Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Living Letters

Last week we posted about the opening of the Nicole Lyn Anderson community center in Colombia. In today's post, we want to share with you the story of Nicole's visit with her sponsored child, Luz, during a November 2004 trip to Barranquilla. This story was written by Damon Guinn and appeared in the May 2006 Children International eNews.

Tomorrow, Nicole's husband, Brian, shares his emotional journey as the center named in his wife's memory was inaugruated.

“I know this family is going to make it,” Nicole Anderson confides while pointing to a picture of exuberant Colombians.

Nicole, anxious to talk about her trip to Barranquilla, Colombia, had recently returned from visiting her sponsored child, Luz, after dropping off some gifts for a relative’s sponsored child, Carolina.

“When I arrived at Carolina’s home, her little sister, Stephany, leaped into my arms,” Nicole says, still clearly excited about the experience. Her entire family came out in celebration.

“It was so much fun to see how happy they were,” she exclaims, especially after presenting the girls with art supplies, stuffed animals, and a photo album of her family. “Their mother, Jacqueline, was so moved by the photographs and presents, she gave me a very special picture of her family. It was probably one of their only photos.”

The visit convinced Nicole to sponsor Stephany once she returned home to Kansas City. Soon after returning, she sent the family the pictures she had taken during her visit. In a matter of weeks, a letter from Jacqueline arrived in her mailbox.

Turning to a letter now pasted in her photo album, Nicole reads, “We remember the day you were here with us a lot. Stephany is very happy with all the pictures where you appear. She shows them to everybody that comes to our house.”

And that was just the first visit, the one that was supposed to be a quick stopover, Nicole continues. Her trip to see Luz, her first sponsored child, was even more gratifying.

“Luz ran out of her house yelling, ‘Mí madre! Mí madre!’” (My mother! My mother!) Nicole pantomimes while flipping to a picture of the slightly cross-eyed girl beaming at the camera. “She jumped into my arms, wrapped her legs around my waist and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.”

Despite the ragged conditions of the house and the family’s obvious hardship, she says Luz was all smiles and remained draped around her neck throughout the visit.

Pointing to a picture of Luz wearing a Carnival mask Nicole had given her, she turns to her most cherished letter. In uneven, curlicue letters, the happy-go-lucky girl has penned, “I am very happy to have met you…I also wish to see you again very soon to hug you and give you lots of kisses.”

“These letters are like love letters – they’re read over and over again,” admits Nicole, clearly smitten.

Even if other sponsors don’t have the opportunity to visit their children, she encourages them to write and send pictures so they, too, will experience the joy of connecting with their sponsored children.

“It’s life-changing,” she concludes. “That’s all I can say.”


Betsemes said...

This reminds me of the only time when I visited a sponsored child. She was so shy! I hardly could cross a few words with her. It was an overall good experience, the best experience I had during that whole visit to that foreign country, but I wished for a more emotive one. It was not with CI, it was with the other charity. Everyone was around us at all times and this inhibits me to be expressive, I also am not very talkative. I'm planning to visit my girls at the Philippines by next year. I know that the Philippines are not inhabited by latins, I don't know how expressive or caring filipinos are. I might be set up for another disappointment.

Kelly said...

I'm sure you won't be disappointed! Our sponsored children in the Philippines tend to be very caring, articulate and quite expressive. You can look forward to a great visit.

Betsemes said...

I am from Puerto Rico, so I'm latin too. A visit to any latin country could be quite emotional for any American, but for another latin who is more used to this way of life, it might not be so.

Yet, I'm taking a wrong attitude to this. I know quite well that whatever we expect is what most likely we will get. Rovelyn is very well articulated in the written words. Dominican girls do not write their letters at all when they are her age. And Rovelyn has expressed her excitement at getting my letters. I only have had Jinky for two weeks and a half, so obviously, I have not gotten any letter from her yet. She is older than Rovelyn, so I might expect even better letters from her. My impression of Rovelyn is of a veeeeery intelligent girl.

Betsemes said...

Why don't the images show?

liz said...

I have visited my 5 girls in the Philippines twice now, and Im sure you can look forward to a very emotional and special time. My eldest girl who is 10, is extremely affectionate and loving, as our my other children, right down to my little girl who is only 4, although it was a game with her, she would only look at me if I wasnt looking, then turn away laughing. I do believe the kids in the Philippines are not quite as outgoing as the South American children, as they are quite shy, but once the 'ice' is broken, I know you will have a very special time.

Betsemes said...

The nick I'm using is "betsemes" which is not my real name and people use to confuse me with a woman, but I'm a man. That's usually an obstacle to get involved with a child since it is well known that men usually are not very affectionate with children. It has been sponsorship what have changed me and have made of myself what I am now. Helping poor children is my passion and I now react to children on exactly the opposite way I used to years ago. And that's sometimes frustrating. You say your Philippine sponsored girls were shy with you. I then might expect that mine will be even more. I have also the option of visiting the Dominican Republic to visit the children I sponsor there, three girls and one boy with CI; but my past experience at the airport in that country was not exactly pleasant.