I first met Nayel and her mom shortly after a flood swept away the humble shelter that had been their home. I was deeply touched as I saw Nayel cry and listened to her disappointment of never having heard from her sponsor.
I prayed with them and later the church staff let me know that they would soon give her the news that her sponsor had canceled.
Several months later I was back with Nayel, along with my family, as we were now her new sponsors. The early afternoon was very hot and sunny, and we sat on a shaded store porch with many adults from the community.
Nayel and my daughter Allison tried to talk a bit and respond to adult questions, but it was awkward and stifling.
We decided it was a good time to play games. The children responded happily while the adults seemed a bit bewildered.
We played topado and salvado (versions of tag and kick-the-can) and ran up and down the sides of hills and between shacks and in front of men sitting idly in the dirt road.
Soon there was much laughter and friendship.
Afterward we talked easily and drank morir sonando (a mix of orange juice and ground oats), of which my son Daniel could not get enough.
The time together was no longer forced but natural and relaxed and shared. We ended our time in prayer, having experienced something simple yet special.
In a tiny way, that afternoon we crossed barriers of age and economics and culture. I was reminded of Christ and how He entered into our reality — not for an afternoon, but for a lifetime — and not just for a time of joy but also for one of pain.
I was again reminded of the need to be more incarnational in my own service to others, both in times of joy, such as on this day with my family, and also in times of sorrow, such as when I first met Nayel.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. —Romans 12:15, NIV
Prayer: Lord, help us to be like You and not expect those to whom we minister to enter into our worlds under our conditions. Instead, help us learn how to better enter into their world to be with them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Doug Bassett is Compassion’s Area Director for Central America and the Caribbean.
Read all the One in Spirit devotionals.