I tack up another photo, third in a series of the girl we love but have never met.
She is stretching tall with years, like the bamboo trees behind her. Her hair now trails long and black below her shoulders. Her eyes — like coffee — daily drink deep witness to a village where poverty and heartache are the norm.
You’d think her eyes would wear the sorrow. But I see Light in those eyes. She knows Jesus.
And we know Jesus more than we could have known Him before a Brazilian girl stole our hearts. Because of her. Her life story weaves into the threads of our own story, and we’re a three-stranded cord now. That’s the strongest kind of all.
Wave hello to Vitoria, daughter of a bricklayer and a mama named Karine.
We first loved her on a winter evening during the intermission of a concert. Sara Groves sang a song about being like the moon. Because a moon can’t shine on its own. And I wanted to shine like that, for someone else.
The husband and I looked for a Brazilian girl. Searched the rows to find one just about the age of our girls. That way, they could grow up together. Three sisters, separated by hemispheres and water and an equator — but spinning the same path around the same sun. Same light blazing down on all of us — so we can all shine like little moons.
This Light knows no currency.
I picked her card up, knew right away that she was the one.
We stuffed the envelopes with inked prayers and scrawled Scriptures and shiny stickers and coloring pages. We told her about our snow and our farm and a place called Iowa up over the curve of the Earth.
Her teacher at the mission wrote back; little Vitoria illustrated with colored-pencil drawings of houses and flowers and Christmas elves.
“She loved the dress that was bought with the birthday money,” the teacher wrote. “And the birthday card the children sent, and the letter. She has saved them all in a briefcase she bought especially for it.”
We began to pray for her, too. We link hands around this wooden rectangle where food heaps in bowls, all steamy.
“Dear God, thank you for the food and drinks,” Anna says. “Please be with our aunts and uncles and our cats and all the people we know. And please be with Vitoria, too.”
A Brazilian bricklayer and a mama pray for us, too.
“They present your names to God everyday in their prayers,” the teacher wrote.
We walk to the end of the gravel driveway, and find words from the child tucked in the mailbox. This time, the words are written in her own hand.
Padrinhos, she writes in cursive. (She learned how to write like that in second-grade, just like her big sister Lydia Lee!)
And I look at the word again: Padrinhos.
That’s Portuguese for Godparents.
Not just a sponsor. Not just a stranger who sends $38 a month to an office in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
She calls us Padrinhos.
“I like to ride and at school I have friends and I like to play with them. Hugs to you, Vitoria.”
And the teacher adds more words at the bottom of the letter. She writes that our afilhada — Goddaughter — is doing well. But could we please pray for the others? Vitoria’s mother, Karine, came to the mission and asked if the padrinhos from Iowa could pray to God about the children in the villages — the ones who still suffer.
These are the children with empty bellies and dry tongues who need little moons to shine up the darkness for them.
And there are thousands more like them all over the world. They are in need of light and love, brought by the grace of someone’s small sacrifice: $38 a month and daily prayers. (The Schwans man stood at my door 20 minutes ago. I spent $54.24 without blinking.)
We can be modern-day superheroes, you and I. We can save the world like this: One + one + one.
Would you consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International? Find out more by clicking here.
When you sponsor a child, you’ll receive your child’s photo, personal story and a child sponsorship packet by mail in about 15 days.
Then hold on tight. For your super-hero heart will soar.
I write today as part of Ann Voskamp’s Walk With Him Wednesday series:
“How Do You Care for the Least of These.” Check out her beautiful story over at her place. (She’s heading to Guatemala next week as a part of a Compassion International Bloggers project. Superhero Ann, we pray for you!)
Friends, many of you already have sponsored children. Would you share your experience in the comment box? Feel free to share your thoughts on how we can save the world, one + one + one.