Category: Sponsor a child

Nov 29 2010

Texas sponsors reflect on meeting Joy in Kenya

Harry and Joanne Ehmann are CFCA sponsors who live just outside Dallas, Texas. This year, they decided to participate in a CFCA mission awareness trip to visit their sponsored friend Joy, who lives in Kenya. Their long-distance friendship with Joy has made a positive impact on their lives. You can read more about their story of friendship here.

The following is an excerpt from our conversation with these wonderful members of the CFCA community.

1) What ultimately led you to sponsor through CFCA?

Joanne: We were moved by the CFCA presentation made at St. Michaelís a few years ago and felt this was one way we could share some of the blessings God had bestowed upon us. Initially we had selected a young girl from Madagascar, but after a year of sponsorship, CFCA notified us that her family had moved out of the area.

Joy and Harry Ehmann

Joy and Harry Ehmann

Joy and Joanne Ehmann

Joy and Joanne Ehmann

We had the option to choose another or let CFCA choose for us. We asked CFCA to provide another girl for us. This is how Joy came into our lives. This also reinforces for us the conviction that through CFCA God chose Joy for us.

2) How has your sponsorship impacted your life?

Harry: Sponsorship with CFCA has enriched our lives. We enjoy the personal letters back and forth that really bring home our connection to her and her family. CFCA gives us the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way as we remember Christís words in Matthew 25:40.

3) What was it like to meet Joy in person?

Joanne: Wow! We were both so thrilled. It was like a reunion even though this was the first time weíd actually met. We had anticipated this moment in the days and months leading up to it, and thanks to the CFCA staff, we felt fully prepared. This only heightened our excitement.

As the bus pulled up we were met with singing and dancing by the mothers group. The moment I got off the bus I recognized Joy. She was even more beautiful than her pictures! … We both felt so much love for both Joy and her family and were thrilled to be able to meet her and hug her entire family.

4) Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the trip?

Harry: I guess other than our initial meeting my favorite memory was when our trip leader, Stephen, explained that due to the recent rains and muddy road conditions, it was not possible for us to ride the bus to visit Joyís home on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.

He told us that Joyís mother said it was only a ì20 minute walkî and conceded that her reckoning might be a bit short of what we could actually expect. And yet we all piled out to walk with Joy and her sisters and mother along the muddy road under overcast skies to their home about 4 miles and one hour away.

… We felt a sense of fellowship with the members of our group who risked the red mud glomming to their shoes, the slippery paths and the threatening clouds to share with us what Joy and her family experienced themselves on a regular basis.

It struck me later that our little trek personified the CFCA slogan of not just carrying the poor, but walking with them instead.

5) What was it like to see her living conditions and the impact you are making?


Read more

Nov 16 2010

Regina’s gift to her sponsoring family

Last week we posted a story about Regina and her gift of a hearing aid from her sponsors. Here’s a response from her sponsors, Sarah Deien and her family.

Years ago, when our twin girls were in pre-school, a priest came to our parish in Hannibal, Mo. He spoke of the CFCA program, and the dire need of children and elderly around the world.

Our girls looked up at us and asked, ìCan we adopt a sister, PLEASE?!!î We found it hard to say no. Actually, it was God saying yes to a blessing in our lives.

They sifted through the folders and immediately agreed on Regina. They couldnít wait to write to their new big sister.

That started a relationship that has brought much joy to our home.

The Deien family

The Deien family

You see, my husband and I thought we could make some small difference in a childís life; we didnít realize the difference Regina would make in ours.

Our family immediately connected with Regina. The very day we took home her picture, she became part of our daily prayers.

From the first time the girls ripped open an envelope from Regina, their world expanded from our small town to another place where people donít live as we do.

It was a lesson in geography, economics, philosophy, even English. Most importantly, it was a humbling lesson of humanitarianism.

As much as we enjoyed sharing Reginaís life, my husband and I wondered if there was more we could do.

When Regina explained her need for hearing aids, we researched it, prayed about it and decided this was something that could really make a difference in Reginaís life.

