Harry and Joanne Ehmann are CFCA sponsors who live just outside Dallas, Texas. This year, they decided to participate in a CFCA mission awareness trip to visit their sponsored friend Joy, who lives in Kenya. Their long-distance friendship with Joy has made a positive impact on their lives. You can read more about their story of friendship here.
The following is an excerpt from our conversation with these wonderful members of the CFCA community.
1) What ultimately led you to sponsor through CFCA?
Joanne: We were moved by the CFCA presentation made at St. Michaelís a few years ago and felt this was one way we could share some of the blessings God had bestowed upon us. Initially we had selected a young girl from Madagascar, but after a year of sponsorship, CFCA notified us that her family had moved out of the area.
Joy and Harry Ehmann
Joy and Joanne Ehmann
We had the option to choose another or let CFCA choose for us. We asked CFCA to provide another girl for us. This is how Joy came into our lives. This also reinforces for us the conviction that through CFCA God chose Joy for us.
2) How has your sponsorship impacted your life?
Harry: Sponsorship with CFCA has enriched our lives. We enjoy the personal letters back and forth that really bring home our connection to her and her family. CFCA gives us the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way as we remember Christís words in Matthew 25:40.
3) What was it like to meet Joy in person?
Joanne: Wow! We were both so thrilled. It was like a reunion even though this was the first time weíd actually met. We had anticipated this moment in the days and months leading up to it, and thanks to the CFCA staff, we felt fully prepared. This only heightened our excitement.
As the bus pulled up we were met with singing and dancing by the mothers group. The moment I got off the bus I recognized Joy. She was even more beautiful than her pictures! … We both felt so much love for both Joy and her family and were thrilled to be able to meet her and hug her entire family.
4) Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the trip?
Harry: I guess other than our initial meeting my favorite memory was when our trip leader, Stephen, explained that due to the recent rains and muddy road conditions, it was not possible for us to ride the bus to visit Joyís home on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.
He told us that Joyís mother said it was only a ì20 minute walkî and conceded that her reckoning might be a bit short of what we could actually expect. And yet we all piled out to walk with Joy and her sisters and mother along the muddy road under overcast skies to their home about 4 miles and one hour away.
… We felt a sense of fellowship with the members of our group who risked the red mud glomming to their shoes, the slippery paths and the threatening clouds to share with us what Joy and her family experienced themselves on a regular basis.
It struck me later that our little trek personified the CFCA slogan of not just carrying the poor, but walking with them instead.
5) What was it like to see her living conditions and the impact you are making?
Joanne: … Her home was small yet neat. It stood apart with a yard and hedge around it with an awesome view of Mt. Kenya. On the wall in the center of the room we were tickled to see our pictures in a frame with Joyís picture aside.
It was at that moment I realized how important we were to them. We felt so honored and humbled to be a part of their lives.
Joyís mother, Esther, was so gracious in her hospitality and actually had some gifts for us, which were completely unexpected. We were told that Joy slept with her mother for the time being. We were shown the furniture they had recently acquired through our sponsorship and that they wanted to get a bed for Joy next.
We met Joyís teacher and some of her extended family, uncles and aunts and her best friend. After one sees the actual results of oneís sponsorship it compels you to want to contribute even more.
6) Joy said your friendship means a lot to her. What does Joyís friendship mean to you and your family?
Harry: Joyís friendship brings us much happiness. We feel privileged to assist her in achieving her goals. We love getting her letters and reading about her progress in school as well as how her sisters are doing. …
7. Joy said you brought her gifts. What kind of gifts did you bring?
Joy delights in her new doll, Mary, brought to her by the Ehmanns!
Joanne: We followed the helpful suggestions from CFCA regarding what gifts would be most useful and appreciated. School supplies, a backpack, a few outfits for Joy, a pair of sneakers, a stuffed animal (Texas armadillo of course), coloring book, crayons and a doll.
My mother insisted we take her a doll and we resisted at first due to the bulkiness, but it turns out the doll was Joyís favorite present.
She named the doll Mary after her CFCA worker Mary Katanga! What does that tell you about the impact CFCA has on Joy.
We also brought a few household items for Joyís mother, Esther (towels, sewing kit, toiletries, first aid items, flash light, batteries, and a necklace).
To our surprise, Joyís family had some gifts waiting for us when we arrived at their home.
A hand-carved elephant for Harry and a leopard for me, a beautiful handmade bag with a unique African design, some beaded bracelets and necklaces and a large red patterned cloth that they used to cover our heads signifying their hope that our union would last.
We were blown away, to say the least, especially by this last gesture.
8) You have recently sponsored another child in Kenya. Is this a result of your experience visiting Kenya and meeting Joy?
Harry: We chose a young boy from Nairobi named Faisal, and yes, this choice was a direct result of our visiting Kenya. We also chose an elderly woman from Honduras named Estella.
Again, we felt compelled to do more because of our firsthand experience in Kenya. I was humbled thinking how blessed I was to be born in the USA and how much I took for granted on a daily basis.
To see how far oneís monthly contribution goes in making a difference for those less fortunate and to be apprised of the challenges still facing CFCA is the real value of mission awareness trips.