2.2.16day3-1I’ve often been asked about our decision to expose our kids to ‘tough’ things. The questions are usually related to how, why and when we choose to open our kids’ eyes to hard realities. Sometimes the questions are fear based – fear of what could happen to a child when exposed to heart break.

When we took our two oldest boys to China and brought them along to visit the orphanage their sister spent her first year, there was concern from some that maybe it was too much for their little hearts and minds to process. When Chris began his work within the foster care realm, there were questions about how we talk about the reasons for foster care with our kids. When I shared we were coming on this trip, many were curious about how my son would handle coming face to face with a different level of poverty than he had seen before.

2.2.16day3-22

2.2.16day3-3Thankfully, Chris and I are on the same page. When we consider how we want to raise our kids – the characteristics we want to cultivate in them, the type of influences we want in their lives, the kind of faith that demonstrates a dance between faith, love and action – we can’t afford not to expose them to hard realities.

Choosing to hide those realities and topics from our kids seems like a far riskier option.

We choose with great intention what and how we share things with our kids. We walk with them through experiences and conversations in age appropriate ways, but we don’t hide from those difficult conversations and experiences.

2.2.16day3-7(my other kids following along this trip)IMG_9854When we began sponsoring through Compassion, we did not realize it would end up being as much for the child we sponsored as it was for our own kids. Developing long term relationships with our sponsored children continues to have a profound impact on my kids. Conversations about poverty and the difficulties many children face flow naturally from the context of sponsorship. As our children learn about the kids we sponsor, they see their world differently.

Sponsoring children is not only an investment in the futures of the kids we sponsor, it is an investment in the lives of my own children. While we sow seeds of dreaming and worth in the lives of our sponsored kids, we are sowing seeds of compassion, advocacy, and empathy in the lives of our own kids.2.2.16day3-6
2.2.16day3-52.2.16day3-242.2.16day3-23

Sometimes in an effort to protect kids from pain, opportunities to see them soar are also taken away. I want my children to learn from an early age that the world is far bigger than the 5 mile radius we spend most of our days. I want to be the one to expose them to world – its joys, pains, cultures, people – in age appropriate ways. Sponsoring kids through Compassion has been a very easy way to do just that.

Will their tender hearts break as they learn the hard stories of others? I hope so. Not in a devastating way, but in a way that stirs up compassion and love for others. I am more fearful of them growing up never impacted by the pain others face than I am fearful of what could happen if their hearts break. I would far rather raise children whose hearts break over the hurts of others and grow to be caring adults that use their gifts, talents and resources to reach out to their neighbor, both near and far, than raise children indifferent to the plight of others.

So, how has my son handled coming face to face with poverty and hearing the very difficult stories of other children? He is doing just fine. He is processing hard stuff. He is looking around. He is really seeing people. He is taking it in. And then he is picking up a soccer ball and jumping in the game.

And really….that is what I want for him and my other kids….I want them to be able to process hard stuff, to look around, to really see people, to take it in and then to just jump in the game.

2.2.16day3-82.2.16day3-202.2.16day3-21
2.2.16day3-4Compassion brings the world to our doorstep in the form of letters and pictures from a few incredible kids. It gives us a chance to be actively involved on a long term basis with children we would not have the chance to meet otherwise. It gets us in the game. What happens in the lives of my kids and our sponsored kids as a result of Compassion is an investment I can’t afford not to make.

After stepping into homes and hearing the stories of so many children, I can say with all my heart – this is an investment you will never regret. Will you join our team as we advocate for children by investing today in the life of a child through sponsorship?

Ecuador

More posts from our team:

To This World: I think I’ve been looking at you all wrong ~ guest post on A Holy Experience by Bri McKoy

El Roi: The God Who Sees Them ~ Ruth Simons of Gracelaced

If I Have Gingham But Have Not Love ~ Shannan Martin of Flower Patch Farmgirl

many photos in this post are by @mikevarel

 

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  • Ruth@GraceLaced - You are truly one of the most intentional people I know. I’m so honored to be your friend and to walk these dusty roads with you.

