First, I want to thank you all for the comments you left Corbett. He has read them all – it thrilled my heart that you guys took the time to write him specifically. Thank you!

Last week, I sat at the Compassion headquarters in Ecuador listening to the Country Director share with us. He explained many of the ‘business’ aspects of Compassion. How they pick where they work, when they move out of a place, the financial integrity of the organization and countless other facts that I scribbled down quickly. I tend to be a bit cynical by nature. However, after last week I could write a whole post on all the ways Compassion completely blew my mind as an organization, but that is for another day.

As he spoke, he made an quick reference to a quote by Wess Stafford (former President of Compassion).

“The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, the opposite of poverty is enough.” ~ Wess Stafford

Mic drop.

Enough“The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, the opposite of poverty is enough.”

Those words keep replaying in my mind since the moment I heard them. I am back home now. Pushed hard into the daily realities of life in my culture. Basketball games. Daddy/Daughter dances. Pantry full of food that no one wants to eat. Furniture in every room. The land of plenty…a land of wealth…a culture that doesn’t celebrate ‘enough’.

We are a culture that pushes for more. Our homes get bigger. We acquire more stuff. We work ourselves ragged to accomplish more in our careers. We are always chasing more. It is a rare thing to see someone celebrate the beauty of enough. I’ve made this transition many times. Experiencing poverty and having to reconcile it to my life full of luxuries, opportunities, and excess.

“Enough” looks different for everyone. What is enough for me is not the same as what enough looks like for someone else. Often it seems like we dictate what is enough for ourselves and our families based on the constant pursuit of more around us. When everyone is chasing for more, it becomes increasingly difficult to recognize what is enough for ourselves.

Comparing our ‘enough’ to others versions of ‘enough’ can lead to judgement and pride too. What is enough for me does not determine what enough should look like for someone else.

The first time I returned home after visiting a poverty stricken area of another country, I wanted to sell everything I owned. It is a pretty common response. My response has been different every time since. This time I am struck by seeking to really recognize enough in my own life.

When I am not blinded by the pursuit of more and I can see what is enough, then the floodgates are opened to pour all my plenty into others…both near and far.

When I think back to my time in Ecuador, this picture will sum it all up to me:

Enough/PovertyHe made a video camera out of boxes and paint. Along with a little girl and a broken microphone, they interviewed me for their news station. They asked questions like, “What motivates you to help children? What is in your heart that makes you love us?”  Their questions were hard. I was sweating and nervous answering them! In the end, I congratulated them for being true journalists.

Here’s the deal – where they live kids don’t pretend to be journalists. Kids fight to survive. They endure their days.  While I took this picture, behind me was a locked gate. It protected the girls inside from trucks of boys and men parked outside. Hope often doesn’t exist outside those gates. Dreaming seems futile. But for this young news crew and the other kids running around us – things were different.

Somewhere someone decided they had ‘enough’ and chose to use their plenty to invest in him. In his news crew. In the sweet girl that asked me tough questions.

“What I think everybody has to determine for themselves is – what is enough? Anything beyond enough can trap you.” – Wess Stafford.

Anything beyond ‘enough’ can trap you. I don’t want to be trapped or controlled by my ‘plenty’, but goodness it sure can happen easily. I’m home now. I will still pick up my camera daily. I will still paint random things around my house. I will still be me living a life of gratitude, but I hope to be ever more aware of the point that my enough ends and plenty begins. I want to so mindful of my enough – not just with my stuff, but in how and where I invest my time. I want to know when I’ve reached that point of enough, so I can lavishly pour my plenty on others – near and far.

flourishThank you for following along with us last week. As a team we hoped to see 200 kids sponsored. On day 4 we were at 42 and a bit heartbroken. Honestly, I was so discouraged. I remember driving up a dirt road to a small home, completely discouraged. Coming face to face with the difference that sponsorship makes for children and their communities, I wanted to do more. In my head I was thinking maybe if I was better writer or a more connected blogger or had more influence that number would be bigger. I was looking at all the ways I thought I needed more. Turns out what I had was enough. I had you, passionate trip teammates, amazing friends and a God that moves in the hearts of people.  Thank you to all of you that sponsored kids, those who used your influence and platforms to advocate, those that shared about our trip and those that encouraged us while we were gone.

As I write this, 220 kids were sponsored!  220 children. 220 beautiful faces with a bright hope for the future. 220 times someone decided to invest their plenty in the most beautiful place – a child. Thank you.

It is not too late to join us, would you consider sponsoring a child?

Ecuador

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  • Loan - You are enough. Thank you for sharing your journey. I have discussed this with my children and we have decided to share our toys, books and blessings with others less fortunate here. Perhaps the next time we talk about this topic I will ask them to pick a country and we can help a child there.

  • Miriam - Thank you for writing this post, Ashley, and for being such an insperation to live a more meaningful life. By doing this, you give us no less than you give these little children. I’m unable to sponsor a child at this time, but after reading your and Corbett’s posts, I hope to do it in the future.

  • Susie - Hi Ashley. You can make that 221! We are in the UK so we chose a UK- based charity and we are now sponsoring a wee boy in Myanmar. Thank you for the inspiration – I’ve been meaning to sort out sponsorship for awhile and your week of posts was just the push I needed.

  • Ana - I was blewn away and felt like the message is for me. I’m still am young and didn’t know what enough is yet. I acquire more not thinking that there’s always is limitation for everything. But religiously it must not always enough. I’ll pray more thanking God for every blessings he had showered and I’ll pray too that 220 is not the end game for the sponsored kids but there will be more.

  • Sheri Moody - I just started sponsoring a child this past November and ran across your bloggers trip through compassion. It was so encouraging to read the posts of you three this past week. Thank you for it all! This morning I’m pondering the question,”what is my enough?” …what will I do with all that I have been given? The Lord is working in my heart! I’m praying that he will lead me to help make a difference in the lives of others…what ever that may look like.
    Thank you for your work and your faithfulness! May our Lord bless you and keep you all!
    Sheri

  • Kathy - Thank you for your beautiful reflection and insights.
    We sponsor a little girl from Guatemala, and after reading your posts this week, I wrote her a letter. I had not realized the importance of letters to our little one! Sure, I have written them occasionally over the last few years, but not enough.
    I never thought to ask her what her dreams are for her life.
    I appreciate your posts and moving me to connect more with our
    sweet girl far away.

  • Cindy B - I’ve been on 4 mission trips to Piedras Negras, Mexico as part of a Consrtuctores Para Christo team to build houses. On my first trip, the two little boys across the road from where we were building spent their days playing in a broken-down pick-up truck with a broken webbed beach chair and a one-eyed chicken. They were the happiest kids I’ve ever met.

  • Aaren M - You are one amazing woman and such an inspiration! I have followed your blog every single day for the last 5 1/2 years. Thank you for being amazing!

  • Angela Atkins - While we did not commit to sponsor more Compassion children from your blog posts, we did commit to writing our two more regularly. I have added it to our monthly calendar. It is so easy for my kids to do (we sponsor a child the same age for each of my kids) especially with the online letter tool from Compassion–if we make the time. I was a bit ashamed after logging in and seeing how long ago the last online letters were–and after reading Corbett’s post about how important those letters are to the children.

