This Girl Made Typhoon Haiyan Personal

Major disasters usually seem a world away, but not this time. When I heard that Typhoon Haiyan had hit the Philippines, my thoughts went at once to Mariecris.

Mariecris is my sponsored child. She lives in the Philippines, like 2,000 other children sponsored through Food for the Hungry (FH). When the typhoon hit, my daughters and I thought of Mariecris immediately.

My Daughters’ Peer

We started sponsoring Mariecris a few months ago. Out of so many children who needed sponsorship, Mariecris stood out to us for a very practical reason: her birth date placed her at the midpoint between my two daughters’ ages. Linda is age 9 and Andrea is age 10, and they both wanted our sponsored child to be their own age. We compromised by seeking out a 9 ½-year-old, and we found Mariecris.

Looking back, our selection method was completely arbitrary, but I believe God matched Mariecris with our family. We talk about her often. Her stunning black eyes peer at me from her place on the refrigerator every morning. We write letters. I sometimes wonder how Mariecris would play with my daughters if they had a chance to meet. Would she gravitate toward Andrea’s affinity for card games and dolls, or toward Linda’s rough-and-tumble games on the front lawn?

Waiting for News

It’s a strange feeling to be so connected to someone we’ve never met. It’s especially strange when disaster befalls them. Out of thousands lost, and many more thousands displaced, we wanted news of one girl and her family. What had happened to Mariecris?

A few days after the typhoon, the news came from Food for the Hungry staff: “All sponsored children have been accounted for.” A sigh of relief! Mariecris was safe, and so were the more than 2,000 other children in FH programs.

Having a personal relationship with someone caught up in a world disaster can make for a scary time. But isn’t that the case any time we open our hearts to love someone? Love is risky, but it’s worth it.

I’m glad that Mariecris brought a personal face to Typhoon Haiyan for me and my family. And I’m especially grateful that we’ll continue to be part of her life as her country recovers from their deep loss.

You can sponsor a child in the Philippines like we do. It’ll bring world news much closer to home – and will connect you to God’s compassion for others around the world.

About Wendy McMahan

Wendy McMahan is grateful for her front row seat in watching God “reconcile all things to Himself.” (Colossians 1:20) She still can’t believe that she gets to participate in His story every day. Wendy and her husband are proud parents to two daughters and have been foster parents to children of all ages. Wendy serves as Director of Church Engagement at Food for the Hungry. She hosts the Poverty Unlocked podcast.

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