Thanksgiving 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

We’re home!

(Translation: I made it through 3 of the 4 flights, but chickened out on the last one and we drove home from Houston!)

And speaking of things I’m afraid of…

Last week was jam packed with ’em. Planes, pills, and unfamiliar places, chock full of scraggly stray dogs. But there’s nothing like being surrounded by a group of talented/healthy/unafraid people to make you want to keep trying when you’re right there in the thick of it.

(My biggest fear now is that they all think I’m more wacko than they might have before- ha!)

But enough about me and my phobias. I want to share some more about the trip…

Our group leader, Shaun, warned us that re-entry would be hard, but we had no idea just how completely overwhelming adjusting to even the most familiar of blessings would be this Thanksgiving. The blue, and green, and orange ones…the twinkly, fragrant, warm ones.

I’m so thankful for Them today. We may not be able to share those kinds of blessings with the folks we met in Peru, but we can share our time, talents, and support- and I’m thankful for the Nudge to do more of that.

I don’t know exactly how to “sum up” everything else we experienced, but I do know this:

There are these people out there. They live in third world countries. They didn’t choose to live in them- they were just born in them. They want to enjoy life just like we do. They want to have homes and things and families, just like we do. They want to share meals and Love, just like we do.

And as for the ones we got to spend the most time with in the dusty mountains of Peru- they’re a super sunny bunch, all things considered, and I imagine they’d write much better blog posts about what really matters than I could ever do.

Speaking of blog posts, remember when I told you about Estefania and her dad the other day?

Well, I had to go back and edit that post because I forgot to mention that he told us that he was able to have surgery because of donations made to Compassion’s CIV fund. I asked him how he got to and from the doctor (not hospital) that fixed his shattered back. His answer: they carried him. No 911 or ambulances in the mountains of Peru.

I’m thankful for the access we have to those kinds of things today.

I chose not to show you a photo of a heart-wrenching moment we shared in my last post because it was too fresh…too raw…too painful. But I’ve had some time to think about it now, and I feel like today’s the right day to share with you how badly her dad wants to be able to work again, and how thankful he is for God and Compassion.

I also want you to know that Estefania instinctively got up right when he finished that sentence to get him a tissue, and he smiled so big a few seconds later. We may have more in the way of money than they do- but I’ve experienced firsthand that what they have to share with us is worth so, so much more than $38/month.

I also wanted to mention a little more about Nicolasa and Christian again in today’s post.

Because of Compassion International, Christian is able to attend school. And because he is able to attend school, his mom is able to work, six days a week, 12 hours a day, at a local factory. I’ll never forget climbing up and down the hill that leads to and away from their house…

If you look up the word, “treacherous” in the dictionary I’m pretty sure you’d find a picture of it there. (Did I mention that rocks were continually falling down it? #NerveWracking) Christian carries buckets up water up that thing twice a day on the two days a week it’s available.

I’m thankful for Hope, and the opportunity to see how It comforts helpful kids and their hardworking mamas.

I’m also thankful for Fresia…which by the way, is pronounced “Freh-see-uh”. (who knew?)

I’m thankful that, as her sponsor, I can visit her and send her emails and letters whenever I want. I’m thankful that she pinky swear-promised she’d write me lots of letters, too!

I’m thankful for all the photos we have from our visits with her…the good, the sad, and the overexposed…

I’m thankful for her grandparents who take such Good care of her and her siblings…

…and I’m thankful that the camera caught her looking at me that way.

I’m thankful for our time together at the zoo in Lima. It was the first time Fresia’s ever been anywhere outside of her community.

I’m thankful for the time we got to spend together at her very first restaurant, too…

…and I’m thankful for the guts it took her grandma to share the hard-to-talk-about things she shared with us there.

Fresia is one incredible little lady, and I’m so thankful to know what it feels like to have the back of my shirt sink in this way…

That photo was taken as we were saying our final see ya laters on Saturday.

So was this one…

I’ve stared at it so much since we’ve been back. Fresia pulled back teary-eyed after Kevin hugged her for the last time, so I asked him what he said to her as we were walking back to our bus. This is what he told me:

“I shared with her that God has big plans for her life. I wanted to plant the seeds of Hope. I wanted her to hear it. I wanted her to believe it because there’s so much power in Belief.”

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see firsthand what sponsoring Fresia through Compassion International really is.

We’ve seen her face, and called her name. We’ve held her in our arms and felt her joy. We’ve gotten lost in her smile, and heard the story behind her two front teeth.

Just like all of the kids in Compassion‘s sponsorship program, she’s more than a picture in the mail. She’s a real person whose whole future changed the day someone from Compassion International knocked on her door. And for that, we’re so thankful today.

PS- Here’s a short video of some of our time with Fresia! (Subscribers will have to click over to our blog to watch.)

Want more information about Compassion International? Click here to read more about their Child Development Model, their History, and their Financial Integrity.


