By Mary and Douglas DeLong, CFCA sponsors
Our journey began 12 years ago when we sponsored a Chilean child through Christian Foundation for Children and Aging.
Little did we realize what a journey it would be, or the experiences we would have.
When we started sponsoring Jannier he was 2 years old, and his mother would write us letters.
As he got older, she would include drawings that he had colored. Once Jannier was able, he started writing the letters himself.
We would include pictures of our own family with our letters and, in turn, would receive pictures of him.
His pictures joined the other pictures of our family on the refrigerator, and our son and daughter called him their little brother in Chile.
Jannier and his mother, Miriam, became part of our extended family.
At the end of September my husband, Doug, and I traveled on CFCA’s trip to Valparaiso, Chile, to meet Jannier and his mother.
What an amazing and emotional experience it was to finally meet the other part of our family and to receive hugs, kisses and many expressions of “gracias.”
Jannier and his mother are extremely poor, but with the support they receive, Jannier is able to attend a better school and get a much better education.
They know that an education is one way they can better themselves.
Jannier is a very focused young man and he has a plan for his future, but at the same time he also feels very responsible for his mother and worries about what will happen with her.
We learned that Miriam, at the age of 45, is going blind from untreated glaucoma.
She told us she is so grateful that we came this year because in another year she will most likely be blind.
There is no welfare system in Chile, so she is still trying to work. She sweeps the sidewalks and streets in a plaza near the congress building in Valparaiso.
We feel blessed to be able to help someone in need.
You can only imagine how hard it was, after spending only a day and a half visiting Jannier and Miriam, to say goodbye. There were many tears, hugs and kisses, but also a promise to try to see each other again.
We can truly say that through this journey, by responding to this young boy’s needs, we have also experienced the beautiful message of St. Francis of Assisi: “For it is in giving that we receive.”
We have given Jannier and Miriam hope, and we have welcomed another son and his mother into our family.