Big Mama Blog

Hope in the midst of humidity

We are back at the hotel after a day spent visiting the first of many Compassion projects we’ll see this week. I am not going to lie to y’all and tell you I smell good because I don’t. It was hotter than Houston in August here today and my fellow Texans know what that means.

Let me just say it’s not a DRY heat.

I’m not sure how I’m ever going to be able to articulate everything I experience this week, so just know I’ll do the best I can.

This morning we drove to a Compassion project to see their Child Survival Program, otherwise known as CSP. While Compassion has been around for about fifty years, the CSPs just started in the last ten years. The goal is to provide intervention for kids living in poverty before they are even born.

Mothers who are part of the CSP receive prenatal care before their child is born and then continue to receive assistance in the form of food, medicine, clothing, and nutritional education for that child until the child turns three years old and is eligible to be a part of Compassion’s sponsored children program.

We arrived at the project and were taken to the church where they told us we’d get to be a part of their worship. It turns out that we didn’t hear what they were saying because it wasn’t actually worship, but a WORKSHOP. However, they did sing two songs so really we got worship AND workshop. It was the proverbial two birds with one stone.

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The workshop was taught by one of the Implementers in the project (think social worker) and the purpose was to teach mothers the importance of basic nutrition for their babies at various ages. The room was packed full of young mothers and some of the cutest babies I have ever seen. I won’t even discuss how tempted I was to load one or six of them in my backpack and head for the bus.

“Hello. Would you like to come home with me so I can pinch your cheeks everyday?”

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There were two interesting points made in the workshop. The first was that you shouldn’t serve your babies alcohol, EVEN AT CHRISTMAS. That means no eggnog for the toddler crowd this year.

The second point was how to get your kids to eat even when they don’t want to. I listened very carefully to that part because I was hoping someone in the Dominican could offer me some useful tidbit about how to convince Caroline to eat more than half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every third day.

After the workshop, we went out in groups for home visits. The first home we went to was nothing more than a small shack with a tin roof full of holes. There were two bedrooms that were basically just curtained off areas.

The woman’s name was Rosario and she was so gracious and welcoming. We met her youngest son named Adolfo who is part of the CSP and her three older children. She told us that her husband is out of work and that they pay 900 pesos a month in rent, which is the equivalent of $30.00.

Anyway, the Implementer was with us and began to show us a typical visit. They started by singing a song and when it was over the translator explained that the lyrics said, “Look how happy is our home when we have Jesus”.

Rosario told us that her home was happy because they had Jesus.

And at that point my eyes filled with huge tears.

Because there I was sitting in a shack with a tin roof, filled with four smiling children and a mother who was beaming as she told us how happy their home is because they have Jesus.

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P and I were in ministry for over ten years in a fairly wealthy community. We essentially ministered to kids that had everything they could want materially, yet there were some who were so lost and so miserable that it didn’t matter. They had no joy. They had no hope, in spite of their BMW’s and designer handbags, because they didn’t know what they were living for.

But what I saw today was real. Real hope. Real joy.

Yes, there was poverty everywhere. There wasn’t really much to speak of in the way of indoor plumbing. There was very little hope there to the external eye.

But on the inside there was hope.

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Our leader Brian Seay asked Rosario what her dreams were for herself and her kids. She told us that thanks to the CSP, she is going to college to get a degree in education because she wants to be a teacher.

She told us that her dreams for her kids were that they be good people and get a good education. Thanks to Compassion, Rosario has hope that those dreams will be realized for her children.

And the biggest hope of all is the hope they have in knowing Jesus Christ.

When you sponsor a child from Compassion, you are quite literally becoming the hands and feet of Jesus.

I saw it today and I’ll never forget it.

“’For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

If you’d like the opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion, you can click on the graphic below or in my sidebar. You have the chance to give a child hope for just $32.00 a month, also known as four trips to Starbucks.

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Comments

  1. 1

    I could hardly wait to hear about your first day. I don’t know how you are going to keep yourself from trying to take at least a couple of those sweet things home with you.

    I think we’ve just added another sponsored child. Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone to show us what real hope and real joy and real love is all about.

    Continuing to pray for you….and your toe.

  2. 2

    I am so humbled and honored to read about your trip! I will probably never experience it myself, but seeing it through your eyes is amazing. Thank you so much for going, and sharing it with those of us back here at home.

  3. 3

    Well done, sweet friend.

    Praying for you.

  4. 4

    Are you going to be like Cindy McCain and get off the plane with an international child in your arms? I think Caroline wants a little sister! Those children are adorable.

  5. 5

    It is so great reading about your experiences. Thank you for sharing with us! My husband and I have supported a child with Compassion for a little over a year now, and we are so blessed to read the letters and pictures that are sent from him and his mother. It’s a priviledge to be able to support someone in the name of Jesus Christ.

  6. 6

    Wow, Melanie. Thanks for this post. The pictures of those children are so precious. And the contrast between the joy-filled humble home in the DR and our often joyless, yet over-indulgent American homes is striking.

