Tears streamed down my face that night as our team talked about our day. Pictures of the little girl who had stolen my heart flashed through my mind as I thought about the incredible day God had given me the privilege of experiencing.
That morning, a hot, sticky morning in El Salvador, my dad and I got the chance to visit the home of our sponsored child, an 8-year-old girl named Josselin. As we rode in the van to Josselin’s house, our translator showed us Josselin’s file. In it was every letter that I had ever written her, as well as countless pictures she had drawn and detailed reports of her growth. They told us that she had a copy of each of those letters as well.
As the van pulled up to her house, I was ecstatic. I saw Josselin peeking out the door and couldn’t help beaming as I told my dad, “That’s her!!!!” We hopped out of the car and walked up to Josselin and her family. We introduced ourselves, hugged Josselin and her grandma, and played with her baby brother. We ate the lunch that we had brought with us together in a patio-like room with a dirt floor and a tin awning. Our translator, Alex, helped us ask Josselin all the questions we had about what she liked to do at the Compassion Center she attended and what her favorite classes at school were. She was very shy to begin with, but after we played soccer together for a little while after lunch, she opened right up. We were goofing around while we played and we were laughing so hard. I will never forget how big and beautiful her smile was, and the sound of her giggles and laughter will always be in my mind.
After we were done playing soccer, we asked Josselin to show us around her house. She proudly led us in a door and presented their kitchen to us. The space was probably 12×4 feet and had a small counter along one wall. Josselin explained that at night she slept in a hammock that they strung across the room. She then led us into a room where she told us her mom and baby brother slept. There was a double bed that took up the whole space. We went back outside where I showed her a picture book of our family – me, my dad and mom, my two siblings, and our dog. We told her how much we loved her and that we pray for her every day. She then showed me a little book that she had made and put 5 different portraits of herself. It was very evident that she had spent lots of time making it, and we were so honored that she would give us such an incredible little gift. I still have her book in my room and I can’t help but smile whenever I see it.
I explained to Josselin the best thing that had ever happened to me, asking Jesus to be in charge of my life, and I told her that she could make that decision too. I encouraged her to keep reading her Bible and talking to her leaders at church and the Compassion Center.
Then, all too fast, it was time to say goodbye. And as I hugged the little girl who I had prayed for, the little girl who I had written countless letters to, the little girl who had and always will have a special place in my heart, I was blown away. Seeing the little girl who I loved had completely changed my life. Watching her smile had touched my heart. And hearing her laugh had shown me how BIG our God is.
— Clare Smith, 9th grade student
Learn more about Compassion International and what it looks like to sponsor a child when the Compassion Experience comes to Grace, May 18-21.