Coming into this trip I was extremely excited about the opportunity to meet my child sponsor. I knew the value that sponsorship meant to the kids here in Nicaragua but I never truly grasped just how transformative it can be to the lives of the kids and their families. I expected a feel good day to make sponsorship more personal. However, as God can only do, meeting my child changed me forever.
I decided to sponsor a child in the special needs program through the Nicaragua Resource Network (NRN) mainly because I have a twin sister with a severe disability. If she were born in a culture such as Nicaragua she would likely be hidden away and not live to see adulthood. I just can’t imagine the struggle for families raising children with special needs with little to no resources. The fact that Traders Point has a partnership to transform the culture and lives of families in the special needs community hits extremely close to home.
The day started with us meeting and picking up our kids at Rey Solomon primary school. I was able to spot my kid pretty quickly because he has a disorder known as Williams Syndrome. Williams Syndrome is a rare disorder that is a deletion of more than twenty five genes from chromosome seven. This disorder creates noticeable changes in both physical and behavioral attributes. He was much lighter skinned, different facial structure, extremely hyperactive, and minimal language skills.
At the school I got introduced to him and his mother. I could definitely tell he was as his eyes were scanning the room and he was constantly letting out shrieks of joy. We were lucky enough to have our own translator throughout our day at the zoo. Right after introductions, his mother looked at the translator and said, “it is so great to meet the answer to our prayer.”
I was left speechless.
This day was going in a completely different direction than I imagined.
There aren’t enough words to describe what happened that day during the zoo. My boy and I were able to form a strong bond by the joy he found in getting us to follow his lead in clapping, going through the butterfly garden, and messily eating pizza together. His mom and I were able to dive deep into the joys, frustrations, challenges, and fears of caring for someone with a disability:
How frustrating it is to try and communicate to someone with no verbal skills.
The joy only a child with special needs can bring.
The fear of what the future may hold for their lives.
It is one thing to say, “I am sorry and feel bad for you.” It is another to say, “I know exactly how you feel and completely understand.”
All throughout the day his mom and I got to laugh together, cry together, and praise God together for the blessings of life. Him and I connected on such a personal level and were able to form such a deep love in spite of hardly saying a word to each other. This is the power of the love of Christ. I got to see the love of Christ in their family and they got to see it in me.
As we parted ways at the of the day I was holding him and he wouldn’t let go of me. The memory of him clinging tight to me and screaming over and over, “Dad, no!” Will forever be seared in my memory.
It was so tough to hear. I may not be his dad but after the day at the zoo I definitely became apart of his family.
I didn’t realize it until afterwards but child sponsorship isn’t about sending money to a cute kid on a page. It’s about becoming apart of a family. It’s about loving someone as your own family. You see, the only reason I was an answer to their prayers is because they weren’t looking for just financial support but someone to join their family. I gained a new family from the moment I said yes.
As we departed, his mother gave me photos from his most recent birthday party and I gave him a belated birthday present. We hugged for a final time and they walked off towards the home and me back to the bus. Before heading onto the bus I turned and gave them a final wave. A wave to my family. They have adopted me just as much as I adopted them. This is the potential impact child sponsorship can have. It can bring you into a new family you never imagined.
By: Tyler Perrott