Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kim's Compassion: Welcoming a New Child

Our family has been trying to think of a friend way to welcome our littlest Compassion children to the family. 

What you will need:
* A blank book (you can make one or buy one)
* A photo of your sponsored child
* A world map with your home and your child's home marked.
*Photos of your whole family
*Index cards
* Fun stickers

Use the photos below as a guideline to put your book together!

Remember, if your child does not speak English, glue an extra blank index card to your letter pages for translation.







Sunday, July 6, 2014

Soni's Story

Our journey with Soni Lakava Kamble began in October 2013 when we began to correspond with her through Compassion International. We knew she lived in The Miraj Red Light District. We knew that her mother was a commercial sex worker. More than that, we knew instantly that this little girl was special. Both Jonathan and I felt an instant connection to her. We could never have guessed how her story would play out. God began working in our hearts last month to learn more about Soni and her community.

June 13, 2014
I have felt burdened for our Compassion child Soni. We received a letter in February saying that she had been very ill and was in intensive care. After an inquiry to Compassion, we heard that she is doing better, but takes medications that make her feel very weak. Still, my heart is uneasy.

I have been doing a lot of research about her community online and have found a lot about the amazing ministry of her church to the women and children in the Miraj Red Light District
I even found these pictures of our precious Soni on the Facebook page of a church who sent a team to her community. AMAZED! I am hoping to connect with team members to find out more about Soni.






June 14, 2014

Connected with some team members in reference to Soni. I am so thankful to have formed friendships with people who have met and loved our precious child! They visited her home at the request of Pastor Timothy to deliver food. I discovered this:

The name of the child is  Soni Lakava Kamble. She is very beautiful but always calm and quite. The mother's name is Lakava. No fathers name is given to Soni because mother is sex worker.

Mother Lakava is living with HIV/AIDS, but still she works as a sex worker because of the acute poverty. From each customer she gets $1. After the customer goes the pimp takes his share, $.50, from her. With this amount the mother finds it very difficult to take care of Soni. The mother is physically very weak.

Soni has two sisters older than her. One is named Malawa. She is age of 16. She is also sex worker. Malawa is also physically weak. But we have not taken HIV blood test. In this red light area there are 40% women and children living with HIV/AIDS.

Since 2012, Soni has been getting help from Compassion; therefore, we are able to take her from time to time to Miraj Medical Center Wanless Hospital for CD4 count and ART treatments. We want to thank the Lord, and Compassion because medication and hospitalization are very expensive especially for people living with HIV/AIDS. Soni is also provided with food in the center.
I am happy to inform you Soni sings songs of Jesus and she has learned to pray. She knows the Bible verse “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” The Mother also learned that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the poor and sick. Though there is pain, sickness, andloneliness in life, God is great he speaks to the people who are staying in another country and sends help to us.

Dated 15 to 20 May, 2014  Soni was readmitted at the Wanless Hospital because she had a high fever and intake was nil. On 20th May she got discharged from the Hospital. Day by day she is getting weak. When I see her health I can say that she will not survive for long. I visit her and family in the red light area of Miraj daily. The pain of the child and family is very great yet they love Jesus and pray, because people who love Jesus have helped them in their difficult time.
 
Crushed.
 
June 15, 2014
Began praying towards going to India to visit Soni. We can't seem to find dates until late September. We are hoping that Soni will pull through until then.
 
June 17, 2014
More news from India, thanks to our friends:
We have admitted Soni Lakava Kamble in the Panchgani Hospital for HIV/AIDS treatments. the hospital is 100 kilometers away from Miraj. The hospital is very famous for HIV/AIDS treatments. Please pray for her.
More prayers for Soni. Hurrying plans for India. We so much want to go and bring a smile to her sad face. We wish we could be at the hospital with her just holding her sweet hand.
 
