Standing inside their doorway, him dressed in stoicism and a stained white tee, her draped in demureness and a cheerful pink sari, they invited us into their home. It was the first time I've ever been invited straight to someone's bedroom the moment I entered their house.
Then again, their almost two-room house would fit compactly inside my youngest son's bedroom, and it was the only place that could accommodate seating for the five in our group.
After spending the morning first being entertained by children in a local Compassion International Child Development Sponsor Program, then playing with them, we visited families and children in their nearby homes, to learn from them how Compassion has impacted their lives. First was little Johnson's family.
If I was a friend to Compassion before this trip, I'm an outright zealot for them now. Sponsoring a child doesn't just benefit him or her, it helps the entire family; as my friend and trip leader Spence suggests, "by relieving the burden of one, you relieve burden for all".
Hesitant at first, our hosts slowly warmed up to us. The question was asked "How has Compassion impacted not just your son's life, but your entire family's?" and Johnson's parents told us about the material things Compassion had provided through the years: a colorful cabinet; a pitcher, bowl and pot for cooking; a table fan.
These are their most prized possessions.
When I asked if we could photograph those special things, I sensed a change in the atmosphere; maybe I was just imagining it, but I saw a sweet pride swell in Johnson's mother as she located a set of keys, stooped to the bottom door of the cabinet, unlocked it and carefully shifted its contents until she pulled out the wrapped pitcher and bowl. She unwrapped them, placing them on the children's bed, which had previously been our chair and was now serving as her table.
The most beautiful moment of our visit, the one that wrapped its fingers around my heart and clinched it tight, was when this precious lady offered us tea. There was simply no way we could accept it, knowing the havoc it would wreak on our digestive system; before we could answer, our interpreter quickly explained that as Americans, our stomachs weren't accustomed to the water. I think she probably knew this, she knew we'd decline, and yet she still offered.
Her gracious intention when she had next to nothing to give is a gift I'll carry much longer than a cup of tea.
Both sponsored children we visited commented how much they liked receiving letters from their sponsors; the parents shared how Compassion provides for physical, medical and spiritual needs. Should you decide to sponsor a child I assure you, you're elevating his family's standard of living, putting food in his mouth, cultivating confidence and providing basic material needs. You'll be the reason he has a chance of being released from the clutches of poverty....