  • Juanita - I’ve read your blog for quite some time now and have found it many times to be thought provoking. But this post has really struck a chord with me. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit what by my standards are poverty stricken countries in Africa. Each time I’ve come home in a funk, struggling to reconcile the life of relative luxury I live with the reality of my new friends in Africa. The opposite of poverty is enough… I love that, and like you, I will be evaluating my life against “enough.” Thanks for sharing!

  • Byron - I’m always struck by how much my possessions shrink over time (I’d like to think it reflects wisdom to get rid of things but I know that’s not true) but how *some* things are kept and even seem to grow larger in size.

    Your musings on “enough” strike home but I also think we have such plenty that giving some away is not difficult. Giving away some of our most precious possessions is. And we will never truly give away ourselves until we have the spirit to give away our possessions; even our most precious ones.

    You and Chris both give of yourselves. You give of your most precious possessions in life; in this case, your son who accompanied you into possible heartbreak and tragedy. God bless you each! And thank you for sharing that blessing with us in your blog.

  • Erin - My friend Vanessa says “we are victims of a terrible system of prosperity.” I’ve been very angsty lately about my cell phone that needs replacing after only 18 months. The high cost of a good phone plus the monthly fees seem so overwhelming to me for something that didn’t even exist in my life when I went off to college and started paying my own bills. That’s probably closer to $2K a year for a luxury item that has turned into a “necessity.” I used to pay $20 a month for a landline. If people couldn’t reach me they left me a message. Cell phones are very useful and convenient, but at what cost?

    I am very interested in doing a sponsorship but I am slightly put off by Compassion’s tag in the descriptions every time that introducing the kids to Jesus and making disciples is the “Most Important” part. I love Jesus but I feel like keeping the kids safe and meeting their physical needs is the most important thing. It makes me concerned that the kids will feel coerced. Like only feeding the homeless if they sit through a sermon first. Are the services Compassion provides in any way conditional? And, with Ecuador being over 80% Catholic, are they telling Catholic kids that they aren’t real Christians?
    Just my rambling thoughts :) Mostly rhetorical, but if you know any answers that would be cool too

  • Terri - You shouldn’t get too hung up on a number. I was motivated by you on the first day and went to the compassion website to sponsor a child. I’m not included in that 220 number, and I bet I’m not the only one. Keep up the blessed work of being a great momma and a great advocate for these children!

  • Steph - This post is so full of grace. Thank you for so kindly drawing out a way that we can move in our “enough” – without building obstacles by judging how others are using their resources, without giving ourselves an easy out, but in daily asking the Lord to show us what we need so that we can be satisfied in His provision and invigorated to share our plenty.

  • Jeannine - Ashley, I so appreciated your comments on coping with the return. My mother worked at an orphanage in Zimbabwe for 6 months and started a foundation in Australia that helps to financially support the foundation. She has since retired so the news and talk of daily life there has slowed somewhat. There was a time when she would recount stories to us daily of the situations there. It was tough. It was really tough to deal with it. We were doing so much, yet it seemed so little and the need so great. I felt guilty for what I saw as my excesses compared to those at the orphanage. You are so right. Everyone’s enough is different.

    BTW- you can add another child sponsorship to your list. I am an atheist so have chosen to sponsor through a secular organization. The numbers you are seeing through Compassion do not accurately reflect the impact you have had! Thank you.

  • Emily | Gather & Dine - Ashley, I’ve read every single one of these posts and each one has challenged and inspired me in different ways. We have one child sponsored through World Vision and your posts nudged us to sponsor one more through Compassion. I’m not sure my one sponsorship counted towards your 200 because I went to the compassion website directly (rather than clicking through a link on your site) after talking more with my kids and husband. I tell you this because I think others may have done the same so you may never know how many people and children you have reached, but I have a feeling it is a number far greater than your 200. Corbett, I loved your perspective and I pray that my own son will have a heart like yours someday. What a blessing you must be to your mom and all of the others around you! Thank you for sharing and writing from your heart.

  • Tracy R - I have been so frustrated for so long being in a world of namebrand jackets and boots, electronic devices and an over abundance of so much. Your words somehow nailed my feelings and frustrations to where I am just speechless, grateful, and hopeful and empowered. The world is a brighter place with you in it Ashley. Please accept these words from little ‘ol me on the internet who means it whole heartedly.

  • Diana - This is so important to remember but hard to learn! I just finished a book (“Blessed by Less”) with a similar theme so something I hope to concentrate on this Lent!

  • Bri McKoy - Everything about this post, Ashley! Everything. Thank you so much for giving yourself – your time, your talents, your writing, your compassion, your son! – to children living in desperate poverty. It was an honor to journey with you.

  • Jenny L. - Somebody might have already asked this question or maybe you posted it, but I was wondering how we go about sponsoring a child from the area you visited? I already sponsor a girl from Kenya but wanted to sponsor another child. The corn soup and no breakfast really got to me.

  • Noelle - This post spoke to a lot of questions that have been churning in my heart, especially as I have read your posts this week. One thing I struggle with, that I wonder if you can relate to as an artistic person, is where non-needs fit into enough? I love to garden and feel like I can never get enough flowers and plants, because there is so much beauty, so much variety, so many colors. I think even if I filled every square inch of dirt on my property with growing things, I would want to find more places to plant, more landscapes to design. But that is a hobby, and that is about beauty. I find value in it, I get exercise from it, I find it connects me to God and helps me learn about him and is something I want to pass on to my kids … but it is a luxury compared to children who don’t have enough to eat. Yet I see that God is a God of creativity, of beauty, so I don’t think we are supposed to throw out these artistic pursuits. I’d love to hear how you define “enough” in this area of your life, or maybe better yet, if you have questions or things to think through to help me and other creators think through this when it comes to the fuzzy areas between wants and needs.

  • Mac - I loved your Compassion trip reflection …so inspirational. Thank you.

  • Shannan Martin - I was just thinking tonight that “enough” might well be my word this year. I thought I didn’t need a word…haha. But this one keeps banging around!
    Lovely words here. Also, Calvin misses Corbett. He told me this tonight. :)
    PS – 229!!!

  • amy - I love you so much Ashley. I’m so proud of you, so humbled by your walk with the Lord. This really struck me- this quote, this image. It’s a treasure. I hope you print it and put it in a spot to remind you of this moment- like a little altar where you mark the moment of realization and dedicate your intention of “enough”. I just want to hug you right now.

  • Tiffany - My family started sponsoring through Compassion Int’l one month ago at the close of our visit through The Compassion Experience in our area– we went to the event because we had seen one chronicled on your blog. ~ Until I had followed your journey {all of your journeys} last week, I did not realize how important an aspect the letters were, however. We are working on that and knowing they do not have to be perfect.!

    When my husband came home the day we attended the event, I had already cut the cost almost in half by canceling a few monthly subscriptions that were receiving no use from our family (for months we had not utilized them– what a waste! I had to remind myself that intentions do not equal action [when I did not want to let go of a couple of them], which can also apply here– to the subject of sponsorship, I think…).

