First of all, thanks to those of you who left such kind and uplifting comments on my last post. It was one of the hardest articles I have ever written. Those of you who have walked down this path understand and we can learn so much from each other. Thanks for your prayers during what's always a difficult time of year for me. You'll never know how much I appreciate them.
I just returned from the most amazing conference. It was sponsored by the company that designs and writes the curriculum we use in our Children's Ministry at church. It was the most rejuvenating three days. We worshipped, we sang, we prayed. We attended seminars to make us better leaders in our Children's Ministry and another seminar that gave us great tips on parenting our own children at home (and who doesn't need those?!).
My highlight of the week came not from a session or a time of worship (although all of those things were amazing) but from a booth I visited along with a friend. It belonged to Compassion International. Some of you are probably familiar with it. It's a Christian organization that (I'm quoting from the website) "exists as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults." To learn more about this incredible organization, click here.
Shortly after Melissa died, my friend, Tracy, decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International in memory of Melissa. Chris and I were so deeply touched. To think that a child in a poor country would receive the help they need because of my daughter's life was overwhelming to me. Ever since then I have always thought, "I want to do that someday."
My friend Brooke and I decided to visit the booth and check it out. Brooke has two little girls and one on the way so she chose a little boy who lives in Brazil. He's adorable.
I wanted a little girl. I thought Ann Catherine and Lily would identify so well with a little girl and a huge part of wanting to sponsor a child was to teach my two daughters (who have everything they will ever need) that there is a world out there full of people who are hurting and it's our responsibility as Christians to reach out to them.
I looked and looked but just wasn't sure who to choose. Then I thought about all of the shows I see on tv of children who are starving in Africa. So I asked one of the women working the booth if she could help me find a little girl who lives in an AIDS-affected area of Africa. She found an adorable little girl who lives in Tanzania. (I don't want to disclose her name for privacy reasons.)
This precious little girl lives with her grandmother. I'm not sure where her parents are, but based on where she lives, they probably have died from AIDS. I knew immediately that she was the one.
For only $32 a month, she will receive food, medicine, Bibles and any other supplies she needs. We will also exchange letters with her. As I was reading information about her, it said this 5-year-old likes to play hide and seek, play with dolls and play house. Those are exactly the things my daughters like to do. That's when I realized, this precious little girl - who sleeps on a hard floor every night and wears hand me downs that we would never dream of putting on our children - is just like my own daughters. She loves doing the same things they love doing. She is a living, breathing human being. She only needs a chance.
We are sponsoring this little girl in memory of Melissa. I am so excited about it, and in a way, I also think this is part of my never-ending healing process. For some reason, I just felt like I needed to do this - not just for this little girl, but for me too. We couldn't save Melissa's life, but through her memory, we can try to make life better for another little girl who so desperately needs it.
I'm pretty sure she would approve.