After having received a raise a few years ago, I found myself looking through the Compassion website for another child to sponsor.
Photo after photo, dark haired children with gorgeous brown eyes stared back, hopeful. Then, the unexpected. I stumbled upon the profile of little girl with a mop of reddish curls, and I was captivated. I was married to a redhead with a mop of curls, and our daughter has a hint of red in her hair. She'd fit right in with out family!
Shaking my head, I thought to myself that it seemed so silly to pick a child based on hair color. I kept looking, but image after image, all I could see in my heart was this little girl named Emily, from the country of Honduras, with tired eyes, a sweet grin and that coppery hair...
I showed her photo to my husband, saying "Look, she's just like you!" He grinned, shook his head, and gave me that "... are you seriously considering another sponsorship, we can't have them all, you know?!?" look. Even unspoken, it was a rhetorical question.
I showed her to the kids, and they agreed on how unusual it seemed, but how sweet and precious she was... and that we should sponsor her. It's in the genes, what can I say?!
After much prayer and consideration, we made the commitment to sponsor Emily. The relationship through the letters seemed extra special and so personal. Our families really connected, especially Emily's mom and I. It was great to see them thriving and getting to know them over time.
Then, the unexpected happened. The next photo update we received from Compassion was of Emily, with alert brown eyes, the same sweet face.... and dark brown hair!
We were baffled, but we could see that it was her, we would have recognized her face anywhere.
Sweet little Emily was no longer our little red headed curly top... she had grown into a beautiful brown haired beauty.
The letters continued, the love grew, and once more with the next photo, her hair darkened.
In January of this year, we were notified that Emily had left the Compassion program when her family became financially stable enough to move to another area not served by Compassion. We were so sad to say goodbye to the family we had grown to love so much, and yet encouraged by the hope the future held for this precious family.
I did my best to remind the children that the sponsorship helped her, no matter how long we had with her, and that we needed to pray that the impact we'd had would stretch through the years into her adulthood... just as the impact she'd had on us would last.
Still, it seemed hard to find closure.
Thankfully, God provides... He even provides closure.
He taught us a short while later that sponsorship HAD made an incredible impact on sweet little Emily beyond what we had realized.
We had proof already, but hadn't realized it.
Sponsorship changed her hair color.
Emily's hair color was red due as a result of severe malnutrition. She was so nutritionally depleted that her hair color had turned to a coppery shade of red.
I thought of the kids and how miserable they are when they get a cold, or my own struggle with my health, but never has our hair color changed from our health issues. Imagine how unwell one must feel if their body is impacted to the point that their hair color changes? Jesus come quickly...
My heart broke, and yet, it couldn't help but rejoice... Although I had no idea when we chose her because of her hair color that this would end up being significant, God knew. God knew we'd never forget the impact we made and that we'd be encouraged to begin another sponsorship in Emily's place.
Emily has been, and always will be a beautiful reminder of the following:
That we can make a difference...
That something like hair color may seem silly, but to never underestimate the things God uses to catch our attention...
To not take our health for granted, and be grateful even when we don't feel well...
The harsh realities of poverty...
The importance of Compassion's program...
And the difference sponsorship makes.... even to one little girl's hair color.
Canadian? For sponsorship please click here, or email me at JD (at) beyondmeasure (dot) me.
For sponsorship from the U.S.A., here is the link to kids waiting for sponsors.