Will you make a difference?

This is a pretty powerful 4 minute video. Would you watch it, share it with your spouse, and consider being a Compassion child sponsor along with our family?  (If you get my blog posts by email, click here to watch the video.)

True Religion from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Our family has been so blessed by being a Compassion Sponsor. We have so much and we can share it so easily with those who have so little.

You can sponsor a Compassion child HERE!

Another Compassion thought

This is from a reader about Compassion, International. I thought her words were meant to be shared with more than me so I asked her permission to share them with you!


I am so glad that you talked about your trip to El Salvador again and how it changed your life. I was one of the people who followed your blog that week and was so very touched by all that you wrote about and experienced. It was a no brainer for me then to decide to approach my husband about sponsoring another child through Compassion. We chose a 11 yr. old girl from El Salvador named Jennifer. She has been such a blessing to our family in the past year. She has written us several letters and has drawn many beautiful pictures for us and has shared many things that are going on in her life. My daughter, Nichole, took the time to write to her in Spanish and had her Spanish teacher proof the letter before we sent it to her. We are waiting for Jennifer’s response now.

What most people, I think, look at when they consider sponsoring a child is the financial aspect and how their money and letters will help that child both physically and emotionally. What people may not realize or consider is what an impact that child will have on their lives. My experience has been that both girls that we sponsor have blessed us immensely and have caused us to really pray for help and healing of the poverty in these less fortunate countries. We have also grown to love and care for these girls and our hope is to be able to meet them someday just like you were able to meet your Compassion’s child last year.

So thanks for reminding us about your trip and I plan on looking at your blog again right now and reflecting on how blessed I am by God to have to resources to help out my two Compassion children, Belsy and Jennifer and to show them God’s love through the letters I write.

Have a great day!

Debbie Goumas

Click here to read through the posts from my trip last year.

If you want to experience what Savage and the Goumas families have experienced, you can learn more here.

The Compassion International Team

Several years ago Compassion International contacted Hearts at Home to inquire about becoming a ministry partner. We determined to spend a couple of weeks praying about the possibility. During those two weeks I had a dream that I will never forget. This was the first and only time in my life I ever felt God speaking to me in a dream.

In my dream I was driving a car and there was a truck full of children ahead of me. As we were traveling along this high speed highway, one of the children fell off the truck. I immediately stopped my vehicle and ran to care for the child. But no one else was stopping. I yelled aloud, “Doesn’t anyone care about this child?” But no one answered and no one stopped. And my dream ended very abruptly.

When I awoke I knew the answer to the question Compassion had asked. God had made it clear to me that we were to be a voice for the children who have no voice. We said yes to a ministry partnership. It was a no-brainer.

It was just over a year ago that my daughters and I spent a week in El Salvador with Compassion, International. It was a week that changed my life. For those of you who were following my blog at that time, it was a week that changed many of yours, too.

Today I want to remember. I never want to forget what poverty looks like and I never want to forget how simple folks like you and I can help. Click here to read through the posts from my trip last year.

If you feel that God is asking you to care about just one child, you can join the Compassion team by clicking here. It’s one team I’m glad I’m on!

Compassion International trip follow up: Do you have enough?

This week I’ve definitely looked at the world through a different lens. After spending a week seeing such poverty and now being back home in my comfortable home and comfortable bed, it’s been hard to wrap my mind around it all.

One of our trip leaders said something on the last night of the trip that I keep tossing around in my head. He said that Wes Stafford, the CEO of Compassion International, once asked this question:

What is the opposite of poverty?

Most of us would answer that question with, “Wealth.” Wealth seems to be the logical answer to that question.

But it isn’t the answer. The opposite of poverty is “Enough.”

Enough to eat that you don’t have malnutrition. Enough healthcare that you don’t have parasites in your stomach. Enough money that you can provide a roof over your family’s head, basic nutrition and healthcare.

We live in a place that has “more than enough,” and quite honestly that makes us wealthy. I’ve never considered myself wealthy in 44 years of life. I grew up in a family that was comfortable, but we would have never been considered wealthy by cultural standards–but we were. Mark and I have scrimped, penny pinched, and done without in many areas of our life over 25 years of marriage and raising a family. There have been many times that we’ve wondered if we’ll make it financially and it’s been hard. But we’ve always had enough…in fact we’ve had more than enough. I just didn’t realize it because I’ve never seen someone who really didn’t have enough.

As you go about your life this week, consider the “not enough/enough/more than enough” equation. Ask yourself where you really fall in that spectrum and then ask God what he wants you to do about that.

God wants us to care about the things He cares about and based upon the fact that He speaks about the poor over 500 times in his Word…there’s no doubt he cares about the plight of the poor and he wants us to care as well.

