Today was the most amazing day of my trip so far! I was able to go and visit Benjamin, the 17-year-old student that I have been sponsoring through Compassion International for the last two years. It is really difficult to put the experience into words, but I will try.
The day began with an early, four-hour bus ride from Santo Domingo to Barahona. We met our Compassion International translator in Santo Domingo to make the trip with us. I was very excited the entire bus ride. I had barely slept the night be for in anticipation of meeting Benjamin.
When we arrived in Barahona, the pastor, whose church sponsors the Compassion International program, met us at the bus station. We traveled with him to the Compassion project site. It was great to see almost every person that we passed waving at the pastor. It is clear that he has been able to touch many lives in the community.
When we arrived at the site, there was a guy sitting on a bench outside of the Compassion International center. I opened my wallet to look at the picture of Benjamin that I keep there. I was almost sure that it was him, but it was hard to tell because the picture that I have is almost a year old. When we approached the center, I shook the guy’s hand and attempted to greet him in what little Spanish I know.
A moment or two later, the Compassion International project director introduced the guy on the bench to me. It was indeed Benjamin. My heart started beating in my chest. The student who I have had the privilege to write, to sponsor, and to pray for was now standing before me. The request that Benjamin had made to me almost a year ago in a letter to come and visit him had finally come true. This was a moment that I had imagined but always wondered if it would become a reality.
Benjamin and I were able to spend about four hours together. These hours consisted of touring the Compassion International project, visiting Benjamin’s family and home, seeing Benjamin’s school and the court where he plays on the school basketball team, and seeing Benjamin’s work. We ended the day out to lunch at a Dominican restaurant with Benjamin and the Compassion International staff.
At the beginning of the day, Benjamin was quiet and struggled to talk. I think that he was in shock because this day was a reality. In talking to Brad about his response, Brad said that it would be like me meeting my scholarship donors from UAB. It is a time where you are thankful for what someone has done for you and your family but you find it hard to put into words.
Throughout the day, Benjamin began to get more comfortable with me. It was a blessing to be able to watch eyes light up as I distributed gifts to Benjamin and his family. The little kids in the family quickly devoured the Gobstoppers and other candy that I had brought.
At the end of the day, Benjamin expressed his thankfulness and gratitude for my visit and investment it him. It is truly a blessing to be able to have the resources to invest in him. After my visit, I feel like I know how to more effectively write to and pray for Benjamin.
It was great to be able to see the work of Compassion International first hand. I have had the privilege of serving as a Child Advocate for Compassion International for a year. After experiencing what happens through Compassion in a project, I believe that God is using them to do incredible work. This will be a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.
The day ended with another 8 hours on the bus back to Puerto Plata. As I rode, I could not stop thinking of the experience that I had. God truly works with resources surrendered to Him in amazing ways that only He could orchestrate. I am privileged that God allowed me to be used in the life of Benjamin and his family!
God can use you to help release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name through Compassion International. For more information on sponsoring a child, please visit click here.