Contributed by Laura Walls in Stories from the Field
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." II Corinthians 1:3-4
I knew that look.
The look of someone who's been hurt before. Someone who's been left before.
Her eyes were wary, untrusting, and less than comfortable making contact with mine. After a half an hour together, her first real smile came when her beautiful, little daughter's eyes lit up with wonder and joy while she was blowing bubbles. But she looked away quickly and her smile faded. And it was in that moment I knew.
I've been in that place.
I asked the translator to confirm what I'd already guessed. Yes, Fatima's mom was a single mom, trying to care for her two children while living with her mother. Yes, it was just the four of them living there.
"What does she do for work?" I asked. Gustavo, our translator paused and repeated the question, this time in Spanish. She shifted and explained.
"She goes house to house and does laundry or house cleaning. Whatever she can find..."
She looked at me and looked away.
"Tell her, tell her I was a single mom, too. Tell her I know how hard she's working to take care of her children. Please tell her that her daughter is beautiful and that she's doing such a good job raising her."
Our eyes locked as he repeated it to her and she smiled and nodded.
I hadn't realized that fact when I was coming to meet them on a Vision Trip to Nicaragua with the Child Ambassador team. Little Fatima was just a picture then with an ID number that I showed to my cousin after she expressed an interest in sponsoring. There was no other information about Fatima's background. But God knew her needs. He knew that there was a special little girl who needed some extra support and encouragement. He knew there was a kind and wonderful woman in the US who longed to connect with and love a child through sponsorship. He knew Fatima's mom needed that hope and kindness. And He knew... He knew I'd relate and that I should be the one who brought them together.
I gave Fatima all the things her sponsor, Susan, had lovingly picked out for her. A jumprope, a doll, a coloring book... each item was exciting to her and her smile was irrepressible. She loved looking at the picture of Susan and passed it to her mom. They pointed at it and I heard her mom say, "Patrocinador." Your sponsor. Fatima smiled and carefully began taking each item from Susan out of the little plastic tote. She lined it all up on the table, eyes wide with joy and approval. Then she gingerly placed it all back inside the tote, closed the lid, and gave a deep, satisfied sigh. She looked up at me, grinned, and abruptly squeezed me close in a tight hug.
Oh, be still my heart!
You know, life isn't always easy. For some of us, maybe even most of us, it takes a lot of regrettable sharp twists and turns. Sometimes, we can feel all alone, as though we don't matter to anyone. We can shut down, afraid of being hurt again. But then... God surprises us. He sends someone unexpectedly into our lives to gently whisper to us that we matter to Him. We are not forgotten. He sends someone like Susan to remind us that we are seen. We are known. We are loved.
Friends, this is child sponsorship. We often think of it as affecting only the child but really, it affects the whole family and their community. And through it, God will work to bring healing to brokenness, lift up the lonely, and to move families from poverty to HOPE. And this work - changing how stories end - this is what we are blessed to be part of as child ambassadors. So be BOLD! Know that what you do is changing lives - like the life of little Fatima in Nicaragua.
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.