Many of our child sponsors have taken the opportunity to come to Guatemala and meet their sponsored children in person. This is an incredible experience for the sponsor, the child, the classrooms, and the families. Some of the most powerful elements of child sponsorship are the love, prayers, and relationships – to think someone far away thinks you are special and lovable, to think they came from so far away to meet you and know about your life!
Earlier this week, we shared Gerard’s story of meeting his sponsored child. We’ll have more to share over the coming week. Today, Harmony Charles of Michigan shares her story.
In 2010, I went on my first international missions trip (vision trip) with 4 other ladies from my church. I was compelled to go, though I didn’t have a clue why God was speaking this to me.
Upon our arrival to La Limonada, God allowed my heart to be completely wrecked for the beautiful people of this community and the ministry of Lemonade International. We served the children in the academies with Bible lessons and crafts and lots of smiles and hugs and snuggles. Language barriers didn’t matter much, hugs and smiles translate the world over.
On our lunch hour, we would walk among the community and pay house visits to people, hear their stories, spend time in their homes where we were received with open arms and often kisses on the cheek, and pray with them about their lives, needs, and listen to their unwavering faith in a God I realized they knew much more intimately than I did – even though I have known the Lord since I was a whopping 3 years old. In La Limonada, they do not have much to call their own – they live in a constant state of need, and yet they shared their homes and what little they did have with us or their neighbors without hesitation or question. Their sense of community was unlike anything I have ever experienced here in the States, and the presence of God is so tangible it’s absolutely undeniable. La Limonada is both tragic and astoundingly beautiful. Its beauty is seen in its people and the hope that only God can give.
On our third day, we visited the Manderina Academy and I knew deep in my heart that God was demanding a personal response to the exposure I was experiencing first hand to this world so vastly different than my own. I felt I had a personal responsibility to encourage those I came into contact with and treat each and every one of them with respect and dignity, not pity. Who wants to be pitied? We entered a classroom, and I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me towards one of the boys with haunting, sad eyes. He captivated me.
I asked our translator, “Does he have a sponsor?” He said, “No, not at this time.” I replied with “He does now…” and through the translator was introduced to Yeremi as his sponsor. He was shy but his eyes lit up at this news. At the end of that week, I knew I would never be the same.
Eight months later, I had the chance to take a second trip to La Limonada with my husband and 3 college students from our church. I HAD to share this place and its people with my husband. He had to see, touch, hear, and live this experience so he could understand why I had left a large chunk of my heart there. We were able to bring gifts for Yeremi (a Spanish Bible and Keys for Kids in Spanish as well!!) and spend an afternoon with him, taking him to Pizza Hut along with his little sister and his mom. She reached across the table and told me, “Thank you for loving my son, you are changing his life, our lives… and I cannot ever repay you.” I was moved to tears. She then asked what she could pray for ME about. All my “trials” and concerns paled in comparison with what this mother deals with every single day of her life. I was humbled all over again.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of Yeremi and La Limonada and his family and the Lemonade team and send up many many prayers for them all. We hear from Yeremi often, we get artwork and letters and we love him dearly. I hope and pray I can someday introduce my own kids to “our” Guate cutie. Our relationship with him is absolutely the response God has asked of me. I would have it no other way. 🙂
– Harmony Charles