Compassion International El Salvador Trip — We’re Home!

We’re home! We all arrived safely home on Friday evening. I was most happy to brush my teeth with tap water instead of bottled water and to actually be able to sit on a toilet seat! Yes, most of the bathrooms had no toilet seats!

I promised to post pics from our last day in the projects. Here they are as promised:

This is Megan, one of our Heart’s team. She’s been sponsoring Yesenia for 8 years. They finally got to meet on Thursday.

This is Yesenia, Megan, and Yesenia’s mom. Yesenia’s mom was so grateful to Megan for her sponsorship and the opportunities Megan is giving Yesenia through Compassion. Megan got to spend about 5 hours with them on Thursday.

This is the moment that my daughter Erica got to meet her sponsored child, 3-year-old Yesennia. What a sweetheart she is! Yesennia’s mother is on the left and our translator is in the pink shirt on the right.

Erica got to give Yesennia a children’s book in Spanish. She was actually able to read the book to Yesennia (finally a use for those 8 years of Spanish she took in grade school, junior high, and high school!)

I had the opportunity to meet Jill and Jeremy Tracey’s sponsored child, Ever. Ever and his father rode a bus for 4 hours to come and meet us (they had to leave at 5am!). I was able to give them special gifts and spend a great amount of time getting to know them.

I can truly say that I’ll never be the same again after this week. It has been a very stretching, heartbreaking, and yet strengthening week. Stretching spiritually, heartbreaking emotionally, and strengthening in passion and purpose to spread the word of the incredible work of Compassion International and to live out God’s mandate to take care of the poor (do you know He addresses that more than 500 times in the Bible?).

I have so many pictures I want to share with you so I’ll probably be posting pics once a week for a while and sharing more stories. You might also want to check out Megan’s blog for her perspective and my daughter Anne’s blog as well.

Thanks for traveling with me this past week! Thank you to those of you who decided to sponsor a child this week! And thank you for your partnership in prayer. We could feel your support and encouragement!

Compassion International El Salvador Day 4

This is a quick post to say all is well. We’ve been going non-stop all day and Erica hasn’t had time to download the photos we took today so I can’t post new pics. But I promise to do so when we get home. We have to leave the hotel at 4am so that’s a 3:30am alarm time. Because of that, we’re hitting the sack!

Brief highlights of the day:

Erica got to meet her Compassion child. She’s a beautiful 3 year old. We also spent quite a bit of time with her mother.

I got to meet Jeremy and Jill Tracy’s sponsored child., Ever He and his father rode a bus for 4 hours just to meet us! We spent quite a bit of time with them before they had another 4 hour bus ride home.

Megan Kaeb got to meet her beautiful girl today. She has been sponsoring her for 8 years. She is a beautiful 14-year-old girl. Megan also got to spend wonderful time with the girl’s mom.

What struck me today is that when you are sponsoring a Compassion child, you are really partnering with another mom. It’s a beautiful concept and one that we have seen evidence of how well it works.

I will post many more pics and thoughts over the coming days. Thanks for coming along with us on this journey. Please pray for safe travels home—if all goes well we should be back in Bloomington-Normal, IL by 5:30pm tomorrow!

Compassion International El Salvador Trip Day 3

Today was a day of a wide range of emotions. When we arrived at the Project today the children greeted us with signs, song, and music. The Compassion project gives them the ability to learn how to play instruments!

After a program by the children, we began to interact with the children. Some of the guys played sports with the boys and the girls began to paint the girls nails and put barrettes in their hair.
Erica painted faces and hands. The kids had never seen this be done before!
One of the things that touched me today is the “moms group” that exists at this project. The church noticed that the women were bringing their children to the project and then waiting three hours to take them back home because it was too far to walk. They decided to minister to the moms and began to offer them workshops and teach them crafts. These purses were made by the moms and the sale of them went to support their families. We purchased every single purse they had! They had never sold so many!In the afternoon we went to the home of one of the little boys in the program. This proved to be the most difficult and heartbreaking home we’ve seen all week. Henry lives with his grandma, 3 siblings, two uncles, his mother, and his grandfather. There is no electricity or water in this home.
This is the inside of their one room home. The trash bag you see in the middle of the photo is their “dresser”. This is how they keep their clothes. There is only a dirt floor.
Henry’s little brother is three years old. His grandmother has not yet enrolled him in the Compassion program. He is severely malnurished. This was the moment when I lost it today. I just couldn’t hold back the tears. I have never seen such poverty in my life. This is not the way any child should live. I told the grandma (through an interpreter) that if she would promise to get Henry’s little brother in the Compassion program, I would work to get him a sponsor. She said she kept “forgetting” to turn in the papers. After more questioning we found out that she had a first grade education and could not read or write. It’s amazing that Henry got enrolled in the program in the first place!
The family has to walk very far to get water in these buckets. The place where they can get water is only open for two hours once a week! They go and fill these buckets up and have to make the water last for a week.

