Excerpted from compassion Blogger, Emily at An Ounce of Compassion. Emily won second place during Blog Month by writing from the perspective of a sponsored child.
The walk home today is more painful than the hunger growing in my stomach. Fear whirls in my mind and each dusty step fills my heart with more dread.
Approaching the stench of our small farm, I hear a pleading voice from behind the tarp. Whipping in the wind, it seals out very little sound. I know that my abuela is speaking with Papa in the house.
Her smooth words advocate for me.
“This will be good for Wendy, my son. Surely you can see that? Do not let your hardened heart stand in the way of her best interest.”
“Her best interest? Have I not labored to keep her off the streets? She is a lazy child, who does not deserve to go to school. I cannot allow her to attend a church program,” his firm voice bellows above the loud flapping of the tarp.
“I will not back down Juan,” comes the quiet reply of my grandmother.
Her weak voice trembles with earnest, and I yearn to be held in her arms.
“Wendy must be registered tomorrow for the child developement center. I believe that God has sent this opportunity to us.”
Papa does not respond. His silence scares me. I creep closer, but terror prevents me from entering the small room where they converse.
Finally his strong voice speaks.
“If it gets her out of my sight,” he retorts, ”you can take her tomorrow, but God has sent us nothing. He has only taken from me and my family.”
Suddenly, the tarp flies back sharply, and Papa storms past. After observing me angrily, he disappears behind the rusty shed…
Taking Abuela’s wrinkled hand, I step into a long line of waiting people. The children stare blankly at the splintered floor of our tiny church. Pastor Jose greets the crowd kindly.
I tug Abuela’s sleeve gently, fearing that she will become irritated with me. She turns her head and I can read the sympathy in her eyes.
“Why are we here, with all of these people?” I ask imploringly. She nods with patience and I wait for her response.
“I am going to register you with the Compassion project here at Pastor Jose’s church,” her words come slow. “This will help you greatly, my child.”
I want to believe her, but I am also puzzled. I know of a young girl in my school who attends the project once a week. She talks about her sponsor and shares about the activities and games she plays at the center.
She says because of her sponsor, her family is now able to buy groceries and provide her a uniform. And still, I do not know what to expect.
We talk with several people and answer many questions. Then I am whisked away with a number of other children and each of our pictures are taken.
I have never seen a camera before, although I have always wondered what they look like. Something that is able to capture the image of a person, must be truly magnificent. I stare at it wonderingly, as lights flash three times. It is almost a sort of magic I assume.
Abuela takes me home. I am very tired. Next week I will come to the project and meet my teacher. I want to be happy, but the truth haunts me. I know she will soon discover that I am a failure. I wonder if I must take many exams at the project?
I have attended the project for many weeks. A new light is burning in my heart. At the project, we learn fascinating Bible stories and I am making new friends.
I still don’t have a sponsor, but the teacher has prayed that one will come soon! I am very happy.
I have passed the third year of primary school. I had hoped that this would make Papa glad, however most days he is silent.
He will not speak to me, but I talk to him. I tell him all about the joy I have found at the project.
“Papa, today my teacher, Marie, taught us how God sent His Son Jesus all the way to this earth, just so He could die to save us from our sins. Do you think He did that for me too?” I beam with excitement.
But Papa does not reply. My heart sinks with a heavy burden. I return to scrubbing his shirts. The soap stings my cut hands, so I quickly dip them into the cloudy water. Suddenly he speaks, but his words cut me like a knife.
“So is my daughter too stupid of a girl to deserve a sponsor? I knew no one would want you. It has been four months now, and no one has chosen you.” He turns to leave the room. I lower my head to hide the tears that stain my face and drip into the bucket of laundry…
The days pass by and I eagerly count each one. I am longing for the day when my sponsor will find me. At the project, Marie pulls me aside when it is time for the children to return to their homes.
“I have a gift for you,” her voice dances with happiness. I take the small box she places in front of me. Inside is a beautiful black Bible, all my own. I have never held a Bible before, so I touch its smooth cover reverently.
The soft paper feels so soothing between my rough fingertips. This Bible is a precious jewel to me; my only possession. Its treasured words will lead me closer to Him, the one friend I have. The One who gave salvation to a failure.
“And now,” she continues. ”I have some very special news for you, my little Wendy.”
Marie pauses and places her warm hand on my stooped shoulders. ”Someone has decided to sponsor you!”
I take in a quick breath of thick air, my brown eyes fixed on the tiny letters of my Spanish Bible.
At first, I do not look up into Marie’s smiling face. But as her words sink in, gratefulness overflows the tiny cup of my heart. My brimming eyes turn upward.
They want me? I whisper with a cracked voice unlike my own. Marie nods.
They love me. I breathe.