Just one book. That was all our library had. Just one book about Nicaragua.
And it was enough – more than enough to give us a glimpse into the life of our newly-sponsored child, Elias, as we patiently waited to receive letters from him.
My son asked me as we brought home the book after borrowing it from our library.
“What’s that girl doing?”
My 6-year-old pointed to the cover of the book showing a picture of a young girl, probably around his age, mashing something in a large stone pot. I shared with my son,
“She’s pounding corn, called maize — so she and her family can use the cornmeal to make tortillas and other food.”
Maize is plentiful in Nicaragua, we learned from the book, and is eaten often with most meals. Pounding maize is a job that many children do to help their families, we also discovered.
Through the book, we traveled to Central America to soak up as much as we could about the land, customs and life of the Nicaraguan people who live quite differently than we do in Texas.
So far, the one thing my son and Elias has in common is their age and birthday.
Finally, the letter arrived and we excitedly opened the envelope.
Elias introduced himself, his family and his interests. We admired the picture he drew for us.
We were a bit surprised to discover that Elias and my son are actually quite similar. Even though maize is a daily staple in Elias’ diet, his favorite food is spaghetti and also happens to be one of my son’s favorites. They both like playing with cars and they both like the story of David and Goliath.
And it began from there – discovering how a 6-year-old in Nicaragua shares many commonalities with a 6-year-old in Texas. How being worlds apart meant nothing when it came to reading the same Bible stories and playing with the same toys.
Children living in impoverished regions of the world are still children and crave the same things as children living in abundant regions the world – love, security, acceptance. The same things.
I’ve always assumed that Compassion would change my perspective and life as an adult, but wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to my children.
In just a few short months of knowing Elias, I have seen first-hand the six ways Compassion has changed the life of my 6-year-old along with his 2-year-old sister, and how it can change your child as well:
- Compassionate Care
It can be a challenge to teach young children to love and give to others rather than putting themselves first. With Compassion, my son is learning to care about someone else he has never met, a friend his age who is in need of love and encouragement and prayers.
My son has already sent Elias a small birthday gift and has asked when we can visit him.
- Handwriting Fun
Most young boys would rather play outside than practice handwriting yet creating homemade cards for Elias is a fun, encouraging way for my son to write. At 6, my son isn’t writing his own letters yet but can write simple words like “Hi Elias” and “Jesus te ama” onto cards that also include colorful stickers and drawings.
- Answered Prayer
Every night, my son prays for Elias and asks God to take care of him. When Elias wrote to us asking us to pray for his family, my son did and is seeing his prayers answered.
When we hear back from Elias, he lovingly tells us how he prays for us. Child sponsorship is allowing my son to seek God on behalf of another and to learn that prayer is powerful.
- Neighborly Love
My son shares many of the same interests as Elias, but there’s one thing he doesn’t share – poverty. Nicaragua is one of the poorer countries in Central America, with about 48 percent of the population living below the poverty line and almost 80 percent of Nicaraguans make less than $2 per day.
Some children work to help their families. Elias may be far away but we can love him as our neighbor with our love, prayers, correspondence and financial support.
- Global Connections
By borrowing the library book about Nicaragua, we learned about the different foods people in Nicaragua eat. One dish, gallo pinto, was simple for us to make and try at home, giving my son a chance to connect with Elias’ culture.
Because of our sponsorship with Elias, both of my children can locate Nicaragua on our map and enjoy learning about the country’s landscape including one our favorite topographies – the rainforest.
- Eternal Impact
Most of all, my son is making an eternal bond with a friend hundreds of miles away by sharing the love of Jesus Christ.
As we write letters, make cards and pray for Elias, my son can share the truth about God’s love and forgiveness and hope with Elias, and can encourage our sweet Nicaraguan friend to know the Lord. This friendship will only grow stronger between both boys.
Because of Compassion, my 6-year-old son is being changed just as the life of another 6-year-old is being changed.
As soon as my daughter turns 3, I’ll be searching Compassion’s list of unsponsored 3-year-old girls who share her same birthday so she too can experience the same love and joy my son has by reaching out to a child in need.
For it’s never too early to teach our children how to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in a world in need of His compassion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly Piña is a homeschooling mom to two blessings, 6-year-old Edson and 2-year-old Abigail, and wife to her husband of 7 years. The Piña’s make their home in Texas and love the chance to live out their faith by corresponding with Elias, their sponsored child from Nicaragua.
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