Enjoy this post by Dawn M. as she shares with us how she became a sponsor and eventually was able to meet her sponsored child.
Our journey to the Dominican Republic began just over one year ago. My husband and I read the book Radical and were issued a handful of challenges, two of which led us here. The first was to make a financial sacrifice that would allow for a greater monetary contribution to the expansion of the kingdom of God. I teach high school at a Christian school which organizes a senior mission trip each spring to the Dominican Republic. Prior to reading Radical I had heard rumblings of child sponsorship at a specific school in the DR where our students had served while on the 2012 senior trip. This seemed like a perfect opportunity. My husband and I prayed and decided to forego cable and pursue this instead, thus fulfilling challenge #1. When presented with the stack of sponsorship cards, it seemed like a daunting task to choose. Each sweet face represented a young person in a position to be loved on, cared for, and taught the Gospel on a daily basis. We prayed over how we would ever choose and then approached our 3 year old daughter with the options. Her choice was simple. “I want this one. I like her braids.” Having heard the voice of the Lord many times already through our daughter, we decided to go with it. This is how we began the sponsorship of then 9 year old Genesis.
The next challenge from Radical was to spend a week outside of one’s normal context, serving the Kingdom of God. We weren’t sure what that would look like and with neither my husband nor I ever having been on an international mission trip, that wasn’t really on our radar. Little did we know, it was on the Lord’s. After beginning our sponsorship, my coworker responsible for organizing senior trip mentioned that he was working on an alumni trip to the DR and wondered if we might be interested in joining as staff representatives. In typical fashion, I reacted with emotion and was ready to jump onboard immediately while my more logical, critical thinking husband said we needed to slow down, think, and pray. We had two little girls at home, ages 3 and 1, and leaving them for an entire week, in addition to the vocational and financial sacrifices, were not things to be taken lightly. All I could picture was the thought of meeting sweet Genesis face-to-face and in my heart I knew the Lord’s intentions for this trip. I stopped pushing, started praying, and let Him work. A few weeks later my reluctant husband proclaimed out of nowhere, “Let’s do it.” We booked the trip!
Over the next several months we communicated with Genesis, sending letters and photographs back and forth, all the while praying for the direction of the trip. It was on again, off again, as the desire for several alumni to attend dwindled with the reality of the sacrifices required. We may not have enough people for a team. Again, we prayed.
In the meantime, I was asked to join the 2013 senior trip as a chaperone. I was ecstatic! The first ministry day I was sent to the VisionTrust School in Ensanche Altagracia… Genesis’ school! I asked the teachers if she was there and was informed that the student body was so large they had to come to school in shifts. Wow! Genesis was in the afternoon crew. Throughout the morning several of our students were able to meet the VisionTrust students that they sponsor and seeing their joy only increased my anticipation to meet sweet Genesis.
The moment came when she entered the courtyard and our eyes met. We recognized one another from the photos and letters we had been sending back and forth the last few months. She studied my face as if she could hardly believe the photos had now become real. I felt the same way. Our translator came over and explained to her that I was her sponsor. She immediately nodded in confirmation and wrapped her arms around me. We embraced. I cried. What a moment. School began and she ran to join her friends, continually looking at me, waving, pointing, and grinning ear to ear. She was thrilled. The feelings were mutual. To see this face in person, to hold this sweet girl, the one I had prayed for every night with my own sweet girls. Wow. That is a moment I will never forget. We spent the day playing and laughing, dancing and smiling. When the time came to say goodbye, Genesis was trying to speak to me but the language barrier was too great. We hugged once again, I prayed over her, and I boarded the bus. As we began to pull away, here came Genesis, running to the bus to hand deliver a letter she had written. We embraced again and the bus pulled away. With assistance from a translator, I was able to enjoy the beautiful letter from my sweet Genesis. In it she said she couldn’t wait to meet my beautiful daughters one day and that, “I do not have a sufficient pencil to tell you how thankful I am for your sponsorship. Our God is so great.” Wow. Out of the mouths of babes…
Upon returning to the US and anxiously awaiting the chance to see Genesis again, the alumni trip was still hanging in the balance. We continued to pray for the Lord’s leading. It wasn’t looking good. The final deadline came and our leader had already composed the email saying we couldn’t muster up a large enough team, but he decided to wait until the end of the day to send it. We continued to pray. Just before the end of the day, on the absolute last day possible, two alumni contacted him and said they were in. Two was exactly what we needed. We had a team! Praise God!
We immediately began fundraising, planning, and continuing to pray. The Lord provided in incredible ways, beyond anything we could’ve imagined, and it was such a blessing to see our home school come behind us and join us in this mission.
June arrived and so did we in the Dominican Republic. Our first day at the VisionTrust School in Ensanche Altagracia meant work all morning and students all afternoon. I was perched near the entryway when a familiar face walked through the door. It was Genesis! We embraced and I said in what little and broken Spanish I knew, “Mi esposo aqui.” She must have memorized our faces because in the same way that she first recognized me, she found my husband in the crowd, walked straight to him, and they embraced. With tears in his eyes, my once reluctant husband immediately felt the presence of God and knew the decision to go was the right one. As a wife, that is a moment I will never forget.
Over the next several days we spent time with Genesis playing, laughing, dancing, doing crafts, and enjoying the joy of the Lord. One day we were able to sit down with her and a translator and get to know her better. Genesis is one of the youngest in her family and has much older siblings in the US. She has one older brother who also attends the VisionTrust school and whom my husband had been playing with all week. Genesis also told us that her father is battling diabetes and is no longer able to work. Her mother works over 12 hours a day to make up for that. Genesis’ mother takes her to church and thanks to that, and the teaching of Marie Antoine and the other VisionTrust teachers, Genesis has Jesus in her heart. His love radiates through her smile. With the assistance of a translator, I wrote her a letter explaining our love for her and for the Lord and that our desire to serve Him is what led us to her. I told her that it is our prayer that He will use her and the joy she has to continue to draw more people to Himself. As she read it she was beaming. Our last day on the project we had the privilege of meeting Genesis’ mother. She was beautiful, kind, gracious, strong, and exuded that same joy of the Lord. This family is such a blessing to us.
I can’t begin to describe how grateful we are for the opportunity to sponsor Genesis, to pray daily for her, to experience the Spirit’s leading to go on this trip, to embrace Genesis, to embrace her mother, to see her smile face-to-face, and to experience the joy of the Lord through her. The hope is for this alumni trip to become an annual event and my once reluctant husband is already prepared to sign up for next year. All praise to our God in Heaven for his miraculous works and for sending His Spirit to lead us through each day and especially for leading us to Genesis in the Dominican Republic.