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Category Archives: Compassion

Her Pain. Your Pain. Hide No More.

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Beauty.

Gnashing.

Gnawing.

Love.

Truth.

Justice.

Know.

Know justice.

No justice.

The story is mine, He declares. The story is mine.

She’s yearning to break free. Yearning to break loose.

Justice is on her side. Justice.

Weep no more, I declare. Weep no more.

For the day is coming.

I will prevail.

Fear not, dear ones. Fear not.

Come to me all who are weary. Come.

My burden is light.

My yoke is easy.

Fear not.

I am tried and true.

True.

Truth.

It will set you free. Indeed.

The light, the truth, the way. I am.

Seek justice. Justice.

On earth as it is in heaven.

Surrender your lives.

For the sake of others.

Your yearning is hers.

Her pain is yours.

Her breath is yours.

Her pain. Your pain.

Hear her.

Hide no more.

Hide no more.

Monica Anderson Palmer - Amen and amenJuly 7, 2016 – 7:31 pm

Not by Blood, but Through Compassion

It’s a great pleasure to introduce you to Amanda who’s sharing her unique journey to and through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas. I met Amanda in January on a sponsor trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. We connected richly and authentically on multiple occasions including a bus ride, a home visit, and a dinner. Amanda is the one who agreed with me quietly in passing that our lunch with mamas and babes was like heaven. Amanda is the one who sought me, found me and hugged me big when I was trying to gather myself that morning I completely lost it. Needless to say, we became fast friends and have stayed in touch via Facebook ever since. Amanda is one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever met. She’s mama to one sweet boy and “madrina” (Godmother) to eight children through Compassion International. Please welcome Amanda. She’s one very special mama.

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If you had asked me in college what my life was going to look like, I would have told you that by my mid to late twenties, I would be married and have two children. As is often the case, God had other plans.

There are two things that you should know about me. The first is that my whole life I’ve wanted to be a mom. The second is that in my early teen years I had very irregular periods. My OB at the time told me there was a slight possibility that I might have trouble getting pregnant, but there was no way to know until I actually tried to get pregnant.

My husband and I got married when I was 26 years old. We decided that we wanted to wait a little bit before starting our family. To have some time together before we had kids.

In my perfect world, I wanted to have one child and then adopt a little girl from China. Long before I met my husband, I had heard about a Chinese adoption agency and truly felt like it was something God was calling me to do.

When my husband and I finally decided that we would start trying for a baby, things didn’t seem to be going well. I saw my OBGYN, who quickly sent me to see a fertility specialist. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Basically, my body wouldn’t ovulate. No ovulation, means no egg. No egg, means no baby. And so I began to journey down the road of infertility.

I began the process of taking hormones to try to force my body to ovulate. It was an emotional roller coaster for months on end, complicated by the fact that I have biochemical depression. I was SO angry with God! Why would He give me such a desire to be a mother and then not allow me to be?!? It made no sense to me!

And then it happened – two pink lines! I was FINALLY pregnant! I had a smooth, easy pregnancy. However, my son decided to make quite an entrance into the world! He arrived June 13th instead of July 13th via emergency C-section. I was fully dilated when we got to the hospital and he was breech. He was coming so quickly that I had to be put under full anesthesia.

But God was so faithful! Although my precious baby Jonah was only 4 pounds 15 ounces when he was born, he was perfectly healthy, only spent three hours in the NICU, and was able to come home with us. I could hardly believe it — I was a mom!

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In the months that followed, I quickly began to realize that I was not going to have any more children. Pregnancy had changed my body chemistry so much that I went into a deep depression. It took the next two years for my doctors to figure out what medications would get me to a stable place. I knew that for my family’s sake, I couldn’t risk going into another depression just to have another child.

And that’s when the calling to adopt that I had heard so many years ago from God started running through my head. But every time it came to mind, I just felt so overwhelmed at the thought of dealing with two children! So for years I carried this horrible guilt that I wasn’t doing what I felt like God had called me to do.