June 18, 2014
I spent a long time in prayer today for Soni. I stopped at the store and bought about twenty get well cards for her. I poured my heart into each one--pictures, verses, and prayers. Even if she never receives them, God heard the prayers. I had to write about the tough things in these cards. I wrote that I prayed for her healing--and had to come to terms with the fact that for Soni, that might mean perfect healing in heaven. I can't be sad for her if that is the case. I know she is scared, so I wrote to tell her about how wonderful heaven is. I have been writing to all the children this month about fruit...but Soni's letter is different...
"In the book of Revelation, the Bible tells us that there is a beautiful tree that grows in Heaven. Heaven is a beautiful paradise that all of us who believe in Christ will get to enjoy after this life on earth is over. It is filled with amazing things, including the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life will be planted by the river of the water of life that sparkles like crystal. This tree will produce twelve different fruits--one for each month. We will be able to eat this fruit! I am excited to know that you believe in Christ, because one day, we will enjoy heaven together. I love you very much, precious daughter!"
For this little girl who has always only known squalor and hunger, I hope that this picture of heaven will calm some of her fears.
June 20, 2014
I am encouraged because even though Soni lives in the obscurity of poverty, her name has been heard all over the world. I have been encouraged by friends and family who have sent prayers and photos for me to send to Soni. Here are some...

Dear Lord, I pray that you watch over Soni and bring healing to her body. Help her to trust in You at all times. When she is weary, strengthen her body. When she is weak, remind her that You are strong. Remind her daily that You love her and You have a plan for her life. In Jesus' Name, Amen, Love from the Reynolds
 
Dear Soni, You are such a blessing to your Sponsors, Kim and Jonathan and now to many of us who are lifting you up in prayer. You are so special in God's eyes and are loved deeply. Father God, please bring your healing power to Soni so that she and her family may testify to that power. You are so good Lord and we bring Soni before your throne and boldly ask that you heal her body and bring total restoration to her. We thank you in advance for what you will do and are doing and that you hear all of our prayers. We are thankful that you know Soni, your child. Give her your courage and strength to trust in You. We love you. In Jesus' Name, Amen With Much Love, David and Beth Robinson

Dear Soni, Kim and Jonathan love you so much. They have asked us to join them in prayer. Here is our prayer for you: Heavenly Father, watch over your child Soni and restore her to that perfect health which is yours alone to give. Relieve her pain, provide all of her needs especially her need for healing and salvation, guard her from all danger, restore to her your gifts of gladness and strength, and raise her up to a life of service to you.
I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen--The Yearwoods


 
June 23, 2014
Happy 9th Birthday, Soni! Heard that the Pastor was going to visit her, taking her a cake and some flowers. I wish I could see her smile at such a gift! I am so amazed by this Pastor--He is truly the hands and feet of Jesus to travel 100 km to see this little girl. She has worth and value to our Father, and the pastor is preaching that to her by his love; she is not just the nameless, low-caste, HIV infected daughter of a prostitute
 
June 30, 2014
Prayers continue for Soni. Hoping that no news is good news! I dropped all of her cards in the mail today.
 
July 1, 2014
Jonathan wrote this letter for Soni today. Such beautiful words. It bothers him deeply that her last name, Kamble, labels her as a fatherless child.
Dear Soni,
Hello, my beautiful princess. How are you? I pray to our God that He takes care of you and brings you comfort. It hurts me to know that you hurt and that you have been sick. I pray that God would bless you and bring a smile to your beautiful face. I love you so much, my child.
I wrote a letter to you not long ago about the stars and the moon. I told you that we live in a big world, but God still loves you and knows your name. I want to tell you another story about stars. It comes from the Bible. Do you remember Abraham? Abraham was a man who loved God, and God called Abraham His friend. God made a promise to Abraham that he would have many children, as many as the stars in the sky. At the time, Abraham didn't have any children. In fact, he had to wait a long time before he had that first child with his wife, Sarah. Abraham named that child Isaac. God told Abraham that his many children would come through Isaac.
One day, when Isaac was a little older, God asked Abraham to offer Isaac to Him. If Abraham gave Isaac back to God, he wouldn't be able to have a bunch of children through him--but Abraham said yes. Abraham said yes to God because he knew that God would not lie. God had made a promise to give him many children. I wonder if Abraham thought of the stars when God asked for Isaac. Maybe God darkened the sky of all light but the stars. Maybe when Abraham looked up at the stars, he saw God's promise written in the sky.
My love, does God make promises to you? Does He keep His promises? He promised to love you. He promised to save you. He promised to never leave you. He promised His Holy Spirit would be in your life. He promised to bring you into His kingdom. One of my favorites is that He promised to give you a new name. Can you imagine being called "Soni, child of the King," or "Soni, Beloved of God," or "Soni, Chosen," or "Soni, Redeemed by Jesus"?
Soni, my precious child, the next time you look at the stars, I want you to remember four things about God's promises. I want you to remember how many promises He has made. I want you to remember how big His promises are. I want you to remember how beautiful and glorious they are, and I want you to remember that they will never go away. I want you to see God's promises to you written in the sky. God loves you, baby. You are always His child.
My love, if I could, I would give you my name. I would love to be able to call you my child--but your Heavenly Father has something greater for you than anything I could ever give. The Creator of the Universe calls you His daughter. We love you so much sweetheart. Be strong, my girl. Never give up. I send you all my love, all my heart, and many hugs and kisses. I love you like crazy.
Love,
Jonathan
July 3, 2014
The world fell apart in the crowded Chick-fil-A drive through. I am thankful for the connections we made--thankful that the news was passed along--
Blessed are those who participate in the first resurrection.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life . Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” John 11 : 25- 26

