house”, the answer was “it doesn’t matter”.  This is quite a humbling answer, and gracious to the Lord’s blessings.   The school class rooms were also painted white, both inside and out.  And a new school playground being built (funded by 7,000 euro’s raised by the Netherlands team who were with us).

I would encourage you to pray about giving a project gift to your sponsored child’s project, as the church will pray with the project team, to determine how best to spend the funds.

My overall message is:  gosh, what a blessing Compassion has on the children! It really does transforms lives and families.  The church is having an impact on the community and people are coming to Jesus. I would again, encourage you,write a card or letteras soon as possible and as often as possible.

Dios te Bendiga (God Bless You)

Betty Sanders

(Betty is the accountant for Peacemaker Trust and we are therefore delighted to share her story)