I watched intently as dozens of Ecuadorian children excitedly lined up to meet their American guests, while standing behind the iron gates with looks of nervous anticipation and inquisitive eyes. They stood there in fancy, hand made outfits – the girls wearing bright colored dresses with hand stitched aprons and headbands; the boys wearing little black pants and white shirts.
Although every child was precious, nothing compares to the first time I laid eyes on my little sponsored child. His name was Marlon, and up until that moment, he had merely been a face on a picture of a sponsorship envelope.
As the program began, the leaders began connecting us with our sponsored children.
They called my name out and I walked towards the center of the yard. As they introduced me as Marlon’s sponsor, I saw a dark haired little boy come out from behind the crowd, and scurry across the gravel yard, puckering up his lips the whole time, and leaned up to shower me with sweet kisses. I got the impression his mommy had prepped him intently on how to greet me, but it was precious, regardless.
He then wrapped his little arms around me, and hugged me tightly, as if he had known me forever. I will never forget the softness of his skin and the look in his eyes; eyes that were barely old enough to really know what was going on, but that had already seen harder times than some of us would ever see.
For the next couple hours, we each had the opportunity to spend time with our sponsored child, and give him or her the special gifts we had brought for them.
Marlon happily played with the matchbox cars I had given him, and scooted the Spiderman action figure up and down the pole of the rusted, broken swing set. Although he wasn’t interested in the new clothes, I knew they were much needed and his mom was thankful.
After a while, the time came when we had to leave. A lot of tears and prayers had already been shed that day, but saying goodbye tore at my heartstrings the most, for I knew that meeting Marlon and his mom was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Before we departed, Marlon’s mother, Mada, grabbed me and an interpreter by the hand, and asked if she could pray for me. I stood there with my head bowed and eyes closed, holding hands with this sweet lady and her child. I intently listening as the interpreter translated Mada’s precious words to me in prayer, and tears streamed down my face.
She cried out a heartfelt prayer, but one statement that she said has stuck out in my heart and mind ever since – she graciously thanked God for sending me to her family, and said that I was a beautiful angel who genuinely cared for the well being of her and her little boy.
Wait a minute…..me – an angel? I think not. Of all the words that I could use to describe myself, “angel” would not make the list. Although I do wear a lot of hats in my every day life, a halo has never been one of them.
The official definition of an angel is: “A typically benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth”.
Obviously no human can be a “celestial being”, but I do believe that we can allow God to use us to perform intermediary acts for people that are here on earth – in other words, we can be an earth angel.
God gives us all plenty of opportunities to be earth angels, but we have to choose to wear that hat (aka, halo) and say yes to God.
As I walked through the iron gates to head back towards the bus which would take us back to our Ecuador hotel, I heard Marlon’s soft voice above the crowd. He was sprinting across the yard, excitedly waving at me, yelling “Adios! Adios!”
Tears again filled my eyes, as I suddenly felt as if I was losing a family member. A little boy whom I had never met until that day, and would probably never get to see in person again, had become someone that my heart would long for for years to come.
Unfortunately, Marlon’s family dropped out of the Compassion International program about a year ago, and last year we picked a new child so sponsor – named Joe. We have received so many sweet letters from him, and have enjoyed getting to know him and his family. Maybe God will give us the opportunity to meet him in person one day too, but until then, we will love and pray for him from afar.
I feel so privileged that God has allowed me to be his earth angel, from thousands of miles away, and it is has been such a blessing to my whole family.
This is a wonderful time of year to begin thinking about how you can be an earth angel. In fact, I am sponsoring a Compassion Sunday event at my home church this weekend, and excited to see new faces going home with fellow church members.
You could consider sponsoring a child for $38 per month through Compassion. Just click on the link on the right sidebar of my blog and you will be amazed at the sweet faces peering back at you. Faces that need an earth angel.
If you are unable to do that right now, or if you already sponsor a child, ask God to show you how you can be an earth angel in your own neighborhood, community, church or school. This world can never have too many angels.
Matthew 25:40 ….. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
If God lays it on your heart to sponsor a child, please comment and let me know! I would love to celebrate with you and pray for you!
(to see additional pictures from my trip to Ecuador, visit my Facebook page and click on the album titled Compassion International Trip)