Sep 28 2011

Joy of the journey: Reflection on 12 years of child sponsorship

By Kristi Sands, CFCA sponsor

  From left are Maria, Kristi Sands and Isabel. Kristi sponsors Maria and Isabel in Nicaragua

From left are Maria, Kristi Sands and Isabel. Kristi sponsors Maria and Isabel in Nicaragua.

I’ve sponsored Maria for 12 years and Isabel for two months through CFCA. They have the same name ó Maria Isabel ó but the younger one goes by her middle name.

Both live in Nicaragua ó a country that 12 years ago I had little interest in and had difficulty pronouncing.

While sponsors aren’t required to write, I knew letter writing would be essential to building a relationship with Maria, my first sponsored child.

Sometimes I was tempted to give up. Communication through letters that CFCA staff members then translate isnít always easy. I felt there were huge gaps in our ability to get to know one another.

Letters took a long time (generally six to eight weeks) to arrive. When I learned that one person does translations for an entire regional project, and that he/she generally translates 30 letters a day, that helped put things in perspective.

So despite the frustrations of not being able to read or write in Mariaís language, I felt inspired to stick it out.

God had given me this precious relationship and responsibility, and I intended to see it through to the end. Gratefully, communication eventually improved.

I didnít know that Maria planned to go to college until she announced she would be studying accounting at a university. She also wants to get her master’s degree and become a CPA.

I tucked that away as something to ask another sponsored child much earlier. I didnít know that college was an option for her, so I never asked what she wanted to do when she grew up. Read more

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Dec 30 2010

Family stands strong while mother is away

When Kenia was 14, her mother moved to Costa Rica with Keniaís oldest brother to find work and left Kenia and two brothers behind. For the past two years, Kenia has been raised by her brother, Juan Carlos. Kenia and Juan Carlos are sponsored through CFCAís Hope for a Family program. Kenia talks about how the separation has affected her and her family.

How did you feel when your mother and older brother left Nicaragua for Costa Rica?

It was very sad and very difficult. But because of the country’s economic situation, they were forced to leave.

How do you feel now?

I have had to get used to it since, even though she is far away from us, she calls us always and is always waiting for us to call. It is very difficult, but life is like that. One never thinks that these things could happen.

Raul, Juan Carlos, and Kenia

From left are Raul, Juan Carlos and Kenia.

Do you miss your mother?

Yes, because she has been a very good mother, a fighter, who in spite of all that has happened, has always fought for her children’s well-being.

I always imagine that the New Year or some other vacation period is coming so that she can return and we can be together again.

Do you have family to care for you, or only Juan Carlos?

Yes, thank God that besides my brothers, Raul and Carlos, some people will give me support and strength to carry on. They are not relatives but it is as though they were. They are always watching out for me, and I am very grateful. They are the couple who are pastors of the church that I attend.

How do you help your brother at home?

We will help each other, whether with household chores, which we divide among ourselves, or with our studies with which my brother Carlos helps me as I help my younger brother Raul. So we have learned that despite things that happen, love and the unifying element of family always prevail.

Where do you go to school?

I study at an institute about four blocks from my house. I am in the fourth year of secondary school, which is a little difficult for me, but with some effort I will make headway because our lives are like a race in which you have to struggle to win the prize.

What do you want to be in your life?

God willing, next year I will graduate from secondary school. At first I wanted to study to be a teacher, but also to be a nurse, and I have decided to study nursing.

What are your dreams and hopes?

To see myself fulfilled, to obtain a professional career, work and help my mother and little brother, since my mother has been that source of strength in those moments when I feel that I cannot continue. I remember what she does for me and I continue on.

Other wishes are to have the opportunity of knowing different countries, to mix well with people and to have new friends.

Read the story about Kenia’s brother, Juan Carlos.

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Sep 15 2010

Teaching hope to oneís children

Jesly and Laura

Jesly meets Laura, her sponsor, in Nicaragua.

One of our sponsors, Laura, discusses a recent trip with her daughter to Nicaragua, her home country, to visit their sponsored friend.