This is the stove they sometimes cook on—it honestly didn’t look like it had been used in a long time. I asked what they eat and she said they have $2 a day to feed all 8 of them. Most of the time they have rice or beans. Many times they do not eat because they don’t have the money for food. The grandfather is a “builder” and he makes $60/month to support all 8 of them.

We prayed with the family before we left. This is Kathy holding the grandmother as we prayed. Only the grandmother is a believer in this family, but little Henry is learning about Jesus at the Compassion project.

What I am learning:

  • For many of these children, the meal they get when they attend the Compassion project is their only meal of the day.

  • The letters from the sponsors make such a difference to the children! Every home visit we’ve made, the child has shown us pictures and letters from their sponsors. The sponsors are the hands and feet of Jesus to them. They often call them their “angels”. The older children talked about how the letters speak “life” to them—it is someone who believes in them. If you sponsor a child, write to them and send them stickers and pictures—it means so much!
  • The Compassion program is a Child Development Program. It is not a community development program. 83 cents of every dollar of the $32/month goes directly to the child to feed them, give them healthcare and immunizations, provide tutoring for their school work, and teach them about Jesus. We have seen children in the Compassion program and children who are not in the program and the difference is like night and day!
  • Tonight we met graduates of the Compassion program. These young men and women were enrolled at an early age (5-10 years old). They were in the program until they were 18. Every one of them has now gone to university and all are the first in their family to do so! They are changing life for the next generation in their family. They all credit Compassion with giving them the tools and vision for life to be different for them.
  • The gifts that sponsors give at birthdays, Christmas, and just because are so valuable for these kids. When gifts are received, a Compassion volunteer makes a home visit and asks what the child’s needs are. Then they go purchase whatever the child needs. A $25 gift will buy a pair of shoes or some clothes. A $100 gift can buy a bed, if a child is sleeping on the ground. Every graduate told us of the gifts they received throughout the years. They had a powerful impact on them.

Tomorrow is our last day. We will visit one last project. Today Kathy met Nelson–her sponsored child and we visited his home too. Tomorrow Megan will get to meet her sponsored child and we just found out that we will get to meet the child that Jeremy and Jill Tracy sponsor–Jeremy and Jill help make the Hearts at Home radio program happen! We will be hugging Ever and giving him some tangible gifts from Jill and Jeremy. And finally we will get to meet Erica’s sponsored child. Erica decided to sponsor a child several weeks before the trip. She’s 17 and has a part-time job and wants to do this on her own. I’d have to say I’m proud of her. We will get to meet her child tomorrow and visit her home.

I promise more pictures tomorrow. For now, please pray for children all over the world who have gone to bed hungry. Please pray for children who are sleeping on a dirt floor. Please pray for children who do not have access to clean water. Please pray for the Compassion teams at each project—they dearly love these children. And finally, please pray about what God wants you to do to make a difference in the life of a child…or a mom. When you and I sponsor a child, we are partnering with a mom to give her child an opportunity he or she would not have otherwise.

Compassion International El Salvador Trip Day 2

I will forever be changed after today.

I have never seen such poverty in my entire life. I don’t know that I can even explain what I have seen and experienced. Entire families live in a room the size of my master bathroom. They have so little, yet those with Christ in their heart have so much joy.

I believe now, more than ever in the work that Compassion International does for children and families. Compassion partners with local evangelical churches to run their Child Development Centers known as “Projects”. Today we visited two different projects. I think the pictures tell the story best:

The children met us as we got off the bus. They were so excited to have guests.

Erica and a Compassion child who sat together during the program the children did for us.
This is the project’s garden. They are growing food for the children in hollowed out tires.We went on a home visit. This is the entrance into the “house” we visited. The family that lived in this house has three children. Their daughter Marianna is 4 years old and is in the Compassion program.

    This is the back yard of the home.This chair was sitting outside the home.
    This is where the children wash their hands after they go to the bathroom.This is where they wash the dishes in the project center.The children who are involved in the Compassion program have such an advantage over children who are not in the program. They not only learn about Christ, but they learn about nutrition, receive regular healthcare, receive one meal a day, and are given a relationship to someone who believes in them (both the Compassion staff and those of us who are sponsors).

    Tomorrow we will spend an entire day in one project. By the way, we did receive our luggage at 10pm last night. Thank you for your prayers!