When my son was about nine months old, I was finally able to get my dream job. I had always wanted to work in ministry and was able to get a job working in the call center at Compassion International. If you’ve ever worked in a call center, you know that it is one of the worst jobs to have. Yet, I was making outbound calls asking for money, and I LOVED my job!

My husband and I had already been sponsoring a little girl in Guatemala for a few years. But when I began working at Compassion I found out about the correspondence program. There are some sponsors who are unable or unwilling to write to their children. So they give financially to support the child and a correspondent is assigned to do the letter writing. I immediately signed up for a correspondent child. And then another. My husband suggested that I had enough, but I told him that since it didn’t cost anything, that I would have as many as I darn well pleased!

One night, after I had been working at Compassion for several months, I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook and clicked on a link to a random woman’s blog. The only reason I clicked on it was because she mentioned Compassion. She was struggling with infertility and was in the process of adopting from China. I clicked on another link which took me to the Chinese adoption agency’s website — it was the same agency I had heard about all those years ago! I began reading through the requirements to apply to adopt. As I reached the section about health requirements and read that you could not be on medication to treat any type of mental health issue, in that moment I quietly heard God whisper, “I don’t want this for you anymore. You will have many children, not by blood, but through Compassion.” And immediately this immense weight was lifted from my shoulders! I knew God no longer wanted me to adopt. He wanted me to be a “mom” to Compassion children who simply needed letters letting them know that they are loved, cared for and prayed over!

Writing to these children has been such an incredible blessing to me! I tell each of them that I NEVER want to replace their mothers, but that I hope they can think of me like a second mother or “madrina,” Spanish for Godmother. I make sure they know how much they are loved and encourage them to dream big and that they can do anything that they put their minds to! I had no self-esteem as a child, and I never want these kids to feel the way I did.

This past January I traveled on my first Compassion trip to the Dominican Republic, which is where I met our dear Amy. While I was there, I had the opportunity to meet a little boy with whom I correspond. His name is David and he is 10 years old. When David was assigned to me in April 2014, he had been in the program for two years and had never received a single letter! Between April 2014 and January 2015, I sent him four letters.

AmandaDavidOn the day I got to spend with David, I asked his tutor, “Have you seen a change in David since he started receiving my letters?” She looked at me and very firmly said, “Yes, I have!” She went on to explain that before my letters David was very shy, withdrawn and quiet. But since receiving my letters, he seemed so much happier, more open and less shy. Wow! I was blown away! How amazing that a few simple words and some stickers could make such a difference to a child! But to these children, a piece of paper and stickers translates into, I love you!

A few weeks after I returned home, I received another letter from David. It was the 3rd letter I’d received from him and it was written the middle of November. This was weeks before he knew that I was coming to visit. I sat in my living room that night and cried for an hour as I read his letter over and over again. I could see the change that his tutor told me about! I posted the story that night on my Facebook page and introduced everyone to my second son.

I am proud to say that I am currently writing to eight children! I have a full-time job, a husband and a toddler at home, but I make time to write these children. Because I know my words of love will change their lives and hopefully help them feel the love of Christ.

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No matter what “being a mom” does or doesn’t look like in your life, I want to encourage you that being a mother can take on many faces! Having the title of mother doesn’t mean you have to have given birth. So, I’d like to challenge you to consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International. You can make a difference in a child’s life! And if it’s not something that is financially possible for you, then please contact Compassion about being a correspondent. Will you accept my challenge?

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Amanda and I would LOVE to see some kids sponsored today! Perhaps you’ll sponsor a child through Compassion International in honor of Amanda’s beautiful story?! Perhaps you’ll sponsor in honor of your mom, in honor of special mamas who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. Perhaps you’ll sponsor because your heart beats hard and heavy for children living in extreme poverty, and you’re ready to give and receive like never before. Click here to be connected to Compassion International’s website where you can view hundreds of beautiful children waiting for a sponsor. Let’s rally around these kiddos. Let’s show them what love looks like, what hope looks like from here.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

www.unveiled-photography.comThis post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 13 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

Terri Siebert - I loved this story, how amazing and faithful is our God! Thanks so much for sharing this!May 11, 2015 – 12:30 am

