A Remembrance

It’s been over two years since I met Amani and Witness in Tanzania.  It still feels like yesterday for me.  Two and a half years later and the teens I met are almost young adults.  I miss them.

It’s hard to leave something valuable — and my time spent with Amani and Witness was priceless.  It was revelatory, exposing truths to my heart that I could possibly not learn in any other way.

There are many precious memories I brought back from Tanzania.  One specific memory comes to mind.  You see, when you take a trip with Compassion International, there is one special day where each sponsored child is brought to a central meeting point to meet their sponsor.  Some travel many hours on rough dirt roads to meet that special person who loves them enough to support them.  Each child and sponsor anticipates their joint meeting and the moment that it occurs is a grand homecoming of sorts — brothers and sisters in Christ finally united in a flood of tears and hugs.

I experienced the joy of that reunion with Amani and Witness. I remember scouring the crowd of children — looking for those faces I had memorized from their pictures — but Amani found me first.  He’s not hard to pick out in this picture.  I didn’t even realize that he had found me when I took this picture but the excitement on his face is hard to miss.

We spent the day enjoying each other — getting to know each other.  Compassion supplied translators for each sponsored child so I was lucky to have two translators of my very own – one for each child.

Amani’s translator was named Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was an amazing African man who was studying to be a doctor.  Not only did he translate for me, but he taught me about the culture and life of Tanzania.  I love to learn and he was the perfect translator for me!  God knew!

However, it was something that Ezekiel said to me on that day that I will forever cherish.  He said, “Because you have taken the time to visit Amani, he will now work hard to overcome his circumstances.  He knows now that  you are real and that you must love him very much to come visit him.”

Imagine the depth of that statement!  It wasn’t about the money, albeit the money we send is essential for his survival.  It had to do with my time.  Time spent traveling across the world to meet him.  Time spent every month writing letters of encouragement to him.  Time sharing God’s Word with him so that he could become the man of God that he was intended to be.

Our visit was over far too soon.  After I said goodbye to Amani and Witness, I remember stepping back onto the bus and sitting down into my empty seat.   I remember looking out the open bus door straight into Witness’ eyes and seeing tears well up from deep within her beautiful, brown eyes.  As our eyes made contact, she turned away so that I could not see her cry.  Witness has a quiet, precious soul that speaks loudly of grace without using too many words.

I looked over towards Amani (who was 14 at the time) and saw that he was crying with some difficulty.  Huge sobbing tears were streaking down his face.  He was almost convulsing as he wept.

Then Witness, this gentle young woman I had instantly come to adore, quietly wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at me with what I can only describe as pure, undefiled love.  It was at that moment I knew what our sponsorship really meant to them.  At that moment, I learned a deeper meaning of the word “love.”  It was love of the purest sense.  Genuine and real.  Sacrificial and meaningful.

There is much more to the heart than just feeding it with nutrients.  The heart also needs the sacrifice of your time.  It needs the constancy of your words and prayers.  It needs to know the contentment that only a Holy Savior can bring.

I am looking forward to our trip to Ecuador this summer to meet Kevin and Mayra.  I can’t wait to hold them in my arms and tell them that I love them.  And the amazing thing is that they love me also.  Isn’t God good?


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