  • meg duerksen - i am ABSOLUTELY loving every post. what an incredible experience for all of you!

  • Steph - Yes, yes, and yes. I summed it up to my husband, and we had to fist-bump. Such good reminders.

  • To This World: I've Been Looking at You All Wrong - Our Savory Life - […] in Ecuador leading our 14th Compassion Blog Trip which boasts of such bright hearts as Ruth Simons, Ashley Campbell and Shannan […]

  • Southern Gal - I’m keeping up with Ruth and Shannan, too, and it’s been just lovely. I love the hearts of all the bloggers (and their sons) this year. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ranee - Yes to all of this! Thank you for sharing your heart and the stories of this trip along with the wonderful mission of Compassion!

  • Candice - I so agree with you. A dream of ours is to get our children to see Peru where our compassion daughter lives. I am loving reading these posts!

  • Jenny L. - I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is so easy to hide behind that it is too sad, too hard, etc. I bought into that myth with a lot of things and wish I never had. Your kids can take it and they will be better off for it. You and Chris are wonderful parents.

  • amber - These posts are just amazing. Thank you for taking us on this journey with you. And, yes, yes, yes to this post! May all our hearts break for those who are hurting. We are all the better for it. What a treasure for your kids. Love this!

  • Laura Bell - I am sponsering a little girl from Ecuador. It does my heart a real joy to see that you get to actually meet your kids! So proud of you and your kiddo for loving to intentionally!

    xoxo,
    Laura Jean

  • Renee - You have my wheels turning about sponsoring. I want those same things for my children and love that this can spark an awareness in them about global inequality and how we can help in some way.

  • joy the baker - Your words are beautiful and the joy pictured in these young faces fills me up. Be well. I appreciate that you’re sharing this journey.

  • Dustin - Great post. I take my 11 year old son on a trip to Uganda in May. I love the perspective you brought. Thanks for trusting God, and giving your kids this experience that will hopefully affect their lives in powerful way to help those in need.

  • Compassion Bloggers in Equador - […] He Jumped in the Game // Ashley Ann […]

  • Michael Patterson - This is great! My wife and I visited our Compassion kids in 2006. That trip changed our lives and we knew we had to go back with our children. It was a great investment into our children. Soon I will be traveling back to Haiti and the Dominican Republic with our daughter (adopted from Haiti). She is 9 and we will be visiting our sponsored children. I know this experience will shape her view of the world for the rest of her life.

  • Layla - In tears…big INSPIRED tears!!

  • Jessica P - Amazing post, Ashley! Cultivating compassion and empathy is so very important. Well said!

  • Barbara janaina - http://cienciahoje.uol.com.br/noticias/medicina-e-saude/terapia-celular-para-labio-leporino
    Dear Ashey, I just saw this news in the TV , is a new tecnic ,I dont know how to translate it all to you , but talks about lip fissures ( it’s right?) a new tecnic from Brasil, that improves very much the treatment , sorry for the bad english, kisses from Brasil

  • Nicole - I couldn’t agree more! We can’t afford not to teach them! We personally spend so much time editing the crap that tv,school and other outside influences send at our kids. But we’ve had no problem exposing or kids to the reality of life for kids around the world. We know it’s rough and they may have questions, but it really is important that they first see people as human and loved by God. Honestly, exposing them early on is probably better for them. They see a lot of beauty that we miss and they don’t have the fears that have grown in us adults. Last year we took our 5 & 3 year olds to Nicaragua with us. We spent time in a village where the kids had so much less than our kids. But there, playing soccer and hanging from the mango trees,they felt like they had made best friends. The have & have not’s didn’t divide them. We’ve also recently taken them to feed the homeless with us. I did have fear about explaining how these friends didn’t have food or a place to sleep, but they just took it in and served with kindness and a smile. They taught me how life should be when we don’t let fear get in our way. It was so beautiful. Way to go Ashley on taking your son and letting him (and the kids watching at home)see that the world is so big…and so is God’s love!