By American standards, weíre not well-to-do. By worldly standards, we have such an abundance.

We had to budget for the $900 expense. We involved the whole family. That Christmas, we agreed to cut back on the excess. Just like Jesus, our girls now get three presents under the tree … usually a book, toy and pajamas.

We stopped giving gifts to extended family, and started making treats together.

When we sent the money, Iím embarrassed to say we fretted over it. Did we spend too much? Would the money really go to Reginaís hearing aids?

When we got a picture with Regina and her hearing aids, along with a nice thank-you letter, we knew we had made the right choice.

Over the years, Regina has been with us as we added two new daughters to our family. The youngest girls have grown up knowing about their ìbig sisterî in the Philippines.

They all look forward to sharing news with her and hearing about her life in another land.

But aside from all that, Regina has taught us compassion.

We continue the tradition now of three gifts under the tree. We make do with less and appreciate what we have more. Each year, we buy toys for the needy and send other things we donít need to an orphanage in Mexico.

Our children donít have the newest and the latest in material things, but they do know the gift of giving.

My sweet Regina, thank you for the kind words. Iím so happy that our small sacrifice made a change in your life.

When you wrote to thank us, you asked how you could repay us. I asked you to go make a difference in other peopleís lives. Youíre doing that today, working with CFCA.

Iím so proud of you, and so grateful to you for the blessings youíve brought to our family. Youíll always be a treasure in our lives.

Nov 15 2010

Desert brings clarity to Walk2gether in Peru

Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica, sent us this blog post about his walk in Peru with CFCA Co-founder and President Bob Hentzen.

Bob and the Walk2gether team are still in Peru, as of Nov. 15.

ìBut then I will lure her back. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.î ó Hosea 2:14

This text from Hosea brings profound clarity to Walk2gether pilgrims as we traverse the desert of Peru.

Rafael Villalobos, CFCA

Rafael Villalobos

Our Lord has an uncommon way of enchanting us. He brings to the desert those who have been chosen and talks to their hearts.

In the desert, you either trust him or die. There are no certainties or comforts. It is a place of insecurity and solitude.

The desert is a place where we feel we can easily lose important people and things in our life.

In this desert, God talks to the heart of CFCA. He is luring, enchanting and questioning all of us who are part of this movement.

In this harsh reality, he calls us to return to generosity, toward dreams that feed our desire for a new world, and to trust that he is with us on our journey.

It is a call for radical love. We need lots of love to be able to walk these roads.

I believe that this experience is a call to leave a comfortable life, without commitment, without devotion, and to turn toward a lifestyle more in tune with the call we are receiving.

Don Roberto (Bob Hentzen) always says that being in CFCA is a vocation, a calling. Itís not easy work.

It is truly impressive to watch him and DoÒa Cristina (his wife) go step by step in the middle of the desert, walking with happiness and hope.

Walk2gether in the Peruvian desert

The Walk2gether team continues in the desert of Peru.

Recently, the movie ìEat Pray Loveî was released. I have tried to conjugate these verbs in this desert of Peru:

Eat: There are no luxuries in the desert. We eat simply at the side of the road the food prepared by DoÒa Luz. The food tastes glorious when it is prepared with love and shared among friends.

Love: Love conquers pain and fatigue. Here in the desert, love is more pure, without applause or media. You need a love beyond limits to be able to walk this path. We support one another. We encourage one another to keep going when we are tired.

Pray: ìI will lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slipî (Psalms 121:1-3). This psalm profoundly reflects the experience of praying in the desert.

May God grant us all the spiritual experience of a desert so that we can rediscover the true sense of our life of service to those most in need.

Residents of a girlís boarding school in Lima joined the walkers for a day. Hear Bobís podcast below.

Nov 11 2010

Gift of hearing aid “changes everything” for sponsored youth

By Regina, a sponsored youth in Legazpi, Philippines

I have always been a simple and quiet girl. I usually sat right in front of my teacher during class discussions, not because I am a ìstarî pupil but because I am different.

