Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Delivery

I have been blessed to get to know many great friends at the Our Compassion website. Our Compassion is a social networking site for those who sponsor children through Compassion International. I have found it to be a wonderful place full of support and great ideas as well as amazing people. Recently, my friend Caitlin shared an incredible short story she wrote that truly touched me. She has graciously allowed me to post her piece here and I hope that it touches you as well.

The Delivery

By

Caitlin Sanders

On the day the delivery truck comes, the children watch closely, following it, prancing around with glee. Some of the children’s eyes light up, knowing that something good is happening today. They press in close to the truck, even reaching out to touch it as it ambles forward. Other children cling to the edges of the fray. Their eyes are not quite lit up, not with the same blazing fire at least. Their eyes light with embers of their daring to hope, but a little afraid to do so, in fear of being disappointed. All of the children, those with blazing hope, as well as those with glimmering hope, are quick to follow the truck to its destination. They know exactly what the truck is delivering, and the very thought of it makes all of their hearts sing.

The children circle around the truck as it reaches its destination and slows to a stop. Their excited tittering magnifies as they hear the truck’s emergency brake being set. The delivery man hops out of the truck and walks around to throw the back door open. Though the children have been told to give the truck room, the sight of the five large barrels in the back of the truck causes them to automatically creep closer. It is as though they are drawn to the contents of the barrels. The workers come out of the nearby building, reminding the children to “Give room, give room!” The children shuffle back a few steps, but not quite as much as they had crept forward moments earlier. The workers and the delivery man work together to lug the barrels to the porch of the building, setting them up in a neat line. With the work done, the delivery man tips his hat and wades through the throng of children. Many of the children touch his arm appreciatively as he passes, murmuring different things to him that all add up to, “Thank you! Come back soon!”

With the delivery man gone, the children fall silent and expectantly turn to the workers. The workers make a headcount. It seems that all are here. One of the workers pulls out a crowbar and pries off the lid of the first barrel. As the lid tumbles off, the essence of the contents radiates out. It seems as though the children draw in the same breath. The scent is beautiful: a mixture of sweet, warm, rich, and genuine. It is an engulfing smell of the best kind. Those with the blazing hope crowd expectantly forward. Those with the glimmering hope, shyly cling to the edges, holding their breaths.

The worker next to the one with the crowbar pulls out a list and looks it over. The other sets the crowbar aside and picks up a ladle. The one with the list then slowly starts calling off children’s names: Jenessah, Subash, Geerthika…

Jenessah lets out a squeak of delight and climbs through the crowd of children to the front. Cupping her hands together, she can barely hold still long enough for the worker to ladle the sweet substance into her palms. Jenessah holds it carefully, making sure not to lose any. She peers into her palms, to see what is in the mix this time: stories, prayers, confidence, Bible verses, and belonging. The fire in her eyes blazes even stronger, and she lifts her palms to her lips and sips the mixture down, treasuring it as she feels the substance warm her, strengthen her.

Subash, a quiet boy, eagerly works his way through the crowd. He is trying to look mature about his excitement. He places his hands steadily forward, as he stands tall and still. When his allotment drizzles into his hands, however, he cannot keep the smile from sneaking onto his face. His portion is seasoned heavily with wisdom, encouragement and self esteem, and though he tries to pace himself, it seems he cannot help but consume it quickly.

Geerthika has waited patiently for the two children ahead of her to receive their portion, but now that it is her turn, she quickly thrusts her hands forward. She is unable to keep herself from bouncing on her toes. The worker looks at his list and then at Geerthika’s hands and then his head shakes. The smile falls from her face for a moment. Has there been a mistake? The worker sends one of the other workers into the kitchen. Geerthika watches nervously, not yet willing to lower her hands. The other worker returns with a large bowl and places it in Geerthika’s hands. She looks at it with confusion for a moment until the worker with the ladle begins to fill the bowl for her. Exhortations, stories, encouragement, value…the substance was just more than would fit in her palms. Happy tears are finding their way down Geerthika’s face. When the bowl is full, she gently dips her finger into it and brings it to her lips, closing her eyes as she savors it.