  • Six Blog Posts I Needed To Read | The Lettered Cottage - […] 2. He Jumped In The Game […]

  • Karen - YES! YES! To every word of this!!!!!!!!

  • Eleanor Clark - Iliked all your posts been sharing on facebook I sponsored another child Jennifer from the same child center as Ney they both live in

  • Eleanor Clark - I liked all your posts been sharing on facebook I sponsored another child Jennifer from the same child center as Ney

  • kris saia - You are a a terrific writer.

As we walked into the Compassion Child Survival Program center, we were greeted by mothers and children with huge smiles and kind eyes. Compassion is often known for its child sponsorship program, but I am learning there is much more to this organization. In the past, child sponsorship began with children 5 years old and older. About a decade ago, Compassion saw the enormous need for intervention earlier.  The Child Survival Program was born out of this need. Instead of children registered for this program, it is moms. Local members of the community volunteer their time to assist the moms in learning how to care for their babies. They are taught everything from the very basics of newborn health, to how to hold a baby, to how to recognize and treat minor illness. For all the practical tools they are given, I can’t help but think the greatest gift is not feeling alone.

The 3 year olds in the program were ‘graduating’ out of the program today and they were having a special ceremony. The moms and children were dressed in their very best to celebrate.  I sat down and thought about what milestone was being reached by these moms and little ones. They were celebrating that they made it – they survived. It was not in the sense that I often causally say, “Oh I survived,” in regards to doing something. They were celebrating true survival. So humbling.

I uttered a prayer for help to see beyond the surface and to really see them. Then, I attempted to sit a few rows back, but was moved up front. I took my seat and looked up – little toes pouring out of fancy shoes unable to buckle and a few sizes too small.

2.1.16stories-01I often remind myself of how the beauty of my days is in the details. It is the little things that I can easily overlook that often end up being the most memorable. There was something so captivating about her feet in those shoes. Someone somewhere stepped up to help her family. Her mom bravely allowed others to come alongside her and give her the tools and help she needed to watch her baby girl grow into a thriving toddler. And today. Today, she was graduating from a program that made sure she survived. She would not be a statistic. She would be a beautiful little girl in a soft pink dress and fancy shoes surrounded by people telling her that she mattered and her life is of great value.

The most beautiful toes hanging over the edge of little white sandals.

Her mom and the others in that room were in need of help to insure their pregnancies, deliveries and the early years of their children’s lives were healthy and safe. Obviously, this is a need not limited to Ecuador. The need for early intervention in the life of a child is something we recognize in every state in the US. It is a reality my husband comes face to face with everyday as he works with the foster care system and DHS.

Helping safe, loving parents have the tools they need to be able to raise their children is a fierce passion for me. It is something Chris has poured his heart and soul into in our own state. I will always be an adoption advocate when it is the best interest of the child. However, family preservation – helping safe, loving families stay together – it is an ache deep in my heart.

I knew going to the center that the Child Survival Program does just that – it helps families stay together. It makes sure parents are able to raise their kids. Children are surviving WITH their parents.

After the ceremony, we joined the moms and children for lunch. I wanted so badly to hear their stories. I’ve found the best way to start a conversation is often finding something you have in common. Easy to do in a room full of moms and babies! I noticed one mom holding her baby girl. When I saw her plate untouched, I knew it was not because she wasn’t hungry. Eating with an awake baby on your lap can feel like more work than it is worth! I offered to hold her baby, so she could eat (explaining through a translator that I was a mom of 5, so I totally get it!). She smiled and took me up on my offer.

2.1.16CSP-02Every mom understands how hard it is to eat with a baby on your lap! That mutual ground was all it took to begin hearing the stories of the moms in the room. Andrea, Compassion’s in-country trip specialist, walked with me to each table as the women shared with me their stories. I also shared with them a photo of my family and bits and pieces of my story.

