Finding the Connection in Sponsorship

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 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth. 

I had heard this verse a lot; it’s a beatitude, for heaven’s sake!  I knew exactly where it was in the Bible and thought I knew what it meant.  I’m a words person—words are my favorite.  The definition of meek is “humbly patient or docile.”  That seems easy enough. 

PrincesserWhen I originally sat down to write this post, I was focused on my sweet girl, Princesser, who I sponsor through Compassion International.  I was feeling way down: did what I was doing even matter?  Did she like her gifts that I worked on?  Does she even know I exist? Of course, those are all relatively selfish thoughts, but they were very real ones.  I was focused, for a lot of the time, on the disconnect I felt that there was between she and I.  Well of course there was!  She’s a six year old and lives in another country, continent and time zone. But, I was expecting gushing letters and overly enthusiastic moments of heartfelt joy.  And, I got some. I’ll never forget opening my first letter from her.  But, as I settled into a routine, I felt like I was sending presents to void.  Maybe throwing them in an ocean, who knows? But then, something extraordinary happened.  A total God moment that I’m so grateful for.

Okay, let’s switch gears for a second.  I’m an undergraduate student studying in Kentucky and I was given the opportunity to travel to London and Paris this winter to conduct some research that I’d been working on throughout the semester.  It wasn’t my first trip abroad—I had also visited Italy and Greece the prior winter.  We had made it through Paris without difficulty (other than some sinus infections) and I was ready to take on London.  I was studying Jane Austen, so this was just my forte!  I had 75 British pounds to my name.  I had preordered them in the States as a precaution, knowing that as soon as I got to London, I’d withdraw money from the ATM.  When I went to do so after a day in the city, my request was declined.  I had kept up with my money and knew that was impossible for my account to be empty, so thought it might have just been an ATM error and tried another one. Across town at a different bank provider and a different ATM, the same thing happened.  A sweet friend suggested I try to take out a lower amount, and I was able to retrieve 20 pounds.  I panicked.  When we got home, I checked online and realized that my card had been hacked.  Six hours away from my parents, in a foreign country, and completely lost, I had no money.  

After about a million phone calls with my bank and my mom, we decided to close my card and wire money through Western Union.  That seemed like a good idea at the time.  But, it was a total fiasco. The closest Western Union was at least twelve Tube stops away from my hotel and all the way across town.  When I first went, they didn’t have the necessary information in order to process the transaction. When I second went, they were closing.  When the man at the register blatantly told me that the store would be closing, it was 7:29 and they closed at 7:30, I thought I would come apart at the seams.  I held it together until I got out on the street, and then there it was.  I sobbed in the middle of a London street. Yeah, that happened.  Not one of my prouder moments.  I was alone (the friend who I’d come all this way with was waiting for me at a Starbucks down the street) and I had no money.  I was devastated.  I felt vulnerable, lost, and completely abandoned.  I hadn’t planned well enough, I hadn’t done what I needed to do, and I was paying for it.  I finally got to Starbucks, where my friend and a piping hot cappuccino were waiting.  Relaying the messages between salty tears, I was struck.  I was physically struck.

Princesser feels this way every day.  She lives in extreme poverty.  Her parents have nothing.  She has nothing.  This is nothing new.

Wow.  What an amazing thought.  I was humbled.  I was brought to my knees.  And all of a sudden, I was humiliated.  I’d cried to God that I felt no connection with Princesser.  He gave me connection, all right.  I had been selfish—I had wanted nothing more than to build myself up through my sponsorship. And now, I knew what it was like—if only for a few days—to have nothing.  I ate bread and Nutella, but I had enough support around me to have bread and Nutella.  I had the friends who would buy me lunches and, eventually, Western Union pulled through.  But, Princesser doesn’t have that.  She doesn’t have a Western Union, or a couple of hundred dollars to spend on a trip abroad.  She’s living in extreme poverty in Ghana, where her parents are only sometimes employed.

And when I began to feel overwhelmed with my own selfishness and pride, God reminded me that Princesser’s favorite color is yellow.  That her favorite subject in school is the alphabet.  That her birthday was just a few days ago.  That she, just as I am, is the daughter of King: she is a princess.  And suddenly, God connected me with her in a way that I could never thank Him enough for.  I was connected with a six year old in Ghana who drew me a tree the first time she sent me a letter.  I was connected with a little girl who deserves to know that she is loved by her Father.

Even still, I am humbled and forever grateful for the hard lessons God teaches.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.

About Haley
Haley is a full time student and writer whose passions range from child poverty to crafting. A supporter of messes, crazy, and an absolute lack of perfection, Haley writes at A Mess in the Madhouse where she shares her stories about her amazing experiences with Compassion International, DIY projects and crazy recipes. Connect with her on Instagram:hdanielle92 and Twitter:hdanielle92!