The Parade … My Compassion Sponsor Tour to Guatemala

Stephanie Raquel  —  July 25, 2013 — 3 Comments

I could have blown that on sunscreens at Target, I thought.  Or a casual dinner out, on a night I just didn’t feel like cooking.

1075138_10151743689151119_1981336467_nA meager $38 a month …

Four sunscreens. 

Or, maybe … one life … forever changed.  In Guatemala, through Compassion International.

Last week, I had the chance to visit several Child Development Centers, meet some young college leaders, and see the amazing work that Compassion International is doing to reach some 44,000 children in the most malnourished country in Central America and the Caribbean — Guatemala.

On the first visit, they paraded us through festive balloons and Handel’s MessiahI kid you not!

Throughout the week, we were treated and paraded as if we were the most special guests who’d ever visited them on the planet.

I have never in my life felt so thankful, and yet so unbelievably humbled at the same time.

I was immensely thankful that I picked up a Compassion child sponsorship packet at a ‘random’ Jeremy Camp concert.  And so very grateful for the generous prayer and financial supporters who helped us with our trip.

And yet … incredibly humbled that we could be so honored for making the simple decision to sponsor a child and trek to Guatemala to meet him — which we did later in the week.

Kleys & Steph photo


They say that if you sponsor one child, you are effecting change for 30 people in his or her little world.  And last week, I saw first-hand how very true that is.


We met the children we sponsor at “Happy Days Fun Center” which is like the Guatemalan equivalent to an indoor-outdoor Chuck E. Cheese.

On our sponsor tour, we visited five child development centers (working alongside & housed in local churches) where we led Vacation Bible School-type activities.   But moreso, we entered into their world.  

Making TortillasWe visited homes where we made attempted to make homemade tortillas, pulled water from a well, cut wood and moved dirt for a farmer’s corn.  We visited workshops that are helping children build life-sustaining trade skills such as the bakery, barber shop and computer lab.  We learned of miracle babies and timely interventions and medical assistance that Compassion provided.  And all the time, we were paraded and appreciated beyond anything I would have ever imagined.  We visited the area where chickens were housed and took 8 weeks to grow, and then feasted on a delicious meal of chicken, rice and beans.  Can you say HUMBLING??!

Sponsor Tour July 2013 - 462

This is half our group meeting our sponsored kids at Happy Days!

The running joke came to be that if we pulled up to a child development center and got off the bus “to put on more sunscreen” that we were headed to church.  We’d be serenaded, hear an inspiring message, meet the team, (with many significantly strong women of faith), and hear again just how remarkably grateful the students were for their sponsors’ involvement in their lives.

If you’ve ever wondered how your Compassion dollars are invested, take heart!  We were amazed at how our modest ‘tortillas and salsa’ sacrifice (Pastor Juan Carlos’ message and play on words from Jesus’ loaves & fishes message!)…. is used for God’s kingdom!

We learned about chronic malnutrition, a category where Afghanistan is #1, and Guatemala is #3 globally.  In Guatemala alone, 50% are facing chronic malnutrition (with 66% of indigenous people)  — but only 33% of children in Compassion Projects (and 38% of the indigenous population).  Yet that is still one out of every three people we’d meet.

Beachballs were donated by my pharmacist, after I filled my malaria pills prescription!

Beach balls donated by my pharmacist, after I filled my malaria pills prescription!

We learned that only about 1% of sponsors ever meet their children, so those whom we met from our group of 55 North Americans felt like they won the lottery!

But for us sponsors, it was nowhere near giving away a lottery ticket.  It was just a backpack.  With practical goodies like toothpaste and shampoo, some coloring books, crayons, and a Spanish children’s bible.  For the mom’s gift … it was just a napsack.  With a nice spoon and a flat sheet that could double as a tablecloth or curtain.  And yet  … she hugged me and whispered into my ear, “Esta es un regalo tan grande por mi familia …” which meant, “This is a HUGE gift for my family.”  She is essentially a single mom to two young boys because her husband “likes to drink too much and likes women too much.”  Her words will resonate with me forever.

My daughter surmised at the end of the week that she’ll never look at poverty in the same way again.  She said, “It’s both sad and beautiful.  Sad for the situation they face, and yet beautiful to see how grateful and generous they are with all that they do have.”

I could not agree more.

There are still 5,000 children in need of sponsors in Guatemala, alone.  Plus countless more throughout the world.  How would YOU like to be the guest of honor at a parade?  For just $38 a month, you can.



Stephanie Raquel


3 responses to The Parade … My Compassion Sponsor Tour to Guatemala

  1. This is absolutely beautiful, and the video left me humbled and speechless! We are headed to the Dominican Republic with Compassion in November, and reading your words here is inspiring as we prepare for our trip. May God bless you abundantly for caring for his precious children!

    • Thanks, Miranda! You are in for such a treat in November!! Not sure what happened with your photo looking like mine … checking to see if it’s a technical issue on our end.

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