I conversed with others believing that it was a calm, low voice I hear but in reality they are shouting at me, for me to hear and understand them. … Itís because I have a hearing problem.

At the age of 7, it was not a question of finding a solution to my hearing problem. My family, friends and teachers showed enough sympathy and support, except for those who would choose to make my day miserable rather than study lessons.

Regina

Regina

They would play and laugh with me and then publicly show to me their whispering sessions, emphasizing that it was impossible for me to hear them.

I would usually go to one corner, where only very few pass by, sit with my knees drawn up close to my body and my face tucked between my drawn knees and chest, and cry my heart out at the cruelty of others.

I would usually give myself a minute or two to compose myself, a big pat on the back to boost my depleted morale and then go back to my assigned seat in class and forget as best as I could what had just happened.

In high school, I remained the ìdifferent one.î People conversed with me like normal but sometimes, I saw their silent laughs and pitying looks when they turned their backs from me. Well, I was used to it. It was like an ordinary thing for me.

I was in high school when I became a CFCA beneficiary. My sponsors are Mr. Rich and Sarah Deien. From the start this generous couple had never failed to support me. I have received so many beneficial things that I will be forever thankful.

They wrote letters to me and I wrote back. With this, they donít have to shout for me to hear. I easily understood what they wanted to tell me. It felt so normal.

Until I graduated from high school,
Read more

Nov 1 2010

Roundtable sparks discussion among sponsors, sponsored members

By Manuel Pineda, project coordinator, Santa Barbara, Honduras

Jeanne Quackenbush

Jeanne Quackenbush, a sponsor on the CFCA mission awareness trip, hugs one of the sponsored youth at the roundtable discussion.

Forming community in a world where individualism dominates family, social and business relationships stands as one of the greatest challenges we face at CFCA.

Our goal of building communities of compassion is ongoing and systematic as we need to promote a culture of life and values for families, society and the world.

During the June 2010 mission awareness trip, the CFCA project in Santa Barbara organized a roundtable discussion as part of the process of understanding the broader CFCA world.

This developed out of the necessity to place sponsored members, mothers, project teams and sponsors face to face to share, ask questions and learn from different perspectives the rights and responsibilities that each has in this family.

Youth asked sponsors about issues that helped them get a better idea of sponsorsí expectations of their sponsored friends.

Why did they make a commitment to a person that they had never met? What news that you receive from your sponsored friends makes you most happy or sad?

Reyna, who will graduate with a degree in education this year, shared about a change in her worldview: ìMy sponsor has helped me a lot. He has accompanied me in my life and has filled the role of a father that I never had. This has made me understand that now I have to be committed to others.

Lidia, a former scholar and now a member of the Santa Barbara staff, shared: ìIn the most difficult times of my life, when I felt that even my goals had died, CFCA was at my side. … Now I am committed on this team to give my best and serve so that others can achieve their goals and succeed in life.

Sponsors reflect that this learning opportunity was both a favorite and humbling moment.

Rebecca shared that she was impressed with the confidence and leadership the youth demonstrated in organizing the event and was impacted by the articulate way they expressed their hopes and dreams in sophisticated goals.

Roundtable in Honduras

A roundtable discussion takes place between sponsors and sponsored members at a June 2010 CFCA mission awareness trip to Honduras.

Jeanne writes of her surprise to learn that the mothers we met in the roundtable discussion had the same concerns and worries that mothers in the United States have about raising teenagers in these times. They want what I and most of my friends want: to raise happy, well-adjusted, Christian adults.

Mothers, project team members, sponsors and sponsored participants left assured that in this journey, there is always someone by their side encouraging and supporting them.

They understand the generosity they have received in life should be shared with others in this world.

Oct 28 2010

Before and after: How sponsorship transformed one childís life

By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Many of us at the CFCA office in Kansas City know Milton and Lila Krainbill, and those who donít will learn pretty quickly.