    I am incredibly thankful that my wonderful, budget-crunching husband quickly got on-board with the new plan since he was not super-happy with me at first. ~

    Praising the Lord for all of His countless blessings– so grateful you are all home, safe. Thank you for going on the journey so we could all share it with you. ~

    Sincerely and with thanks,
    Tiffany

    *I think you might enjoy the blog I’ve listed below [link], it has been a place for valuable thought for me in recent times, as I, also, ponder issues of “enough” vs. “plenty” and “God’s timing” vs. “the ‘rat race.'”
    http://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/

  • Cristina - Beautifully written! Lots of things to chew on! Thank you!

    I used to believe that the opposite of poverty was wealth. Not anymore. I believe that the opposite of poverty is COMMUNITY! And that the opposite of poverty is enough!

  • Cristy - I wanted to let you know that I followed along all week with your blog posts, and Shannan’s also. These posts gave me great insight into the lives of these children. We currently sponsor a little boy named Damien and it has really driven home the importance of the letters that these children receive. I’m proud to say that Damien will be receiving a lot more mail because of you ladies:) Thank you!

  • rachel - Thank you so much for sharing this week. God has surely used your words to spur so many into action, including me. I want my family to be involved in this so I asked my teenage son to choose which child we should sponsor. He was careful to read about many children to find one he thought had the greatest need. I even overheard him telling a friend at church about sponsoring this child. What a blessing to be a part of this in some small way. I don’t think we are included 200+ number either but I know your influence went much farther than you can imagine.

  • amy jupin - thank you, ash. thank you so much for all you are. thank you so much for allowing the Lord to speak to each of us through you.

  • Daniela - Thank you for this post.
    Check out the Step into my Shoes Experience from Compassion! We have just finished translating/adapting it to German for churches and families here in Switzerland. I love it. It’s all about new concepts of Enough.
    http://stepintomyshoes.org/
    Bless you,
    Daniela

  • Jane - I have been thinking about sponsoring a child through compassion Australia for a while now, after my previous child sponsorship ended with world vision.
    Thanks for the encouragement, not only to sponsor a child, but to pray for her and her family, to connect with her through letters and to invest in her future.

    I have been stewing over this idea of ‘enough’ recently, I long for a simplified life, but love to create and make and be cosy – just have to figure out the mix!

    I hope your little one recovers quickly from her surgery, what a blessing that she could go to the daddy daughter dance before it!

  • Lacey - I needed very much to read this, Ashley. I know I will think of it often and pray this mindset of ‘enough’ stick with me. Thank you thank you. <3

  • Kel - Thank you to you and your son for sharing. I will be talking to my husband about sponsorship.

Guest posts are pretty rare on this blog, mainly because I am not organized enough to manage it! Today I have a very special guest post – my oldest son is sharing about his experience in Ecuador. This is his first time to write on my blog! He is a researcher – he likes facts, statistics, black & white. I encouraged him in the process of sharing all the facts that his mind is processing to also share how those facts have impacted him. He is a pretty straight forward guy and I gave him free reign in what he wrote about and what pictures he chose (I was so very tempted to crop my talking face out of one pic!).  It is an honor to have his thoughts and perspective shared here today. (and yes…we chose to let him share his name in the process)

flourishHi, I’m Corbett. I’m almost 12 years old. I have had the amazing honor of being on this trip with my friends Caleb, Calvin, our media guy Sam, our moms, Bri our trip leader, and our amazing translators Andrea, Jairo and Pauli.  This post is about my experience in Ecuador and Compassion International.

EcuadorTravel

In Ecuador, most people travel by foot. Although some travel by bus or taxi. Only a few can afford to have a car. Almost all of the children that go to school have to walk pretty far distances to get to school. In many homes the children’s parents have migrated, so the children live alone or with their grandparents. Many of the children have to wash their clothes and their siblings clothes. Sadly many teenagers have committed suicide because they live alone since their parents have migrated. Many of the children’s reasons for committing suicide are I don’t want to work hard. I don’t want to be hungry. I don’t want to be the parent. I feel like I should share this because lives would be different if they were sponsored.

Work

The average amount of money a family earns goes from $150 to $200 to $360 a month in Ecuador. Many of the poorest families make only $60 a month or $2 dollars a day. Jobs do not always last long. In the coastal areas, many fisherman can be found just sitting because its not fishing season or because they don’t have a boat or fishing rod or net. In some families, they only eat a few chopped up fish mixed with water because they can’t afford for everyone to have fish. Poverty in Ecuador is extremely high in some areas. When you sponsor a child, you help provide for him or her.

Compassion

The work of Compassion is amazing. They have many funds and programs. I will talk about a one of the programs. Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program is unique. The program connects one child to one sponsor that should help him with letters develop into the extraordinary child that God has created him or her to be. Through this program the child receives medical care, educational opportunities, nutrition, Christan education and essential life training. Most importantly the program helps the children get the opportunity to become disciples of Christ.

2.16guest-30I have personally seen the work of the Child Sponsorship Program. I got to meet and play with Ismael, my family’s sponsor child. We got to go to his home. He lives in three rooms each smaller than 10ft. They borrowed furniture from neighbors so we had something to sit on. He gave us a book with photos of his family.

2.16guest-01I gave him a soccer ball or as they say in England and Ecuador a “football.”  Ishmael’s home, which was made of concrete, was the one on the roof of a house. We also gave his family a photo of our family.2.16guest-03This is a photo of Quito. I’m with Caleb (left), Me (middle) and Calvin (right). Many people here share concrete homes, one family on bottom floor and the other family on the top floor. It is very common to see street vendors come when your car or bus stops in traffic. They try to sell food. Plantains are very popular and are commonly sold by vendors. The plantain looks like a banana, but beware it is very waxy to the taste and should be cooked.2.16guest-04This is me, my mom and my friend Calvin. This was our third and final dance of the trip. The first and second dances were extremely complicated and were for 16 year old girls. The adults and us kids were really awkward in the beginning, but we all did the third dance okay. All of the dances were in Spanish, of course, so I didn’t understand a thing that they were saying. The dance went like “hands up, hands down, hands to the right clap twice, hands to the left clap twice, clap four times repeat.” My friends and I were really awkward in the dancing.2.16guest-05One night we stayed up to 12:00am. The moms were blogging and us boys were mine crafting. Then, we all got up at 3:30am the next morning to get on a plane to fly to a more rural area. 2.16guest-07We visited a home in the rural area and got to help with their chores. We got to really experience their daily life. In many U.S. stores you can get quinoa by a pound or more. It took me about five minutes to grind about thirty stalks of quinoa, which equaled about two tablespoons:). There were thousands more stalks that the family’s dad would grind per day.

2.16guest-12 I also broke open a vegetable called sambo. My mom caught a photo of me hitting the stalk, although it looks like I’m just pushing it. Sam was happy that the stalk just came off when he was breaking the sambo.

2.16guest-15Caleb and I helped feed the pigs. The pigs made horrible shrieking noises because they were starving, but when they all had food they were completely quiet.

