Her name is Nancy Elizabeth and she was my daughter Shelby's sponsored child from Compassion International. Nancy lives in Quatemala and we received the glorious news a few weeks back that she no longer needs a sponser. Her situation has improved, praise Jesus.
Shelby "adopted" Nancy at a Student Life camp in the summer of 2006. I remember the evening she called home telling us she had fallen in love with Nancy from her photo. She had searched through dozens of photos, looking for that special child. Shelby assured us she could sponsor her; that she would give up whatever was necessary to do this small thing if it would help Nancy have a better life. And she always did.
At least once a year we recieved a letter from Nancy, translated, with a drawing attached. We learned her favorite color is blue and her favorite food is tamales. She shared how she loves to get dressed up. She wrote that she was failing language in school and asked for our prayers. She wrote of clowns and Christmas parties and lunch boxes. She wrote of a new mayor in her town - said he was a smiley man. She asked about our family while she shared with us news of her father's "sick foot", how she was not allowed to go to camp, and how hard her mother worked selling shoes.
Often she mentioned her pigs. To quote Nancy, "pig does a lot of feces and there are a lot of flies, " and, "pigs are fat because they eat a lot of waste." We laughed at that letter.
Nancy asked for prayer for herself often. Once because her teacher gave too much homework. Another time because she was to sing in front of a crowd and had become nervous, forgot the words, and ran away crying. We cried at that letter. One time she wanted Shelby to pray for her because she became mad easily.
She would write of her grandmother's visit and in the same letter she would tell us of the ground trembling. She expressed joy because they were finally getting water in their town. There were drawings of dogs and flowers and sunshine and trees. Once there was a drawing of Larry the Cucumber.
She thanked Shelby for the help she gave, for the Christmas shoes and toys, and always wished her a nice day with "big hugs and affection."
Aside from a few things there is not much to distinquish Nancy from any other child we might know. But even so, she is different. She is from a country where two-thirds of the children live in poverty. There is sickness and starvation. Quatemala is a part of our Father's world, so to us it must become our neighborhood, a place in which our compassion is shared.
There is a new photo on our fridge now, right beside Nancy's.
Her name is Adidai Virginia and she is nine years old. Maybe it is her clothes, possible her expression, but she looks a hundred years old inside that little body. Hopefully, soon, we will learn her favorite color; we will learn what brings her joy and what saddens her.
I'm sure Shelby will cry, as she did with some of Nancy's letters. She will laugh, also. Each one of us, at different times and for different reasons, will look at the photo and wonder what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes. What it would be like to be really hungry and poor.
This song, Yours, from Stephen Curtis Chapman, should make us all feel like the whole world is our neighborhood. What would you do for a child in your neighborhood that needed help? We would all reach out to someone so close to home. What is the saying? Home is where the heart is. Everywhere else is not so far away if you look at it from our Father's eyes.
Funny thing is, everywhere else is always right around someone's corner. We should love here and we should love there. Really, what is the difference?
" . . . and whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me." Matthew 18:5