My name is Laura and I was born in the beautiful country of Nicaragua. I have the great pleasure of sponsoring a child from my home country; her name is Jesly and she is 6 years old. Recently, I traveled to Nicaragua to see my family and took the opportunity to schedule a visit to meet Jesly. The main goals for my visit were not just to meet Jesly but also to introduce my 5-year-old daughter Julia to the gratifying experience of helping others in need.

Jesly lives in a town called Esteli, which is about a three-hour drive from the capital of Managua where my family lives. When we arrived at the Managua project, my daughter, my brother and I decided to drive ourselves accompanied by a CFCA guide. We drove for a long while, passing through green valleys and mountains, and a couple of rain showers! I think I saw more of my country that day than I had in years!

When we reached Esteli we were met by the local CFCA coordinator. By this time the rain was pouring and when we pulled up to Jeslyís home, currents of mud were everywhere. I found Jesly, her mom Belky, and her little brother Jonathan waiting for us. I found Jesly to be a sweet, shy and beautiful little girl. I was so glad that I had brought my daughter to meet her. The humble home and surroundings made me reflect on the plight of so many people in Nicaragua and around the world. I was told of how CFCA provides assistance to families in need and Jeslyís family in particular.

Jesly and Julia

Jesly meets Julia, Laura’s daughter.

I was able to give Jesly a few toys and some clothing that I had brought for her. In no time, she and my daughter were playing with the dolls we had just ripped out of their packages! It warmed my heart to see how two little girls from different backgrounds could be brought together with the simple and universal act of playing with dolls.

When I was back at my parentsí home, I reflected on the dayís events. I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet Jesly and especially for being able to share the experience with my daughter. I spoke to Julia about the importance of helping those in need; that there are many people who need assistance and that a lot of them are kids just like her. I pray that this experience will stay with her as she grows up and that she recognizes how blessed we are in our family with everything that the Lord has provided for us.

I would like to thank CFCA for making this journey possible.

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Jul 1 2010

A carnation for poverty

ClareEarlier this year, Clare Nowalk, 13, was assigned a service project by her teacher. She decided to sell carnations after Mass and host a tie-dye workshop, with proceeds from both activities benefiting CFCA. Her decision was a natural fit said her mother, Jenny. In addition to her family’s sponsorship of a child in Nicaragua, Jenny had started talking about Walk2gether with the family.

“I got really excited about Walk2gether,” Jenny said. “I would follow Walk2gether and read what others had to say. I found the comments so inspiring.”

Clare sold approximately 100 carnations, and spent several hours teaching elementary school students how to tie-dye shirts. Below, you can read what Clare has to say about her activities.

Thank you for your hard work, Clare!

It all started when my teacher assigned our reading class to each do a service project. My family supports a little girl named Jarling through CFCA. I decided that I could help boys and girls like her. My mom and I decided I could sell flowers after church on Valentine’s Day. We earned at least $100, but that was just the beginning. Next, I worked with two seniors from Culver Academies to do a tie-dye workshop at my school. It was a huge success, and a whole lot of fun.

My overall total was at least $700. I enjoyed it a lot. I hope to continue helping others and I want to do the workshop again.

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Feb 27 2010

Walk2gether team aware of tsunami warnings

We received the following report this morning from Karen Allemang, the lead Walk2gether coordinator, about how Bob and the Walk2gether team are impacted by the tsunami warnings resulting from the 8.8 Chilean earthquake.

I called down to Nicaragua and spoke with Adolfo, who is with the walkers. He’s driving one of the vehicles and is the technical expert. The tsunami warning covers an extensive area including Central America. Aldolfo said that they had heard the news earlier this morning when they started walking. They are only 15 or 20 kilometers from the coast so they are keeping an ear to the news stations. They aren’t overly concerned for their safety, but are aware of the warning. I let him know that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center shows that a tsunami has been generated but doesn’t specify where in the Pacific. He sends greetings to all.

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Feb 10 2010

A call from the Philippines

VeronWhenever Veron Telar, Manila project coordinator in the Philippines, can access the Internet, she tries to send email updates about Walk2gether to Trisha Pitts, the regional director for the Philippines. Veron is walking through Central America with Bob and the Walk team.

