Monday, January 21, 2013

Fourteen Years In The Making - Meeting My Sponsored Friend #cfcatrip

I was extremely excited to meet Angelica and her family in person on Day 3 of my Guatemala CFCA awareness trip.  This moment had been 14 years in the making and the butterflies were getting the best of me as we set up video cameras and did sound checks. I'm sure there will be an outtakes clip I will share here. I was shaky at best.

Many families filed in starting around eight in the morning. There were 38 sponsors - some who sponsor more than one child or aging friend - so several families needed to check in. Though the lines were long, every Mayan had a smile on their face waiting in anticipation to meet their sponsor either for the first time or catch up since the last visit.

It is easy to tell yourself you are not going to cry when you meet your sponsored child for the first time. It's a joyous occasion and you only have a few hours so you want all smiles and no tears. Yep, the reality of that mantra lasted all of about 15 seconds for me.

I saw Angelica and her family registering and just couldn't wait to throw my arms around her and share that moment with the camera. There were lots of tears of joy and it was such a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I'll post the video as soon as I can. 

It's hard to put into words how overwhelming of a emotionally-charged moment it was. To spend time with someone you care so much about, have so much hope for and want so much for - someone you didn't think you'd ever be able to meet - I wanted to slow down time and cherish every second. And the seconds flew by!

Angelica was such a delight. Her smile - it is a treasure and it barely left her face all day. I haven't seen her smile much in photos we have gotten over the years so seeing her spirit so alive and happy was a goodness that words again can't describe. Her parents, Luis and Edilberta, are so proud of her and her little brother, Fernando, was all over her that day - just crazy for her. There was so much family love and respect for each other. What a comfort for me to see! So many acts of kindness without thought or reflection. All so apparent to me but so matter of fact for them. 

Angelica and her mother, Edilberta, made our family special gifts including the native outfit I am wearing in these photos. Their weaving is incredibly beautiful and Angelica has inherited her mother's love and gift for weaving. They are blessed to be able to help provide for their family. 

After seeing how well Angelica weaves it really hit home how difficult it must be for her family to commit to keeping her in school. She is so talented but they realize that her education will be more beneficial for the family long-term.

We were able to spend about an hour together before lunch. Angelica loves to play basketball and read so I brought her a ball and some books. We talked about school and her hopes to be a nurse. Her father, Luis, pridefully shared how Angelica juggles school work, weaving and helping her mom with chores around their home. We talked about all their family. They got me caught up on how Angelica's grandparents are doing. We discussed how Angelica's family helps take care of children in their village that need a healthy and happy home to stay in for as long as they need it due to alcoholism. This kind fact made sense of all the kids we had seen in pictures over the years. They have taken in several children. A family in need helping others. 

The morning was spent sharing a web of stories that had a few gaps given we'd known each other fourteen years but hadn't ever met. We were filling in those gaps real time with our amazing interpreter, Elena. Even with the gaps - the bond - the family-like bond was instant and steadfast strong. 

The highlight of my day after meeting Angelica was eating a traditional Mayan lunch with Angelica's family. It was nice to have time over a meal - to break bread - and not have to worry about any of the family serving on us. As a mom, it was something that really stuck with me. CFCA staff did all the waiting on and we just enjoyed amazing food and each other's company. Also, each family with their sponsor could speak in front of the whole group. Angelica's dad shared with the community our story in such a captive way. I have to say I fell in love with the prose of the Mayans that day. They know how to give heart-felt talks that are beautiful to take in. They flow like songs. And, during the program we danced together - the Mayans love music and dancing. We - Angelica and I - did a folk dance to Mayan music. That was yet another highlight of the day. 

And the best news for me - I was going to visit Angelica's family at her home in a few days so though this day came to a close too quickly at least it was just a temporary good-bye for us.

Interested in learning more about CFCA and why I chose to sponsor a child? Here's my story.

I’ll be posting recap blogs here. I'll update with video from CFCA when post-production work is finished. Many in-the-moment updates have already been posted on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest - just look under #cfcatrip.

DISCLOSURE: I was CFCA's guest blogger. They covered my flight and lodging during my Guatemala awareness trip in return for me documenting my trip via blog posts and sharing my experience via my social channels.