Tom Baunsgard - A wonderful story Amanda, you truly show God’s love in accepting his role for you as a “madrina” to all these lovely kids and Mom to your own son. Amy, Thank you for sharing this Special Mama with us all. Blessings Abound!May 8, 2015 – 5:58 pm

Michelle Kelly - This is a beautiful story and testimony to the faithfulness of God. Thank you for sharing!May 8, 2015 – 2:38 pm

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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It’s true, you know. It’s really true.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I love taking pictures. Photography is the one thing besides writing that I’ve done consistently since I was a little girl. I just purchased my dream camera and lens in September 2014, and was particularly looking forward to using it on our sponsor trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. So you can imagine how upset I was when I realized I’d forgotten my charged camera battery in the hotel room on the most important day of our trip, the day we met our sponsored children. It had been a really tough morning for me the way it was. The fact that my camera battery was missing was the last straw.

Looking back, I realize that perhaps God was releasing me from photography that day. Yes, He knows, acknowledges and loves that I love photography. He built that love in me. But I think God wanted me to step away from the camera so I could give and receive whole-heartedly. He wanted me to step away from the camera so I could love, serve and just BE with my sponsored child, Meranyelis.

Here’s the awesome thing. God provided. In big and mighty ways.

God knew that I’d be devastated if I didn’t have any pictures from the day with my sponsored child. He knew how much I value those treasured moments. And He knew how often I’d refer back to those pictures, reliving our time together for months and years to come. So He put a photographer in my path that morning, a photographer who was willing to take photos for us anytime we wanted as we went about our day.

God sent Lairsz Johnston to photograph the day I spent with my sponsored child, Meranyelis. And boy, did Lairsz capture some amazing moments! I continue to be blessed by his art. Not only is Lairsz super funny, but he’s full of wisdom and willing to go deep at the drop of a hat. Thank you, Lairsz. You are amazing.

And thank God for sending Lairsz when all of my “perfect” plans seemed to be crumbling in front of my eyes.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I can’t think of a better way to wrap up this blog series about my sponsor trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International than to share some of the beautiful photographs Lairsz captured the day I met Meranyelis. These photos are a gift. They show my heart for children living in extreme poverty. They show the impact of sponsorship on a sponsored child. They show what it’s like to take a sponsor trip and meet your sponsored child face to face. And they show the heart of Compassion International.

This is what sponsorship looks like. This is what sponsorship feels like. This is Compassion International.

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Will you sponsor a child through Compassion International? It’s $38 a month to sponsor one child. Sponsorship releases children from extreme poverty, and provides them hope for a better future. As you can see from the photographs in this post, the investment is worth every penny and more. So click here, take a peek at all of the children who are waiting for a sponsor, and take a risk. Change a life. Become a sponsor.

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This blog post is part of a three-week series I’m writing about my journey to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. Click here to read all the posts from my series.

If your heart has been touched by the words in this blog post, would you be so kind as to share it with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and via email? I would be oh so grateful. The more we spread the word about Compassion and the great work they’re doing, the more sweet children will be released from extreme poverty. Thank you, friends!

greensig

 

 

 

Karen Selby - Hey Amy, I was finally able to sit down and read all your posts. Thank You! Your writing is amazing and you reflected several things that felt when I met you and it is awesome to read the work God did in your heart as you progressed through this. The post about being empty reminded me of a time when someone said and I remembered and could find no other words except to repeat it when I needed it. God can only fill empty vessels. The giving and receiving is an area I am growing in and I will message you about the 3rd.January 24, 2015 – 9:36 pm

Amy - Thank you, Yvonne. It’s an honor to advocate for the children and Compassion. I’m tremendously humbled when I consider the fact that I’ve been able to experience two sponsor trips with Compassion. I’d take the trips again in a heartbeat, and will recommend them without reservation to anyone who asks me about my experiences in the future.January 20, 2015 – 8:59 pm

Amy - Thank you, Bri. It was a true delight to spend the day with her. Words don’t adequately express how good it was for my soul. That’s why I love the pictures. They say it all. :)January 20, 2015 – 8:42 pm

