I will never forget the fear, trepidation, and excitement I felt when we landed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, my transformational moment did not occur in Rio.. I was transformed in Recife.

Recife, Brazil was not even one of our planned stops.

We were on our way to Fortaleza, but had a long layover in Recife. On a whim we were asked if we would like to visit another Compassion Project in Recife. We had already seen many Compassion Projects, each with their own feel and culture, so I was up for seeing another.

Now, you have to picture this in your mind:

  • This project was on a small island located on the coast of northeastern Brazil and at the confluence to two rivers.
  • There was water all around!
  • Around the outer edge of this small island were shacks. Literally, shacks. That you could see right through.
  • And right in the center of the island was the Compassion Project.

We visited the project and then we decided to go visit the home of a child in the project.

His house was  right on the waters edge. As we stood in the doorway of the home, the boy’s mother explained to us that when the tide came in, water rose into their home through the slates in the floor. Along with the water came tons of trash and waste. Most often the trash stayed when the water when back out again. The mother explained that she tried to get the children’s beds up off the floor so the beds didn’t get wet and full of trash and waste.

The scene was a sad one and all too common on that island. For me, it was most heart wrenching because right across the water, in full view of the shacks, were dozens of million dollar condos.

Needless to say as my eyes and heart took in the scene around me, I became angry.

I was angry at myself that we would allow this to happen as Christians. I was angry at the people living in the million dollar condos who looked at these shacks every day. I was angry at God that people lived like this.

As we were saying goodbye to the mother, our Compassion staff person, asked me if I would pray.

“No, Steve, I won’t pray.”

My heart was too angry and broken. Steve asked again.. and again I said no. Tears were streaming down my face as Steve finally prayed.

My life has not been the same since my first step into poverty.

I don’t think about that experience on a daily basis, but I have become a staunch supporter of Compassion International! Freeing children from poverty in Jesus’ name is so much bigger than my small world in Alma, MI.

I realized that there is a bigger world out there, where people have bigger problems than the fact that my cable went out and I can’t get the TV to work!


PS.  During summer of 2015 we will be taking a mission trip with Compassion International to the Dominican Republic. We want you to join us!

Get more information at www.compassion.jayandlaura.com