Guatemala (ORO) — [Editor’s Note: In this story from Orphan Outreach, Ronne Rock shares how she decided to sponsor and connect with a child and the excitement she and her sponsor child felt.]
It was the third day of our visit to the Ravine School in Chimaltenango, and the air outside still hung heavy with the ashen remnants of Fuego’s volcanic fury just days earlier. The dust mixed with the smoke from fires burning just down the road–fires that were a constant reminder of the heritage of the students who now carefully listened to their teachers and dreamed of brighter days.
I had seen her each morning, captivated by her smile and dimples. Her name was Sindy, and she was new to the school. She wanted to be a doctor or a chef, and she lived with her struggling family in one of the nearby neighborhoods grown worn and weary by crime and the harsh realities of life. For three days, she had worn the same thing: blue jeans just a bit too short, a pink sweater, and a red sweatshirt. Her raven hair pulled back into a low braid, Sindy represented so many young girls who came to the school hopeful that their lives might be better than the ones before them, that there was a place beyond the violence of the Red Zone and the Ravine.
We walked into the quiet office, away from the clamor of kids grabbing their backpacks and rushing to hop on the back of garbage trucks weaving their way down the congested road to the Ravine, a city dump where young and old alike dug through smoldering refuse as vultures circled overhead. They hoped against hope to find something of value–something that could be exchanged for a little food or rent money.
“My name is Veronica, but you may call me GiGi,” I started, staring at those precious dimples. “I would be honored if you would let my husband and I sponsor you.” Her eyes widened and she covered her mouth in surprise; the tears began flowing as she grabbed me in the tightest of hugs. “Si! Si! Gracias!” she repeated, holding on and sobbing. My tears mixed with hers in a joyous spring shower of celebration. We both knew what being sponsored meant: it meant she’d get a new school uniform, a backpack, and a continual supply of educational materials, consistent meals, and the assurance that school wasn’t going away.
But for Sindy, it meant even more. She sat on my lap and we looked at the photos of her new sponsor family in Texas. There was Poppa, her sponsor brother, Ian, and sister, Gina, and even two little ones and a pup. And we talked about how her birthday was in January, just like Ian’s. We talked about letters she would receive and the ones she would get to write now, and about the good hope of seeing each other again soon. We talked about God’s blessing and His provision, and how He had meant for this moment to happen. And Sindy felt it as much as I did. We both knew the overwhelming power of being chosen.
Sindy would wake up the next day and the days after that, knowing there was a family praying for her, caring for her, and cheering her on–a family that believed in her dream and would fight to help that dream become a reality. She would look around at the brokenness of the place around her and see hope in it. She would taste redemption over and over again.
I thought about the virtue of the words, “I choose you.” They are a resounding “yes” to our hearts, breath to our lungs, strength to our bones. They give us life and give life to our deepest dreams. “I choose you” says we are seen, we are known, and we are loved.
As I held Sindy and wept, I whispered a “thank you” for the moment that was being whispered to me: that we are God’s own “yes” here in the rubble and ruin of our broken worlds. We are the recipients of His virtue. And we are given the opportunity to choose, too.
With Sindy’s hands in mind, I whispered a prayer for the others–the so many other Sindys–who are part of the ministry programs supported by Orphan Outreach in Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Russia, and Latvia. Even now, I pray for each child, that they will hear the words “I choose you,” that they will experience the life-changing impact of sponsorship, that they will know, too, that they are seen and known and loved.
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