Yvonne Reynolds - Absolutely beautiful, the post, the photos, and your heart for Compassion! Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us!January 20, 2015 – 12:19 pm

Bri McKoy - I love how much you loved on and engaged your sponsored child, Amy! These pictures capture both hearts so beautifully! XoxoJanuary 20, 2015 – 10:53 am

How a Formerly Sponsored Child Taught Me Anything’s Possible

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On our last day in the Dominican Republic, Yulesi, Diana and Jonathan came to the front of the room to share their testimonies with our group. All three grew up in extreme poverty as children. All three had been enrolled in Compassion International’s Child Development Sponsorship Program. And all three completed the program successfully. Yulesi is in medical school and wants to be a cardiovascular surgeon. Diana will begin college in April and wants to be an ambassador. And Jonathan already obtained his college degree; he hosts groups who come to the Dominican Republic to meet their sponsored children and see the good work Compassion International is doing with children living in extreme poverty. As a child, Jonathan received from Compassion International. Now, he’s giving back to the organization by leading groups like ours.

The formerly sponsored children shared powerful words…

“I don’t care about money, I just want to show God’s love.”

“Financial support is important, but a single word can change a life.”

“Don’t conform yourself with what THEY do.”

“Don’t wait for people to tell you what to do.”

“Be yourself wherever you are.”

My heart was on fire. I wanted to know what was next. I wanted God to reveal His plan for my life. I wanted to continue this good work for Compassion and children living in extreme poverty. And I wanted to do everything I could to ensure that the future I desperately longed for would happen.

But here’s the thing. I’d just spent the week learning that God’s desire is for me to be fully surrendered to His plan. He doesn’t want me to know what’s ahead. He doesn’t want me to have my life perfectly planned out. He doesn’t want me to schedule and prepare and execute everything perfectly in advance. He just wants me to remain open, with a heart willing to listen, obey and serve. He wants me to trust that everything He has planned is better than anything I could ever imagine.

So I clung to the fire that rung true in my soul. I encouraged the formerly sponsored children who were now fully-functioning adults and leaders. I gave them hugs. We talked. And we took pictures together so we could remember.

All the while, I had an idea brewing in my mind. I wanted to know if it was possible, or if I was just dreaming up crazy things. I had a hunch that one of these three formerly sponsored children could provide insight into my idea.

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Jonathan said something to our group that struck a chord with my soul. So after we cleared the room and before we left for the afternoon, I just knew I had to pull him aside. I wanted to ask him a couple of follow-up questions, and I needed to know if my idea was possible or totally far fetched.

So I pulled Jonathan aside. Our interaction was two minutes long at most. Two minutes with Jonathan – a formerly sponsored child and now a successful, fully-functioning adult – was all I needed.

I asked him a couple questions about his presentation at lunch and quickly realized that I needed to be more straight forward. Within seconds, I cut to the chase and found myself sharing the idea with Jonathan. I just wanted to know if it was possible.

Jonathan’s eyes lit up as he confirmed, “Yes, it’s possible! I will pray for you. God bless you!” We smiled the biggest smiles. We hugged. And we parted ways.

I felt hope. I knew this day-old idea was possible. And I began wondering if it was from God.

Later, I asked Jonathan for a picture. Because I’m big on pictures for remembering. And I wanted to remember this moment just in case, just in case this was God’s idea and Jonathan, a formerly sponsored child, was the one who encouraged me from the start. I wanted to remember this moment for the future, for when I needed to be reminded that anything is possible.

The greatest gift we can receive from a formerly sponsored child is to know, without a doubt, that anything’s possible.

I traveled 2,000 miles to hear Jonathan testify to God’s truth…

Anything is possible.


Compassion International provides hope to children living in extreme poverty. Through their holistic child development model, they teach children that anything is possible. Will you sponsor a child today? It’s $38 a month and worth every single penny and more. Click here to check out the Compassion website where thousands of children are waiting to be sponsored. 

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This blog post is part of a three-week series I’m writing about my journey to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. Click here to read all the posts from the series!