2.16guest-10This is one of the many Compassion centers that we visited. Our language was different but almost all boys always love a good hard game of soccer. They told our translators that they knew where a bigger field was located. We then went and played soccer there. 2.16guest-08Letters are really important. We visited a home of a girl named Brenda. Our translator asked her if she had any letters. She smiled and went to her special drawer and pulled out her letters. She talked about each of them. Our translator asked her which letter was her favorite. She laughed and pulled out the letter below. Our translator asked, “Why is it your favorite?”and she told us because her sponsor messed up writing it and put smiley face stickers to cover her mistake. Sam is amazing. He took a photo of her sponsor’s contact info and asked the girl what she wanted to say to her sponsor. While she was talking, he took a video and he is going to send it to her sponsor. In the homes we visited, he took a photo of every child’s sponsor’s info and sent a message to that sponsor. He told him or her that we visited their sponsor child. Let’s say you are a sponsor and you send a letter every four months, think you would feel if  you were the child and saw all of the other kids get letters every month and you didn’t. You would be really sad.

A few days after we visited Brenda, we went to a home of a older brother.  We asked the boy if he had any letters. He told us he had never got one although his younger brother, who was also sponsored, and the other sponsor kids had. I felt sad hearing that. Even though we write a lot of letters to our sponsored kids, it made me feel like we need to have a Letter Day where we write to our sponsored kids.2.16guest-09We rode twice by truck to the sponsor kids homes. I liked riding truck because you got to see homes, fields, pigs, dogs, and sometimes cows.2.16guest-16We listened to Fernado Puga. He is the country Directer of Compassion in Ecuador. The work that Compassion had done was incredible.2.16guest-31Today was Fun Day. We got to go eat Burger King and later go to an indoor playground with Ismael. Even though he’s from a different country, Ismael and I will always like Burger King.2.16guest-33I helped Ismael build a Lego set that me and my brothers chose for him. Since it was small, he can build it into three different sets and the sets were all types of cars.2.16guest-34It’s war so no mercy and no one can beat us.2.16guest-35Goodbyes are hard. Ismael and I promised each other that I would learn more Spanish and he would learn more English. Next time we won’t need Pauli our translator (she did not like it when we told her that though).2.16guest-37I personally want to thank our translators Pauli, Andrea and Jairo. We will head back home and maybe later come back on another trip, but they will stay helping Compassion. I also want to thank Sam our funny media guy, Bri our amazing trip leader and Mike our great photographer. You should also go see my good friends Caleb’s and Calvin’s posts. When you sponsor a child and send them letters, you will completely change their and their family’s lives.

Please change a child’s life by sponsoring a child.

 Ecuador in Calvin’s Eyes ~ by Calvin on Flower Patch Farmgirl

By Caleb: What My Friends Need to Know About Poverty ~ by Caleb on Gracelaced

Ecuador

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  • Shannan Martin - Corbett, I love this so much! I think it’s awesome that you mixed details with some really personal moments. I’m so glad you and Calvin are buddies now, and that you recovered from your argument over that game the other night. 😉

  • Jeannette - All I can say is Priceless! Corbett – you are a blessed writer – thank you for sharing your experiences!

  • lynne atl - Corbett: Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It was so nice to see it through your eyes.

  • Emily - Thank you for sharing Corbett! You spoke your thoughts so well. I am sure it is an amazing trip in so many ways!

  • Yvonne Reynolds - Oh my goodness! This is such an amazing post!! Corbett, thank you so much for sharing about your experiences. I absolutely love the photos of you and Ismael. I am sure both of you are going to remember this trip forever. Your mom must be so proud of you and your heart for wanting more people to sponsor children like Ismael :)

  • MC - Corbett, you are an amazing human being! Thank you so much for writing about your experiences with such detail. I also appreciated your humor :) You are giving your readers so much! Such a special post!
    Espero que pronto puedas hablar español con Ismael.

  • Rachel C - Best post ever on this blog! Corbett — Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and your heart. I know this is a trip you will remember for the rest of your life. God has such plans for you. Mostly, thanks for advocating for kids in need. You are a man after God’s heart.

  • Kelley - what a great post! Thank you for sharing! I love getting to see Ecuador and compassion from your perspective! And I especially love how you thought it was most important that compassion offers a chance to become disciples of Christ- that says so much about your Godly character!

  • Chris Campbell - You got one proud dad son! Great post! Way to take care of your momma, and represent our family so well. Excited to see what God is going to do through you and Ismail’s friendship. I know this trip has been just the start!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Corbett, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I love hearing what you thought about everything. I know your visit will mean so much to those children and will encourage other people to sponsor children. Thank you.

  • Cassidy Scott - Corbett, WONDERFUL job! Thank you so much for telling us about the trip from your perspective. (And Ashley, thank you for giving us the chance to see it that way!) It’s so great that you get to experience and learn these things; many ADULTS aren’t even aware of what poverty is really like. One of my best friends majored in Spanish in college and is now teaching English in Colombia both at a shelter for abused women and also working at an orphanage. She was my first exposure to Compassion, back when we were in 8th grade, and I remember her joy at writing to the child her family sponsored. I can only imagine the reaction from that child. Keep up the good work – you’re going to go far!

  • IslanDakota Girl - wow, this post is very powerful. I can only wish to do this kind of great stuff with my son. Great job!

  • Susie - Thanks for sharing! I have a boy the same age as you and I enjoy reading about your family! We are planning on sponsoring a child- maybe someday we will meet them too!

  • Jessie D - Corbett, you may regret writing such a great guest post on your moms blog. Im giving you a fair warning that a lot of your moms friends (myself included) will be asking for “More posts from Corbett!”. I appreciate your detail and all that you shared of lives so different from our own. All that you have seen and now understand is such a powerful tool of knowledge, let God use it within you. Bring it home with you, and share it. I pray you continue to lead and use your voice to advocate for those who need it. (And I expect a full report on your moms dancing the next time I see you.)

  • Chelsea - Hi Corbett, it’s a privilege to read your guest post. I found it to be full of good information that provided a true snapshot of the challenges faced by the people in the areas you visited. You’ve done a wonderful job showing the beautiful spirit of Ecuador. Thank you for sharing and providing your perspective. I look forward to reading more about Compassion and the opportunity to sponsor a child. I hope you and your mom have safe travels home and that the memories from this trip are always with you!

  • S - Ok fiiiiine I’ll cook that neglected bag of quinoa in my pantry tomorrow :). I never ever would have thought that the kids would care about receiving these letters. I honestly would figure they just wanted (and deserved!) the donation aspect and hearing from strangers would be pointless. How wrong I was! It’s been wonderful to see this experience through you and your mom’s eyes. Thank you for opening mine. I pledged to my husband that the first commitment we are making when I find a job is sponsoring a child. I never would have considered it had it not been for your trip. Thank you again! PS I thought you were around 15 from photos! Look out Ashley you’re going to be mistaken for friends or siblings any day now!

  • kimberly oyler - the part about dancing and Burger King were my favorite. :) Corbett, wow! I am so impressed with all the details you took in on this trip. it can be so hard to see poverty and to know what to do with what you’ve seen, but God is so good and faithful to walk us through it.

  • Richard - Amazing!! I think soft boxes are far better option than umbrella. Thanks Dzvonko for sharing this post :)

  • Mariam - this is beautiful <3

  • Carmen - What a beautiful experience and incredible memories you will take home from this trip. I can see that you will follow in your mum and dad’s footsteps in loving, caring, showing compassion and cherishing the moments and time you spend with people. This is so well written…how are you only 12?! Nice work ?

