Day 2:True Religion

I met an orphan today.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget her face:
These beautiful children welcomed us today into the Compassion Child Sponsor Program about an hour outside of Nairobi. Their faces glowed as they sang and danced for us.
There are 3o3 children at this project who are helped by Compassion. They are fed a balanced meal weekly at the local Anglican church, educated, visited in their homes and watched over. Compassion steps in immediately if they see a child or their family become highly vulnerable.
I sat down on a bench and she scooted towards me. “What is your name?”
In perfect English, “My name is Susan. I am 12.”
She looked at me. I mean, really, looked into my eyes with a question in hers and then she blurted out, “Can I touch your hair?”
Automatically, my hand found my gnarled curls. I haven’t been blow drying my hair straight, so it’s a bit wild and I thought she might be intrigued by The Crazy.
“Yes, you may touch my hair.” She stood behind me and I felt her hands tangle in my hair. She smoothed it out, scrunched it up, all while lightly caressing it. (I wanted to say ‘a little to the left’ because it felt really good!)
She tried braiding my hair and after a few minutes she gave up saying, “I think something is wrong with your hair. I can’t braid it.” Oh Susan, you are a wise one.

She sat down again and I returned the favor, lightly touching her neat rows of perfectly braided her.
Again, her eyes found mine and she questioned, “Can I touch your skin? It is so white.”
This time I could only nod as she gently touched my arms and
then my legs peeking out from my cropped pants.
“You are the first white woman I have touched,” she said in an almost hushed voice.
[Dramatic pause because I almost cried]
“Would you like to see a picture of my children?” I asked.
“Oh, yes!” she said as I dug a photo from my backpack and the other children gathered around. “They are so beautiful. So white.”

I told her that our next family picture would have another child,,, perhaps with skin like hers.
She placed her hand over mine.
Little did I know that Susan was one of the eight children deemed highly vulnerable by Compassion. She is an orphan.
But she is loved by her grandmother, a widow, raising her and three other orphans. Her grandmother is 66 years old, outliving the life expectancy of the average Kenyan woman by nearly two decades. When Compassion found her, the grandmother couldn’t walk, was in extremely poor health due to the stress of raising four orphans on a widow’s mite.
Compassion has made all the difference for this little family.

They have returned their dignity by aiding them in the most practical ways: improving their pathetic home into livable space, helping to grow a garden, providing job skills and money to start a business and so much more.

(the wall of her home)
I’d say there is more joy and contentment in their tiny home than in most of ours.
We packed up to leave and Susan caught my eye. We had already said our goodbyes, but she gave me the same questioning look. I nodded. She ran from the playground (funded by Compassion), and climbed into our van. She threw her arms around my neck.
We held one another. It was like she knew I would mother an orphan one day and understood that I needed one more hug. Or maybe she needed a hug from a mother.

Hot tears mixed with hot water as I washed away the dirt from the streets of Kenya back at our hotel. I couldn’t erase away the feelings and the emotions of poverty and human suffering of such great magnitude.

But I don’t think I’m supposed to.

I want to feel it all. I want my heart to break with what breaks the heart of God.

I want to do hard things. I’m asking you to get uncomfortable. I’m asking you to stretch further than you’d like. I’m asking you to do something hard, bigger than you imagined, greater than you planned.

I’m asking you to give up a few fast food meals a month, to take a second look at your family budget, to sponsor a second child or a third. I’m asking you to give until it hurts.
Because it’s in that place of being stretched that God will meet you and bless you. I believe He throws open the windows of Heaven and pours out more than we can handle when we care for the widows and the orphans.

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I’m asking you to rescue a child from the grips of poverty.
Jesus says that is true religion.
Please, click here to see children waiting for a sponsor. Children just like Susan. There are twelve children from today’s project needing a sponsor. They need you. I’d love for my friends and family and blog readers to sponsor all 12 of them.



Comments

  1. says

    Words are escaping me, Kristen. What an amazing experience this is. I have tears rolling down my cheeks.

    God bless you and them.