If your heart has been touched by the words in this blog post, would you be so kind as to share it with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and via email? I would be oh so grateful. The more we spread the word about Compassion and the great work they’re doing, the more sweet children will be released from extreme poverty. Thank you, friends!

greensig

 

 

Vicki Thunstrom - I love this Amy! I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through you! :)January 19, 2015 – 3:29 pm

A Best Friend for Eternity

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When our group arrived at the Compassion Child Development Center, we headed straight upstairs for lunch. We’d spent all morning visiting homes, so we understood the reality of what it looks like to live in extreme poverty. Without a doubt, one of the most humbling gifts that comes from a trip to visit your sponsored child is witnessing joy and hope amidst extreme poverty.

We were told to find a table and seat ourselves next to a mama and her precious babe. Most of the tables were already full, but as I entered, I noticed a seat available next to a beautiful mama and her sweet baby girl. I sat without hesitation.

Mama’s smile was radiant. Her skin, dark ebony. Her eyes told the story of her life. And as far as I was concerned? She was glowing with love and authenticity. This was going to be amazing.

We went around the table and made introductions. Dominick translated for us. I told her about my family, that I had a husband and three children, 12, 9 and 3 years of age. She smiled warmly and told me that she, too, had three children, a 10-year-old, a 5-year-old, and 2-year-old Megan. Sometimes as mamas, we just need to know someone understands our life. Anna recognized herself in me, and I recognized myself in her. The connection was obvious from the start.

Anna and her daughter, Megan, participate in Compassion’s Child Survival Program. Compassion International is passionate about ensuring childrens’ well-being, even before they enter the sponsorship program. So mamas and babies receive support as they journey through the reality of parenting and living in extreme poverty. Anna and her daughter have been the recipients of this great gift. Anna knows this is “substance to get through.”

Throughout the meal, Anna shared her story of everyday life in extreme poverty. It was humbling to be in her presence.

Anna had the opportunity to take a nail painting class that Compassion offers for moms. So Anna paints nails and cleans houses as a way to generate income for her family as she’s able. After her 10-year-old daughter heads to school in the morning, Anna brings the two youngest children to a friend’s house where they’re cared for while Anna works. Anna pays for the child care, but can’t afford all-day care.

So mid-day, when the 10-year-old is done with school, she walks to the friend’s house, picks up the 5-year-old and 2-year-old, and brings them back home. From then on out, the 10-year-old is responsible for watching the younger two. There’s no one else to watch them while Anna’s at work. Anna’s family lives far away, and her husband’s family is “not aware when she needs help.” So Anna has to “figure it out on her own.” She taught her three children from a very young age to take care of each other. When they’re home alone, Anna locks the door and gives her oldest daughter the key. She tells them to stay inside, and they do. This might sound risky to us, but this is the day-to-day reality of surviving in extreme poverty. Anna loves her children and does her best to provide what they need.

Anna’s baby, Megan, isn’t in the sponsorship program yet. She’s only two. But Compassion provides food and medicine for Megan. They offer wisdom for Anna’s parenting journey, as well as as education and encouragement so she can provide and be the mama she wants to be. In another year, when Megan’s old enough to enroll in Compassion’s sponsorship program, she’ll be in a much better place than she would have been otherwise. Living in extreme poverty is more bearable when you have hope for your child’s future.

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“It’s good,” said Anna. “It’s just good.”

Anna revealed much of herself during our two hours together at lunch. We smiled. And we laughed. We discussed the hard realities of life in extreme poverty. But most of all? We felt joy. There was great peace in that place, at the table that day.

It didn’t take long for me to recognize that Anna was one of those rare people I’ve found in life that I know, without a doubt, could be a best friend – if only we lived closer. I sensed it in the deepest parts of me. This brave, beautiful woman living in extreme poverty was best friend material.

I imagined Anna and I chatting over lunch, with the kids running and playing. I imagined us at church together, singing together. I imagined this woman, with a life so different than mine, being my best friend.

I knew this was true. I knew this was right.

Anna lives in extreme poverty. I live in relative wealth. The reality is, we won’t ever be best friends here on earth. But God made us friends. He brought us together for one day on earth, so we could recognize each other as best friends in heaven. He promises unity in eternity, together forever, in heaven.