    Praying for all of you!

  7. 7

    Thank you, Melanie. This brought tears to my eyes tonight. I know that in American we are spoiled beyond belief with all things material that we have…trying to fill our God shaped holes with everything but Jesus, who can only fit and fill the hole. May He continue to bless and use you this week.

  8. 8

    As you see, Melanie, it doesn’t take too long to see the differences in life in a country where they have few material possessions but they have real love and joy in their hearts. It makes you wonder why most Americans are so unsatisfied when they seemingly have so much. It changes your thinking, believe me!

    Praying for you and your whole group!

  9. 9

    Oh Melanie…I was praying for your group this morning, knowing it was your first day and praying for God to speak to your heart in a way you’d never forget. He came through beyond what I asked because He spoke in a way NONE of us would forget.

    Beautiful…just beautiful.

  10. 10

    Thanks for the nudge. I just sponsored a child. Praying for you!

  11. 11

    You bring me one of those babies.
    And you bring it now.

    Blessing God for you right now Mel!!!!
    Let it shine sister!!!!!!

    xoxo

  12. 12

    Those children are just so very beautiful. I just sit and look at the photos and smile and cry…

    I sponsored a child as a part of the last compassion blogger trip…and oh how life is better because I know her.

    Thank you for taking a step and sharing it with us.

    Prayers ascending for you and the team.

  13. 13

    The Lord prompted me to pray for you several times today dear one.

  14. 14

    SO great to see photos and hear more about your day! Thinking and praying for you all. :)

  15. 15

    What a wonderful post! Great photos and story. I felt like I was there. I will be blogging about you tomorrow:-) I’m excited you’re getting the word out about Compassion. It is amazing to see people so happy in those living conditions and it’s because they have Jesus. Awesome!

  16. 16

    Awesome pics and commentary. So glad you could feel hope, see hope and know hope was there in your midst. I love it… Have a wonderful hot day again tomorrow.

  17. 17

    When you make jokes like saying they’re the D.R.’s answer to George Foreman, it makes you sound insensitive. It’s like you’re making light of being there. I know you don’t want to sound that way, so I thought I should let you know.

    I look forward to more updates from you.

  18. 18

    I mean it’s pretty much a given that God is going to show up when we are open to Him and that is exactly what you are doing! Thanks for letting us experience it through you.
    Take care,
    Julie

  19. 19

    Wow Big Mama! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us! What an amazing exhoration: true joy come not from what you have but WHO you have – Jesus!

    Praying you through the rest of your week there. Praying too that your work there will help see many more children sponsored through Compassion.

  20. 20

    The real reason I couldn’t do what you’re doing right now? I’d get in trouble for trying to suck the faces off all those sweet babies.

    Thank you so much for taking the giant leap out of your comfort zone to share this important work with the rest of us.

    Grace and peace to you!

  21. 21

    I’ve been checking your site like crazy all day, eager to hear your first update! I love that picture of you praying with the CSP family–brought tears to my eyes.

  22. 22

    Bless you Big Mama…what a beautiful family. How true, that our joy…real joy comes from knowing Jesus. We could all learn from Rosario. And, thanks to you…we just did.

  23. 23

    Tears in my eyes. . .

    Thanks for sharing this experience with the rest of us.

    May God continue to bless you this week.

  24. 24

    Excellent…I am hanging on every word. I’ve been praying for you all weekend and thinking about our own Compassion child, Rafael. Will continue to pray daily for you and the rest of your team.
    Thank you ….Amy

  25. 25

    my heart is full and overwhelmed looking at the faces of those children!

  26. 26
    Cheri - the Mom Lady says:

    We lived in Trinidad, West Indies, for 3-1/2 years and I know what you are experiencing right now. The total poverty was very hard to “reconcile” when we had so very much! And we had worship services only once on Sundays (instead of twice as we do here in the US) because it was so expensive to hire a taxi to get there for most of the members that doing it twice in one day would be prohibitive. Owning a vehicle was way beyond most nationals means so taxis were the only way to travel the distance needed to come to the church building.

    We sponsored a young boy through his adulthood with Compassion after our son returned from a Bible Bowl trip with the pamphlet and had signed up. Our “son” was in Rwanda and we were involved for about 10 years. We’d get regular letters about the goats he’d bought to raise and sell, his school work, etc. It was hard to write back to him about “normal day stuff” because it seemed a moot point to talk about driving in a car to go to the grocery store, the mall, the schools, getting clothes for the kids, meeting a friend for coffee…

    I think a lot of the issues in the US have stemmed from an over abundance of “stuff” and our gradual dependence on that “stuff”. When people don’t have so much “stuff” blocking their view, they tend to see God more clearly. It’s almost as if we say, “I’ll let you know when I need you God – I’ve got all these other things taking care of me right now.”

    We have to be so careful that we don’t block THE view!