The names continue to be called, and the children called quickly line up. Yohanna, Johnwey, Puja, Ramon, Adrian, Million, Henry, Christine, Elnora… Most of the children called are coming from the group of children whose eyes already blaze with hope. Nerlange, Mesay, Dalfry, Oscar, Abishek, Beauty… As their names are called, they rejoice, each in their own manner. Kevin, Given, Prince, Usmith, Earl, Yznalie… Some have their palms filled to the brim, others have just enough to fill the hollow of their palms, and still others need bowls and buckets. All of these children celebrate their allotment. They are unconcerned about how their proportions compare to their neighbors. They are just happy to have their own. Some sit down immediately to enjoy their portion, while others race home to share with their families, being very careful not to spill on their way. Kathure, Arya, Josue, Jiji, Sankalon, Mogani, Jerlyn, Mercy…

When Mogani’s name is called, there is a shout. All turn to see that the shout came from Mogani himself, which is surprising, because he is usually one of the most reserved children among them. He is known to be tough, and unemotional. “Mogani… Mogani…? Mogani!” He shouts in disbelief. The other children are shocked to see tears streaming down his face, “Mogani? Me?!” He cries out again. The worker smiles, looks Mogani in the eye, and nods. Up until this day, Mogani has never had his name called. He has shown up to the delivery every month for five years. He was among those with only the glimmering hope, until today. Now his eyes blaze with the fire of hope as he whispers, “Mogani…that’s me… I’m on the list today!” He makes a pointless dash with his sleeve across his tear soaked face and breaks his feet away from the shock that had glued them down. Mogani rushes forward, his hands held out the whole way. He does not have to climb through the crowd as the others had to, because this time, the children part a way for the one who has waited so long. His palms tremble as they are filled, then he shuffles off to the side, just gazing at his portion. It is a simple mix: prayers, verses, and introduction. To Mogani, it is more than enough. It is precious. His smile is broad as he tries to quell the tears of happiness, but it doesn’t work. He takes just a small sip, determined to make his portion last forever. As that sip works through him, there is a visible change in Mogani. Bitterness has slipped away from him, and is replaced with courage. Those standing near him can hear him mumble softly through his tears, “I… am not worthless…”

Others from the group of glimmering hope look up with a little more hope as the worker calls off the names. Laurie, Abigail, Aloknath, Santiago, View, Sukriporn, Robin, Joshua, Akos, Sanjin… If Mogani can have his name called, maybe today is their day as well. Children come as their name is called, and the waiting crowd dwindles in numbers. The children who have already received their allotments are scampering home to show their families. Zawadi, Velma, Daniela, Yishak, Rodrigo, Samuel, Janna…The first barrel is emptied, and the second opened. Paulus, Marc, Sherin, John, Christian, Ruth… The third barrel is opened. Mayerly, Govindammal, Enggar, Tahaschnie… The crowd of waiting children still dwindles as the fourth barrel is opened. Evelyn, Rohit, Zaithanpui, Isaac, Deysis, Dinah, Jeejee… As the fifth barrel is opened, the waiting crowd seems to be only populated by the children with the glimmering hope. All the children with blazing the hope have gone home now, because they have all received their portions today. Sitthipon, Hakky, Ismaline, Keidy, Shanti, Iliana…

The worker with the list calls, “Bryan!” with a sense of finality. The waiting group of children can all feel their hearts drop as they hear the confirmation of the ladle scraping the bottom of the fifth barrel. They wait, staring at the worker who sets down his list. They are hoping he is mistaken. Maybe there is a sixth barrel hidden in the back somewhere. Maybe there is another page of names. Please, God, let there be another page of names, let there be another barrel stashed somewhere. The worker struggles to meet the stares of the remaining children. Many have begun to cry, and not the earlier tears of joy. He can see the embers of hope flicker, and can almost hear a hiss from the embers as the children’s tears threaten to put them out. He sighs, raises his eyes to the children and shakes his head. Maybe next time. The crowd of waiting embers begins to disperse, each child slowly walking to his own home, thinking about telling his parents again that his name was not called. Three children wait longer, standing in the silence. The children are Lesly, Christopal, and Tulasi. The worker again shakes his head sorrowfully. Lesly and Tulasi sigh, and turn to leave. They know better than to expect their names to be called yet.

