We had only just started sponsoring her. I had written her a few times, and she had written me back once. But this was the day that I looked forward to most – the day I would see her with my own eyes. Not just in a brochure telling me her name and her daily chores and her literacy level. But see her in person and touch her and look into those eyes.
She is my connection to Burkina Faso. I would go home, and she would stay, but it is through her that a part of me would come back every so often through my letters and the gifts I send with other teams who travel there from our church. She is my one person. My one person who was appointed to me to hopefully make a difference. A continual, ongoing difference, past the thirty minutes I spend with her here on day five of my trip.
I couldn’t wait to meet her.
That morning we walked over the Compassion site. The place where the children gather on Thursdays to learn etiquette and hygiene and Jesus. There were so many children. I carried the brochure in my hand, and her picture was right on the front. The children would look down at it, and I would hold it up. We couldn’t communicate, but they knew I was looking for her, and she was mine.
That day she had a big test at school, a test that would determine whether she goes on to the next level or not. See, I chose her because of her age. She is thirteen years old. I knew that the little ones are often chosen, but I wanted to give an older child a chance before she turned eighteen. So I chose her. In her country going to school, even public school, is a luxury. Only the brightest and the most fortunate are blessed with an education. Today she was working on that chance, and she was not planning to come to Compassion.
But I had to see her. I couldn’t come all that way without laying my eyes on her.
The big pink bag was stuffed full for her. Construction paper, markers, post-it notes, a notebook, a necklace, hair bows, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and the skirts and t-shirts I had brought for myself to wear. Along with a bag of rice for her family.
They told me they would have to go and get her on the moped.
So I waited.
It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that the moped drove up with her on the back.
Children were all around me when she drove up. I broke away from the crowd and started walking toward the moped. They knew she was the one I had come to see.
And tears streamed down from my eyes. There she was – the teenage girl on the cover of the brochure that I sat in the church office and picked out from a pile of many. She was mine. My Compassion child.
We walked into the Compassion offices so that we could be alone and talk. My words were translated, and she was mostly quiet. I gave her all that I had brought her, and I told her that I prayed for her every day.
Compassion came alive for me that day.
A few nights later – the night before we left – the missionaries had some Congo dancers come out and perform as an ministry outreach for the village. As I walked to the school cafeteria to see the performance, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was very dark, and I could not see. The voice said, “Blandine”. And it was her. She reached out her hand, and I shook it. She was wearing the pink t-shirt that I had given her, and that I had worn a few days before.
I saw her again that night for the last time in person.
Each day as I pray for Blandine as I picture her in my mind – in her village, at the Compassion site, with her family. She is a part of me. And in some small way I pray that I am a part of her, and through my prayers Jesus grows to become the most important person in her life.