"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
~James 1:27

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Review

I can hardly believe that today is the last day of 2011. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting down to reflect on 2010 and write down some goals for the coming year, and here I am at it again. Hmmm what did I accomplish over this last year? I certainly didn’t fulfill any of my New Year’s resolutions! The beginning of 2011 had me finishing up my last year of college. In March, I was able to go with the women’s basketball team to Iowa (a new state for me) for the national championships. That was a neat experience! On May 14th, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Community Studies. It’s a great feeling to have 4 years of college behind me, but it also means that the real world begins. I have my whole life ahead of me, and I can do anything with it. It’s an amazing, but scary realization as I want to live life for God to the fullest realizing every dream in my heart. The world is at my fingertips!
Two thousand eleven saw me step out of my comfort zone as I held my very first Compassion Sunday at church in May. I was able to speak about the needs of children in poverty and what Compassion and sponsorship means to me. It was very exciting to see 10 children get sponsored that day! With the success of my Compassion Sunday behind me, I decided that I wanted to become a full blown Compassion advocate. I am passionate about children living in poverty, so it made perfect sense for me to spend time advocating for them and for Compassion’s program. My Compassion family also greatly expanded over 2011, going from 2 sponsored kids at the start of 2011 to 7 sponsored kids and 8 correspondence kids at the close. It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to be an impact on 5 boys and 10 girls living all over the world. I have children from Brazil to Haiti, the Philippines to Bolivia, the plains of Africa to the jungle of Ecuador. It is amazing to think that children all over the world know my name and I know theirs. Since becoming an advocate, I have shared the joy of sponsorship a couple more times and been excited to see my mom and sister both decide to sponsor a child. Cool, huh?
During July I was able to visit my sister, Cassie in Florida. It was wonderful to feel that overwhelming heat the minute you open the door and walk along the beach, watching the sunset. I got to spend my 22nd birthday, feeling like a kid again, at Disney World. I really believe it when they say that “dreams come true” there. In August, I journeyed back to Ecuador for the third time. This year we got to spend our time in the village of Borja. It was a much different experience than being in Pifo, but the need for Jesus Christ was exactly the same. I think that kids everywhere are the same. They all have a deep desire to be wanted, loved, and admired. They all have a God shaped whole inside. And I would give anything to bring God to those children. More and more, I am seeing my desire to start an orphanage grow. I don’t know where and I don’t know how, but the desire is there all the same.
Autumn and winter brought changes in the leaves and changes in my life. I lost my job at the daycare, but was able to help out my church by doing some work for the Communications team. I have also been able to be the fill in secretary at the Christian school for a couple of months. Getting to know those kids in the short time I have been there has been a special experience. I love the wide varieties of personalities and backgrounds that each child brings to the school. It is hard for me, not knowing what I will do for a job once my time at the school ends, but it has been worth every minute that I’ve been there.
Two thousand eleven has been a year full of ups and downs. There have been moments where I felt like the world I knew was falling down around my feet, and other moments where my heart was so full of joy that it ached. I’ve felt the rejection of people I love, and the love of people I’ve never even met.  I can’t go back and change anything that happened in 2011, and you know what; I probably wouldn’t change any of it if I could. All of it has had a purpose; all of it has been part of the journey God created specifically for me. Isn’t it hard to fathom that each of us has a specific journey, a specific purpose in life created just for us by our loving Creator. Not a one of us is exactly alike. I have no idea what 2012 will bring. I have a feeling that it will be a year of change, a year of many new experiences for me. Am I up for the challenge? You bet! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.