By Harvey Correia, CFCA sponsor
My wife, Linda, and I began our family relatively late so when there was a CFCA presentation in our parish while Linda was pregnant with our only child, Michael, we liked the idea of expanding our family through sponsoring a young child.
We sponsored Claudia, a 17-month-old from Nicaragua, in August 1998 when our son was 6 months old.
Although we were not especially active sponsors in writing to our sponsored friend, we treasured the letters received, first written by an older sister and, as Claudia grew older, from Claudia.
We did pray for Claudia and her family in our daily prayers, and this helped strengthen our bond with Claudia as well as help teach Michael our beliefs in social justice.
The annual photos have been a great treasure and formed a great album showing Claudia’s progress.
We read CFCA articles about mission awareness trips and thought one day it would be nice to meet Claudia.
Claudia at age 1.
Claudia at age 9.
Finally, an August 2009 trip fit our schedule perfectly, so we registered for the trip.
We arrived in Nicaragua on Saturday and greatly anticipated meeting Claudia in a few days. Much to our surprise, God had more treasures planned for us, however.
Early in the trip we visited a small town where CFCA worked, and there we met Juan Francisco and his family who had been waiting two years for sponsorship.
Juan Francisco was a spunky 7-year-old boy who had very sad living conditions and did not attend school regularly since the family did not have money for a uniform or school supplies.
We knew we could not leave Juan Francisco and his family without helping and knew that God wanted us to share the blessings he had bestowed upon us, so our family grew that day.
Juan Francisco and his family now have much better living conditions, and our boy is doing very well in school.
A couple of days later we finally met Claudia, and what a joy.
Hearing her voice, receiving big hugs, holding hands, and sharing gifts created memories that will last forever. The experience went way beyond the “nice” we were expecting.
We spent a little over two days together traveling to a park and other projects. It brought lots of tears when we had to say goodbye, but we promised to come back again some day.
Although we had not considered sponsoring any more children, we were glad we had Juan Francisco in our lives.
Claudia also learned that there were others with even greater needs than her own, and she said she wanted to help the poor one day.
God had yet more surprises for us, and a few days later we met 7-year-old Neyling, who became part of our family that day.
Neyling is an adorable little girl with a big warm smile and full of constant hugs.
We returned home the following day but felt like we left our hearts in Nicaragua, where we now had three children and had the opportunity to meet many dedicated CFCA employees.
Harvey continues his story when his family returned to Nicaragua to celebrate Claudia’s quinceaÒera.