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  1. yuko says

    Thank you Layla for this beautiful post. I couldn’t stop crying as I read this. What you experienced in Lima is a proof that God’s love is everywhere and you can find Him in every one of us.

    “You are blessed when you care. All the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.” (Matthew 5:7)

    Thank you for sharing with us “how you care.” Your post reminds me we are made to care for each other. You and Kevin really inspired me. Happy holidays from upstate NY!
    ox Yuko

  2. Bethanie says

    Oh Layla,
    I thought the post was beautiful and was in tears…then I watched the video. How amazing for that precious little girl to have such a caring and compassionate couple like you and Kevin. The love on the faces of the two of you is what brought me to tears…in the picture where Kevin is saying good-bye…you can just tell he is speaking from his heart. How special for all of her “firsts” to be with you both. You’re Jesus with skin on…love that about you both.

  3. Lori H says

    OK, it sounds like I wasn’t alone, crying while reading this…especially reading what Kevin said to Fresia, and the video is priceless. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  4. says

    Layla & Kevin, I just finally had the chance to sit down and read all your posts about your trip and I am grateful to you for sharing it with us. What an experience!! We are off to read more about Compassion. Thank you so much for writing about this trip and to Fresia for capturing our hearts with those two missing front teeth and big smile!

  5. Amy Radomski says

    Thank you for sharing…you’ve been blessed with the true meaning of Thanksgiving. The words your husband spoke to little Fresia were such a priceless gift to her. You can see the hope he gave her in her eyes.

  6. Cath says

    What a trip of a lifetime. My heart was joyful and heavy at the same time as I read your post. The simple gifts of water and shelter that I take for granted are enormous blessings for others, hard to even imagine.
    Your post inspired me to become involved; something I’ve wanted to do. Please keep us posted with updates.
    Blessings to you

  7. Marianne in Mo. says

    So glad you made the trip! But you just gotta quit making all of us cry! :) Seriously, your posts have touched my heart and I’m grateful to be able to sit here at a computer and talk about it. We went without when I was a child, living on welfare and the kindness of our church family. So I have an inkling of what it’s like to be poor, but not near as poor as many across the world. Being without taught me compassion, even as a young child. And it taught me to be humble and thank God for whatever I had. Can’t say others in my family got that like I did! I’m blessed for the life I have, and thankful for the kindnesses I was given way back in the 60’s and 70’s! And glad you’re both back home!!!

  8. says

    Hi, sweet friends!! Welcome back, so glad you got to experience this trip of a lifetime and share it with all of us. I loved reading about it all. We are indeed a blessed country and can’t even imagine not living the way we do, but there are lots of folks who do not. I know it was a blessing for all of you who were there sharing and for the folks you shared with. xoxo

  9. Culpepper says

    I plan to watch this video again and again. When I find myself being self absorbed or when it crosses my mind that what I have is not “enough”, this video will remind me that God has blessed me (and all of us Americans) with an abundance of blessings. I hate that I forget that sometimes. Thank you Layla and Kevin for the reminder.

  10. says

    enjoying reading about your trip – it is so inspiring. it’s amazing to realize how people live so differently than us, we take so much for granted, i’m afraid. thanks layla for sharing your experiences. it’s all so amazing.

  11. Steph says

    I want to thank you for posting about Compassion International and all of the emotions you felt with your visit. I have been sponsoring a little girl Katerina from Honduras for almost 2 years now and am so ashamed to say that I’ve never written…I’ve been afraid to write because I have so much and she has so little. I have gotten a couple of letters from her though, and Lord they make me smile. :) You have inspired me to write to Katerina, apologize for not writing until now, and start a relationship with her…I know that is why God put her card in my hand at the marriage conference, for my healing just as much as for hers. God bless you both!

  12. says

    How incredible that you got to share all of those “firsts” with her <3 Her praying at the table was priceless!!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!!!!! God bless!!

  13. Stephanie says

    Remind me not to read posts like this at work anymore…I’m now sitting at my desk in a mess of tears. But it’s okay, because they are good tears and this post moved me to do something. Thank you both!

  14. rhonda says

    If this post doesn’t make you tear up I don’t know what would. Thank you for showing us all how wonderful the people you met are. Thank you for sharing with us how truly blessed we are.

  15. says

    Wow. This post is incredibly heartwarming, It’s amazing that you guys were able to not only contribute, but actually meet with the people whose lives you are helping.

    Someday, I hope to join Compassion too. It sounds like an awesome organization to donate to.

  16. Amy F says

    Wow… thanks for sharing something so intimate and personal. I dont’ cry easily but I got really teary eyed. Such a beautiful experience. Thanks again SO MUCH for sharing.

  17. says

    Oh my goodness … this touched my heart on so many levels. I absolutely love the photos of each of you hugging Fresia. The photo of Kev talking to her/saying good-bye drew the tears instantly. You two will be amazing parents.
    This post makes me so want to meet our Compassion child!
    Thank you for sharing your hearts. You’ve touched mine.

