Yesterday we received a voicemail from our sponsorship child organization saying that they had urgent news about our sponsor child. With mixed emotions, I sort of shrugged it off, assuming that she was reaching the age of "graduating" from their sponsorship program and wanted to set us up with another child, as they have done previously.
Bobby returned the call this morning to find out that our sponsor child had passed away earlier this month, from what they suspect was a heart problem. I am not sure, but I think she would have only been about 16 or 17.
As I sit here processing and grieving, wondering what I should learn from her loss, I feel so many things and have a need to do what I do best when I need to process...write!
My first regret is not having made this precious girl more of a part of my life. Sure, I occasionally prayed for her (usually only when I received a letter or an annual update) and very infrequently wrote her letters and sent family pictures, but I was not faithful with those prayers or letters. I could have prayed for her every day. I could have written her so much more often than I did. I worked with a sponsorship program when I lived in Uganda and I've seen firsthand how much it thrills a child to get a letter and/or a picture...and yet I didn't make it more of a priority. I should have taken more time to pay attention to the details of her life via her annual progress reports. I can't even remember when her birthday is...
My second regret is not having talked more about God's deep love for her with her. The organization I originally chose to begin sponsorship with way back when I was in high school is a well known organization, but not overtly Christian. I am not sure if she was a believer or not. Oh how I wish I was more faithful in my prayers for her salvation. I am thankful that now that I've had this wake up call, I can pray for her family and their salvation.
I also wasn't as intentional as I could have been about teaching my boys about who she was and how God has allowed us the opportunity to help her and her family because we've been blessed abundantly. I know they are still pretty young, but J is starting to become more aware of things and he is understanding more and more every day so I think with our next sponsorship, I need to start involving them in the process of praying for our special girl and writing letters/drawing pictures for her.
So, all this to say that I have learned from her loss...among other things, I've learned about the value and gravity of the position I hold as a sponsor, about the importance of prayer for this precious life, and once again, how blessed I really am.
I hugged my boys extra tight before putting them down for their naps this afternoon because I know there's a family in the Philippines right now who would give anything to get a chance to hug their "baby" girl again. I have two healthy boys and so much more to be thankful for. It's all about perspective...which is especially important for me to remember on days like today where I'm weary of correcting and rebuking and training my almost 3 year old the same things over and over, fighting with his strong little will.
I'll never understand why God would chose to allow this little girl to leave this world when He did, but I continue to trust in my heart He knows best, His ways are higher than mine, and He loves me...just as He loves my little Jennilyn. I know I can't dwell on my failures because it's not healthy. I can't sit here and feel sorry for myself because I messed up. There's nothing I can do to fix my negligence now, except to repent, learn from it and make some changes for the future, which I can only do with God's help.
If you have a sponsor child, I hope this reminds you of the value of your position, and prompts you to be a little more faithful in your prayers for your sponsor child, and maybe prompts you to write them a letter!