  • La - CORBETT!!!!!!!!!! you have a name I don’t think I ever heard it before and I have read this blog for years or Have I only look to the beautiful pictures? I love your name and your post was great. I been following your adventures attentively these days because I am a South-american living in the United States. Aren’t our countries beautiful so much green, so much to offer. You can find plantains in the US too my suggestion is to fry them and I promise you would love them. And yes Español por favor!!!! the sooner you learn the easier it would be. Thanks for sharing your name, your perspective and your beautiful voice.

  • ranee - Corbett, thank you for sharing this! I can’t wait to read it to my own kids who are younger than you, but also sponsor friends through Compassion! You are changing the world!

  • Jessica - Corbett,

    Thank you for your insightful and thoughtful report on the changes Compassion International can make in the life of a child.

    As a mom, we wish for many things for our sons but to be a good citizen of the world is foremost in my mind when I look at my toddler learning to walk. You, sir, are well on your way to that path.

    Best Wishes,
    Jessica

  • Marie - What a great post! Loved hearing it from you son Corbetts perspective! I can only imagine it was a wonderful & meaninful trip for you two! Praying my son & I can experience this one day as well! I’ve been to Ecuador before, but how amazing to go with your child!

  • Paige - Thanks so much for sharing your experience and your obviously big heart. I hope my boys can one day take a trip like this and forever be changed.

  • jules - Corbett – what a wonderful experience for you and your friends! So thankful that your Mom took you on this trip and allowed all of us to see it through a child’s eyes too. I will share your writing today with my teenage boys and maybe we will find a child to sponsor for the first time. Thank you for sharing your passion with us and the world. Be blessed.

  • Cara - Very well organized and expressed, Corbett! And it’s nice to officially “meet” you. :) It sounds like you are having an amazing experience in Ecuador, and you have definitely inspired me to write my sponsored kids more. I think having a Letter Day is an awesome idea!

  • Amy M - WOW! Just WOW! To God be the glory! You and your mom are such examples of following God’s commands to love Him and love others.

  • Renata - Wonderful post. You are a wonderful writer, and it was so nice to hear your perspective. Thank you for taking the time to share. Good job.

  • JuliAnne Berry - Corbett, thank you for sharing about your experience in Ecuador. I could tell you have a huge, kind heart. This blessed me to read it. I pray you continue to do great things for Jesus.

  • Julie - I had already decided to sponsor a child when I first read these posts, but this made me want to get the info and start writing letters! thanks Corbett, for showing us what you learned. I’m anxious to “meet” my sponsored child!

  • Ana - I’m in tears!!! What a wonderful boy and his beautiful perspective of this trip!! Life changing for all of you and for me too! ??

  • Kara M - Corbett, thank you so much for sharing! I teared up reading about your experience. Last year, our family met the young lady we sponsor in India. It is such a life changing experience. I really love the picture of you and Ismael at Burger King. You can tell he really admires you. Thank you for sharing the hard stuff about suicide too.

  • LeeH - Thanks for this post Corbett. ¡Muy bien!

  • Erika - Corbett, I was unsure about sponsoring a child but I wanted you to know that because of your post I have decided to. Also, thanks for the warning about plantains, good to know, I would have tried to eat them without cooking them!

  • Jill - Great post! I have been following your moms blog for awhile and wanted to share with you that after reading your blog post this morning my boys and I signed up and are now sponsoring a little boy through Compassion Canada! Thank you for sharing your thoughts (and interesting knowledge!)of your experience in Ecuador, your post has shown my boys that kids can make a difference too. We are committed as a family to help our sponsor child and his family throughout the years to come!

  • Susan - Corbett,
    What a fine young man for Christ you are. I have enjoyed sharing your journey to Ecuador. May God bless you and your mom as you return home. And thank you for challenging us all to be more Christ-like.
    Stay in His grip!
    Susan

  • Laura J - Great job Corbett! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. It means a lot to me that you took the time to tell us about your journey. I really liked the mix of facts & thoughts about what you were seeing.

    My son (now 22 & in law school) was and is a huge reader & loved Legos too. Have you ever read the Brian Jacques books? My favorite is ‘The Angel’s Command’. We got to see Brian Jacques a couple times in person talking about his books and loved meeting him.

    Kind regards,
    Laura J-reading you from California

  • Heather - Wow. just wow. I am so impressed with you Corbett for the incredible blog post but also your wonderful compassion and empathy. You are a remarkable young man.

  • Joanne - Corbett, thank you for sharing this week with us! I have read all your mom’s posts and loved seeing how the LORD worked through y’all to reach the people of Ecuador! What an amazing trip y’all had!! You are an awesome guy with a BIG heart!! You made a big difference there this week and that is no small thing!

  • Paul Anderson - Corbett, you are a very organized writer, great job! I loved the pictures and captions explaining them. Your heart is big, that’s obvious. Keep it up buddy, you’re going far in life.

    -Paul

  • Tracy A - Corbett, thank you for sharing your experience with us! May God continue to use you and your family to impact the lives of the poor.

  • Rae - So beautiful to see this from your view, Corbett! Great post, looking forward to hearing more from you in the future! :)

  • Ann - I’ve read your blog for a while, but never have I been touched like this week. I wanted to reach out and help for a long time, but had difficulty trusting any of the organizations. Well, I did the research and our family is now sponsoring two little girls in Honduras.

    I am a pediatric CVICU nurse, and our team does medical missions in Honduras. The team does heart surgeries for children who have no other options. I am hoping to coordinate a medical mission trip, with a time to meet our new girls.

    Thank you, for making me weep my way through this week. I am feeling broken-hearted. Yet, as the earth must be broken before seeds can be sewn, I trust that this sorrow is the prelude to unprecedented growth.

  • Jennifer - Amazing! I went on a similar trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico when I was 17 and it changed my life forever. Really enjoyed reading your point of view Corbett.

  • Byron - Well said; wonderfully done! God bless you and your families as you all grow together.

  • Jamie - Great job!!! So excited about all you experienced and I’m going to write our kid today! Thanks for inspiring us all.

  • Loan - I am so choked up by the compassion and love your son has for Ismael. You have raised a young man who is aware of his blessings and willing to extend a hand out to others. I expect great things from you, Corbett!

  • Marnya - Amazing!!! Corbett, you have such empathy and compassion. You describe your experiences very well, your mom is surely very proud of you! And you are lucky to have such a thoughtful mom to take you to meet your sponsor child! Thank you for sharing your experience. You are both so inspiring!

  • Kathleen - This has been, by far, one of my favorite posts…. I like how it was written truthfully, about both the good and hard things. I feel like you did an excellent job preserving the dignity of the friends you met this week. I also can see how thoughtful you were about what you wrote. And my favorite part of the post was seeing a sense of fun and humor in what was written – I have three little girls, so reading the caption about the time with Ismael and the game of “war” was awesome and foreign to me all at the same time:) Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us, Corbett! And Ashley, as a Compassion sponsor, I have been so encouraged in our sponsorship by your words, thank you.

