death-of-a-parent I recently received a letter from Ada, my 13-year-old sponsored girl in Honduras. Compassion had sent me a note letting me know that her father had passed away. This letter was the first Ada had written since that time.

My father has died.

Then Ada said something I didn’t know:

Now both of my parents have died.

My heart sank.

I live with my brothers and our grandmother now.

We are thankful that our parents are home with Jesus, but we miss them. My brothers and my grandmother and me, all of us, we miss them so very much. I have an uncle who looks like my dad. Whenever we see him, we remember how much we miss my dad.

Strange how some things don’t get lost in translation. Not at all. A broken heart rarely does.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent. I’m blessed that both of mine are still alive and that they choose to be a part of my life. But I do know what it’s like to lose someone you love.

My first experience with the tragedy of the death of someone I deeply loved happened when I was thirteen. It rocked my world, and in so many ways, it shaped and continues to shape me.

So my heart breaks for Ada, a beautiful teenage girl whom I have never met, save through an exchange of letters brokenly translated from Spanish to English and back again. It breaks not because I know her pain, but because I know the pain of a shattered heart.

I know that God can use this experience to draw her closer to Himself. I know He can make something beautiful from a broken world that has been forged together with the fire of His presence.

I also know there is an enemy who would like to use this moment to destroy her. And as Ada’s sponsor, I need to do my part to help make sure that doesn’t happen.

Since receiving her letter, I’ve been praying for Ada a lot. I have also been digging through Scriptures that contain an outpouring of grief from the human soul. The words I keep coming back to are the uncensored and unashamed cries contained in Psalm 77:

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted….

You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired:

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

And then, after unloading the grief in his heart, the psalmist says this:

I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy.

Never one for covering up his emotions, the writer of this song asks the questions that are burning in his heart. Questions about who God is, his love, his faithfulness, his compassion — in essence, God’s very character.

But then he remembers. He remembers the works and miracles of years gone by. And he remembers: God is good. Tragedy comes. It rocks our world. But God is still good. He is still here. He is still holy. He will still redeem our lives.

And so I pick up a pen to write to Ada and offer what little encouragement I can. I kneel down to pray words of peace over her life. I shed tears over the pain I can feel encompassing her fragile heart.

And I thank God that tragedy will not have the last word in Ada’s life. I trust Him for that.

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  1. Apr 13, 2011
    at 8:19 am

    This has to be hard for you. If you were able to see her, you would likely just hold her – how do you “hold” someone through a letter? The words “I’m sorry” just don’t have the same effect. I’m praying God takes your words and minister’s to Ada’s broken heart.

  2. Apr 13, 2011
    at 9:16 am

    I am so sad for Ada. I will pray for her to find healing and peace. I am glad that you’re going to write to her and send some encouragement and love. <3

  3. Kim Edge
    Apr 13, 2011
    at 12:45 pm

    As an orphan, I love Psalm 27, especially verse 10: Even though my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will take me up (adopt me as his child).

  4. Apr 13, 2011
    at 5:04 pm

    Wow! What a heart breaking story. I’m sure you and Ada are not the only sponsor / child who are going through this.

    My Juan Carlos wrote me a very sad letter to say his mum had left them to be with another man. That broke my heart, particularly as his dad is disabled from an accident and can’t work. I found that this makes my love and care for him so much more important. I try to send as much love in each letter as I can.

  5. Apr 13, 2011
    at 7:53 pm

    May God bless you as you continue to encourage and help Ada. Blessings,
    Eden

  6. Jo
    Apr 14, 2011
    at 8:18 am

    Wow Tiffany, thanks for the post it’s just what I needed right now and the verses where perfect!!! Our family just found out my mom has advanced stage cancer and I’m only 15 so I can totally relate to what Ada is feeling!!! I will keep her in my prayers!

    • jennifer
      Apr 15, 2011
      at 8:33 am

      I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, Jo. My dad passed away from pancreatic cancer so I know all of the emotions that you are going through right now. My only advice is to spend as much time as you can with her right now and don’t dwell on the sickness. That is something you can’t control. All you can control is the love and good times that you share with your mom. I just said a prayer for you and your family.

      • Jo
        Apr 19, 2011
        at 2:46 pm

        Thanks so much Jennifer!

  7. Arleen Borrillo
    Apr 14, 2011
    at 8:10 pm

    I understand how you feel for Ada. My girl I had before the one I have now, had lost her mother before I sponsored her. While I was sponsoring her, she lost her father. Her grandparents took care of her, but her grandmother died and her grandfather had to send her to live with an uncle who was abusive. My heart hurt so much for her. She now lives with a kind aunt in a big city and I still pray for her, though I have no idea how she is now.

  8. Mariah
    Apr 16, 2011
    at 9:46 am

    My mom died when I was 12, and while at first it just totally changed me, I eventually realized God is in control of everything and I just have to trust Him every day to do what’s in His plan for me. I always pray for my sponsored children that they will trust God every day for all they need and that God will give them what they need. I would tell Ada just that I’m there for her and that she just needs to keep praying, that it’s okay to be sad but eventually things will get better. She just has to trust God with her whole life. Tell her you’re praying for her a lot. Almost always when I tell people I’m praying for them it makes them feel better.

  9. Sheryl
    Apr 17, 2011
    at 8:36 pm

    My mother died of cancer and I took care of her 27/7 for more than a year that she suffered so. It was hard to see her deteriorate but the comforting part is that she is now home with our Father.

    I just look over all her photos and try to remember the events in each and I find myself smiling again because I can see her face back then and I have another reason to look forward going home to out Father..so I can see my mother again.

    try it..I hope it works with you also. God bless!

  10. Jennifer Montgomery
    Apr 24, 2012
    at 10:08 am

    I just received a similar letter yesterday. My sponsored child in Honduras just lost her father as well… the letter said he was killed in an ambush. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a young girl (Marina is 12) to lose a parent, especially both parents as in Ada’s case. At least Ada has you!

    • Jacquie Parella
      Apr 24, 2012
      at 10:51 am

      Oh no!!! I just prayed for Marina and her family. I can only imagine the grief they are experiencing.

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