She was never supposed to be mine.
Originally, Stirling was my mother's sponsored child. We decided to add Stirling to our shared Compassion account, thinking it would be easier if I could introduce myself to her as "one of her sponsors." All along, though, she was really my mother's (she was paying for her sponsorship, after all). I thought she was precious and I was really excited to meet her, but she wasn't one of "my girls." She wasn't Jeimmy, or Ingris, or Esther, or Sharon. Those were the girls I was flying to Honduras for. Those were the girls who were really mine.
I was definitely looking forward to meeting Stirling when we visited her project, assuming that I might get to spend half an hour with her (certainly not the full day I was ultimately blessed with!).
And here is where my confession really hurts: I purposely excluded her from Child Visit Day.
Okay, that feels really harsh and maybe it wasn't as cold and calculating as I'm making it out to be...but maybe it was. My perspective may honestly be a little clouded while looking back on it. Even though I was technically one of Stirling's sponsors, before I left for the trip I knew she was my mother's sponsored child. And since she wasn't really mine, I didn't want to share that special day with her. (I know, I know, I'm basically the worst person in the world.)
I knew that it was going to be a lot to divide my time between 4 girls already. 5 would simply be too overwhelming, I thought. Stirling would get her alone time with me on Friday while we were at her project, but when Saturday came around, I would be focusing on my own sponsored children. It sounded good to me...at the time.
But less than a week before we went, I was hit with a wave of the impact of this decision. I felt sick to my stomach when I realized what was going on. I had told myself that I was trying to protect my time with my 4 girls, but what I had really done was leave Stirling out because I was too afraid to split my time with another child. I thought I had been doing the right thing, but I was really being selfish and clinging to my own desires and expectations.
I emailed my trip's co-leader in a hurry and asked her if it was too late to add Stirling to Child Visit Day. She was sure that it probably was too late, but she said that she would ask. A mere handful of days before we left I received the email that confirmed that everything was now taken care of...Stirling would be joining us! I was terrified, but I knew that was God's answer to my predicament. I braced myself for an even more overwhelming day at the water park, did some creative rearranging of all the gifts I'd packed, bought an extra doll, and hoped for the best.
As you all know from my previous posts about my trip, Stirling absolutely blew me away. I had known virtually nothing about her before my trip. I didn't even call her by the right name (I called her by her second name, "Johana," for an entire day...only to find out before we left that she actually goes by "Stirling").
But when the project director brought her to me and I introduced myself as her sponsor, that's exactly what I became. The technicalities didn't matter at all. She flung her arms around my neck and held on for dear life, and as we cried together in that moment, she stole my heart forever.
I can't imagine our day in the water park without Stirling. She and Jeimmy connected and held hands and were so sweet, it made me want to cry. As we were saying our goodbyes at the end of that day, her pastor told me that Stirling's lifelong dream had been to visit that water park. He thanked me for making her dream come true.
It was all I could do not to break down as I realized that my own selfish impulses had almost stopped this very dream from being fulfilled!
So many times in life we try to conform God's plans to our desires. We might not even know it at the time. But God's plans are so, so much bigger than our own!
Don't limit God.
Would I have enjoyed Child Visit Day with my 4 girls? Absolutely. It would have been a wonderful day and I know I would still consider it to be the best day of my life. But it would have been incomplete. Stirling would have missed out, and I would have missed out, too. Having spent two beautiful days together, I feel such a deep connection to her. In fact, she is so much "my" child now that we transferred her to my account so that my mom could sponsor another girl from the same project. (I promise I didn't mean to steal her away from you, Mom! Really!)
If Child Visit Day had gone the way I had originally intended, I would have missed out on these very special moments:
|Instant best friends.|
|With Stirling and her pastor.|
|I can barely look at this picture without crying. I love this girl so much!|
I am so thankful that God worked out this day exactly as it was supposed to go, and that I could spend the day with all 5 of my girls.