Then, we’ll know.

Then, we’ll go.

It’s time friend. It’s time to fellowship. As friends, best friends.

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I could barely contain my tears as I sat at the lunch table next to Anna that afternoon in the Compassion Child Development Center. I took it all in. God’s love washed over me. His vision for His people was clear. This is what heaven looks like. This is what heaven feels like. Moments later, Amanda, another sponsor on the trip, approached and shared quietly “I’m in heaven. I always loved Compassion, but now I’m sold.” I sat in wonder, tears readied to burst free.

A sentence came to mind as clear as day. I broke out my journal and wrote it, right there at the table as I sat next to Anna and Megan, so I wouldn’t forget.

This is a constant joy and grieving of what we see could be and will be, with what is.

Anna and I got up from the table, walked down the stairs of the Compassion Child Development Center, and strolled slowly down the street to her local church. I soaked in the moment once more.

We sat next to each other in a big circle of chairs at church. I was one foot away from Anna as she shared how Compassion has helped her so much. I was there to see little ones run wild and free, just like our littles back home. I was there to witness her friendship with other mamas and babies served by Compassion

We were there to hug good bye. We were there to bid farewell with love. We were there to go with hope.

We’re all living in poverty, really. We’re all in need of something greater to hold us together, to give us hope, to give us a reason to keep on living. For me and Anna, it’s God, sweet Jesus. Our love for Compassion International unites us. Compassion gives us “substance to get through.”

Between now and heaven, I’ll wait courageously, knowing God will reunite us someday. Between now and heaven, I’ll rest in peace, knowing Anna and her sweet girl, Megan, are in good hands with Compassion International. They’re in God’s good hands. Before long, Megan will be eligible for a sponsor. I pray her sponsor will fully grasp the gift they’ve been given. I pray her sponsor will know the beauty of child sponsorship, so it won’t be as much about the financial support as it is about the sharing of hearts through letters, love and friendship.


Will you sponsor a child today? The impact you have when you sponsor a child is incredible, immeasurable. Your sponsorship means so much to those living in extreme poverty. We can’t imagine what it’s like to live in such poverty, but we can extend a hand and say “I’m here. You can do this. We can do this together.” Let’s give. Let’s receive. Let’s live as friends, united with one purpose. To love one another. Click here to sponsor a child.

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This blog post is part of a three-week series I’m writing about my journey to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. Click here to read all the posts from my series!

Be sure to check out my fellow travelers’ most recent blog posts! Kris Camealy wrote a beautiful post about hospitality amidst poverty with “Generous Hands Are Blessed Hands,” and Sandra Heska King wrote a sweet post about a 45-year old single man, Luke, who visited his sponsored child, titled “What Happens When Sponsor Meets Child.”

If your heart has been touched by the words in this blog post, would you be so kind as to share it with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and via email? I would be oh so grateful. The more we spread the word about Compassion and the great work they’re doing, the more sweet children will be released from extreme poverty. Thank you, friends!

greensig

 

 

 

Denise Korman - You are incredible woman. God bless you and keep you safe on your journeys. You and your family will be in my prayers in the next several weeks I pray that all goes well!January 17, 2015 – 5:42 pm

Denise Korman - Amy I am truly humbled by your efforts to help these people in need. No child should be hungry, have no clothing,Live in squalor just to get by day by day. Amy God has given you the well and power to help these people in these poor countriesJanuary 17, 2015 – 5:36 pm

Dominick Gonzalez - Oh, thank you for putting into words what can sometimes be so difficult to express.January 16, 2015 – 5:40 pm

Dominick Gonzalez - I have tears thinking back on our lunch and the time we had with this young lady, Anna, and her daughter. It was a divine appointment and a time of mutual encouragement.January 16, 2015 – 5:35 pm

Carol Femling - If I had the extra $, I would sponsor this little girl! Thanks to Compassion International for their help to people like this!! Great posting, Amy! Thanks for sharing! I am anxious to visit with you about your trip!January 16, 2015 – 2:48 pm