Make Yourself at Home

We showed up at the Student Life Camp as they were unloading for their 9th week of camp. It was really amazing watching these college kids empty four large Penske rental trucks and set up for more than 1,000 kids. When I complimented one of them, they said, “Oh this is a small camp. This is easy.”

Compassion had agreed to let us visit with Maureen and even though she was free to let others do her setup work, she asked our family if we minded hanging around while she performed her duties. (A true example of her heart and work ethic!)

We were happy to just watch and thrilled when they let us help. My hubby did a little drilling:

My kids helped with the packets of the children needing sponsors:

Everyone pitched in and constructed a replica home you might see in the slum, where Maureen grew up.

After she gives her compelling and touching testimony, she stands in the doorway of this mock home and answers questions.

People are moved at the image of this beautiful girl who has been rescued from poverty.

As I helped Maureen hang some “fact cards” on the interior walls of the home, she said, “This would be a nice home in the slums of Africa.” I remembered Vincent’s home and I silently nodded my head.

Once the home was completed, our family of five gathered inside. The average size of a family in Africa is usually at least five and I wanted my kids to see what it felt like to live in such a small space:

As I sat there with my family squeezed into the small, one-room dwelling, the nicest home on the block, I thanked God once again for His gentle reminder, this tangible example of perspective.

I’m pretty sure my family will never forget it.


  1. 1


    Oh Kristen, I sit here reading with a lump in my throat! You have blessed me so much!

    I would love for my children to experience what yours have…by meeting Maureen, helping and being able to see what a home in Africa would look/be like.

    I picked my sponsored child from a Student Life tour back in 2008 when I went as a chaperone w/ our youth group.

    I would love to her Maureen speak… Will she be speaking anywhere in Ga, Fla, or SC? Those are the states we are close to.

    Thank you for continuing to share!

    Much love,

  2. 4


    I think this is what we all need to do especially with our children. I am humbled by how little they have and how much I waste

  3. 5

    Tia Bennett says

    Brought me to tears, dear friend. After returning from El Salvador a month ago and my husband in Haiti right now, it hit close to home. We are having a garage sale right now, to rid our home of Stuff, its more than most communities have there. Great reminder for me and great experience for your kids.

  4. 6


    I am just so excited that Maureen got to go to America and that your family got to meet her. I wish my family could meet all the women who have impacted me so greatly while I was overseas! Praying God will continue to touch lives through her testimony. What a blessing for you to be so involved in her life and work with her in her visions for ministry!

  5. 12


    I’m honestly not sure how this post makes me feel. On one hand guilt…on the other hand? OH SO very grateful (and then GUILT for feeling SO grateful).

  6. 14


    I just wish my own children had some of this perspective; they have been so blessed but as young adults seem inherently spoiled by the excess available to them and the seeming inability to wait for anything; feeling they deserve the best right now!

    Thankfully I prefer the old fashioned notion of working for what you want so my youngest is most strained at the inequity of life and that at 26 she doesn’t own her own business or have a nice home. Welcome to the real world honey as she moves to her first ever apartment all by herself this weekend; a place I’m hoping she learns some humility as she sees what it really takes to survive. I’ve often thought I wish I had had the time to take them to less privileged areas of town to see just how lucky there are…but they were too busy to bother.

    Thanks for sharing.

    This example of how blessed EVERYONE in this country is compared to our brothers and sisters all over the world is an eye opener that even the most caring and knowledgeable adult can’t afford to ignore.

  7. 15


    Wow, I just cannot imagine… and I don’t think my children can/could either…

    The slum areas in Mexico that I visited years ago were similar in the worst areas, but much nicer in many areas. The Habitat for Humanity homes we worked on were mansions compared to that model shack- though they could easily fit in my living room…

    Our county hosts a Box City event every October (I just learned about it a couple weeks ago…) where people spend the night in boxes on the fairgrounds to gain some understanding of the plight of the homeless- I am very much considering participating this year with some of our older children… I would imagine it would be an eye-opening experience, to say the least!

  8. 16


    That is such a wonderful way to demonstrate to everyone just how life is for people living in poverty stricken countries. This should be a “traveling” show for schools and church youth groups so that more of our families and youth could get a sense of what it is like to live without running water, toilets, fuel for cooking, etc. Thanks for sharing and if you all ever get a video of her story in her mock home please broadcast it so we can share it on our blogs 😉 Thanks, Roberta

  9. 17

    Sintya Pappagallo says

    My husband and I experienced the replica home when attending the Hillsong Conference in Australia last year. We were amazed with the professionalism and passion the staff demonstrated about kids around the world needing help. We also got to visit our sponsored child in Brazil, she is a teenager getting ready for college, we pray that she will be able to stay strong in her faith and we know He is watching her. Thanks for sharing!

  10. 18


    Kristen, I love your Compassion posts. (Okay, well I like all your posts, otherwise I guess I wouldn’t subscribe…) We just got a letter from the little girl that we sponsor, and I’m so thankful that your posts led us to bring her into our hearts. I love to read about the experiences that other families are having with this wonderful organization!

  11. 19

    Mary Jo says

    We met and spoke with Maureen at Student Life camp in Branson, MO two weeks ago! She has a powerful story and is living proof of the amazing work that Compassion is doing. Thanks for spreading the word about Compassion!

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