Theyíre longtime sponsors and volunteers in Holton, Kan., who serve a delicious lunch to all the Kansas City staff once a year. With the employee head count at just over 130, thatís no easy feat.

But even more amazing are the Krainbillsí pictures showing the progress of their sponsored child, Heidy, in Costa Rica.

Milton and Lila took a vacation to Costa Rica in 2003, and they asked to tour the San Jose project there.

From the moment they met Heidy and her family, the Krainbills knew they couldnít lose contact with this little girl. She was one of eight children in a family struggling to overcome poverty.

The familyís galvanized tin house had gaping holes in the siding that let in rainwater. The children slept on pallets instead of beds.

ìWhen we saw the situation, we just couldnít walk away without taking on another sponsorship,î Lila said.

Seven years later, Milton and Lila returned to find a transformed family.

Read more about Heidy’s changed life

Oct 25 2010

Walk2gether brings out hope on the highway

Eddie Watson, a member of the CFCA communications department, joined Walk2gether in Ecuador. Hereís his perspective on how the walk shows hope in action, especially among those living in poverty.

ìÖtribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappointÖî ó Romans 5:3

Eddie Watson, from CFCA communications department

Eddie Watson, a member of the CFCA communications department, joins Walk2gether in Ecuador.

At CFCA we talk about hope a lot. Itís in the name of our sponsorship program: Hope for a Family.

It appears in many of our publications, and itís posted throughout our headquarters in Kansas City, Kan. Itís at the heart of what this organization is all about.

But have you ever actually witnessed hope?

I hadnít until I visited Ecuador and walked with Bob and CFCA families on Walk2gether.

Hope was everywhere. Right now, somewhere in Peru, hope is walking along the right edge of a highway in the middle of a desert. Cars are whistling right on by.

In fact, there is a hope trail that stretches from Guatemala south more than 5,000 miles to Peru.

I read the scripture passage cited above on my flight home to the U.S. It jumped off the page at me, and I thought it illustrated what I experienced on Walk2gether and what the walk is really all about.

The families CFCA serves face tribulations every day, challenges far more intense than walking the 21 or more miles a day on the walk. CFCA serves families who walk several miles every day just to get water.

No, walking wasnít challenging for the beautiful people who met us as we passed through their communities.

What was challenging for many of them was walking the distance in flip flops or school dress shoes, because it was all they had.

But they didnít complain. They had far more character achieved through lives in the rural mountains of the Andes; character developed working for $7 a day on someone elseís land; character achieved by having to work 12-hour days to feed your three kids and send them to school, to give them a better future.

Borja Homero

Borja Homero, the father of a sponsored child from Mira.

Two sponsored children participate in Walk2gether.

I was walking in a rain shower with Bob early one morning, feeling bad for all the families with us getting drenched.

I began thinking about all the money I spent on the gear keeping me warm and dry: $140 Gortex-lined boots, a $40 fleece jacket, a $50 rain jacket.

We came to a resting point, and we lined up to greet the families and thank them for joining us. I wish you could have seen their faces.

They were so excited to meet Bob and so proud to walk for the organization. Nothing was going to stand in their way. This was one way they could give back.

As much as Bob is walking to show CFCAís love, these families are walking to say ìthank you.î They are thrilled to be on the journey.

I saw the hope in their eyes.

Their hope makes my food taste different. It makes my showers shorter, my ìI love youísî better, and makes me want to jump out of the bed in the morning.

The hope I saw makes me want to give my best.

Bob says this is what the walk and CFCA are all about. He says we should ìbe at our best for the poor because they deserve it.î

It started making more sense to me how a 74-year-old man can dream of walking 8,000 miles with these families. He sees hope.

I was privileged to see it. The worldwide CFCA community is beginning to see it, too, as we spread our message to more and more people.

My dream is for everyone to see it.

Oct 21 2010

From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends

Dan Pearson, operations/program development director for CFCA, explains how CFCA programs are moving toward greater autonomy and partnership with those being sponsored. Rather than seeing them as “beneficiaries,” we see them as “partners.”

Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently.

Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

CFCA has always seen sponsors as more than simply donors. Sponsors are first and foremost human beings with a desire to connect with other human beings.

Part of CFCA’s mission is to give sponsors a way to grow in love through a personal connection to a child or elderly person in another part of the world. In that sense, sponsors are also beneficiaries of sponsorship because we can receive emotional and spiritual benefits as we provide encouragement and material support to a friend in another country.

Similarly, CFCA has never seen sponsored children and their families as simply beneficiaries. The word “beneficiary” implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. In fact, they are some of the most active people I have met.

Sponsored children often get up early and walk long distances just to receive an education. Their parents work long days (often in jobs that are physically demanding) to provide for their childrenís basic needs. Yes, these families benefit from the program. But they are much more than beneficiaries.

Sai and his family

Sponsored child Sai, second from right, and his family in Hyderabad, India.

Part of the message in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program is that the families of sponsored children are our partners.

The mother of a child partners with a sponsor to achieve a childís goals for the future. She is a trustworthy partner because:

a) she has demonstrated her absolute commitment to her child’s future,

b) she understands her child’s unique gifts and the particular challenges her child faces, and

c) she is extremely skilled at overcoming challenges.

The proof of a motherís trustworthiness as a partner in the development of her child is in her tireless dedication. She spends nearly every waking hour dedicated to the cause of her children. Then she goes to bed, wakes up early, and starts over again.

The label “beneficiary” doesnít do justice to that kind of active dedication to a cause.

When one sponsor and one family join forces to change one child’s life, all other labels dissolve. They are simply human beings working together to make one small piece of the world a better place.

We welcome your feedback! In the comments below, please tell us how you view the “beneficiaries” vs. “partners” distinction. If you’re a sponsor, have you always viewed sponsorship as a way to partner with others? Why or why not?

Oct 19 2010

Fox 4 KC features CFCA and Walk2gether

CFCA president and co-founder Bob Hentzen was featured Monday night in a Fox 4 KC segment about CFCA and Walk2gether.

Fox 4 KC news (WDAF)

In its report, called “Metro Man Walks to Fight Poverty,” the news station WDAF highlighted Bob’s walk and explained CFCA’s role in serving those who are living in poverty.

Watch the video: http://www.fox4kc.com/videobeta/071f549c-024b-48ef-be7c-dc32e65b843d/News/Metro-Man-Walks-to-Fight-Poverty

Oct 13 2010

Sponsor reflects on what it means to “walk with the poor”

Everyone at CFCA is grateful for every sponsor who has chosen to partner with us. Here is a beautiful reflection from Matthew Potter, CFCA sponsor and volunteer.

“To walk with the poor.” Thatís a phrase that sometimes just trickles from our lips without really thinking about it.

Sherry, Evanson and Matthew

From left are Sherry Sopha-Potter, Evanson from Kenya and Matthew Potter.

We watch Bob Hentzen lace up his boots and head on down the road knowing that he does, indeed, walk with the poor.

Do we, as CFCA sponsors, walk with the poor, even though we arenít on the road with Bob?

In fact, we do. The most obvious way is when we make our contribution each month in support of our sponsored friends.

We took on this responsibility in a conscious action with the intention of helping someone who needs some assistance, and with the knowledge that sharing in our good fortune is a directive given to us by God.

Jesus tells us, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48, New American Bible)

The money we send to CFCA each month goes to help a real, live person. Someone whose name we know, who goes to sleep each night and wakes up each morning.

Someone who laughs, cries, celebrates joyous occasions and worries about what challenges life will bring today. In other words, someone a lot like us.

Our lives are richer because of our relationships with our sponsored friends.

We walk with our friends each time we make our contribution, each time we write a letter, each time we pray for them.

They help us along the journey with their love and prayers.

Even though we may not travel the road with Bob, through our sponsorship and our faith, we most assuredly do walk with the poor.