Feb. 6, 2010

Dear Ma’am Trisha,

Thank you for the very inspiring message and for sharing my journey with the CFCA. Thank you also for the appreciation, prayers and support of everyone in Kansas and in the projects.

We are now here in Nicaragua and have finished our first 40 kilometers here yesterday. So far, we have walked 1,051 kilometers after crossing the mountainous 575 kilometers of Honduras. It was a great time walking with the Honduran CFCA sponsored families and staff in the projects. I am privileged to meet my co-coordinators and the rest of each project team.

I deeply appreciate your support to the Manila project team as you are constantly communicating with my team.

We received a call from the Philippines last week during the mission awareness trip to Antipolo. It was really a great joy for me to talk with Ma’am Malou (Antipolo project coordinator) and share with them some of my journey and experiences on the Walk. Sir Bob also gave his message to the Philippines team. I believe they are having a wonderful mission awareness trip.

My prayer is that this year’s trip brings hope, joy and life-giving experiences to the sponsors, CFCA families and to all my co-workers in the Philippines. I am very proud to represent them in Walk2gether, and also all of our co-workers in Kansas and in projects around the world. It is very inspiring to walk, as every co-worker of each project that we have visited has requested me to continue walking for them. I am very thankful and will always be appreciative for this great opportunity provided by my CFCA family.

This is all for now. I will be in touch again in the next few days. I hope my emails do not take most of your time. I just want to tell my experiences in this beautiful journey. I would like to add that the Walk, to me, is a healing process of the many challenges in my personal and work experiences, and I am very hopeful that this will surely be a great success for me and for every CFCA community, co-worker and sponsors, as well.

Thank you very much. My best regards to everyone.

Sincerely,

Veron

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Dec 29 2009

Let’s all go for a Walk2gether

CFCA staff in Kansas City walk around the warehouse.CFCA staff members in Kansas City took a symbolic walk of solidarity on Dec. 29, the same day that the 8,000-mile Walk2gether started in Guatemala.

Approximately 60 employees met in the community room at 9 a.m. to hear a report about the launch of Walk2gether, pray for the safety of the walkers and then make a short walk of solidarity.

Because a pre-Christmas blizzard left high snow drifts and dangerous ice on sidewalks, the walk was held inside instead of outdoors as originally planned. The Kansas City walkers followed a mile-long route marked by yellow boot prints inside the warehouse that is part of the CFCA headquarters.

The walk in Kansas City occurred at about the time the Guatemala walkers, led by CFCA President Bob Hentzen, were scheduled to make their first stop for breakfast. They began at about 4 a.m. and were due to walk 24 miles on the first day of the journey.

Other CFCA projects and employees held their own symbolic events for the Walk2gether kick-off.

At the Monrovia project in Liberia, staff and sponsored members spent the day volunteering at community hospitals.

In Ecuador, the Guayaquil project hosted solidarity walks 10 kilometers in length in areas where they have sponsored members.

The Bluefields subprojects in the northeast corner of Nicaragua will have a night vigil, where families, sponsored members and staff will join together in prayer. Throughout the duration of the walk, they will hold morning prayers and ask God to give both physical and spiritual strength to the walkers and to all of the families who will accompany them on this journey.

One employee, Jerry Gladbach of the Child Services department in Kansas City, made his own show of support for Walk2gether. He strapped cleats onto winter boots and walked 1-1/2 miles to work over snow and ice.

“I’m trying to be in solidarity with the walkers,” Gladbach said.

During the community meeting in Kansas City, CEO Paco Wertin led a prayer of blessing for the walk and its participants.

“Bob’s walk of unity unites all cultures, genders and creeds,” Wertin said. “It’s a way that helps us hear the cry of those living in poverty. He is carrying a message that you are not alone. Because they walk, we walk.”

Visit Walk2gether.org to learn more about why Bob is walking.

You can also send messages of support and encouragement that Bob will share with the families of sponsored members and the CFCA staff in the communities he visits.

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