Tag: joy

Oct 28 2017

The gift of accompaniment carries us forward

Reflections from Madagascar

By Regina Mburu, Unbound’s communications liaison for Africa

Visiting Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, I felt the refreshing breeze of renewed energy and excitement blowing my way.

Madagascar is located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. I was a bit nervous about the weather because the last time I visited, which was four years ago, there was a day that was so chilly I had to ask for extra blankets from the hotel where I was staying. It was a pleasant welcome when I arrived to see a brilliant blue sky and feel the sun’s rays cast their glow on my skin.

My colleagues from our program in Madagascar were waiting for me at the airport. As it is often said, a radiant smile is the universal sign of welcome. I felt welcomed.
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Maria smiles while visiting with a guest. Though nearly deaf and blind, she is filled with joy in life.
Mar 10 2017

A heart of gratitude after a life of struggle

Guatemalan elder faces aging with joy

Maria smiles while visiting with a guest. Though nearly deaf and blind, she is filled with joy in life.

Maria smiles while visiting with a guest. Though nearly deaf and blind, she is filled with joy in life.

Aging is in part a process of letting go. Abilities once relied upon begin to fail. Possessions once treasured can be lost or taken away. Sometimes these diminishments are slow and graceful and sometimes swift and cruel. But, for all who live long enough, they are inevitable.

Yet, for all that, there is a blessing in the ability to come to terms with our own human frailty and mortality. There is grace in the realization that, in the words of poet Theodore Roethke, “body from spirit slowly does unwind, until we are pure spirit at the end.”
That is part of the wisdom of the aging. It is a wisdom reflected in Maria.

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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?

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Mar 27 2009

Poverty and difficulty canít suppress joy

By Monte Mace, CFCA writer/editor

How do you remain positiveóeven joyfulóin the face of discouraging, overwhelming or dangerous circumstances?

Thatís what I wondered after I met Lourdes, a tranquil mother of seven in Legazpi, Philippines. I had asked the local CFCA staff to arrange interviews with single mothers so I could learn how they manage on their own.

The first mother I met was Lourdes. She came out of her bamboo house at the edge of the city when we drove up. Coconut and palm trees created a quiet, shady yard.

One of the first things I noticed was her missing left hand. She told us her husband had attacked her during an argument five years ago and cut off her hand. He was sent to prison.

Lourdes and her daughterLourdes needs to support herself, her children, and her aging mother. But she isnít able to do much work with only one hand. Her eldest daughter sells food on the street in order to earn about $60 a month. That income, plus the assistance provided by CFCA sponsorship of 12-year-old Nika, allows the family to survive.

As I photographed her, she smiled easily. She seemed at peace.

As we were leaving, I asked:

ìWhat gives you the strength?î

ìI just gave it over to God,î Lourdes said. ìPlus, my mother is there for me and gives me moral support.î

During two weeks visiting CFCA projects in the Philippines and meeting many sponsored families, I found myself repeating this thought: ìWhat a joyful spirit they have.î

At one gathering, an elderly widow named Constancia stood up and said she no longer suffers from ìnagging fearî about how to obtain food, clothing and health care.

ìGod is merciful. He answered my prayers and gave me CFCA,î she said.

ConstanciaThe audience laughed as she told how she had learned to eat new and unfamiliar strange food. She beamed as I asked to photograph her. As I sat next to her for group photos, she held my hand. Later Constancia gave me a thank-you gift, a book in English entitled, ìMore Stories of Life and Laughter,î a book of life lessons by a Filipino priest, Father Bel San Luis, SVD.

A younger woman also gave testimony. Maricel, 23 at the time, explained that the death of her father when she was 4 began her familyís spiral into ìchaos.î But her mother did not lose hope and supported her six children by working as a laundry woman.

ìIn the midst of crisis, God never abandoned us,î Maricel said. ìIn 1990, I was chosen for CFCA sponsorship. I came to realize that someone in a faraway place loves us in a very sincere way.î

Maricel said she was able to complete a college education and now works as ìa humble kindergarten teacher.î

The Filipinos I met exhibited humility, gratitude for their sponsors, a love of life whatever the circumstances, and trust in Godís willóin short, a joyful spirit.

Learn about the CFCA documentary filmed in the Philippines, “Zamboanga: Poverty, War, Music.”