Friday, August 31, 2012

My Compassion Story: An Introduction

Hello! My name is Carly and I am a college student studying psychology in Iowa. To kick of this blog I thought I should share my experiences with Compassion International thus far.

 My Compassion story begins in July of 2005 when I was a mere thirteen-years-old and decided to go to Colorado with my church's middle school youth group. It was here that I first learned of Compassion's work. Even though I was only an eighth grader, I felt moved by the presentation and I knew in my heart that this was something that I wanted to be a part of. After talking it over with my parents, I chose a five-year-old girl from Recife, Brazil named Carla.
We began writing letters back and forth to develop our relationship. I told all of my friends about her, showed everyone her picture, and soon began dreaming of the day I would go to Brazil with a Compassion Sponsor Tour to meet her.

As an eighth grader, I decided I would begin saving my money so that one day I would be able to live out my dream of meeting Carla. My entire savings became known as my "Brazil fund" and any and all money I received from then on went into this fund. Friends and family would nod their heads and smile at my repeated claims that someday I would go to Brazil, not quite believing it would happen.

Tragically in September of 2009, I learned that Carla's family had moved out of Compassion's area and I would no longer be able to sponsor her. This was devastating to me. Our relationship had grown substantially in the previous four and a half years of sponsorship and communication and I had many plans for our long future together. However, when Compassion sent me information about Isadora, an eight-year-old girl from Fortaleza, Brazil, I knew that I could not give up on my dreams. I still loved the work that Compassion was doing and began my sponsorship of Isadora.
Over the last three years, Isadora and I have written to each other frequently, building our relationship and learning about one another. The dreams I had for my future with Carla transferred to Isadora, including the ultimate dream to go to Brazil to meet her.

In March of 2011 I checked Compassion's website, as I did every couple of months to see if there were any trips to Brazil on the horizon. This time, there was. The timing was perfect. The trip would be at the end of May 2012, right after school would be finished. It hit me that this was it. This was my opportunity. I remember that moment. I actually screamed.

As my parents slowly warmed up to the idea that I was actually going to go, the "Brazil fund" became that much more real. I knitted things for friends and family and did anything I could think of to raise more money for my trip. That fall when more information became available, including the cost of the trip, my heart sank. The trip was $4200. Almost $1000 more than I had been expecting. I didn't have enough.

I prayed for a long time about whether or not this was the right thing for me to do or if I should wait until I had more money saved up. I asked God to help me find a way to get there if this was when I was meant to go. God pulled through. With the help of my church, friends, and family, I was able to live out my dream of going to Brazil to meet my sponsored child. (I'll talk more about this trip at a later time). It was life-changing to say the least. After returning, I knew I wanted to do more for Compassion but as a college student, the amount I am able to give financially is limited. Seeing the work the Compassion does first hand led me to want to share this organization and my experiences with the world; therefore, I became an advocate.

In addition to sponsoring Isadora, I have been corresponding to Guerby, a five-year-old from Haiti since last fall. I am so excited to watch him grow and develop my relationship with him.
I feel that my Compassion story has only just begun. I am already planning my next trip to Brazil (I would go back in a heartbeat) and someday I will go to Haiti. My ultimate goal is to sponsor or correspond with someone from every country Compassion works in and visit all of the children I sponsor or write to. In the meantime, I want to tell absolutely everyone about what Compassion is doing to hopefully inspire someone else to change their story and the story of one of these incredible children.

Love & Peace

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