  2. says

    thank you for this post. I pray it will touch and move many to not only sponsor a child or two but consider bringing one home to join their family. I have just returned from a trip similar to yours in Ethiopia and we are now praying about adding 2 boys to our brood… My Compassion child is in Kenya, East Meru. If you meet Luka Bahati Kinyua please tell him I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!
    prayers are with you on your journey!!

  3. says

    No words. Just amazed by how God captures our hearts when we least expect it and through the smallest of things. Praying for you and your journey! You're never going to be the same!

  4. says

    We just sent our first check this week to our sponsor child Baraka from Tanzania. We would have never known about Compassion had it not been from a blog like yours. What wonderful work you are doing. Prayers and blessings!

  5. Kim says

    I can't find the section on Compassions website for these Highly Vulnerable Children. On the phone with someone now. They don't seem to have a way to find those specific children of which you wrote today. I would really love to sponsor one of the kiddos you wrote of.

    The representative tells me we need the project# or each child's KE #.

  6. Cheri says

    Kim

    I'm not sure if this is correct but in looking at the other posts by the Compassion Bloggers today:
    http://compassionbloggers.com/trips

    Some of the others indicate they were at project 611 which would be KE611. So you might check to see if this one is near Narobi or maybe Kristen will comment and confirm. Hope this helps and God Bless!

  7. says

    Kristen draws first tears from Stephen on this trip. Down the cheeks even. My prayer on EVERY trip is exactly what you wrote, "I want my heart to break with what breaks the heart of God." Thank you for tearing your heart out and sharing it with us. I know that is a difficult thing to do and you do it beautifully.

  8. says

    That's beautiful! This is the month our family had already decided to sponsor a child from Compassion, but now you've given us more insight into this great need! Thank you! Love, Michelle

  9. says

    How random! I came through your blog through a blog I RSS to…and I sponsor a child at one of the Nairobi compassion groups! Winnie Mithouba – she's about 7 or 8. Thanks for your journey there!

  10. says

    How random! I came through your blog through a blog I RSS to…and I sponsor a child at one of the Nairobi compassion groups! Winnie Mithouba – she's about 7 or 8. Thanks for your journey there!

  11. says

    How random! I came through your blog through a blog I RSS to…and I sponsor a child at one of the Nairobi compassion groups! Winnie Mithouba – she's about 7 or 8. Thanks for your journey there!

  12. says

    WOW! Your words speak volumes!!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I thank you most for bringing this to the attention of all of us. To see the reality and read it from another everyday human makes it real! Take care of yourself and keep the pictures and stories coming. They may rip my heart out and make me cry, but I am getting involved!
    Marie

  13. says

    Weeping…

    And if WE'RE weeping, how much more does God care for and weep over the orphans of the world. Thankfully they have a FATHER in Him and thankfully we can be His hands & feet here on earth!

    Thank you, Kristin!

  14. says

    What you are doing is wonderful. If I had the means, I would give all my extra pennies, but we are on the state of poverty ourself, and I've already gave up the fastfood.

  15. says

    Thank you…Thank you… Thank you! I thank God that he has led me to your blog. I thank God that he has opened your heart to help so much. I thank God that he has touched me through reading your posts. I sponsor one girl now through World Vision (her name is Anastancia in Mozambique; she is 12). When I read about Susan, my heart about broke in two, the tears are holding at the edge of my eyes, but I am smiling. You are wonderful! I thank God for you! I will keep you and those we are seeing in my prayers.
    May God continue to bless you.

  16. says

    Kristin, you have expressed in words that have been on my heart since I returned from Uganda several years ago. The Lord moved me in a way that I could never put into words and you did. Thank you. I will also pray that you never forget this experience.

  17. says

    Bawling my eyeballs out. Thank you so much for this post. I'm jealous to know what you know. I can't wait to go – by the end of the year I hope.

    God unravels us a bit, huh?

  18. says

    I have had a similar experience to yours only mine took place 5 years ago among the orphans of Guatemala. My heart was broken. My life forever changed. And today I celebrate the 8th birthday of my precious Maria…adopted from Guatemala 2 1/2 years ago. Blessings to you as you travel this path.