  18. Jennifer says

    I couldn’t help but read your post with tears streaming down my face – I then logged onto Compassion’s site and have 2 sweet boys I’ve selected to sponsor.

    Thank you for bringing this to my heart.

    God Bless You ~

  19. Amanda says

    What a blessing you both are to all who know you or get a glimpse of you through this blog! I find myself touched & teary eyed on many occasions by your kindness, honesty, love and beauty you share through your photography & design!! :)

  20. says

    I went on a service trip to Honduras last summer and I’ll be heading out on another to El Salvador this June. Although our physical experiences are very different, the underlying messages and the feelings you have when you return home are strikingly similar. I’m so glad you were able to write this post and share a portion of the feeling and experience to others.

  21. says

    I so loved all of these posts, thank you so much for sharing!

    My husband and I sponsor a little boy, Edgar, in the Phillippines. We’d love to visit him, but it’s just not realistic for us right now.

    Loved every bit of this and I LOVE what your husband said to Fresia as you were leaving!

  22. says

    I loved the way you described your shirt when she hugged you. Just right. What a priceless gift for you and Kevin to meet her in person and spend that time together. Thank you for being a voice for her and others…

  23. Kellie says

    What a precious post. That last picture of Kevin and your little girl was so tender it brought tears to my eyes. Your thoughts were so beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing. Sometimes it’s so easy to get boxed in with our lives and problems we forget about others…especially those far away. Thanks for helping me remember.

  24. says

    This is the best post from your trip. Your honesty, your transparency, the way God touched you – it’s so touching. I loved it even more because I’ve been there with Compassion – two years ago. Having experienced it myself really made me appreciate and relate to all the bloggers on this particular trip.

  25. Jane-Ellen says

    You have blessed me today with this post! Thank You for touching my heart… I can only imagine how you both touched hers!

  26. PJ! says

    I finally read all of your posts. Big mistake, I’m at work and crying like a baby. You and Kevin are awesome. I know it took all you had to get on a plane, but look at all the blessings you experienced and those people will never forget you (I was once helped by some God fearing loving people myself). How comforting it is to know that God will soon put an end to all the bad & injustice that we see. This Scripture is one of my favorites Psalm 72:12-14, 16). Thanks for sharing your experience & reminding us what really matters :)

  27. says

    You brought tears to my eyes. We have been Compassion sponsors for 18 years. We’ve seen two wonderful children graduate from the program and our latest just left the program because her family is prospering! We have joyful sorrow when we say our good byes…but we know that our lives have been SO blessed by knowing all these children. Their selfless love for their families have touched us deeply. We now have our single Compassion girl in Ethiopia and hope to see her also graduate from the program. God has been so good to us and in one small way we have touched the lives of 4 children in 18 years. I know your life will never be the same. Thanks for sharing!

  28. says

    Laya and Kevin,

    I cannot begin to tell you how moving this story is. From start to finish, it was incredible. I am typing through tears to say thank you for sharing this. I don’t know when I’ve seen something so heartfelt. What a blessing you precious ones are, and what a blessing these sweet, dear people are, too.

    The Lord bless and keep you all…



  29. Sole says

    Wow…as I sit here crying I can’t help but think of how blessed we are every single day for what we have and what our children have. I am originally from Chile and I do know about poverty although I was priviledged to be raised in a middle income family and even though when times were difficult we never went without the basics. I loved what your husband said to Fresia…hope to those children is what they need…knowing that someone cares about them makes a difference. Thank you for opening our eyes and especially our hearts…when at this time of the year we are rushing to buy toys and make the holidays special…while families in Peru or other third world country just try to make ends meet and be lucky to have a hot meal every day.
    Thank you!

  30. Zee says

    The most wonderful blog that moved me to tears!
    Reading your blog all the way from Singapore!


      • Sarah W says

        It’s amazing when the world wide web gets small like that – I was in the virtual book club and her blog really helped me through a rough time (can’t even begin to count the tears I cried reading it). She is so amazing! And so are you Layla, I’ve been following your blog for a while – wishing I was doing some of the things you have done to your lovely home – but I lost track of it for a time and there is a different vibe I got today when I went back through what I’ve missed over the last year. It’s a really good vibe!

  31. Margaret says

    Thank you for writing about your trip to Peru. I just added another Compassion child to my family. I have been wanting to do this for quite some time but wasn’t sure I could swing it financially. So a couple days ago I searched again and their she was. Camilita just had her 15th birthday. I know this sounds funny, but I chose Peru in honor of a foreign exchange student we had at my high school back in the 70’s. We became fast friends, but she was sent back home before I knew it. I think because of the pressures back home it was hard for her here in the States. Not sure, I never had a chance to say goodbye or get her address. I think of her often. Anyway, Camilita is about the same age as we were. And just as amazing God is the very next morning I was reviewed for a raise at work. Isn’t that just like Him.