In this article:
- A Canadian mom travels to Honduras to see the difference sponsorship makes.
- Reflections on motherhood from meeting her sponsored child’s mom.
- Five ways families can practice gratitude and generosity.
I met Maria two years ago. It was a hot summer day, the smell of fried fish and french fries mixed with the salty ocean air from the local restaurant along Tela Beach in Honduras. I remember taking it all in. The sights. The smells. The warmth of the sun on my skin. I remember thinking that although this beach wasn’t far from Maria’s home, it was likely Maria’s first time here as well because of the limited transportation in her neighbourhood.
What brought us together that day was David.
David is my sponsor child and Maria’s oldest son. I chose to sponsor him at a church event a few years ago, wondering if I’d ever meet the young boy with the wide smile. What I didn’t realize was that in just a few short years, I would see him face-to-face.
As a new mom of twin boys, my mama’s heart was moved when I read that his mother, Maria, was a young widow about my age, working two jobs to provide for her own two young boys. And little David, at just four years old, was helping with chores like carrying water, making beds and running errands for the family.
The contrast between my life in Canada and the lives of this family in Honduras was shocking. At four years old, the closest thing my twin boys have to chores is making their beds and cleaning up their toys.
But how different would our day-to-day life look if I parented alone? If we had to walk a long distance to get our water? Or occasionally skip a meal because we simply didn’t have food or the means to buy it?
Two worlds collide
Fast-forward three years, David is now seven, and here we are standing face-to-face. Two worlds collide during a brief afternoon visit. As David and I embraced for the first time, his mother Maria radiated joy. Between mouthfuls of french fries covered with ketchup, David shared about the things he likes to do at his Compassion centre, his favourite scripture verse from Bible class and his deep love for soccer.
As he chatted away, Maria beamed with motherly pride. When Maria finally spoke, she shared how her boy–once incredibly shy—is now joyful, social and energetic.
David is now full of hopes and dreams. I can’t imagine him any other way.
Maria shared about how the amazing change in David came because of the love and value poured into him at his Compassion centre.
It’s incredible how this little boy now thrives, and is embracing life to its fullest. I couldn’t help but wonder what David’s life would be like today if Maria didn’t follow God’s lead to register her son at the local Compassion centre.
That’s when it struck me: Maria and I aren’t that different from each other. In fact, I think we are more alike than we both imagined.
More similar than different
Although Maria and I live in completely different circumstances, we are both mothers with a deep longing to care and provide for the little ones God has blessed us with. We both have the desire to see our boys grow and mature into responsible young men, to encourage them to dream about their future.
We’re both doing our best to raise young boys. I just happen to live on a farm in southern Ontario. Maria lives in a home in Pueblo Nuevo made of mud and tin. But we’re equally happy. And when we met each other on that warm, sandy beach, it was clear that the motherhood bond we share is what links us together.
There wasn’t awkwardness like you might expect. From the moment we met, there was a mutual understanding and admiration for one another that surpassed all our differences, and I believe it’s because we both want what is best for David.
We spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and playing in the sand with David. We ran in the water and chased each other with a game of soccer, stopping far too often to catch our breath as David out-paced us, our insides raw with laughter.
To whom much is given, much is required
Today, thanks to Maria, I understand more than ever the honour and privilege I have of speaking into David’s life as well as the lives of my own children. Although the hardships Maria and her boys have had to face don’t seem fair, I’ve learned from the determination she shows every day to keep going and to always seek the best for her boys.
I’m choosing to take my responsibility to live simply in Christ more seriously so I can help others with the plenty I have been given. I’m choosing to live out these words of Jesus: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)
Practically speaking, I’ve implemented some changes at home to help my family recognize the privileges we experience every day.
Here are five ways we’re choosing to live with a grateful and generous heart:
- We eat out less often. This simple practice helps us to spend less so we can better steward our food and our finances.
- When we say our bedtime prayers, I encourage the boys to not only thank Jesus for another day, but to thank Him for each person in their life, for the little moments that brought them joy, and the cozy bed under the big roof that helps keep them safe out of harm’s way.
- I regularly shop at second hand stores for clothing and toys, giving new life to items that someone else no longer needs.
- I talk often about our two sponsor children and encourage the boys to draw them both pictures while I handwrite our letters.
- I make and sell crafts in my spare time, donating some of the proceeds to charity.
In retrospect, meeting David and his mother Maria that sunny afternoon really changed the way I think. For that, I’m forever thankful. It taught me many things and gave me a more in-depth understanding of the struggles Maria faces day in and day out and how her brave decision to register David in Compassion’s program helped to change the life of her family.
I also understand her heart for her sons. I hope that I too can make an impact as David’s sponsor and continue to find creative ways to ensure my own boys flourish into the young men God intends them to be. My prayer is that they will think of others more often than themselves, be generous, kind and compassionate.
I’m so grateful I met Maria.