Way back when hubby and I were first married we decided to sponsor our very first Compassion child through Compassion International. I had no idea then, that one day, I would be allowed the gift of friendship from the Philippines, beyond her time in the program.
Below is an email I received from Bernadette in May 2009. To our great joy, she found us earlier that year on the web from our family website!
Have you checked paper quilling yet? I’m excited to start my paper quilling project and I hope I could finish it next week. there’s still a lot of paper cutting to do but hopefully I could get it done tomorrow since it’s my rest day from work.
I’m getting married this December… we haven’t set the date yet but I’ll tell you once we have decided on that. My fiance’s name is Mark Ian Cajurao. I met him at Baptist Bible Seminary and Institute where we both graduated. He was my classmate. He is 4 years older than me. He is a pastor and is currently the coordinator of the Kids to Kids ministry – a ministry of a church in the US wherein the kids and youth at that church help other kids know Christ by helping
them get education by providing financial support. He told me that the kids and youth in that church save some amount from their allowance and do car wash during the weekends to have something to give to the poor kids. I sometimes help
him especially with translating the letters and buying stuff for the kids.
I can still remember the time when I was just like these kids…struggling to get out of poverty by getting an education. As I look back at those times in my life I can only thank God that we were able to experience those times because that is the time we realized we need God in our lives and that we need to strive hard. I really learned to value the little things I have, thank God for it and rely on what He will do. And I really thank God for people like you who have the heart for other people.
Anyway, I hope I can send our pictures next week… and maybe I could also tell you some of my adventures in college on my next email…
I love you…
Last weekend, after seeing some wonderful Compassion International Blogger posts, I sent a note to Bernadette to ask if she’d be interested in helping me do a blog about how she and I came to know each other.
This blog helped me to have a beautiful window into the world of a Compassion Child. Reading her account had me in tears, I had not known the impact of a letter. It is humbling to see the power of God’s love at work in a life. We have not written as faithfully to our current “C.C.”, Oliver who is in Bolivia and I feel ashamed about that. When Bernadette came into our lives, we were “DINKs”, double income, no kids and I couldn’t wait to become a mother. God gave us something very special with this incredible young woman back then…and now, more than I could have ever hoped for.
I’ve been listening to a book on my Mp3, called Crazy Love, by Francis Chan, in one chapter he speaks of how blessed Americans are materially. Even in tough times, the average American has far more than the majority of those living around the world. The cost of his book is equal to a weeks wages in some countries. We are a blessed nation and most of us truly do not know the meaning of poverty. There was a time when my family pretty much lived on potatoes when I was a kid, but even so, we had “wealth” of a good, safe house that many kids may never know.
I am thankful that there are some organizations like Compassion International who do what they do well. I am so thankful that God brought a sweet little girl named Bernadette into our lives to love almost 20 years ago. What a blessing she has been to us, over and over. I love this young woman who is across an ocean from me and am so happy she agreed to share her life with those who may read my blog!
I asked her the following questions 1. How old were you when you became a “Compassion Child”? 2. How did that change your daily life? 3. How did Compassion International help your family by helping you? 4. Please share with us about your life today and what you’re doing. She wrote a beautiful account of what God has done through this wonderful organization. I left it in the form she posted on her notes on Facebook, the “Project JaBer” is too cute to leave out!
If I would describe my life in just two words, those two words would be “God’s Grace!”
I became a Compassion Child when I was 10 years old. I was in fourth grade then and my mother just gave birth to my youngest brother. It was a big leap of faith for my family back then since I have to transfer from a government school to a church school and my family would have to spend additional money for my fare, snacks, and lunch. (The school where I used to go before I transferred is only a few minutes’ walk from home and my parents give me only 2pesos to buy bread or porridge at school.) It was also difficult for me as well since I will have to go to school alone. I was almost hit by a vehicle 2 times (but of course I did not tell my family about it) and almost fell off a jeepney countless times but thank God I’m still alive!
I also have to adjust because I will have new classmates and teachers. But what excited me most is the thought that my parents will not take care of my tuition fee and I get a chance to study in a good school. I also thought I wouldn’t be a big burden for my family since Compassion International gives us free school supplies, books, and school uniform.
Compassion International became an avenue for my family to know the Lord Jesus Christ. We were Catholics and my mother and father are really firm on what they believed. Compassion International’s partnership with the church in providing spiritual nurturing to parents and us, Compassion children, led my whole family to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was really funny because at first, my parents only see it as a requirement for me to remain in the program and in the honor roll (since Sunday School is part of Christian Values/Values Education). If they feel like they don’t want to attend Sunday School, they would send one of my sisters! Eventually, my eldest sister got saved!
Compassion International also encouraged us and helped us in times of calamities. When a storm hit our province, they sent us food and some materials to repair our wrecked home. I really love it when one of Compassion International Philippines representatives, John Castro, would visit us at school, take our pictures, and say words of encouragement to us.
Not only that, through Compassion International, I was able to meet new friends who also became my second parents, my sponsors, Steve and Jami.
Jami, The letters you sent me became my source of confidence. When my parents would fight and I go to school without any sleep, I would read your letters and I’m comforted because I know I’ve got friends praying for my family. When I’m being looked down by others because I’m poor, you sent me verses telling me God loves and takes care of the needy. When people say I’m not pretty, you told me that God made me special and that you are happy God made me. When my parents could not give me gifts for Christmas, you have sent me stickers – my favorite, teddy bears holding Christmas lights. When my father died, you made me realize I have a Heavenly Father who would not leave me.
Without Compassion International, I wouldn’t have met these wonderful people.
In college, I took up Human Ecology at the University of the Philippines but because of financial difficulty I have to stop schooling after a year. Later the Lord led me to Baptist Bible Seminary and Institute. After 5 years, I finally graduated AB Theology.
I am now 29 years old, engaged to be married to a pastor whom I met at the seminary and whose ministry also involves kids (Kids to Kids Ministry, a ministry of Boulder Valley Christian Church-Colorado in partnership with Manila Baptist Church). Right now, my mother and my older sister are serving the Lord as part of Compassion International in our church in the province. My eldest sister is involved in the Children’s Ministry in her church and my elder brother is a youth pastor in our church. I’m currently working in one of the contact centers in Makati, Philippines and I’m planning to study psychology so I could help my fiancé in his ministry with the kids. This is what the Lord wrought through Compassion International. I hope my story would encourage all Compassion International sponsors, teachers, case workers, and project directors.”
Whether down the street, or across an ocean, your love can impact someone’s world today! I am amazed at how God works…all the time. Bernadette is now helping many other kids like herself, through the ministry of Kids to Kids at her church-a partnership with a church in America. Since God does big things, I will tell you, I’ve prayed more than once that I might have the chance to go to Bernadette’s wedding. If not, I can’t wait till Heaven, when I can finally hold this beautiful girl in my arms.