A bittersweet goodbye

Yesterday I wrote a goodbye letter…my first ever, I think, and it was so bittersweet.

As I sealed the envelope and dropped it off to be mailed and I reflected back on our 7 year pen-pal-like relationship.

It started when he was just 8 and I was 17.  I had finished high school and had taken a year off to serve on the mission field…I spent 4 months in Mexico then 3 months in Bolivia.  And I mean it wholeheartedly when I say that year changed my life, and has a lot to do with the person I am today.

I was in Bolivia volunteering with Food for the Hungry International in the Child Development Program.  I translated letters between children in the program and their sponsors, kept track of finances, and visited many of the rural villages where FH was working.  It was an incredible few months of learning, and I walked away with an immense respect for FH and how they work.  Having seen first hand what an incredible difference sponsorship was making in the lives of these children, their families and their communities, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  I knew that even as a 17-year-old-soon-to-be-college-student that I could afford $30 a month to support a child in Bolivia.  And so I did.

I picked up Pedro’s packet somewhere along the way, specifically choosing a community in Bolivia that my church at the time had partnered with…Apillapampa.  And so as I studied my way through college, worked part-time jobs, and developed my love of photography, Pedro was also learning.  He attended school, church, children’s leadership committee, and even classes teaching basic public health and agriculture.  We exchanged letters (though Josue reminds me as often as possible that I didn’t write enough), birthday cards and Christmas cards over the years, and I received yearly (I think) progress reports on how he was doing in school and in life from the FH tecnicos…the program directors from FH that were living there at the time.

But this week I got a letter worthy of tears and celebration.  A letter announcing that FH was leaving the community of Apillapampa and that Pedro’s sponsorship had come to an end.  Because that is how FH works…they believe in educating the people of a community and helping set up an infrastructure that they can maintain instead of creating dependency which can be detrimental.  Their goal in each community is to establish or strengthen the local church, establish and equip the local school, educate families and their children about public health and family values, as well as train men and women to be leaders in their community.  I think they state it well in their mission statement:

“To walk
with churches, leaders and families
in overcoming all forms of human poverty
by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation.”

Along with that letter came a note from Pedro, saying his goodbye.  He thanked me for my prayers and support over the years.  He told me how his family and community are in a much better place now, and how when he graduates high school in a few years, he wants to be a police officer.  He asked me to continue praying for him and his family, and to please sponsor another child to give them the same opportunity he had.

Tears came to my eyes as I thought back to his early letters…he has grown so much, and I’m honored to have been even a small part of that.  He has been on our fridge for years, and will continue to have his place there as a constant reminder to pray for him (we might just have to scoot him over a bit to make room for our new sponsor child…).

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Here is a video that I think is a really cool example of what an impact FH is making around the world.  This was shot not long ago in Mahkai, a community in Africa that FH was leaving.  The town had a party to celebrate the departure of FH, and all that it implied.

We would love to see you support FH, whether it’s through Child Sponsorship, Community Partnership or a Donation.  Talk to your church about partnering with a FH community, or taking a short-term trip to help bring clean water to a community or build a school.

Because we are committed to serving God and supporting this organization, we will be gifting a mini-session* to the first 10 families (or individuals) that chooses to support a child with FH before December 25.  Every entry after that will receive $50 off their next session with us!

All you have to do is:

1. Support a Child with FH here

2. Spread the word on Twitter and Facebook by posting “Find out how you can change a child’s life with @food4thehungry and get a photo session from @alumbra!  http://tinyurl.com/7j7yln2”

3. Shoot us an e-mail with the confirmation info from FH. {susannah@alumbraphotography.com}

If you all have any questions about FH and their programs we are happy to answer what we know, and for the rest we can help direct you to someone at FH!  We are looking forward to seeing you all partner with such an incredible organization!


*all mini-sessions will take place in the spring in the central kentucky area or northern virginia



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  • Crystal - This was such a great post! Thank you for taking the time to document this. Blessings!

  • Sandra - Hurray for FH! What a wonderful post, Susannah. We, too, are celebrating – yet thinking poignantly of our sponsored boys in Apillapampa. I am so glad that you had that chance, at the tender age of 17, to GO. And to learn, and grow…and never be the same.

  • Wayne - Susannah,
    What a joy it is to reflect back on our visit to Apillapampa several years ago. A true highlight for me to have been there with you. Thanks for your excellent description of all that is going through our hearts as well as we say goodbye to Carlos and Freddy, our sponsored boys.

  • Rachael - oh you make me think of all the kiddos my family sponsored while I was growing up. I think, this is the way I want to give once again! :) Thank you for sharing!

  • Rachael bullock - Made me cry! So sweet! We’ve loved sponsoring a little girl too through FH.

  • ange - We just had to send a goodbye letter to our FH sponsor child as well. Bittersweet! Looking forward to sponsoring another child and praying for our “graduated” sponsor child. They are a blessing to us! Thanks for sharing this post! Merry Christmas to your family and blessings in teh New Year!