By Cathy Cazares, CFCA Parish Contact
In 2003, my family and I attended a mission, which was held at our parish for three consecutive nights.†A mission is when parishioners come together to enliven their spiritual life. The visiting priest during the mission was a presenter for Christian Foundation for Children and Aging.†On the final night, we went to the basement of the church where we had the opportunity to sponsor a person in a developing country.†The folders lining the tables contained photos and information of the children, youth and aging waiting to be sponsored.†
Our experience during the mission inspired us, and we were open to seeing what this was all about.†Our youngest two girls were 10 and 8 years old, so they were all about helping us choose. We knew it would be Juan, a young boy from Colombia, the moment we saw his photo.†We had no idea what had just begun.
Our sponsorship began that night ñ a little writing back and forth, when we could squeeze it in. We were excited about the letters we received from him, and we would occasionally read the CFCA publications that were sent to us. Later, Juan was retired when he moved out of the CFCA service area, and we were given another little boy, named Santiago, ìSanti.î† The beautiful look on his face warmed us.†
I did most of the writing in the family.†But I still didnít understand that sponsorship was more than the money.†I figured, well, at least we are sending the money and thatís good even if the letters did not get written.†
In August 2009, I began looking diligently for a job.†My youngest daughters were now both in high school, and our family needed additional income for school and their increased activities.†I really donít remember how I ended up on CFCAís website and looking at the employment section, but I did and thatís where I saw the posting for Parish Contact.†
This position required calling parishes in the United States to see if their pastors were open to having one of CFCAís presenters visit the parish and talk about CFCA. I applied and got the job.†The Lord has blessed me and our family with this opportunity.†
In thanksgiving for finding employment and for an answer to our prayers, we decided to begin an additional sponsorship of another little boy.†This time our new friend lived in Kenya.†Stanley, ìVin,î as he is fondly called, was specifically chosen to honor a former employer named Stanley, who was also from Kenya.†
Iíve worked at CFCA for almost a year now, and Iíve learned so much about what sponsorship is really all about.†You might think that we are making such an impact on their lives, but really, they are the ones that fill us with joy and give us an opportunity to serve.†The money provides, of course, much needed food and helps cover educational needs, but the developing friendship between two families who were perfect strangers before, is what sponsorship is truly all about.
Learning more about CFCA has enhanced my sponsorship experience and my friendship with Vin and Santi. I treasure their letters. I am like a child at Christmas when I see them in the mail.†I canít open them quickly enough.†I read all the publications and check the blog and website for new stories, too. Throughout the day, I am always wondering, ìWhat has Santi learned to do now?î or ìWhat is Vin doing in school?î†The pictures are priceless.†To see them grow up right before your eyes, looking healthy and happy, is what is most important.†I keep their photos framed on my desk at work and at home.†I ask God to bless them and their families, and keep them safe always, along with my own children and grandchildren.††