Compassion International was a name that I knew well as a child. Our youth group sponsored a “Compassion child”, my brother and his girlfriend “adopted” a Compassion child. When I was a teenager and traveled to Ecuador, I too selected a Compassion child — a girl named Katherine.
I wrote her letters, sent her photos and postcards. I wanted to connect with her. I even got to meet Katherine once, and her brother and mother and aunt. Katherine graduated several years ago. I hope and pray her education is serving her well.
By that time, I had come across the idea of selecting a child the same age and gender, perhaps with the same birthday, as your own child so they can be pen pals. Though I didn’t have any children of my own yet, I thought this was a brilliant idea as it could also help teach privileged children that they are really more like impoverished children than different. It can teach children in a self-centered culture about other parts of the world. It can expand horizons and develop character.
After Fiona was born, we found a little girl born on the same day in Uganda and immediately signed up to sponsor her. Her name is Esther.
I instantly started envisioning Fiona and Esther exchanging letters. I saw Fiona learning about Uganda, and sharing about her experiences here in the U.S. I even pictured taking Fiona to Uganda some day to meet her friend.
What I didn’t count on was the connection I instantly felt to Esther’s mom.
Do you realize that she was laboring with Esther at EXACTLY the same time I was laboring with Fiona? Two moms enduring the pains and experiencing the joys of childbirth across the world from each other. And now, Esther is probably learning to walk and talk and getting molars and not sleeping through the night.
Her mom is probably experiencing the same struggles of keeping it all together and providing while also playing with her little girl, helping her develop. Esther probably has bumps and bruises from trying to run before she can walk too. Esther’s mom probably holds her little girl swaying and murmuring comforting tones when she gets sick. Esther’s mom bathes her and plays with her and sees her bright little mind making so many connections. Esther’s mom has such hopes and dreams for the future of her little girl.
Yes, I want to teach Fiona that she is so much like Esther. I hope and pray that our support will give Esther a better future. And I hope and pray that Esther’s presence in Fiona’s life will teach her about compassion and philanthropy and poverty and humanity. And I hope and pray that Esther’s mom will never feel alone in this journey of motherhood.
I think about her sometimes. I see Fiona hit another developmental milestone and I think, is Esther doing that yet? I see Fiona struggle through teething and colds and growth spurts, and I wonder, is Esther’s mom up all night too? I watch my friends and family love on my daughter and I wonder, what is Esther’s “village” like?
This precious little girl on the other side of the planet and her heroic mama (for I’m sure she is heroic) are teaching me great lessons. They are inspiring me.
If we are blessed with another child, we will find him or her a Compassion friend as well. And I will be better prepared for the impact to my own heart, mama to mama.