contributed by Javy Diaz / interview & edits by Paula Hemphill
This week's interview comes to us from our dear friend, encouragement enthusiast, and (spoiler alert) new-ish CA, Javy Diaz. You know him. You love him. And if you don't, he's definitely worth reaching out to because he is pretty awesome. Javy leads our team in Washington DC with such kindness and he imparts a spirit of courage and boldness onto everyone he talks to. I can say this with confidence, because he's done it for me.
Javy was a brand new CA at conference last year, and he was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about his experience as a newbie. I think you'll love what he has to say!
What was it that made you register for your very first conference? What will bring you back this year?
It was my first year as a child ambassador and everyone on Facebook seemed really excited. There was a tangible buzz in the air! I had also had pretty good year, so I qualified to attend conference for free so that helped too :) What brings me back this year is not the rewards, but the Child Ambassador Family. That's what we are. I couldn't imagine not going back even if I had to pay for it all myself.
What surprised you about conference?
How much I cried, about everything. The conference was so well planned and executed that on several occasions I was just like, 'wow!' I was also surprised at the quickness with which friendships, and I don't mean like casual friendships, but deep and meaningful friendships formed. We would pray about really heavy things in the hallways, after a full day, cry some more, and lift each other up in prayer. Some of these behind the scenes moments were actually some of the most powerful and memorable moments at conference.
What does conference mean to you?
Conference means that I get to be with the most passionate child advocates in the world in one place. It means that we get to be with God as he speaks to us individually and corporately. This is powerful. When you're at conference you get a glimpse of what the apostles may have experienced on the day of Pentecost. They were all from different places, gathered together, in one place with one heart - and the Spirit poured out on them! If you come to conference with the heart of a child ambassador you will be filled. You are with God's people and He shows up big.
If you could choose one big takeaway from conference, what would it be?
What we do as Child Ambassadors is really hard. We hear no a lot. It's easy to be discouraged and lose heart. At a bare minimum, it's good to hear others talk about the challenges they experience so that we don't feel alone. I've been fortunate to have some small successes in the ministry BUT this may not always be the case. In many ways I am still discouraged by not being able to connect with more churches or Christian schools. I'm not hitting the goals that I was striving for, for myself or my team, and I need to be with people that can guide me, but also be with me in through the challenges. The biggest takeaway for me is community. This is the one place where someone will understand what you are going through in your ministry - good or bad.
How has conference fueled your ministry / impacted your heart?
Conference has challenged me and inspired me to keep going. It was at conference that I was challenged by the witness of other Child Ambassadors that are so compelled by sponsorship that they sacrifice financially to sponsor one or two more kiddos that most of us say we cannot afford when we can. At conference I committed to doing more, sacrificing more, so that kiddos could live more abundantly.
Finish the sentence: Conference is...
not mandatory, but it should be. It is that important.
What would you say to the person who is on the fence about attending conference/spending the money/making the time to go?
Seriously, do what you have to do to get there. It's once a year and it will light a fire under your ministry. If you already have a flame lit, it will throw gas on to it. It's an investment that pays massive dividends not just for you but for children around the world. Conference helps all of us become better Child Ambassadors - which means that more children will be connected to amazing sponsors. Do your best to figure it out; you won't regret it.
Conference registration is open, and we want you to be there with us! Learn more here.
Contributed by Paula Hemphill
I remember my first conference like it was yesterday. I remember being scared and feeling alone in my ministry before that weekend. And I remember how I was so lovingly grafted into this orange army with so much grace and kindness that it made my heart swell.
When I walked away from my very first conference I knew I had found my tribe. I knew I was NOT alone. And I knew that I wanted to give that same grace and love and kindness to new CA's.
Many of you have heard me tell the story of my first conference ever. And I love my story. Because it's not just about me. It's really about the heart and soul of this team. But I want you to hear from two of my friends who attended their first conference last year and just what it meant to them.
The RELATIONSHIPS with other CAs is absolutely essential to being able to get through the disappointments, frustrations and heartbreaks that will come in ministry & life. As you get to know other CAs and their journeys, you will realize that "success" is found in simply persevering and trusting. The friendships & love shared with other CAs is the way God will encourage you through the valleys and dry seasons and how He will help you persevere in your calling and not grow weary!
Please come and get connected! You will be re-fueled to get back out there and obey in the small choices every day. He will ignite your vision for this beautiful kingdom work and you will be so humbled by the amazing GLOBAL group you have been called to be a part of. - Randi Jo Rooks
Conference registration is live. And for me it's especially exciting this year. My first conference was here in Tennessee. In my backyard, if you will. It was here that I truly became a child ambassador. So, it's exciting for me that I can invite y'all to this place-- a place where we all hope and pray you experience the same thing I did: deep belonging, togetherness, and the empowerment to go out and live your ministry the way the Lord has you to.