We are very sad to inform you that on 2nd July 2014 , Soni Lakava Kamble died in the Lord in the Hospital.

We give thanks especially to Compassion and her sponsors for helping her and strengthening her weak faith, providing resources for her medicines.  She went through pain and suffering, but she had faith on Jesus Christ. She had taken heart and said boldly, "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want."
Her mother and sister said in Marathi language please say thanks to her sponsors and Compassion Intl. who helped us in a very difficult time of our life. Because of this help she had very dignified death and funeral. Soni Lakava Kamble' s mother, Lakava Kamble, and Soni's two sisters, Paru Lakava Kamble and Malawa Kamble, have folded  their hands with gratitude  for the support and tender care that was rendered to Soni . Her mother witnessed , that before Soni died, she was often saying prayers with folded hands. Please pray for her family and the community.

May her soul rest in peace.

 
July 6, 2014
So now we go on. Our hearts hurt, but not for Soni. Our precious daughter in Christ is now WITH Christ. There is no more suffering for her--her battle is won. We are yet burdened for her family. A death like this must be crushing for her family and community. 40% of the women and children--likely more--are suffering from the same illness. It saddens me that they face a similar fate. Jonathan and I still want to go to India. We want to sit in Soni's home and hug her family. We want to encourage her friends, family, and church--and let them know that Soni's life mattered, that she was important, and that God has heard her story--their story--and is imprinting it on the hearts of people all the way around the world. I need to continue to be a voice for the little ones of this community.
To learn more about this community and about how to support a child like Soni, click here:
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kim's Compassion: Adopted

Sometimes, it is hard to think of stories and situations that our sponsored children can relate to.

I have started taking note of the topics that I share with our children that they consistently respond to.

When we write about nature, they respond. I shared a letter about snow and many children have expressed their amazement.

When we write about a prayer request, they respond. I requested prayer for a very sick child in the Dominican Republic, and the children continue to pray for him.

When we write about sports, they respond. Dearest Mwadiga in Kenya--I sent him a soccer ball and he has talked my ear off about his soccer team!

When we share a personal story, they respond. All of the children responded enthusiastically when I shared about our trip to the apple orchard.

And surprisingly, when we share truth from God's Word, they respond. Many of our children have said that the carefully consider what we share from the Scriptures. Dayanidhi in India replied, "Thanks for advicing me."

I decided to write a letter that would incorporate several of these topics: animals, a story, and truth! I shared a story that they have perhaps of observed before. Perhaps they have experienced the fear of abandonment, loss, or rejection. Perhaps, in caring for livestock, they have observed little orphaned animals. Perhaps they are an orphan themselves.

There are many ways that you can use everyday events to express a spiritual truth to your sponsored child. I am so thankful that God continually teaches us through thousands of little experiences. Everywhere we look, we see evidence of His truth!

