Friday, November 5, 2010
By Jenny Herzog

Jennie with her sponsored child

When I first decided to come to Africa, I wanted to sponsor a little girl so I could meet her face-to face and make an impact in a tangible way. I was so excited when we headed to the Vision Nursery School in Juba this morning. This was our first up-close visit with the people we came halfway across the world to serve. When we arrived, little children in tattered, dirty clothes rushed to greet our bus and shake our hands. We were also met by the school’s headmaster and escorted to a classroom for a special program.

As we walked in, the children clapped and honored us. Then we were treated to singing, dancing, skits, and games. The kids sang about how happy they were to see us and sang passionately about their love for Jesus. It was sweet and heartwarming to think about how long they had been preparing for this day. It was very humbling to be treated as dignitaries. I took photos and video and smiled until my cheeks hurt. Towards the end, I asked which little girl was my sponsored child, Florence. They brought her over and let her sit with me during the last few songs.

As I suspected from her photo, she was shy and reserved—not outgoing and assertive like many of the other kids. She had such a sweet spirit and seemed to be an “old soul.” She didn’t speak much English, but that didn’t stop us from communicating. I held her hand and smiled a lot. She just kept looking up at me with her big, brown eyes. After the program, I got to spend some time with Florence and give her the little gifts I brought. She was happy to get the teddy bear. I’m quite sure she didn’t know what it was so I showed her how to hug the soft little animal. Florence liked the dresses too, not in an exuberant way, but with a quiet excitement. It was hard because all of the other kids were trying to take her bear, capture my attention, and jump in front of all the photos. Florence tried to be patient, but I could tell she wanted my undivided attention. She held onto my hand tightly the whole time. At one point, I was talking to some of the other kids, and she started touching my hair. I’m sure I was a strange site with my red hair and freckles.

Love knows no boundaries

It didn’t take long, but God bonded our hearts and souls together. I know it was no accident that God linked my heart to this precious little girl who has no father and struggles to survive. It was extremely hard to leave her, but she will always be special to me. I will pray for her every day, and remarkably, she will pray for me too. I was reminded of something Tom said Corrie Ten Boom told him…everyone that is put in your path is there for a purpose—to help you or help them. I believe Florence and I are helping each other.

I pray that I will be able to go home and convince others to make the investment of a dollar a day to save the life of a little child. After all, it’s not an accident when a child is born. God made each one special and they all deserve a chance to thrive. Even if I left today, I know that God helped me fulfill my heart’s desire to impact a life!

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