This is guest blogger, Amanda Sleister of H20 Church from Orlando, Fla. She recently returned from a trip to Parkishon, Kenya, where she met her sponsored child, who she describes as “quite possibly the most beautiful girl in the world.”
Here is Amanda’s blog:
She captured my heart in 2007 when she was in 2nd grade. In 2010, I was determined to find out if she was sponsored. After we returned that year, I was sent sponsorship packets to distribute to my church, and when I opened it, she was the first face I saw. I told her that God made sure her sponsorship packet was on top when I first wrote to her.
It’s not common for a child to actively initiate with us. Normally, they’ll stand near us in a group, talk to us a bit, and then giggle and speak with their friends in Swahili. Cecilia ran up behind me and gave me a hug. Whenever she was around, if I was walking to the car to leave, she’d hold my hand the entire way.
Cecilia lives with her mother and older sister (her father passed away several years ago). The plan was for us to visit her when we conducted the rest of the visits, but her sister stepped on a scorpion and sent Cecilia to take care of the goats instead. That meant I had to return at nightfall.
I went with only Pastor George and Joseph, which has become the norm when visiting my sponsored girls. When we arrived at her home, there were at least 25 people swarming around to meet me; all extended family. We exchanged gifts, and I was “beaded,” which is one of the most lavish forms of sacrifice in Samburu culture. My gift from Cecilia’s mother in appreciation for my sponsorship easily cost over a month’s income.
While there, Joseph gave me insight into Cecilia’s character for the other 50 weeks of the year. He said she’s kind, respectful, helpful, a top student, active in after school clubs, loves singing in the choir at church, and wants to eventually become a nurse. She’s one of those all-around great kids.
I brought some beads with me to make bracelets with all the girls in the school. Cecilia and I each made each other bracelets. I gave her a blue and yellow one. She carefully beaded one with black, red, green, and yellow. I wear mine every single day, and will continue to do so until it falls apart. It’s proved to be a great conversation starter as well.
When we said goodbye at the school for the last time, the kids sang their traditional goodbye song with Cecilia leading it. She could barely get through it, because she was in tears. This is the first time I’ve seen any of the kids have a really strong reaction to our departure. It shows that they have invested in this relationship as much as we have.