  • Nancy Kenaston - THANK YOU SO MUCH for letting your son share this! I’m going to let my 11 year old daughter read this & the other 2 boys’ stories as well. We sponsor a girl in Ghana, but my daughter has not got involved, with out my “prompting”. I will pray that these young men’s stories will be a tool in God’s hand to touch her heart. Please thank you son for me? ~Nancy

  • Emily - Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are every bit as inspirational as your mother. I am truly moved by all of the posts this week, and honored that you chose to share your side of things. Thank you so much.

  • Carrie Campbell - Good job, Corbett. Thanks for sharing!! :)

  • Ivy - Thank you for sharing Corbett! I loved hearing about this trip through your eyes. Great job!!

  • Kirsten - Corbett – a fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing about your experiences. My son Caleb (same age as you) just read your post and said “that makes me want to write to our sponsored kids!” (who we have not written to in quite a while). Thanks so much for the encouragement, we will be writing a couple of letters tomorrow!

  • Lindy Gregg - What a great job you did, Corbett! Thank you for sharing and for encouraging people to sponsor kiddos!

  • Ann Bennett - Way to go Corbett! That was a fantastically written post and very motivating. I know that many people will sponsor children because you took the time to write this.

  • Hailey Campbell - Corb! This is so awesome! You are such an encouragement to me and to others. You never fail to surprise me in all that you do! Also, glad to see you won your game with Ismael! 😉 Love you guys and hope to see you all soon!

  • steph - Nicely done Corbett – hope you all are having a great time!Safe Travels

  • Jenny - What an awesome blog post!

  • Shauna Wortinger - We sponsor 2 kids. After reading your post and seeing the letters the kids enjoy getting, we are going to start writing more frequently to them. We have one girl in Columbia and a boy in Bangladesh that we sponsor. Enjoy your trip! What a great adventure to be on with your mom.

  • Lisa - I have tears in my eyes after reading this. Thank you for sharing Corbett!

  • Asbeh Nayeh - Hi Ashley, I’ve been reading your blog from before you adopted and I wanted to tell you that you were my inspiration to sponsor 3 children from Ecuador today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Jenny B. - Wow! So powerful. I just finished reading all three posts, and I can’t wait to show them to my 11-year-old son.

  • Jessica P - Great post, Corbett! I loved this glimpse into how Compassion changes lives. You have really challenged me to write to my sponsored kiddo more often. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  • Tanya - My mama heart bursts because I can imagine how proud your mom is to have you with on the trip as well as here on the blog. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

  • Tracy R - Corbett- It was such an honor to read your words about your trip and Compassion. Your mom opened my eyes to Compassion and you have sealed the deal for our family to sponsor a child. Thank YOU!

  • Amy - Thank you so much Corbett! Although I’ve long considered sponsoring a child, I always imagined it would be a small child. I never considered the emotional burden a teen might be carrying or the need they’d still have for sponsorship. Thank you for telling your story in your way. You willingness to identify suicide as an actual risk for the teenagers who have been left on their own has opened my eyes and we will now be sponsoring an older child.

  • janet @ the ordinary life of jannybean - Hi Corbett… Thank you for writing this. You have opened my eyes. We are definitely the family that sends our letters every few months or so. I have now made a reminder in my calendar to send one at least monthly so our sponsored child know we are always thinking of him.

    Thanks! :)

  • Amber - Thank you Corbett for sharing about your time in Ecuador! What an amazing time blessing those around you! We sponsor children through Compassion and it’s wonderful to hear, through your eyes, just how much sponsorship affects the lives of the child, the parents and the community. I was blown away by the suicide information, and gladdened by how letters are cherished. We have been following your trip and I can’t wait to have my kids read your post! Again, thank you for sharing your experiences so eloquently and candidly. God bless you and your family?

  • Sherry Boyle - Corbett,your post was so informative and inspiring! I already sponsor a girl in Ecuador and a boy in Uganda, but now I know that I need to write to them more often. It takes about three months for a letter to get to me from the time they write it, so I guess that is how long it must take for my letters to get to them, probably due to translation. I wish the process could be faster, as it would be more rewarding for everyone. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Jennifer - Dear Corbett, thank you SO much for sharing. You and your mom did such a wonderful job telling us about your journey. I’ve been following your mom’s blog for quite a while, and I can really sense that your family is really working for GOD and it is AMAZING! I have been telling myself to sponsor a child through Compassion for some time and I finally went and did it! I have three little girls at home and I am looking forward to writing monthly letters with all my kids to our three young sponsors in different parts of the world. I hope that my children will grow up knowing that they have a sister out in the world somewhere! Thank you again and keep up the good work!!

  • laila - what little cuties!! xxxxx

  • Erin - Corbett–You are a ray of sunshine! Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts and experience. Reading your words and hearing a kid advocate for other kids–that says more than any adult ever could. You are doing amazing work, and I can only imagine how proud your family is of you!

  • Glenda - Corbett,

    You are an amazing young man. Thank you so much for sharing your week with us. The Lord is most certainly working through you. Your parents must be so very proud! You and your mom have opened my eyes to Compassion International through your writing.

  • Jenn - great post Corbett. loved hearing about the trip from your perspective.

  • Jenny - Thank you Corbett! I am going to write another letter to my sponsored child right now. :)

  • Rebekah Van Der Hengst - Hey, Corbett, great story. Very moving. Loved the pics and details. We sponsor a child, but we don’t write like we should. Thanks for pointing out the importance of a letter to them. I wanted to tell you something my son uses that you may like. He’s 12 years old, and we home school. We have a family business that employs many Spanish speaking people. Last summer he worked with one man in particular all summer. My son really wanted to communicate better with him, so we started looking into Spanish programs. We found a place called Homeschool Spanish Academy. Their website is http://www.spanish.academy The company is in Guatemala. They have about 20 or so instructors who use Skype to teach Spanish. My son Will logs in once or twice a week (we schedule it for him) and has a Spanish speaking teacher. His favorite teacher is a man who talks soccer with him first, then they do Spanish. He loves learning from a real, live Spanish speaker. Maybe you can work on your Spanish like that, too. Anyhow, thanks for your post. I’m so glad you got to go on such a special trip!

  • Heather - Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience, Corbett! I really enjoyed your writing, and I read your post to my oldest son, who now wants to go visit the little girl that we sponsor. We also sat down this afternoon to send handwritten letters to her after being inspired by your blog post.

  • Olivia Stewart - Hi Corbett!
    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. You have inspired me to start writing my sponsored child Smitha in India more often! You did a great job with your post. I am so happy you were able to have this experience with your mom!
    God Bless,
    Olivia

  • Bekah - Corbett- what a great post about the life changing experiences you just had! I can only imagine how much this opened your eyes to the devastation that’s in other parts of the world. You were made for such big things, and I can already tell that you will be someone who changes the world! Keep on facing the hard realities and sympathize with those less fortunate than us, but go a step further- take action to make life better for all around you! Praying for you, Campbell family!

  • Marsha - Corbett, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences on this trip. It is so rare to hear about these important moments from a young man’s view. It was encouraging and challenging to watch this trip through your mom’s eyes and words, but even more so it was an honor to see it through yours.

  • Erin - Hi Corbett!
    Excellent post! Well written and thought provoking. May God bless you for your courage and good works. Cannot wait to see how you set the world on fire for Christ! Sending a high five from South Carolina!