Dear Charles,
Hello beloved son! We send you greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ with prayers that you and all of your family are healthy and happy. All of our family is healthy and well. I want to tell you about something amazing that happened recently. Our cat Lucy had four kittens. As the kittens grew bigger, we began to give the kittens away to our friends. Soon, we had only one kitten left. One morning, one of my students brought a tiny kitten to school. The kitten was too small to be away from her mother. My student told me that a dog had killed the kitten's mother. He was afraid that the kitten would not live because she was too small to drink milk from a bowl. I decided to take the little kitten home with me to see if our cat, Lucy, would allow the kitten to nurse. We were afraid that Lucy would not accept the kitten because it did not belong to her. I took the kitten to Lucy when she lay down with her other kitten. The new kitten was much smaller than Lucy's kitten. Lucy smelled the new kitten and allowed her to nurse. Soon, the new kitten had been adopted. Lucy takes care of the new kitten just as if she had given birth to her. Lucy bathes the kitten, feeds the kitten, and protects the kitten. Lucy's first kitten plays with the new kitten just as if they had always been brother and sister. We have decided to keep the new kitten. Her name is Panda because she is very fluffy with black and white markings.
This story reminds me of  how God has made  all of us who believe in Christ to be a part of his family. We were born as a part of another family. The Bible says that we were born separated from God because of our sin. We were completely helpless and would have died in our sin. God, in His great mercy, saw our need. He sent His own Son Jesus to meet our need by taking the punishment for our sins. He then took us and made us a part of His own family. He adopted us as sons and daughters in His family. He loves us very much and cares for all of our needs. I John 3:1 says, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! " I love being a part of God's family. Because I am a part of His family, I get to have His name. I get all the benefits, blessings, and protection of my strong heavenly Father. Just as an earthly Father should protect and provide for his children, our heavenly Father does so in a perfect way for those who love and trust Him! Our earthly fathers and our earthly families may fail us or disappoint us, but God our heavenly Father is always faithful. He promised that He will never leave us or forsake us, that His love for us is everlasting, and that He is always thinking of us. Just like our new kitten Panda got a new brother when she was adopted by Lucy, we also get new brothers and sisters. All those who believe in Jesus are our Spiritual family. They help us and pray for us. Together we learn more about how we can serve God. I am glad that you and I are family because of our faith in Jesus. Even though we do not live close, we can still love and pray for one another.
Love, Kimberly


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Morning Star

The Miraj Red Light district is notoriously dark.

Women live bound as prostitutes.

Children face a future as a commercial sex worker or pimp, some being forced into the industry before they reach double digits.

HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis run rampant.

Into this darkness, a light is shining. The Morning Star Child Development Center, funded through Compassion International and run by the local church, is providing hope for the children of commercial sex workers. Children receive food, education, medical care, and support to ensure that their futures are bright.

Compassion sponsors are part of the light. Through letters of encouragement, the children who are considered outcasts by their society are accepted and loved by their sponsors.

In this amazing video, you will see children who are beneficiaries in Compassion's sponsorship program in the Miraj Red Light District. Through Compassion, Compassion sponsors, and the amazing heart of the local church, these children have hope.

If you are interested in joining Compassion's work in Miraj, please consider sponsoring one of these precious children who have been waiting over 6 months for a new sponsor. $38 per month can change a life!
Mayuri, age 9
SPONSORED
Rohit, age 11
SPONSORED
 
Vanayak, age 7
*extra photos available
Kartik, Age 6
Nisha, Age 9

Omkar, Age 13

Rakesh, Age 4

 
 
To read a testimony about what life can be like for these children, click here:
 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Father's Heart

When I first went to Honduras, it was all about me.

Many of you know our story.

You know that Luz Maria became a member of our family because her birthdate was the same as the date I became a believer in Christ.

You know that upon meeting Luz, I discovered that we had much more in common than a birthdate. We shared a history of loss, a history of suffering due to addiction.

You also know about Jessarela...about how she bonded with me, chose me.

And you know about Maria Bernarda...how my heart broke when I saw her in her boy's hat.

The stories of each of these girls seemed to be my story.

But they aren't just mine any more, and it has taken me a long time to discover it.

These girls are Daddy's girls.