Christopal stays. He has a reason for his name to be called, and yet it never is. He looks the worker directly in the eyes, and dares to finally ask, “Why?” The worker can only shrug. He has no way of knowing. Christopal speaks again, “Is it because of me?” The worker pauses in disbelief, but Christopal continues, “Do I not behave well enough? Am I not good enough? Do my grades need to be better? Am I shameful? How can I change to make myself worth it? Do they not love me?”

The worker places his hands on Christopal’s shoulders, “I don’t know why. Christopal, it is not your fault. You are worth it. I am sure they do love you, they just didn’t send any for you.” The boy listens, but shakes his head, fighting tears. He wants to believe the worker, but struggles to do so. After all, if they love him, wouldn’t they send some for him? The worker gives Christopal’s shoulders a squeeze before turning, picking up the crowbar, the ladle and the list, and leaving to deal with other responsibilities of his day, leaving Christopal to stand with the five large, empty barrels.

Christopal’s voice cracks as he quietly turns his question to the empty barrels, “Why?” He looks inside every barrel, thoroughly, making sure that his portion wasn’t just accidently overlooked, and waiting for him. He leans over the opening of each barrel, drawing a deep breath, imagining once again what it would feel like to hold his own portion in his hands, wondering what it would taste like. He stands up straight, looks now at the outside of the barrel. Christopal traces the capital letters burned into the wood of the barrel, burned in so many languages. His fingers find the label in his own language. Very slowly, he traces each letter, “SPONSOR’S LOVE.” Christopal turns his eyes to the sky and inwardly asks, “Where’s mine?”

Drawing one last breath of the lingering sweetness of what once filled the barrels, he puts his hands in his pockets and walks home, already beginning to think of the next delivery, and dreaming that next time his name will be called, too. The ember of hope in his eyes had nearly gone out while he searched the barrels, but at the thought of his name being called at the next delivery, the waning glimmer flickers and flares. Christopal’s ember will glow on, because maybe the next delivery will be his delivery.

…Your letters are much more than paper and ink…

20 comments:

Renee said...

How beautiful and heartbreaking. I have been feeling convicted about writing to our children more often, trying to examine what is holding me back. Perfection. I can't write yet, because I don't have the photos printed yet,or any stickers to send, or any real news to share, etc. But as a person who loves to receive mail, even a short note that proves someone, somewhere is thinking about me, I should *know* that those things are just gravy. The meat is really the contact itself, however brief or mundane it may seem to the writer.

p.s. you & J look so cute in that pic below :o) Praying for your family situation. Big hug!

Sarah said...

Wow. Oh WOW. Thanks for sharing!!

Jennifer Hanson said...

Sobbing over her in Phoenix. I love writing my sponsor girls (but now want to write them even more often!) and my heart aches to know that so many sponsored children don't receive letters.

Thank you so much for sharing this. I have posted a link on my facebook page. Hopefully some more hope will be doled out to those sweet kids because of this post.

I've been a sponsor for four years and didn't learn until just yesterday about "delivery day." I had no idea the disappointment these kids face when their sponsors don't write.

beastofthefields said...

I am from the UK and signed up to become a sponsor on Thursday (yesterday) - I asked the woman on the Compassion UK phone to surprise me as to who she would pair me up with as I have no preference as they ALL need to be sponsored. I felt so emotional just sponsoring a child yesterday and am SO eager to start writing to him/her. I would love it if someone could answer me - do all these ideas/info you mention on your blog refer to UK Compassion too? Like being able to send Stamps, comic plasters, stickers, colouring pages, wrapping paper, bookmarks etc? Or does UK Compassion have different rules??
Also....do you think (I doubt I would, but would like to know...) I would be able to post out a letter once a week to my child? Or do they only get one delivery day once a month anyway?? Regardless>? And if I sponsor my child....are they likely to receive letters from anyone else too? Or just me? Sorry this is long, but these are just a couple questions I would love to know. :)
PS: LOVE the blog. VERY good witness to the Lord. xx