  • angie lockhart - I’m so glad you took the time to put into words the amazing experience God lead you through in Ecuador. I felt truly honored to hear your journey and witness first hand the seeds of love and empathy He planted in your heart. You did so great reporting witg and abundance of facts, descriptions, and personal experiences. Top notch writing! And, Corbett! I just can’t help mentioning how much I love your name. Totally cool.

  • Shauna - Corbett,

    Thank you for writing this from your perspective. I also read the views of Caleb and Calvin. Just amazing to see the trip for the eyes of someone who is the same age as some of the sponsored children.

    Its a real eye opener.

    Thank you

  • Alison - I did not know that we could write to our sponsored child. Thank you for showing me how important it is to them and that I can do it.

  • Diana - Corbett – how wonderful to hear your perspective of the trip (not that your mom’s wasn’t wonderful too!). We take so much for granted here, I know I do every day but seeing and realizing how little others have is such an eye opener. I love that even with the language barrier you were able to communicate with kids down there, especially through soccer. What a wonderful experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  • Lacey - Corbett, thank you so much for putting this post together for all of us to learn and grow from. What a blessing you are!

  • Alice Marks - I sponsor 6 girls in Ecuador and went on a sponsor tour about 3 years ago. We met 4 of the girls then. The other 2 I began sponsoring after the trip. I enjoyed reading your posts and it brought back some fun memories. When I was about your age my family began sponsoring Compassion kids. When I got married I began sponsoring my own. I have sponsored quite a few kids over the years and still have all their letters. I hope you will continue even when you have your own family.

Sponsorship was a leap of faith for me. Even while I saw the fruit of sponsorship in my own kids, I felt like it was kind of like a trust walk to believe Compassion and child sponsorship was all that I had read. Then, I stepped foot in Ecuador and saw firsthand the work of Compassion here. The first night I face-timed Chris (wahoo for wifi!) to tell him I was so blown away.

This is the face of a child talking about her sponsor – a 66 year old woman in the US.

2.3.16-01We have walked into homes that feel hopeless and the deepest kind of desperation. Then sponsored children begin pulling out their letters and sharing…

2.3.16-022.3.16-032.3.16-04In the letter above, we asked her what was her favorite part of the letter. She let out a little laugh and told us her sponsor made a mistake and covered it up with all the smiley stickers.

Her favorite part of the letter was the part her sponsor didn’t get perfect or polished.

Before you go on reading this post, please go read more about that home visit and our time with the girls in her area. (click here)

As a sponsor, I know I’ve complicated it before. There were times that a letter didn’t get sent because in my head we needed to send more…more pictures, more stickers, more drawings, more. I could not have been MORE wrong. This week, these kids have taught me the power of words and encouragement. They have shown me what it looks like for a child to be filled with hope in what can seem like a hopeless situation. The words written from someone far away has spoken life into them.

2.3.16-052.3.16-06Everything regarding sponsorship has changed for me watching them hold their stacks of treasures. I know not everyone can make a trip to visit a sponsored child (though Compassion encourages it for those that can). I hope through stories and pictures to convey how much these kids treasure LETTERS from their sponsors. Their faces lit up as they talked about the letters – it wasn’t gifts or even all the financial provisions – it was the letters.

2.3.16-072.3.16-08

A letter. Why do I have to complicate the simple?

Over the last few days I’ve learned a few things from the kids regarding what impacts them the most from their sponsors. I wanted to share those today – for those that will step out and sponsor a child for the first time and for those already sponsoring.

What do you write/include in a letter?

ENCOURAGEMENT. The number one thing the kids talked about was how their sponsors truly loved them, prayed for them and told them to dream big. The simple act of telling a child you believe in them and their potential has a profound affect on that child. Encourage them to dream and work hard at school. Encourage them that they are not alone – you are there. A God who fiercely loves them is there and you are praying for them.

QUESTIONS. Ask about their family. School. Hopes. Fears. Dreams. We met an adult who was sponsored as a child. He told us the first time he considered having a dream for the future was when his sponsor asked him what his dream was. In that moment, he realized that he COULD dream.

HOLIDAY CARDS. For Christmas, birthdays, etc. – send special holiday cards. Several of the kids pulled out their cards and loved how they were colorful and unique. This really stood out to me. Compassion makes it easy to send gifts to your child on special occasions. We usually just check the little box on our sponsorship form that we want Compassion to purchase a gift for our sponsored kids. To be completely honest, I thought what probably mattered most to our kids was the gift, not getting a letter or a card. I was wrong. So wrong. Not a single child showed me a gift that was sent (and I know gifts were given), but they all showed me cards.

STICKERS. Stickers are easy to slip in a letter and the kids loved them.

DRAWINGS. Anything you make or your kids make is so special and treasured.

PICTURES. Pictures of you. Your pets. Scenery. Pictures of you holding their letters and pictures.

PINTEREST. Okay, you can’t send Pinterest, but I just found out Compassion has a Pinterest account FULL of ideas for writing your sponsored kids. I am going to be using this as a major resource when I get home. Genius.

day4-01day423Compassion has made it extremely easy to write sponsored kids. You can write your letter and upload photos from you computer. There is even a mobile app now. I was curious about how the kids liked getting letters that were not handwritten. In talking with the team, it was suggested to send a handwritten letter at least twice a year if we opt to send more digitally. The digital letters arrive faster to the translators, but the handwritten ones are often more meaningful. Our trip leader suggested monthly digital letters and handwritten letters twice a year.

The kids are not able to write as often – you can imagine how difficult it would be for a handful of adults to help them write the letters and then translate them. I’ve assumed that since we didn’t get tons of letters from our sponsored kids that maybe letters weren’t as big of a deal as the financial part of sponsorship. Wrong again.

In the past, we have not written monthly letters. Honestly, I just didn’t understand what a tremendous difference those letters make. That will change now.

day4-02

day421The impact of a letter from a sponsor on the life of a child living in poverty cannot be measured. However, in order to have that impact on a child you can’t start with the letter – it starts with signing up as a sponsor. This is our 4th full day in Ecuador. We begin traveling home on Friday. As a team we set a dream and goal of seeing 200 children sponsored as a result of this trip. We are listening to their stories, gazing on their beautiful smiles and being wrecked by the hardships they face. As I am writing this post, 90 children have been sponsored. While that is AMAZING…we want to see more children enter relationships with a sponsor. You’ve been reading these posts all week – will you join us today by sponsoring a child?

EcuadorMore from our team:

What Every Mama Dreams ~ by Ruth of Gracelaced

On Seed and Growing ~ Shannan of Flower Patch Farmgirl

An Open Letter to the Girls of Manta ~ a guest post on Life in Grace by Bri

*Many of these photos were shot by our team photographer @mikevarel – Thank you Mike!

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  • Lindsey - I’m loving these posts from Ecuador! (I’ve also not been good about sending the monthly letters, assuming that it wasn’t a huge deal since I didn’t hear from my sponsored child that often, so this post was eye opening and great to know!!) I’m thankful that you’re getting to see them face to face and hear about sponsorship from their perspective!

  • Shannan Martin - So good and necessary! Like you, my perception is totally changed. Also, I didn’t know we could send cards. You just taught me something new!