  27. 27

    Please Melanie, don’t stop with the jokes, stay true to who? whom? God made you and this blog. It’s why I read your blog every day and God has truly blessed me through your gift of hilarious sarcasm which is almost always directed squarely at yourself or Target. I mean it. I know what you are seeing and feeling is going to make your heart sad and you may not be joking every day but I am praying that God protects your heart and reminds you that you didn’t cause this poverty and are doing your best to help.

    Much love to you

  28. 28

    Big ole tears in my eyes…

    thank you Melanie. Praying for you all.

  29. 29
    Dr Diane Sabado says:

    Blessings, I am a dear friend of Missy in Texas. She came here years ago on a team and we have kept in contact ever since. We have been here 15 years doing medical relief work and have a foundation to help kids and needy families. We are overjoyed that you would choose to come and serve the Lord in the Dom Rep. If you have time for a visit, coffee or just to chat, please give me a call or email. Diane

  30. 30

    Tears in my eyes as well, thanks for sharing………… love the pics of the sweet children.

  31. 31

    Awesome. Thanks for sharing. I just finished reading MM’s post and both of you are wonderful for sharing all this.

  32. 32

    So moving! I can’t wait for more updates.

  33. 33

    I sponsored a child as a result of the first Compassion bloggers trip. Thank you for sharing all of this, because it gives me a first-hand look at how my sponsorship is benefiting sweet little Susana in Nicaragua.

    Even though money has been a little tight for us lately, I don’t even miss the $32 we pay each month to support her. In fact, we gave extra money recently so she could have a birthday gift and a Christmas gift, and since then we’ve received unexpected financial blessings that were more than five times the amount we gave. God is so good!

    In writing this, I was reminded of a verse so I went to look it up, and ended up reading the whole chapter of 2 Corinthians 9. This is a great passage, especially as it relates to sponsoring a child. If anyone has already sponsored a child, it is a reminder of the blessing that comes when you give. If you are thinking about sponsoring a child, this certainly would be an encouragement and a challenge for you.

    Big Mama, I’ll be praying for you and the rest of the team! Can’t wait to read more!

  34. 34

    Thank you so much for this post!!

  35. 35

    Wow! Those faces are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
    I am such a nervous Nellie about getting out of my comfort zone, so you are inspiring me for my trip!
    Praying for you and the team.

  36. 36

    What beautiful children…
    Praying for you all as you experience life there.
    I’m almost afraid to go on a trip like this for the very reason of finding 10 more sons and daughters I couldn’t live without.

    I’m checking your blog about every 10 minutes for new posts. :)

  37. 37

    My pastor’s sermon in Georgia on Sunday was about being rich through giving. Shortly after church I went to the website struggling to find some way to give or serve, and came up empty. Today I read your blog & am confident God is showing me my way. Thanks Big Mama!
    I look forward to reading about the amazing things you’re doing in the “American Republican”.

  38. 38
    Michelle in Illinois says:

    You should be very proud of yourself! I found your blog through Pioneer Womans link about this trip. Our family will be sponsoring a child in Mexico. What a blessing for you to experience this, and share it with your community!

    PS – You are hilarious!

  39. 39

    Those children are beautiful..praying for all of you. Thank you for sharing!

  40. 40
    Big Mama's Mama says:

    Hey, Mel – I would be glad to be Granny to any of those children pictured. That little girl in white somehow reminded me of Caroline. Go ahead and bring one or two or three home with you. It’s OK by me. Our prayers are with you and your team. Stay safe.

  41. 41
    Natalie @ I AM (not) says:

    mm,mm,mm you’ll be changed forever. Praying that your literal hands and feet touch Jesus while you are there.

  42. 42

    Melanie, I’ve become a fan of your blog and feel somewhat connected to you due to our fellow Aggie-ness and the fact that our daughters have the same name. (Oh! and that I’m a not-so-secret fashion addict.)

    Anyway, your trip report reminds me of the first time I went to Mexico—my life could not stay the same. I trust God will do the same thing in your heart. Thanks for your transparency and the reminders for all of us to spend our lives on things that last.

  43. 43
    Lizz @ Yes, and So Is My Heart says:

    Wow. God is so amazing. The joy in those photos is so obvious. Rosario and her family look so very happy. Jesus is certainly all we need.

    Thanks for this post.

  44. 44

    Oh wow!That was one of your best posts ever.Those pictures sure are powerful.What beautiful children.Sometimes I think maybe if we had all our material possesions taken away we know what real joy was.God Bless You for your willingness to serve in this way!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Then we visited some homes with the implementers. The women welcomed us, making sure we each had a seat as we crammed into their tiny living rooms. Twice a month they do a home visit. It was here that I really saw the whole picture. The implementer led the mother in a song, read a passage of scripture, and then discussed with her how it applied to her life. She then reinforced what was taught at the nutrition session, and inquired after the mother’s and the children’s health. She asked what she needed prayer for, and we prayed for the family before we left (Read Melanie’s account of that visit HERE). [...]

  2. [...] Melanie Jennifer Mary Tim Marlboro Man Brian Nick [...]

  3. [...] (A few others wrote about this same visit and have different perspectives and some great photos: Melanie, Brian, and [...]

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