Jan 6 2009

The Favor

The favor Hey! Remember me?

Well, I just wanted to share another quick story about what it is like to work with the Leadership Development Program (LDP) grads.

Something that I have learned in my job is that I’m not necessarily supposed to meet every need but to find people who can. In that way, I serve more as a catalyst than anything else. I guess the way I see it is — if no one else can do it, then I am able!

So that is what happened when Richmond Wandera, LDP grad and Moody Scholarship recipient, was headed to the United States to begin his studies.

I had arranged all of Richmond’s travel plans but hadn’t been able to find someone to pick him up from Denver International Airport. However, my husband and I were available, so we headed off for what turned out be quite an adventure.

Richmond had been traveling all night with no rest. He flew into Denver from Uganda, by way of Belgium, to spend a few days at the Compassion Global Ministry Center before heading to Moody. All of the belongings he would need for the next three years were in his possession. He was leaving behind his family, and we would later learn, his girlfriend whom he intends to marry.

I made a sign that said “Welcome Richmond” because I didn’t know what he looked like, only that his skin was brown, and I figured he would look lost.

I pressed my way to the front of the crowd waiting for incoming passengers and proudly held up my sign, while my husband, Andy, sat back and laughed at me — not wanting to be associated with my dorkiness.

I actually saw Richmond immediately. He did look somewhat lost, yet he also appeared totally confident as he headed up the escalator and immediately saw my sign (he said later that my sign meant a lot!).

Andy and I got out from the crowd and both hugged and welcomed Richmond. We chatted politely about his flight and went to look for his bags, which we learned were lost in transit. Figures! We filed a claim for the lost bags and prayed they would be located.

Richmond was hungry, and Andy and I had waited to eat, so we attempted to ask him which kind of food he would like. He said Mexican, so we went to Chipotle — I mean, what better Mexican experience is there?

He was amazed at the amount of food and could not get over the fact that refills on Coke were free. (I’ll try to get him to tell you that story.)

It was at Chipotle when I realized that we were on holy ground, because Richmond was such a joy and a delight for us to spend time with.

After dinner we headed back to Colorado Springs. About 25 miles from the airport, baggage services called to tell us that Richmond’s bags were (miraculously) at the airport. So we turned around and went to get his bags.

Let me just tell you that by this point I was grateful I would get another 50 minutes with this guy.

Richmond is kind and gracious and had no problem answering all of my 1,000 questions, even though he had been traveling for who knows how many hours.

He shared openly about the struggles he grew up with and the help that Compassion brought to his family and his community.

I think as a Compassion sponsor it is a special thing to hear first hand about the work that Compassion is doing. That’s why, even as a Compassion employee, I felt it was such a blessing to be with Richmond.

All year long we send in our $32 a month and get our letters — but to HEAR it! To SEE it lived out in someone who has overcome! It was an overwhelming experience of joy, and I know my husband and I are forever changed.

The reality is that I thought I was doing Richmond (and God) a favor by picking him up from the airport on that day. What I learned is that God was doing me a favor by giving me time with one of His kids — one who He is madly in love with.

I hope that you someday too will have an opportunity like this . . . and I’m pretty sure that if you keep reading this blog — you may! :-)

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  1. Allan
    Jan 6, 2009
    at 9:37 am

    That’s awesome! I know when I was able to spend time with LDP students over the summer, it was probably more of an enriching experience for me than for them!

  2. Sara Benson
    Jan 6, 2009
    at 10:12 am

    Thanks for keeping us updated! I know God has great plans in store for these 3 students.
    I hope we get to hear the Coke story from Richmond too.

  3. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Jan 6, 2009
    at 12:14 pm

    That was such a nice reminder. Thank you!

  4. Jan 6, 2009
    at 3:26 pm

    You have a great job! I would love nothing more than to spend time with more and more LDP students! They are all so impressive. I understand exactly what you’re saying here — and you put it all so well.

  5. Gayle Sollfrank
    Jan 21, 2009
    at 12:15 pm

    Who are LDP students? How does a Compassion child become a LDP student? Is it usual for Compassion children who are going on to university to come to the US to study???
    I loved reading this story, and thought of the children that we sponsor. I would love for the same opportunities for them.

  6. celina baldwin
    Jan 22, 2009
    at 11:26 am

    Hey Gayle,
    Great questions!
    LDP students are Child Sponsorship graduates who through leadership, outstanding academic performace and evidenced Christian character have the opportunity to apply to the university of their choice in their own country. They must have references from Compassion staff and be accepted into their university. Then for $300 you can sponsor an LDP student through college! Amazing what we can provide with our resources!
    I pray continually for the children I sponsor to have an opportunity to become an LDP student! As a sponsor, you will be notified if your child does have an opportunity to be an LDP student and then you get to decide if you will sponsor them through that program! As far as having an opportunity to study in the US, this is the first ever scholarship that has been provided through Compassion for LDP grads to attend a US university. (The scholarship was funded by various Moody Bible Radio marathons) We hope to continue the Wess Stafford Moody Bible College Scholarship program in the future, but for now we love the 3 students we have! As a side note, they will all return to their home countries when their study at Moody is complete to impact their own nation with the knowledge and experiences they acquired while in the US. Feel free to check our web site for more information on LDP. http://www.compassion.com/about/programs/leadershipdevelopment.htm

  7. Mike Stephens
    Mar 14, 2009
    at 7:43 pm

    Celina,

    thank you for the story!!! And thank you for giving me a ride to Denver for one of the events and buying me Chick-fil-A!!!!!!! I believe I have the correct person!!!

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!”

    Mike

  8. Amy Spencer
    May 20, 2009
    at 8:13 pm

    The boy we sponsor is from Uganda and his last name is also Wandera! I love this story! It makes me think of what Davis, our sponsoree, could someday grow up and accomplish! You are an inspiration Richmond! God bless!

  9. Jun 9, 2009
    at 6:31 pm

    i recently had this same experience with none other than Richmond Wandera. my husband picked him up from the airport for to speak at a music festival and he was such a blessing to my entire family. we drove him back the next morning and spent more time with him and i am very blessed to have had this opportunity, you are right! great guy.

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