  • Suzanne - Oh this is stirring things in my heart. Because of having 3 kids with busy schedules and husband with a new job,etc. I was feeling overwhelmed. Just excuses…..will work on this. A side note, I am amazed at how much pride (in a good way) these families take in washing and keeping their clothes clean. This, I am sure, is quite an undertaking but I so love it. And the smiles, they say it ALL! Thank you for letting me walk right beside you in your journey!

  • amber - Wow. As a sponsor who doesn’t write as often as I want, now I want to write even more often. Wow. Praying this sticks in my mind & that letter writing becomes a priority to my family & I. Also praying that many more children are sponsored through your very wise words. Such an amazing thing to be a part of!

  • Byron - It always annoys me that I don’t write often enough. Honestly, all the things that you mention not realizing are the same things I’ve never realized!

    I need to write, not type, more letters. I’ve put off the latest one because I wanted to send a new picture of me and Allyblu! How silly….

  • Michelle - Thank you so much for this week, and letting us in everyday so far. Its such great insight to see how impacted the children are- to see the difference that is made from their point of view and their eyes. We wouldn’t know otherwise, so thank you!
    I just received my confirmation that my sponsorship application went through- I am SO thrilled. I received the prompt to write my first letter and I decided to wait and see how to approach my first ever letter of love, compassion and trust to him. “should it be hand written? what pictures should I send? should i do it electronically first?”
    this blog post really helped me put that into perspective. I cannot wait to hear about his dreams, passions and aspirations and to let him know that he has someone across the world to help him achieve them every step of the way, in any way I can.
    I really don’t think I can thank you enough for sharing your trip with us, and advocating for this mission so beautifully. My heart is so full right now. I wish you all safe travels back to OK!

  • Jenny B. - Ashley, thank you so much for writing this post. It is invaluable. I can’t tell you how much I NEEDED it. We sponsor an almost-11-year-old boy in Tanzania, and I have felt so guilty for not writing him more often. Even when I do the digital letters, I’ve always felt like it’s not enough, or that it’s not good enough because it’s not handwritten. I really appreciate you detailing what is important to the kids, and sharing the goal of a digital letter every month with a handwritten letter a couple of times a year. That is totally do-able, and makes me feel so much better (and encouraged!). Thank you!

  • AmandaK - This has been my favorite post so far. My husband went on a mission trip to Honduras last year, and we sponsor a child through another ministry.
    I have thought the same things about typing vs. handwritten notes, and wondered the same things about a Christmas gift and how we didn’t hear from him often so maybe he wasn’t that interested in communicating.
    Thanks very much for your posts and thoughtful insights!

  • Brooke Riley - We’ve just sponsored two! They have the same birthdays as our two boys! Thanks for sharing this message and giving us the extra push.

  • Laura Jean Bell - I so love seeing your encouragement on the importance of letter writing! It excites me to think that my sponsor child is receiving the love and encouragement! Such a joy to see you loving these people so well. :) Keep on keeping on!!

    blessings upon blessings,
    LJ

  • Laura J - Wonderful posts, thank you for sharing your thoughts & feelings. How I wish that the sponsors of these beautiful children could see your posts to understand how much their letters mean to the kids! I see some big stacks of mail, obviously they have done a great job writing. Safe journey home.

  • Natalie Lacy Lange - Thank you for this. I have not been good about sending letters–even after I write them. This morning, I SENT a letter and pictures. I also set reminders in my calendar to keep sending.

    Praying for you all on your trip!

  • Morgan - Thank you for posting and sharing about your experience! Just sponsored a child, and I’m so excited. I would have been so much more hesitant (& probably wouldn’t have done it) if it weren’t for you sharing your trip. Thank you!

  • Martha B - Ashley, Your posts have inspired me to sponsor a child through Compassion International. It is something I had wanted to do for a long time and your experience was just the motivation I needed. I chose a girl whose birthday is close to my daughter’s. I am looking forward to getting to know her! Thank you!

  • Angela - I sponsor a girl through Plan Canada. I’ve written one letter. Your post has planted some seeds within my soul.

  • A Letter from Jesus | Faith, Life & Compassion - […] posts are aimed at newbies, but as a seasoned sponsor myself, I find them just as encouraging. Ashley met a man whose sponsor had asked what his dream was (I think I’m going to ask my eldest that), and Ruth’s post on the theme of letters reminded me […]

  • Jessica - Thanks so much for this encouragement! I just downloaded the app and sent a letter to our girl. It had been much too long. This was so eye opening!

  • Sarah - After reading your blog this week, we decided to sponsor a little boy from Ecuador tonight. I am hoping we will able to meet him someday. My son is only 4 now, so we have awhile before he is the age they allow children to travel. Thank you for your blog posts and sharing this experience with your readers.

  • caleb - This is such a great post Corbett! It has been amazing going on this journey with you, and seeing the changes that have happened in all of us. I am super thankful to have experienced this with a friend like you.

  • Andriana - Thank you so much for this post. For so long I made the letter writing about me- constantly delaying because I didn’t have a cute gift to include or something inspiring to say. Today I went out and bought cards and stamps; then addressed and labeled everything so that all I need to do is write a message and mail it out each month.

  • Beth - Thanks for sharing what is most important to our sponsored kids. I appreciate the list of tips of what to send, including the difference between digital and handwritten letters. I love to experience another culture through the blogs and pictures!

  • What Everybody Ought to Know About Hope - […] Ashley from Under the Sycamore […]

  • Vertie - Hi Ashley, I’ve been so moved by your posts that I looked for a child to sponsor in Peru (where we have traveled) and who is 5 or 6, about the same age as my son. I am very close to completing the application but I have a question I am hoping you can answer. I was raised Catholic but don’t really practice any formal religion now. I know that Compassion is a Christian-centered organization, and I’m not opposed to it as such, but I do wonder how much freedom the sponsored children have in accepting the religion of the organization. If the children don’t want to be Christian, are they still allowed to be sponsored? Given the Catholic Church’s long ago treatment of indigenous peoples, I am a little leery of supporting an organization if it doesn’t allow that freedom. I think what you and the organization are doing is wonderful, and I love the ability to connect personally with the children, but if you think that I would be a better fit for a different organization, could you please point me in that direction? My letters would not be encouraging the child to seek a life devoted to Christ. I would encourage the child to pursue a moral and spiritual life in whatever form that takes. Sorry for the long comment. I have great respect for what you do and I don’t want to be disrespectful of the organization.

  • AshleyAnn - Vertie – that is a great question! Thank you for your thoughtfulness and honesty in asking about that. No, the children do not have to become Christians to be sponsored. Compassion has an FAQ page that answers this questions and similar ones. Maybe it will help you:
    http://www.compassion.com/about/faq.htm#faq-tcm:5-301248

    Thank you for your encouragement and support!

  • Debbie C - Ashley, thank you so much for shedding light on the importance and impact of sponsors’ letters! We currently sponsor 2 Compassion kids but write to them very little. I’m going to now make the effort to write once a month. Also, thank you Corbett for bringing this to our attention in your beautiful post!

  • Stephanie Barnard - Wonderful post. Thanks for encouraging me to send stickers, drawings, or pictures. Also loved that you mentioned making a mistake or not being “perfect” in our letter writing is okay!