2.1.16CSP-082.1.16CSP-072.1.16CSP-042.1.16CSP-062.1.16CSP-052.1.16CSP-032.1.16CSP-01(paraphrase of their stories, not direct quotes)

  • I work as a street vendor for 8 hours each day. I take my 2 month old with me.
  • Compassion volunteers taught me to make handicrafts. I make those from home and then sell them on the streets.
  • I came to Quito because I was told there were jobs. There are no jobs. We don’t have money to travel home. So, we are here.
  • My husband was abusive and kicked me out of our home with our kids. Compassion volunteers found us on the streets.
  • I have four children. There are 7 people living in our one room home. We have one bed.
  • I am a single mom with four kids. I cannot find a job.

So many stories, children and sincere smiles in that little room. As the women shared with me, I asked about what is next for their children (those that just graduated out of the program). The public school in the area is free, but requires uniforms. For most of the children, unless they receive a sponsor from Compassion, they will not be able to purchase a uniform. Without a uniform, they will not be able to go to school.

These moms, whose faces were marked by suffering and joy, were surviving each day. They were truly surviving and holding onto dreams and hopes for their children’s future. As I snuggled that sweet baby girl, I prayed she would one day be sitting in a little chair, feet dangling over and graduating a survivor…with a sponsor waiting to continue to watch her grow and thrive.

2.1.16CSP-09If you have ever considered sponsoring, please make that jump today. I can tell you firsthand there are so many children waiting for you to say, “yes!” When you put your “yes” on the table, you are helping children survive. You are helping them thrive. You are preserving families.

A Compassion employee (that was once a sponsored child) shared with us today about what it was like having a sponsor and being a part of the Compassion project.

“I learned through the project why it was important to plant a dream in your heart.”

When you sponsor a child, you get to play a pivotal role in casting a vision in the life of that child that he or she can dream beyond what their physical eyes can see. Not only do you get to play that role, if you have children, your children get to be a part of that journey too. And it is one beautiful adventure.

CompassionSponsor* The majority of these photos were taken by @mikevarel

Be sure to check out Shannan & Ruth’s posts from yesterday too!

Stay – Ecuador Day 2 ~ Flower Patch Farmgirl

A Step Towards Hope ~ Gracelaced

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  • Candice Forte - Ashley, you are an amazing woman of God! I admire you so! I am so glad Compassion and you have teamed up! Your writing and photography are so very special it will certainly touch many to sponsor! I am sharing this on my facebook page.:) Praying you make so many connections and also you reach so many who are teetering on the decision to sponsor! I know I never will regret it. WE never will regret it. My husband and our children talk about our sponsored child like she is a daughter/sister. I hope we get the chance to meet her in the flesh someday….

  • Shannan Martin - Love the way our two posts weave together and overlap a bit. As with the llama, we’re on the same page. XO

  • meg duerksen - LOVE ALL OF THIS ASHLEY!

  • Mary Lynn - Thank you for these amazing posts!!! Do you have any posts about how you interact with your sponsor child/family from home? How you communicate with them or how you bring them into your children’s lives? I’d love tips & ideas

  • AshleyAnn - Mary Lynn – that is a great question! If I am not able to share some of that while here in Ecuador, I will when I get back! Thank you for asking.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Candice! I hope you get to make the trip to meet your sponsored daughter one day…it is an incredible experience!

  • Julie - I don’t have words for how grateful I am for your words, for sharing your experience. Your words are from the heart, not scripted, and paints a true picture of the lives of these families across the globe. So thank you, thank you for sharing the details and the emotions and more importantly your reaction to your experiences. Praying for safe travels for you, your son and the group you are with and praying that this trip will touch the lives of many who will hear about your journey.

  • Byron - God bless! These blog posts are wonderful, beyond words.

  • Tanya - Thanks for posting this and sharing your journey and experience.

  • Krista - Ashley, thank you for sharing your experiences. I’ve been contemplating sponsoring a child for years. Today, just now, I finally did it. I’m now the proud sponsor of an artistic little 5-year-old girl in Ecuador. I’m thrilled. Again, thank you for your example and light. Much love from CO. -Krista

  • AshleyAnn - Krista – Thank you!!! I wish I could adequately convey to you what your sponsorship will mean in her life. The letters sponsors send – they have a profound and life changing impact. It is incredible to see the kids treasure each one and hold on to the words written. Thank you!

