By Kathy Cvetko, CFCA sponsor
Imagine walking a gauntlet of men, women and children who are thanking you for the help you have given them. At the beginning of these lines, children are waving American and Honduran flags. At the end, they are escorting you to front-row seats at a Honduran cultural extravaganza rivaling any off-Broadway performance you’ve ever seen.
That is only one of the many extraordinary occurrences that my family and I had on our June 2009 mission awareness trip to Project Ocotopeque, Honduras. However, it serves as a relevant starting point for the story of our visit.
The theme of giving thanks was revisited again and again. At times, it left us sponsors feeling both confused and amazed at such appreciation. Most of us were just as much, if not more, thankful to our sponsored friends for allowing us to experience the full beauty of giving. And yet, looking into the eyes of the people of Project Ocotopeque, we sensed only their deepest sincerity at finally being able to meet us and tell us with a look and a smile that, “It means so much to me that I matter to you!”
Our story of connection with Project Ocotopeque began in 1998, when we first laid eyes on a picture of Yessika del Carmen. We had just finished listening to Jim and JoAnne Rogers speak about a sponsor trip they had completed, and they were inviting those in the audience to sponsor a child or elderly person.
Three things struck my husband and me as reasons to say ìyesî: 1. We could afford the amount each month; 2. CFCA did not advertise, so more of the contributions would go to the sponsored friend; and 3. The organization helped both children and the aging in poor countries across the globe.
We asked our daughter and son, then ages 12 and 7, to help us pick out a child or elderly person who needed a sponsor. They took this decision very seriously as they carefully reviewed each folder. They finally agreed upon a 10-month-old, beautiful baby girl named Yessika.
So, began a lifelong association with a little girl more than 3,000 miles away from our home in Portland, Ore. It was delightful to receive pictures of her every year and to read letters about her and from her as she learned to write. Admittedly, we wrote much less frequently and didnít send pictures. Still, she was always in the back of our minds, and weíd pray that she was thriving and getting the care and love she needed and deserved.
In 2003, my mother, Helen Wyninegar, passed away at the age of 86. She left us a small sum of money, and she was such a giving person that it seemed a fitting memorial for us to use that money to take a sponsor trip to Honduras to meet Yessika.