The Good Of The Juan


The envelope was smaller than it should have been.

Normally around this time of year, I get an envelope from Compassion International with an update about my sponsored child, Juan., with a new picture and his family and school situation.

This year, the envelope marked “Information About Your Sponsored Child” was smaller than it should have been. I worried. I opened it up, and there was only a single sheet of paper inside. Oh no.

It was bad news, but not as bad as it should have been. Juan had stopped attending the Compassion student center, and so was no longer participating in the program, and his sponsorship had to be ended.

I really don’t remember how long ago I started sponsoring Juan; I would guess about six or seven years. I wish my story were that I was a better person, but the truth was, I went to Family Christian one day and they were running an offer were you got a good coupon if you signed up to sponsor a child, so I did.

Juan is 15 now. He lives in Guatemala. He struggled in school; as I understand, last year he was still only in second grade. We wrote back and forth a few times a year, not as frequently as I should have. I thought it was sweet that, long after the divorce, he would still ask me if I knew how Nicole was doing. He was a good kid, and I wonder what happened. Of the options, I would like to think he had to dedicate more time to the needs of his growing family.

Compassion, of course, encouraged me to begin sponsoring a new child, and even found one similar to Juan to suggest.

Instead, however, I’m going in a different direction this time.

My new child, Hansell, is less than a month younger than Finn. (His birthday is the day before mine.) Like Finn, he’s in second grade, and his performance is above average. He has one sibling, and they live with his mother and stepfather. I wanted to find a child similar to Finn, in hopes that they could become penpals and learn about each other. It would give the child another link beyond just my sponsor letters, and help Finn learn more about life outside the United States. Hansell lives in Nicaragua, where Flint River sends mission teams, and Finn and Caden have participated in fundraisers they’ve done in the children’s program at the church to support the trips, so there’s even a connection there.

I’m excited about it. I hate that Juan left the program, but I want to make the most of the opportunity by starting over in Compassion a little wiser and more experienced about how to go about it so I can be a better sponsor this time.

I’m always very reluctant to push charity causes — I believe firmly that charitable giving is best when it’s given to a cause that the giver is passionate about. So I’m not going to encourage you to support Compassion if it’s not something you are interested in;particularly since it’s a cause that really needs not only money but time to show love to the sponsored kids, even it if’s just the occasional letter. If you are interested, however, I’ve found it to be a good program, and would encourage you to sponsor a child.

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