Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I became a mother of sorts at fifteen.

Day 1: What is a changing moment in your life?

A changing moment in my life was when I got to know the little girl I sponsor through Christian Relief Fund.  We'd corresponded through letters for two years, but when I actually met her in person, my entire world seemed to spin out of control.

Look what I did.JPGLavin is beautiful, smart, and heart-breakingly sweet, but she lives in a world of poverty.  Everything around her seems dead set on keeping her poor and hungry and uneducated.  Her father died from AIDS years ago.  She lives in a mud shack.  Her one pair of school shoes (when I met her) was tattered and torn.  It was painful to see this little girl I had gotten to know surrounded by so much hurt and sadness.

When I agreed to sponsor Lavin, I agreed to take care of her as an adoptive parent of sorts.  I provide food, clean water, medical care, clothes, and an education to a little girl I've grown to love so much.  The picture to your left is of dorky-freshman-in-high-school me eagerly holding up my first picture of Lavin.

I remember the first time I saw Lavin in person.  I was standing in a crowd of uniformed children who were all chattering in Swahili and broken English.  "Do you know Lavin?" I asked them, searching the crowd for a familiar face... for the face of the child who called herself my daughter.  "Is Lavin here?"

"Lavin, Lavin. Where is Lavin?"  Voices ricocheted through the group of children and heads began to turn, searching for my sponsored child.

Finally, a young girl with a painfully shy smile was nudged to the front of the group.  Lavin.  She looked at me with hesitant brown eyes, obviously unsure of what to say to me in person.

me and Lavin so cute and sweet.png"Lavin, do you know who I am?" I asked quietly.

She nodded her head.  "Emily," she whispered.  I had sent her a few pictures of myself each year, which is how she would recognize me by sight.

We embraced.

By the end of that week, we weren't only acquaintances anymore.  Lavin wasn't just a stiff-looking child from a photograph.  She was my daughter, my sister, and my friend.  I loved her.  I loved to talk with her and sing with her and see the look of pride that fell over her face when other kids would watch her enviously.  Lavin's sponsor had come to visit her.

Sponsoring Lavin was a huge step in my life.  Meeting her was even bigger.

Lavin has taught me to be unselfish and joyful, no matter what circumstances have been thrust my way.  In her last letter to me, Lavin said she wanted to be a lawyer so she could stand up for the street children.  If that's truly what she wants to become, then I'll do whatever I can to help her get there.

I love Lavin.

If you've met your sponsored child, you know the feeling.  If you don't sponsor a child yet, you can do so here, at Christian Relief Fund's website.

Here are today's questions for you to answer:
1. Do you sponsor a child? How has that changed you?
2. What's a changing moment in YOUR life?

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