  19. says

    I don't want to diminish your talent, Kristen, because it is immense. But I sense God's handwriting in this piece. What a beautiful, almost holy story. May His words not return void. And may He bless your heart as it walks wounded and with joy.

  20. says

    And now the tears are spilling over as the children say, "Mama? Mama? What's the matter?"

    So beautiful.
    Thank you for taking us with you.
    I am soul-hugging Susan in my own heart right now.

    Thank you for taking us to the beautiful place of discomfort we are supposed to live.
    And never leave.

    Thank you.
    –Sara Sophia

  21. says

    Great post! I leave for India in less than 8 weeks and cannot wait for this trip. The Lord has already begun to break my heart and I know He'll shatter it there. PTL for your transparency! Bless you, sweet child!

  22. says

    Hey–

    As I was reading today's post, all I could think of was how that could have been our sweet Berhanesh. How many people came before us to touch her and hug her, to show her the love of Jesus? The thought of someone loving on my baby is a priceless treasure. YOU were that treasure for Susan today. And, in turn, she was your blessing! When you get home and you look at B, I believe you will see a little bit of Susan. When you look at your own African child one day… you will see Susan. May we never, ever forget the faces of the forgotten. Love you-K

  23. says

    Reading daily. Usually on my blackberry so not leaving many comments… keeping up on twitter. :)

    Our compassion child is from Indonesia…. his name is Ucok. We have had him since 2007. I love the letters from him. I love watching him grow…. WE LOVE HIM. Maybe one day… I could meet him!!!! I want so desperately to sponsor another. We want to sponsor a girl …. I want to sponsor them for years and years… so I am praying that God would lead us…. we waste so much money on frivilous things….

    reading to my 12 yr old… as she has such a heart for orphans and all….

    Hugs..and praying for you.

    Teena

  24. says

    Thank you for going with a heart open to His leading. Your words, your pictures, your heart are just precious. Praying for you and Jennifer specifically – and all the people who you will touch through your blog! Thank you for sharing!

  25. says

    WOWZERS!!! That was an AMAZING post.

    I love these trips because I get reminded again, and again, and again why we sponsor a child (in India). I just sent him a letter the other day!

    I say that Compassion helps to "send love through the mail." : )

  26. says

    Oh how I weep and the heart breaks and I love you for being brave enough to have your heart broken again and again. I love you for this story and love Susan for her courage. Wow. Bless her.

    xoxo

  27. says

    This. Oh.

    The words you are writing with your life… they are better than even the luminous, striking words you are writing on the screen.

    Keep writing with your eyes and your smile and your heart….

    All, all my love,
    Ann

  28. says

    Thank you.

    I was just thinking this morning that I needed to speak to my hubby about doing something exactly like this. This has just motivated me even more.

    I can imagine those little arms around my neck as I sit here with tears in my eyes.

    Thank you.

  29. says

    It's such an amazing experience to see what Compassion actually does. I am going to pray for you what the leader of my trip to Colombia with Compassion prayed for us.

    I am praying that you and your entire crew will all be completely wrecked by what you experience. That your hearts and minds would be so moved that even when you come back to your regular lives that you would never be the same. I pray that you will all be the hands and feet of Jesus and that His love would emanate from you all.

    I also pray that many children all over the world would come to have sponsors due to what you all experience.

  30. Mom says

    Kristen, Susan is a beautiful child God loves her just as much as your sweet babies. What a beautiful post today. Dad & I are overwhelmed. We have sponsored two sweet children so far. Pray for us. Mom & Dad

  31. says

    I just wanted you to know that I linked back to your blog from mine after reading your post today. I'm hoping that your story will inspire some of my followers, like you insprired me!

    I know that you're probably too busy to read other blogs, but if you ever get chance, stop on by! (www.oneblessedlady.com)

  32. Anonymous says

    Kristen,

    Your posts have really touched me! My family just committed to sponsoring a little boy named Abraham in Kenya. He shares a birthday with one of my children. We are so excited to learn more about him.