  • Jodi - Just amazing! We just had our 3 children each pick a child to sponsor. They will help us sponsor their own child. Thank you for inspiring us!

  • Julie P. - Your words and stories are truly a blessing for so many. Thank you for the encouragement to move forward with sponsoring a child. We have signed up to sponsor an 8 year old little girl who shares the same birthday as my daughter. We look forward to reading more posts about your interactions with your sponsor child and family.

  • AshleyAnn - Julie – Thank you for sponsoring. I will post more later this week with pictures of kids and their letters from sponsors. It is truly incredible what a difference the letters make. My mind has been blown this week. Thank you!

  • AshleyAnn - Jodi – That is so exciting! I’ll be posting more about letters from sponsors later this week. I am so, so excited your family is sponsoring 3 children. Amazing. Thank you!!

  • Emily - As always, you are inspiring me (and so many others) to be better people. Thank you so much for sharing.

    I had a thought, though – would it be possible to have a fundraiser solely to help purchase uniforms (and shoes, etc) for the children who do not have sponsors? Maybe in a manner similarly to how you raised funds for an incubator in China? That way more children will have one small step towards a life in which they are able to thrive.

    Thank you so much. I am so grateful to have your blog in my life.

  • Sarah - Yes to Mary Lynn’s post! I also would like to know more details about communication and how you overcome the language barrier when you write letters. Also, do the children age out of sponsorship at some point? Is there a way to still stay in touch with them? My husband and I talked about sponsoring tonight. It’s hard choosing a country!

  • debbie - Ashley,

    I was just thinking how I wanted to post about this. Over the years my husband and I have sponsored several Compassion and World Vision children.

    Years ago my husband got to visit our compassion sponsored child on a mission trip. It had such an impact on our lives. She had crafted some gifts for us that we keep displayed even though she is grown and out of the program now.

    But what I love most about your post is how you focus on the letters.

    At the moment we have a girl and a boy in different countries. It is easy to have your donation taken out without a though each month. But writing a letter takes thought and time and I was struck this week as I heard how important the letters were to the children through the Compassion note that accompanied our child’s letter to us. For the first time in a year I stopped everything I was doing and wrote back instead of setting it aside for a better time that often did not come.

    What little effort on our part makes a child feel so special and loved. It is a gift beyond anything we could every buy.

    Thank you so much for your post.
    Debbie

  • Amy Cyphers - Ashley,
    Thank you for sharing your journey! My daughter and I sat down and found a little girl about her age to start sponsoring. This is something We’ve been meaning to do, but kept putting off… Not another minute. It’s done, and we are so excited to pray for her starting now.
    God bless you on your journey. I hope to do the same with my kids.
    Amy

Our plane arrived in the late hours of the night. On the way to the hotel I learned that we would be meeting our sponsored son Ismael and his family the next day. Originally, I thought we would be meeting his family later in the week, so the news caught me off guard. As I prepared for this trip, there was really only one aspect that made me anxious and nervous – meeting Ismeal’s mom. It wasn’t a fearful nervous, but one rooted in understanding motherhood and all the emotions that come with it. I had spent so much time thinking about her and how I could express my desire to come alongside her in this journey of motherhood. It felt overwhelming to try to find words to communicate how I felt about sponsoring Ismael.

Last week I purchased a set of wooden spoons. They were a simple, practical and useful gift I could share with her. Two of my kids helped me paint the spoons and as I painted each one I prayed. I prayed for her. I prayed for her as I pray for my friends – that she would not feel alone in motherhood. I prayed that as she prepared food for her husband and children she would look at the painted spoon in her hand and be reminded that she has someone cheering for her in a far away place. I prayed as she used the spoons in teaching her kids to cook, she would remember that I am committed to supporting her through supporting her son. I prayed a million things as I painted those spoons and tied them up with a little lace bow.