Register here and join us!
Meet Michelle Lazaro!
Her favorite non-World Vision hobbies include traveling and learning languages.
She and her husband, Danny, have been married for 16 years and have a 12 year-old son, Diego. Diego loves baseball and Danny coaches his travel ball team. That keeps them very busy. Michelle has been a Los Angeles Unified School teacher for 20 years and has taught Kinder, 1st, and 2nd grades. She LOVES teaching children to read and write. Literacy is one of her passions. Michelle has had the great privilege and honor to have gone on two Vision Trips to get to see WV's work first-hand in the field. She went to Cambodia in 2015 and to Rwanda in the spring of 2017. You should ask her more about those trips. She has a wealth of knowledge and great stories to share.
Michelle, can you tell us about what made you become a CA:
I first sponsored while visiting my friend's church at a Hope Sunday event in 1999. My heart was so moved that I sponsored on the spot. I received an email from WV in 2010 explaining the CA program. When I shared the email with my husband, he was very supportive and excited about this new opportunity for me. He jokingly said, "I hope this doesn't mean that I now have to call you Madam Ambassador."
Tell us about your favorite sponsorship/event you've been a part of:
Every sponsorship is so magical, but I would say, one of my favorites would be when I was miraculously contacted by a small local church to speak at a mission's Sunday event. The pastor is from India, loved WV, and was very familiar with our work in India. He shared several stories about the transformed lives he'd seen in India. He asked that a photo card be passed out to everyone in the congregation (about 35 people) and asked us all to stand up with our photo cards while he prayed over them. He said in part, "Lord in our hands we hold the future leaders of the nations, the future pastors, teachers, doctors, etc." Due to his support, and of our course the leading of God's Spirit, 14 children were sponsored that day in that tiny church.
What is one bit of encouragement you would give to new CAs:
I would just say to "welcome your no's" by knowing that about 1 person out of every 9 you share with (face-to-face) will sponsor. So be encouraged that each "no" you receive is one person closer to a sponsorship.
What is your favorite scripture or quote for your ministry?
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11
I put this in my heart for all my potential sponsored children and know that the Lord wants them sponsored even more than I do. I ask Him to send people to me so that I can plant seeds and hopefully get to harvest sometimes.
You can reach Michelle via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen teaches has been involved in kids ministry for the last 4 years. She has made the closest friendships ever had through her church and my small group. She has even become a women's bible studies leader.
The Trumbo family sponsors 3 children: a girl in Uganda was their first. Like all second sponsorships tend to be, her next child wasn't planned. She was checking her CA sponsorship link to send to a friend a beauty from Bolivia named Mariel appeared on her phone screen. She couldn't resist because this little girl and her daughter share the same name-- albeit with slightly different spelling. Their third sponsorship was just recently, in light of the East Africa famine. They found a boy named Henry who loves to draw. Karen's husband is also named Henry and has always loved to draw. It is still a favorite hobby of his, so this was the perfect choice for them!
What made you become a CA: I had been sponsoring a girl in Uganda when I got an email about volunteering for WV at a Harlem Globetrotters game. I realized how much I enjoyed helping others connect with a child. Following the game, I got an email about becoming a CA and I applied. I didn't know much about what it meant to be a CA at first since my introduction to it was through an event WV sponsored. Taking the next step to find connections on my own was a big jump for me.
Favorite sponsorship/event story: My 6K was a pivotal point in my ministry. I had a very slow start to being a CA. Rejection froze with me fear time and time again. Then my heart would break again to a point that moved me to action again. When the 6K opportunity came up, I knew I wanted to be a host site leader not really expected much of a turn out. Without church support (which I felt was crucial to success at the time), my husband and I worked together to grow a team of 75 people, raised over $5000 and celebrated 3 new sponsorships as a result.
One bit of encouragement you would give to new CAs: Being a CA is hard. Most will face more rejection than acceptance. Remember why you are doing it and keep moving forward. When you are frozen with fear, like I was so many times, reach out to another CA, a team lead or Megan. I wasn't plugged into the relationships with other CAs until recently and it makes a difference. Knowing others are out there who have the same heart as you and face the same struggles is important.
Are you comfortable having your email listed in your bio? (This is 100% up to you. Don't feel pressured to answer either way) email@example.com
favorite scripture or quote for the ministry Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.