They are children of the heavenly Father, who created them, planned for them, and is jealous for them.

Sadly, they are also children of earthly fathers--fathers who have abandoned them. Luz Maria's father died of addiction, Jessarela's father has never been in her life at all, and the only father Maria knows (her stepfather) is abusive.

But there is another Daddy in their lives. I know him well.

He is the man who stepped up to perform a father's role on the biggest night of Luz Maria's life.

He is the man who has faithfully written letters to each girl, telling them of how precious they are to God and to him.

He is the man who thinks of them every day.

 He is the man who has played with them....

Hauled them on his shoulders...

Spun them around in true Daddy style...

Sat for hours holding them, his legs paralyzed...

Watched from the sidelines...

Purchased little gifts he knew they would like...

Carries their photos in his Bible and his phone so he can show them to anyone who will look.

He is the man who has cuddled, kissed, squeezed, and loved.

The man who plans and helps provide for their future.

The man who is crushed when he thinks they are hurting.

The man who gives even though it hurts.

This man is my husband. This is his story. I feel unbelievably privileged to have watched each relationship grow--to see his ministry toward these precious children blossom.

I thank God for the father that he is to our three children. I praise God for the father he is to children all over the world who need to be shown how a true father loves.

Soni in India who never knew her father.

Disha in India whose faither died of AIDS.

Charles in Rwanda whose father is in prison.

Ana Maria in Columbia whose father abandoned the family.

There are many others. I never fail to be amazed that Jonathan's love for them doesn't run out. He has sacrificed and prayed and is always thinking of what else he can do to help these children feel cherished--and not for any reward. He is their champion. He does this because his Father loves these children. As he says, there is no greater joy than spending yourself for someone else.


I don't know anyone else who has a heart more like a father should.

What can I say? I guess he takes after his Heavenly Father.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kim's Compassion: World Cup Fun

I am not a big sports fan...

But I do have a favorite athlete.

Her name is Luz Maria and she is a soccer star!

During our visit to Honduras last month, we had the amazing opportunity to watch our sponsored child play in a soccer tournament. How many sponsors get to do that?? It was amazing to get to step into Luz Maria's life and see all of the beautiful facets of her life--including this intense, athletic side.

Soccer (or futbol) is huge in Honduras. The "cancho" was packed with adults and children who came out to watch the tournament. Girls and boys teams competed.

Right now, the entire Latin world is consumed in World Cup fever. Jerseys, backpacks, wrist bands, and even calendars featuring World Cup teams are in high demand. On game nights, the streets empty as fans go in to watch their home team represent their country.

Do you have a soccer fan in your Compassion family? I am sure that a letter about the World Cup would be a big hit! Be sure to include some of these fun, free printables.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/world-cup-for-kids

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Feet in the Mire

Sometimes, one photo can define a trip.

And for me, this one does.

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psalm 40:2)

She came walking up the path Friday morning in the white heels of a princess, slippers that belong on tiled floors and not mud-soaked mountain paths. I'm not sure I knew what miry meant until that morning. After a first-of-the-rainy-season-downpour, the roads were soup--slimy, swampy, mire. My seasoned mission trip flip-flops weren't cutting it. The mud kept sucking them off of my feet, squelching up between my toes, leaving me precariously close to busting my tail with every step.

Maria's heels weren't cutting it either.

At the market that morning, something prompted Jonathan and me to look at a rack of sensible black school shoes. In general, we aren't the best at being sensible when it comes to our girls, In our minds, they are princesses. High heels and poofy dresses trump flats and jeans every time. A couple of hundred lempiras later, though, we had a pair of school shoes in a black plastic sack.

Now, seeing our princess in her spangled dress and frilly white socks standing in a quagmire, reality hit. A princess certainly isn't measured by what she has on.

My husband scooped her up in his arms, and as he cuddled her close, I slipped off her white heels and replaced them with the black flats. The white shoes went in the bag for another time. After one last kiss and cuddle, Jonathan set Maria down. We took her hands and set off down the road to her home.

To set the record straight, Maria Bernarda is NOT our sponsored child. She is simply a girl who is a member of Iglesia Bautista Monte de Sion in Villa Verde, Honduras. More truthfully, she is a girl who has had a profound impact on our hearts and lives.