1.16spoons-001Saturday night I had a hard time going to sleep. My mind was filled with thoughts of her. I know what it is like to open my home and prepare for guests. I wondered what she was thinking, how she was feeling and what would unfold the next day. I wondered if she was going to sleep feeling the same nervous excitement I was feeling.

This morning I placed the spoons into a bag on top of the soccer ball that my kids picked out. I sat the bag next to me on a bus and drove to the church where we would meet Ismael.

1.16spoons-002It all happened so fast. One moment I was surrounded by kids and then the next moment I was meeting Ismael. Instead of meeting his family at their home, they had all come to church. I looked up and there she was – this woman I had prayed for and longed to meet.

1.16homevisit-0011.16homevisit-002The next hour or so flew by. We walked to their home and exchanged stories about how they each found out about Ismeal’s sponsorship. He had been sponsored before, but the sponsor ended support. He told me how he walked into the Compassion Student Center one day and he saw his name on the board for kids that had been sponsored. His face lit up as he retold the story.

I told him about how my kids looked at pictures of kids waiting for sponsors and when we saw his face we knew he was the boy we were supposed to sponsor. His mom also shared how she found out. My mind raced back to the post I wrote Saturday morning regarding how there are two sides to the story of sponsorship: the child and the sponsor. I was wrong. There are so many more sides to the story. Today, I heard the sides of his parents.

1.16homevisit-0031.16homevisit-004We arrived at their home and Ismael immediately gave me the most priceless book of pictures. Copies of family pictures over the years glued into a handmade book for my family. As I turned the pages of the book, I was overcome with emotions. You guys – my kids made him a similar book (he will get it on Thursday). Our translator also let me know that the room was empty last week. In preparation for our arrival, they borrowed furniture for us to sit together. Life flourishes in this home despite very heavy circumstances.

1.16homevisit-0051.16homevisit-006I pointed out pictures of my family and then I pulled out the spoons. I told her how they were made and all the prayers that fell from my lips. I told her how I wanted her to use them and think about how there is a God that loves her and another mom in America that believes in her. I told her I hoped when she saw them she would be reminded she is never alone.

1.16homevisit-0071.16homevisit-0091.16homevisit-0081.16homevisit-010I shared with her that now we are family. The dreams she and Ismael’s father have for him – we will be writing him and encouraging him in those dreams too. I told her this sponsorship will not end and that as a family we are committed to supporting them as they do everything within their means to raise their beautiful children. And then I asked her how I could pray for her.

And her tears began.

Ismael has a heart condition and was recently hospitalized to try to get a diagnosis.

Her son has a heart condition. And my tears fell. Next week my youngest daughter will be hospitalized. She will be having her third cleft lip/palate surgery. A translator is not needed in a room when two mothers can look one another in the eye after words are spoken about doctors, hospitals, kids and surgeries.

Motherhood is powerful. It crosses the lines of culture. Of riches and poverty. Of language.

And then we prayed…

1.16homevisit-0121.16homevisit-013There is so much I want to share about what Compassion International does across the globe for children. So much. Today, I am focusing on my story with Ismael and his family. I know my explanation of sponsorship has been vague. This week I will share more specifics. However, if you have ever considered sponsoring a child, I cannot encourage you enough to step out and join hands with another mom/father/grandparent to insure a child can dream and walk in the knowledge that he can can go farther than what his circumstances tell him. Child sponsorship allows you to come alongside a child and family on a long term basis.

I’ve written so many times here that I am a fan of moms. I’m a fan of working moms, stay at home moms, single moms, worn out exhausted moms, put together moms and falling apart moms. Today I was welcomed into the home of a mom I’ve dreamed of meeting and let me tell you, I’m a big fan of her. As I left her home today, I was pinching myself that I get to do this – I get to come alongside her by sponsoring her son and alleviating a burden that is way too heavy for her to bear. As a family, we cannot wait to watch from a distance as Ismael grows up and the dreams his parents have for him come true!

