We’ve Switched Places

What would you do? What would you say to an assignment from Compassion International to write. After you had stepped up to serve.

Would you say “No”. Would you say “not now.” Would you say “wait.”

I can’t not write. And if you speak, or teach, or sing, or fundraise, or rally, or inspire or move out, or impassion others. Go do that. Go do that passion that burns deep. Go use the gift. Go do the thing that keeps you up and stirs your heart.

Now would be a good time to push delete, now would be a good time to file away, these words, or unsubscribe to this blog. Now may be a good time not to read. If you are weary of Compassion. I am looking away because I will miss you if you leave.

Oh good you came back. Or you stayed. But you are here. I see you there and I am grateful.

I can’t not write this Part 2 in my final series. (If you missed Part  1, here is the link.) But you friend don’t have to read. The following is a letter to my sponsored Compassion child. I have traded places with my child, Erlita. This is the one in which I have switched places  and I am now living in Peru, adjusting to the shock, adjusting to life in poverty. Thank you for grace. Thank you for sharing this on your facebook pages and on twitter. Thank you for emailing to others. If you choose to cast a net of words for change in the lives of empoverished children, you might share these words.May God bless my words, may God be glorified.

Dear Erlita,

Your country is so very beautiful and I am overjoyed to be here in your home. Erlita, I think of you, sweet child in my home with my family. I know they love you and I know they are showing you all the places they love. Do you love the ocean, just a short walk from our home, as much as they. Did you see the funny shorebirds running around in the frenzied pace, we laugh and giggle at them and those pelicans. Erlita, they are big and graceful. God designed their pouch with perfection to scoop up the fish. He is an amazing creator. And you will have frozen yogurt and pizza and walks with our silly trio of dogs.

Sweet precious one, my heart dances at the thought of you there. You and my daughter will play volleyball, the game you love so much. Two girls, giggling and laughing, knowing no wall of words, she’ll teach you her Southern English and you
will teach her your beautiful Peruvian Spanish.

And love is the language of girl friends.
Love is the great language that bridges the gap of culture.

Erlita, they will love you well. And you will teach them much.

And I am here in your beautiful Peru. You are surrounded by the beauty of the God created. When I see the mountains and the moon out your window I dream of you, Erlita and your nights here before we switched. And I feel where you were cold. And I smell where you smelled fear. And I hear where you heard crying. And I shiver where you once shivered when the wind whipped and the hearts cried. I see the worn and the torn and places ragged.And the worn out hope and worn down pride. 

I see the sacrifice of parents who choose hunger so a child can eat, in love, out of love, for love. I share your longing, now that I am here, in a way I couldn’t before I came. My empathy, sheer thin like your bedsheets, before, but now. But now my empathy and compassion compounded in the walking here, walking out your life, where you did, child. Where you do child.

You share your home, your bed and I share mine. So I must share my honest heart.  I wish I had come sooner. And I wish I had sponsored sooner. And I wish that I had written you sooner, sent encouragement in a letter sooner. Known your birthday so I could celebrate your life with you sooner.

And as you are in my home and I am in yours, there is no room for things left unsaid, in our world now. That we share family and home.

So I say, forgive me Erlita. Forgive me for not coming sooner. For missing  the joy of knowing you, sooner. For not bending my heart and stretching my abundance, my gracious plenty into the places of your need, your empty your longing, sooner. For living like you weren’t in want and need. For simply doing nothing.

Please forgive me for not extending my more than enough, with unfurled hands to you, sooner…sooner..so much sooner.

Thank you for your forgiveness and your love. Embrace my family as I embrace yours. We are sisters in Christ Jesus and my gratitude for you in
my life grows and grows, as does my heart. Because of Jesus. Because of His Grace. You have taught me more about generosity and giving and compassion than you will ever know.

I love you, Erlita. Be warm and safe and loved and cared for, though you have my family now and not your own. And every night when I see the moon we share, I thank God for you.

Love your sister in Christ,

Elizabeth

P.S. Ask Spencer to read you our favorite books, the ones we read when she was your age. And please take them back to your beautiful Peru and start a lending library for your community. We love words and we love you. Feast your heart on God’s word. Its the richest, Erlita. It will fill you up to overflowing, sweet girl.

Linking with Jennifer, Duane, AnnEmily,Mary Beth and Michelle


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21 thoughts on “We’ve Switched Places

  1. I too wish I would have done it sooner; sponsored sooner, written sooner, unfurled my closed hand sooner. I take so much for granted, and sponsoring a child has forced me to look beyond myself and be grateful for what I have, but also compelled me to give so much more of myself to those that are suffering. Beautiful post!! I love how you switched places with your “child”

  2. I love how you put yourself truly in her life…oh would we all love with more patience…kindness and compassion if we would see ourselves as one with another person. Isnt’ this what Jesus did for us…He took our place…thanks for this challenging word to my heart…blessings as we live a life of “otherness” ~

    • Yes Ro, yes. You have it spot on exactly. That is exactly what Jesus did. I have so far to go to learn to unfurl my white-knuckled grip. I want to be stretched to be a generous giver always and every time. Thanks for being here. Thanks for you encouragement.

  3. This is one of my favorite Compassion Intl. posts ever. So honest and lovely. Thanks for opening your heart to love and showing us the gift of doing so!

  4. Beautiful Elizabeth! Erlita has been blessed to have you as a sponsor. It is my prayer that the other children will find sponsors. I pray that other people out there that are moved enough to sponsor their Erlitas. :)

    • Mindy, I love this community of writers and the unique perspective each one brings to the “dance.” It is always a word party with everyone seeing and saying differently, their hearts their views. I am so pleased and grateful to walk out this writing journey with you. Yes, and God is working through and in hearts, this ministry of Compassion is getting new sponsors, so close to goal, so close to goal.

  5. Made me think so much of Genesis, our dear, beautiful girl we sponsor through Compassion. She and her family live in Honduras. I love your compassion and the way you shared these heart and feet-walking reality stories. Bless you.

    • I look forward to hearing how we end this sept blogging campaign. So happy to see your name when the orange light lights up. Bless you friend. Look forward to writing and reading words next week. See you at Ambers?

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