Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Goodbye Dear Brenda

I predict this Saturday is going to be one of the more bittersweet days I've experienced in a while.  In the south central volcanic hills of Guatemala I will be saying goodbye to Brenda Maria Leticia Tambriz Tzoc.  She has been my sponsored child thru Compassion International since 2000. And now she's graduating with high success out of the program at age seventeen, and getting ready to move into her young adulthood. This will be the seventh time we've visited, allowing us to become pretty close over this baker's dozen of years.  Here is the English version of the letter I'm giving her as we say our farewell' least for now.  We will both appreciate your prayers as it is bound to be a teary hasta luego. 

My Dearest Brenda,                                                                                    Aug. 2012

It seems like it was just yesterday that I met you for the first time at the Compassion office in Guatemala City twelve years ago. Do you remember that day?  We had a nice visit there where your mother gave me the first of many lovely woven gifts: a dark violet head wrapping, that I now use as a centerpiece on my dining table. 

We then traveled in a minibus out to Antigua where we toured through some of the old monasteries and had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant that had a lush, sun-dappled garden and playground. While we were eating you kept looking longingly out at the yard, and I knew you wanted to explore. When we finished our eating, we excused ourselves to discover what they had to offer.  No interpreter was going to be necessary. Because you were so tiny, we could hardly hold hands when we walked.  You had just learned how to skip, and so you gave me some lessons on how to do it properly.

When we arrived at the swing set, you were a mixture of excited and scared.  I sat down on the little seat and gave a demonstration on how it worked.  Then you took a turn, and were instantly giggling as you began moving yourself back and forth.  I positioned myself behind you and began pushing you a bit more with each return. Your gentle laughter turned into joy-filled squeals as you soared higher and higher.  The others back at the table could see and hear you, and they were clapping.  I then taught you how to use the slide and that was a great source of happy woops as well.

With each passing year I have been equally joy-filled watching you grow.  Whether from the updated photos, the progress in your penmanship, the maturity in your drawings, and certainly in the lovely time we have gotten to spend together in the seven journeys I have made to Guatemala. I want to thank you and your mother, Micaela, and other family members for making so much effort to travel long hours to see me, and always giving me a fantastic hand-made gift like my colorful jacket, the dress shirt, the vest, and the ornate wall hanging, just to name a few. 

I have a stack several inches thick of every letter and thank-you note you have ever sent to me, as well as hundreds of photographs from our visits.  Six of those pictures are framed and hanging in my home.  My favorite is in my main room where all of my friends sit while visiting.  It is that portrait of you sitting next to an ancient Antiguan fountain, where the mixture of your robin-egg blue sweater, sea green blouse, and the beige and rust painted wall all perfectly frame your flowing, shiny black hair, almond skin, and warm ebony eyes. Your gentle smile is the centerpiece.  You are no longer a little girl losing her baby teeth…you have blossomed into a striking young woman.  All of my houseguests always comment on how beautiful you are.

But your beauty isn’t just physical.  I recall how proud you were to write out all the numbers up to 100, and writing out the alphabet, and spelling your own name in your kindergarten and early elementary years. In successive visits you impressed me with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. With each successive year your letters showed refinement in your penmanship and structure, and your drawings grew in beauty and skill.  You also became a good basketball player.  In the early days I needed to lift you up high so you could make a basket.  Now you can shoot the ball with ease and accuracy, while dribbling circles around me.  As I look back on this dozen years, I have always been warmed to hear of your good grades as you were learning so much in school and at the Compassion Student Center, and to hear you speak of your hopes for a good future. Yes, you are a woman who shows beauty on many levels.

Thus, it is sad on one hand that our relationship as sponsor and child is coming to an end. But on the other, it is so exciting to think where you will be heading next in your life. 

Let’s not look at this as the end of our story together.  I would rather think of it as the close to just one chapter, and the turning of the page into many more to come.  I will be anxious to see more of how God will be moving in your life as more unfolds with each new season.

I would very much like to stay in touch with you.  Below is my mailing address.  I would like to get yours as well, and we can continue exchanging communiqués on our own.  And perhaps we will be able to visit more when I make my journeys with Compassion International to The Land of Eternal Spring that is Guatemala.  I pray you feel the same way.

In closing, I’ll recall how touched I still am by one of the picture that was taken of you and me inside the front entrance of your home in SololB of the central highlands when I visited in 2003.  Your mom had painted DIOS NOS AMA in bold purple letters on the wall next to the door, for everyone to see as they came and went.  That declaration, “God loves us,” was and still is evident in the fruit that has come forth in your life, Brenda.  And our God is hardly finished with you and your family yet.

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.  The One who called you is completely dependable.  If he said it, he’ll do it! Friend, keep up your prayers for me, as I will for you. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you always!”   (First Thessalonians  5:25-28)  I love you, Brenda!

Under His Mercy,


Here are a few pics from our times together.  There will be more in the near future (my computer is fighting me on some downloads of great shots of when Brenda was tiny).

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