1.16homevisit2-001

To read more about our day, be sure to visit my friends Ruth & Shannan on their blogs.

Hosanna – Ecuador, Day 1 ~ Flower Patch Farmgirl

He is Able and We Are Willing ~ Gracelaced

You can also follow the trip on @compassion on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and #compassionbloggers on Instagram

*The photos, names and content of this post were shared with permission from the family. The majority of these photos were taken by @mikevarel – I am so grateful he captured this day for my family. Thank you Mike! 

Ecuador

 

 

 

 

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  • Carol - Beautiful post

  • Oceana - This is such wonderful storytelling. I remember when I was younger I dreamt of sponsoring a child through World Vision and managed to scrape together the money to do it. I loved getting a photo every year of a girl on the other side of the world who was so much like me and yet so different. Despite not being a religious person myself, I can see the enormous value of that generosity of spirit, and it’s great that you’re spreading this message around.
    Looking forward to the rest of your posts from the equator! :)

  • Shannan Martin - Simply, profoundly beautiful.
    I’m so glad you had this moment.

  • Jill Foley - motherhood is powerful…I remember exchanging stories about my daughter’s allergies and my newly sponsored boy’s allergies with his mom in Peru. As mom’s we were able to connect with a shared experience and better pray for eachother and our kids.

  • Byron - Wonderful and beautiful. God bless both your families!

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - I’m so grateful to be here with you. To see the way you live out true compassion. Love you and amen to all this.

  • rhonda - :) I loved this. So wonderful. You are doing God’s work and that is AWESOME!

  • Jacque Watkins - Awestruck and in tears over this connection..between mothers and sons and mothers and families.. “Motherhood is powerful. It crosses the lines of culture. Of riches and poverty. Of language..” YES. What a beautiful moment today was. And THEY.BORROWED.FURNITURE!! Wow. The love and pure kindness to give all they had and more to welcome you..I just can’t get over how special it must have been. Praying for you and the team as you’re there. May many lives be changed, both ours and theirs, through compassion sponsorship. xoxo

  • Kate - You’re kind of amazing – I just love you and all the goodness you bring into the world – thank you for sharing this and inspiring me.

  • Tracy A - Love this friend. I’m so glad you got to meet them and that we get to see it. Thanks for being a fan of moms.

  • Rae - This is so beautiful, Ashley…I am seriously considering sponsorship, so life changing. Thank you for sharing. God bless your family and Ismael’s family.

  • Karen - And they had borrowed furniture so that we could all sit together….. The beautiful gift of hospitality!!! (Swallowing the lump in my throat!)

  • Jenn - oh my goodness i love this. what a blessing and honor. thank you for sharing your words, your heart and this incredible experience that you are on.

  • Heather - Wonderful, wonderful!! Thanks for sharing…and now I need to go back and re-apply my mascara! 😉

  • Aimee - Thank you so much for sharing this! Our family just began sponsoring through compassion last year. I don’t know if we will ever meet our sponsor child or her family but it is so beautiful to hear your story!

  • RachelC - Wow. Unsurprisingly, I am just sitting here at my computer crying all over it. This is the stuff of LIFE. This. I love so much about this….but most of all, I love that you are walking alongside this family with a unified purpose, and love is the center of it all. Way to light the way for so many who will come after you as a result of this blog post. Oh, to think there would not be any child left waiting for a sponsor. Proud of you for going and telling these stories. Loving others is always the right choice. Always.

  • Katie M - Thank you so much for sharing. He is so good, and I’m grateful He’s using you in this sweet mom’s life. Lots of tears and prayers for you both right now…

  • tg - wonderful words…this resonated with me because we sponsor 5 little boys in colombia, and i am longing to meet them and their mamas. thanks for sharing such beautiful details of such a personal event.

  • Kimber Cutler - I LOVE THIS ASHLEY! You are such a a great example of me regarding compassion, love, kindness, and selflessness to all walks of life. I love love love that you shared. I’m so glad you’re sharing so much info about Compassion, it is something myself and husband would totally LOVE to look into!!!!