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Hi and welcome to the Compassion family! I do not know about Compassion UK, but if you go to the OurCompassion website, I know there are some there that can help you. http://www.ourcompassion.com Once you sign up there, go to "Journals" and "Post a New Journal" and ask about UK requirements.
Now, some projects have mail call one a month and others have them more frequently. You could certainly write once a week, though. If your child is young, you may want to make the letters short so as not to overwhelm them.
You will be the only person writing to this child.
Like I said, I don't know a whole lot about the UK rules, but I've answered what I do know. Check OurCompassion because I do have several friends there that are in the UK.
Hope this helps!

thegypsymama said...

Michelle -

Your passion for Compassion and the kids it sponsors is so evident anywhere I see your footsteps on the Internet. You inspire and challenge and I thank you for both!

I can only imagine how much your Compassion kids treasure you - YOU are a a gift to them and us.

~Lisa-Jo

MyMoLuHu said...

After reading this short story I inquired with Compassion about my children's previous sponsorships and whether or not the received letters. The comment about my newest correspondence child, Angelica, brought tears to my eyes:
"Angelica enrolled in Compassion since February 2004. She has had five sponsors,
with the last sponsorship beginning February 2011. Your correspondence also began
then. She has received no letters at all. :-("
Within a week, she already has an Easter Card and Introduction letter on the way, and I intend to keep it up!

Lisa said...

I bawled as I read this!! I think this would be a great story for every Compassion Sponsor to read.
I am about to write my first letter to Grace, the girl I sponsor, and I am ashamed it has taken me this long.

It is beautifully written Caitlin and thank you for posting it Michelle. May I post it to FB with the intent of asking people to consider being Correspondent Sponsors if they can?

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Hi, Lisa! Welcome to my blog! I am so happy that you've been inspired to write to Grace! Where is she from?

You are free to link to any of my posts! :D If you're on Facebook, you can also join the Blogging From The Boonies page by clicking the FB button near the top of this page!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the welcome Michelle!

Grace is from Ghana. She will be 10 in December and has 2 siblings. I am so excited for her and I!

I will definitely link up to your Delivery Day post! I am following your blog but I must confess I am not reading the posts daily. I think now that I will be more motivated to as I start to build a relationship with Grace.

...Lisa

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Oooh, I <3 Ghana!! Most of the projects there write reciprocally, so as you write more often, you will probably hear back from her more regularly, too!

Lisa said...

Wonderful!

Treasure the Rain said...

Michelle - Thank you sooo very much for sharing this wonderful (heartbreaking) story! Just linked to your blog/this story on my blog.
Cassi

Caitlin S. @ YouAreHere said...

Wow! I haven't checked this page in a while, so when I read all this comments piled up, it was just amazing. Michelle, thanks for posting the story. I never imagined it being able to make the distance it has.

@Lisa, thanks! And good job, the first letter is really hard.

JD said...

How.Did.I.Ever.Miss.This.... wow....

So eloquently and unforgettably written...

teresadawn said...

I have to admit I cried when I read this. And then I signed up for 3 Correspondance kids (on top of the 2 that I sponser financially, and do write to).

My new Correspondance kids are Chris, Keila, & Kajal. Might I like to this on my blog with a short excerpt from it (sending them here to read the rest?) I wish for others to know how important the letters are.

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

You can certainly share it, Teresa! The more people to discover the importance of letters, the better! :D

teresadawn said...

Thank-you! I've been trying to convince a few people I know to write to their sponser kids! Maybe this will help :) I will link to this in my next blog update (probably this afternoon or tomorrow)

teresadawn said...

http://teresadawn.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/the-delivery/

I posted a blurb about the story as well as a paragraph. Let me know if you want anything changed about how I worded it :)

Sarah Jo said...

Tears. This is beautiful and heart-breaking and reminds me yet again that I need to write, often!

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