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"I would like another six year old girl please....."

Now that I think about it.......I can see why after hearing that.....N went running to her room, in full meltdown mode and hid under her bed. What she didn't know is that it was a World Vision representative on the other end of the phone.

Yes, poor N was totally convinced I was on the phone with some national child exchange program when she heard the tragic news. It was coincidentally during a protest in her homeschooling.

So when I finally persuaded her to come out from under her bed, I got the chance to explain to her what was going on....You see, last summer at The Soulfest (which btw, you do not want to miss if you live in New England) we decided to sponsor a child.....World Vision had an AIDS interactive exhibit set up. It was a huge tent that you walked through with a iPod Shuffle and basically had the heartbreaking experience of the journey of a child whose life has been affected by the AIDS epidemic. There were three children's lives that you could experience, I had "Stephen" who lived in Uganda and at an early age was abducted by the rebels (The LRA, Lord's Resistance Army), brainwashed and threated with his life to commit unspeakable acts against his own village. He eventually is rescued by a missionary team who risk their own lives to free these children before they succumb to disease, starvation and brutal abuse. But then faces yet another enemy.....the fact that he might be infected with HIV/AIDS.

*I was just searching for the link for schedule (to see if it might be coming somewhere local) and found out you can actually watch Stephen's story online here,. I will warn you that it can be a little upsetting, but definitely will impact you.

So for me........it was inconceivable to walk away from that experience without feeling the need to do something. I literally had a pit in my stomach and walked around in a fog for about a half hour upon exiting that tent.....I mean, I knew the AIDS crisis is pandemic....but I just didn't expect to witness what I did.

So after talking to Josh, we decided that the least we could do, was to sponsor a child through the World Vision organization. We figured we would check out their website when we got back home, find out all the particulars and go over our budget to see if we could make it work.

So we were hanging out, waiting for Kutless to play.....and another powerful presentation came on the huge "jumbo-tron" screens......that was it....something came over both of us. It was almost like someone whacking us with a two by four, only not the physical pain. It was an emotional pain brought on by pure sympathy and heartache. Learning about these villages who don't even have working wells or much needed health facilities within 25 miles and here we were......on the foothills of a beautiful New Hampshire mountain enjoying a week of music, teachings and fellowship. We are blessed to live in a country that we able to attend these awesome events and worship God! We have a roof over our head and food to eat. These are staple items in our life.....that is not even considering our camper, our cable TV (even if I have to keep getting up to wiggle the wire) and all the other items we take for granted. These children have nothing. They have no freedom, most have no parents and are pretty much on their own. They didn't choose to be born into this life.....

The presentation concluded with how it was only $35 a month to make a difference in one child's life.....and yeah, some months we knew that we barely cover all of our bills......but that was less than skipping one Dunkin Donuts coffee a day. Forgoing such a "luxury" wasn't even considered a sacrifice.

The emcee on the stage started to hold up info cards on different children and asked who would be interested in making a commitment right there to sponsor a child. Before he could get his hand up with the first card, Josh was jumping up with his arms, trying to do that sports like whistle sound....but it came out like a canary. Now remember, there was probably about 1500-2000 people just at this particular stage.....so I guess you really did need to make a little scene to be noticed in the crowd. He continued to shout out until he got the promoter's attention and the card was passed back to us.

So we were given a sweet little girl named Elsa from Mozambique. Elsa was 9 years old and lived with her parents....we were not aware of her HIV status, but she was in satisfactory health and was in the first grade, remember.....education is a luxury.

The kids thought it was pretty cool to have a sister in Africa. We sent out small envelopes filled with little goodies/trinkets for her and we had her photo on our fridge. I reminded my kids that when they looked at her picture to remember what her life is like as compared to theirs (and these gentle reminders also came at not-so-gentle, somewhat self-centered, teenage times)

Then a few days ago, I received an email telling us that she was no longer with the WV program and that we would receive a letter in the mail explaining more. Being overly concerned (thinking she got sick or worse yet, passed away, I called the WV office. The representative explained to me that Elsa's family moved out of the village and was no longer participating in the program. *sigh of relief*

That is when the horrifying words of wanting another six year old girl came out of my mouth and shot like a dagger into N's heart.

So after I pried her white knuckle grip from the bed frame.....I hugged her, gave her a million kisses and explained what was going on. I asked her if she really thought that I would want another girl and she gave me a pathetic look, then a little smirk and said no. (have I mentioned that she is somewhat of a drama queen?)

I told her that I thought it would be a great idea if she chose our next sponsored child. This brought on a 180 turn in attitude and we headed to the computer. She told me she wanted a girl who was her age, and had the same interests as her so she could send her drawings and "relate" to her. Yes, those were her exact words.

So without further adieu, meet sweet Julienne.....she is six and lives in Rwanda.
Like N....she loves music and playing ball games. She is from a family of four children and also was born in the fall of 2002.
Unlike N.....her chores include carrying water, most likely a few miles a day and caring for her grandparents. She also isn't fortunate enough to go to school. (YET! we are hoping our sponsorship can change this) We are going to put together a little welcome care package for her this week and get it out to her ASAP. Due to high duty charges and also the difficulty of getting packages to the children (many times, the oversea staff members have to walk or ride bikes to get the mail) they encourage you to send just envelops filled with inexpensive items such as a toothbrush, stickers and markers. These simple trinkets seem trivial, but will be cherished and bring smiles for many days to Julienne.

If you get chance, please check out the World Vision websites.....the AIDS experience is a must.....because there are so many other "Julienne"s who need our help. The sponsorship helps with supplemental food, the chance at an education and also healthcare. So if you can figure out a way to cut out that Dunkin Donuts afternoon coffee run.....I encourage you to pray for these nations who are held captive by The Enemy and his spirit of poverty, sickness and injustice.......and if you are able, please sponsor a child and make a difference in their life. :)

Peace and blessings~


Lynds said...

a few years ago i saw casting crowns with my family. The lead singer did a presentation for World Vision, and told the story of the child they sponsored. They got a little boy that is actually born on his son's birthday. The entire presentation definitely touched a core of me. We are planning to sponsor in the new year. This past year we have done smaller donations with missionaries and more recently with Sonlight and the Mission for India.

Im rambling, but I just wanted to say that I think its wonderful that you are sponsoring a child again, and I'm glad to read its been going well for you and your family. And I really want to go to SoulFest.

~*Michelle*~ said...

Hey Lynds

You are totally invited to join us next summer....how fun would THAT be!?!?!?!

Mark from Casting Crowns was talking about that at Soulfest 07 and he was telling about how they actually went (or were planning to go, I can't remember now) to meet their sponsored boy with their own son too. Totally cool!

Summer said...

That was such a touching post. Thankyou Michelle. You and your family are so special. This world needs more people like you all.


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