  • Michelle - there is so much beauty in this post and all that you do, Ashely. The picture of you all praying drew tears from my eyes. You are one of my biggest inspirations. .
    thanks to your heart of gold and beautiful words that you share with us today (and everyday), I logged onto the Compassion website just an hour ago and submitted an application to sponsor my first child. My heart is full. Thank you!!!

  • Rikki - Ashley, it’s not often I find myself filled with emotion when I log in and scroll through my favorite blogs and recent posts. I had things to tend to, but I really thought I’d give myself a few minutes, see if I can find any inspiration. I clicked on yours, and instead, I received much more. So much love and compassion and inspiration, I’m so inspired by you and all that you do and share in this space. For other moms like me, and those who sometimes get wrapped up in the little things, it’s a breath of fresh air to be reminded that the world is so much bigger and our hearts have more capacity to love and to give.

  • Rebecca - Thank you so much for posting this. My daughter wanted to sponsor a child for the past 3 years and in December, she started sponsoring her first child (with my help). She just turned 18 and got a job and reminds herself she is working for her ‘little one’ Nicole. Her dream and mine is to be able to visit Nicole one day. Your post shows that it is a possible dream to reach! And thank you for the reminder that in reality, by sponsoring Nicole, we also sponsor her family, not only monetarily, but through our thoughts and prayers. I hope to have pictures such as yours to share with others one day to show them the real work that Compassion does! Thank you!

  • Yvonne Reynolds - I love how God connects us with our sponsored children. He knows which child needs our love and support, and He knows how that connection is going to make an impact on our own lives.

  • Carmen - I got all tears as soon as I saw the photo of you hugging this beautiful mama. Thanks for sharing xo

  • AshleyAnn - Rebecca – it sounds like you have an amazing daughter. Thank you for sharing her (and your) story with me!

  • AshleyAnn - Rikki – Thank you for your kind words. Make no mistake – I get wrapped up in little things too! Often what I write here is reminders to myself :) I’m so glad you stopped by my blog and visited today. Thank you.

  • AshleyAnn - Michelle – YAY!!! I can’t tell you how incredibly happy it makes me to hear you sponsored a child. Thank you! We have friends that have sponsored for 20+ years – it will be as much a gift to you as to your sponsored child. Thank you.

  • AshleyAnn - Kimber – I am so thrilled that you are considering looking into Compassion. If you have any questions, let me know. I may not be able to answer them, but I am sure I know someone that could!

  • Catherine - Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I am happy that you have an opportunity to visit the child that you sponsor. It is one of the most endearing blessings from God that you could ever receive. I have sponsored my little girl in Bolivia since she was 4 years old. She is now 12. Every day I pray that God will keep her safe from evil and wrap her in His arms. I will never be able to visit her or put my arms around her because visiting is financially impossible for me. A visit from their sponsor is one thing sponsored children long for, and it grieves me that I will never be able to do that. Thank you for visiting your child and making a commitment to continue to sponsor him in all circumstances. Love your blog and your photos.

  • To this world: I think I’ve been looking at you all wrong | A Holy Experience - […] and this week she’s leading Ruth from Gracelaced.com, Shannan from Flower Patch Farmgirl, and Ashley from Under the Sycamore through Ecuador. Will you join them this week for the 14th Compassion Blogger Trip and their […]

  • Debbie - Such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring us to become sponsors.

  • Traci Gray - powerful…life-giving..life-changing. wow. thanks for allowing us to see this journey. praying for you and Corbett to embrace everything that God is speaking to you through your time there.

  • Six Blog Posts I Needed To Read | The Lettered Cottage - […] 1. Coming Alongside Her […]

  • An Open Letter to the Girls of Manta (Guest Post) - life{in}grace - […] This week I am in Ecuador with Compassion for our 14th Compassion Blogger Trip. Enter this with us? Read more stories about our time in Ecuador from Ruth at GraceLaced.com, Shannan from FlowerPatch Farmgirl , and Ashley from Under the Sycamore. […]