    Carol Smith

  33. says

    I look forward to every one of your posts. I am sharing them with my 16 year old daughter who just got back from Togo on Monday. She misses everything from Africa. Everything.

    Continuing to lift you and the rest of the team up while you are there.

  34. says

    At dinner my husband said he read your blog today and that it was a doozy. I said wash my face, and have a box of kleenex and he gave me a resounding yes. He was so right. Tears are staining my face.

    This paragraph here:
    "I want to do hard things. I'm asking you to get uncomfortable. I'm asking you to stretch further than you'd like. I'm asking you to do something hard, bigger than you imagined, greater than you planned."

    Sums up what God is continuously laying on my heart. Breaking the mold that has been my life for the last nearly 35 years and remaking it into a broken, uncomfortable vessel.

  35. says

    I remember how the sweet hands of the children from Nairobi would gently touch my hair. They would also ask to shake our hands and then look at their palms to see if the "white" had rubbed off. :-)

    Thank you for taking this journey. It's changing more than just you.

  36. says

    Hey, I just wanted to tell you how amazing I thought your post was. All of us cried. It reminded me of my trip, and the children who laughed and touched my skin because I was a muzungu (white person), thank you for reminding me of the other side of the world who still needs help, I forget sometimes about my trip and how I felt, Thank you.

  37. Anonymous says

    Absolutely amazing! I read MckMama's and wasnt impressed and searched for another blog to follow while yall are in Kenya. I will be reading yours for the rest of the trip! Thank you for what you are doing.

  38. Anonymous says

    Thanks so much. I have a sponsored child, Monicah in Kenya and this made me feel closer to her, seeing your pictures and hearing your experiences. Thanks!

  39. says

    Your stories have made me weep over my selfishness and sinfulness. So many times a day I catch myself thinking about new clothes, or where I want to eat, or what new household item I want… it's all about me. I, too, have been to the poorest of poor places (Mexico) on several different mission trips and experienced what you are feeling. But too quickly it was compartmentalized into a section in my heart that is seldom opened or touched. You have inspired my husband and I to sponsor our first Compassion child, and I am sure you have done the same for others. Thanks for your sharing your feelings and what God is teaching you.

  40. says

    I mostly read food blogs but I have to say you have a truly wonderful blog =) Thank you for sharing your heart and being such an encouragement to so many…

    I'm a Compassion sponsor too, and actually now staff with Compassion Singapore, and your post really made me miss my trips to the field…

  41. sula says

    Thank you, these children are in my prayers today.

    I don't know where you are in your journey, but I also pray that someone might reinvigorate your sense of purpose today the way you've done for me.

  42. Jimdollar says

    Awesome Story! I am from Kenya and I know Susan. It is an amazing story. Her grandmather is an a mazing woman too.She thinks Sisan will be a Doctor or a Pilot.

  43. says

    I've heard of your blog before and maybe visited a handful of times but have been following you since you left (and have been reading He Said/She Said to my husband, been there, done that, saw Jesus resurrect my husband and my marriage). Thank you for every word and every picture.

    I wanted to let you know that I have a terrible time getting your page to load. I'm not sure if it's because of the traffic you're getting. I don't have that with any other websites and usually if I reload 5 or 6 times it pops up. Just wanted to let you know.

    My husband is praying about sponsoring a child, I'm already on board. I also want to encourage your readers, my husband and I made $15,000 last year and we have three children. If we can find an extra $38 a month, anyone can.

  44. says

    Kristin,
    Been following your posts all week– what a journey and thank you for sharing. I am so excited to begin a relationship with the child I sponsored– hearing your stories made me realize how connected and real this sponsorship can really be– so completely beyond charity in a "just donating money every month" way.
    When I was in Kenya, I had the same experience (can i touch your hair, skin) with a girl on a bus. It was a beautiful moment of sharing and exploring with a stranger (but I found quickly kenyans don't stay strangers for long!)
    Thank you for your trusting loving beautiful heart and for sharing it with us!
    Blessings,
    Lisa

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