Last year, during our first visit to Villa Verde, Maria had been a defining character. She was a breaking point--and knowing her and her story has forever changed how I will think about doing ministry. You can read more about that story here: http://3littlelarks.blogspot.com/2013/08/hope-in-plastic-sack.html

When we left Maria last year, I honestly had no idea how her story would play out. I know I loved her, and always would. I know I hoped to see her again. I sent her a few photos of our time together and a few little cards through our sponsored girls at the Compassion center. When we returned to Honduras in December, we sent a Christmas stocking stuffed with goodies.

Preparing for this visit, I didn't know if she would still be the same shy, shamed little girl. As a matter of fact, I wasn't sure I would see her at all--but the memories of my few moments with her burned in my mind. I prepared a backpack of gifts for Maria and hoped for an opportunity, just a few moments, to deliver them and remind her of how beautiful and precious she is. A doll, some dresses, the white high heels...

As we drove up to Monte de Sion that first morning, my mind whirled. The church was empty and quiet. The yard was littered with the old roof that had been torn off to make way for the new one our team was providing. There wasn't a kid in sight. All we had for the week was a lot of love and great expectations.

But there were some kids...down by the soccer field, on a bench under a tree. I didn't think of it until later, but I guess they were waiting for us. None of them came up to the church. I guess they watched our team going in and out of the church like a stirred anthill as we deposited bags of ministry supplies and introduced the team to church staff. Around ten, we piled in the Land Rovers to take a tour of the Villa Verde Bilingual School, just 1 kilometer up the road.

We took a turn by the soccer field.

And it was Maria.

I recognized her by the wide white headband I had sent to her through a friend.

I cried out.

But we couldn't stop.

When we returned, she was still there. This time, when the truck passed, she got off the bench. I saw her walking up the hill, uncertain.

There was no uncertainty once Jonathan and I fell all over ourselves getting out of the truck. I started running, and all of a sudden, she was in my arms.

If I ever had any doubts about the effect our little moments of love from last year had on this little life, they were erased in this moment.

She remembered me. And she was waiting on me.

My sponsored girls didn't come till much later. They are sure of our love, satisfied that they are ours. But Maria came and waited--and watched--and hoped. Maybe she wanted to see what it all meant too.

And though we couldn't speak much, the way she held onto me with both hands and wouldn't let go said it all.

We were together almost every moment for the rest of the week. She was so hungry for affection, and we were so ready to give it. We took walks. We read stories. We played games, colored pictures, and held hands. Best of all, we just held each other. By the end of the week, Maria was confident enough to let go sometimes. She began to talk to and play with the other children, something we had never seen before from her. But always when we were apart, I could look up and see her eyes searching for mine in the crowd.











Maria's life is a soul-sucking quagmire of despair. Poverty seeks to suck her down and swallow up all the beauty in her life. We can't be there for Maria when she has to endure her stepfather's wrath. We can't be there when she goes home again to a locked house and a cold stove, no idea where her family is. We can't be there to meet her eyes when she is scared or lonely or uncertain.

Yet in a way, we will be. She will put on her princess shoes sometimes, and she will remember that somewhere, she has a family that adores her, treasures, and prays for her.

She is not just a licey child dressed in rags, living in a dark hut, eating beans for three meals a day if she's lucky. She is a princess. God knows her name. We know her name. We love her fiercely because God the Father loves her fiercely.

And He is setting her feet on a  rock. A rock of truth--that she matters. That she has value. That she is loved. We didn't leave a child cowering in shame this time. We left a little girl who felt beautiful, and every photo shows it.

There are lots of little children like Maria in Villa Verde. We spent our week loving. That's all. I never climbed on a roof. I never drilled or painted or hammered or carried. The roof was a need, but the need for love was greater, and the only qualification I needed to meet that need is to have been loved myself by the Savior.

He saw my need when I was nothing. He lifts me out of the mire and sets my feet on the rock of His mercy and truth. He tells me that I am valuable and beautiful.

He has called me to continue His work...and not just me. He is calling you.

Will you?