Last September, when I traveled with Compassion International to meet my two Ecuadorian sponsored children, Josué & Emily, I had no idea what to expect. No idea how I would react or what I would see. I’ve written about my trip here, if you’re interested in following along.
They, our group leaders, did tell us to be thinking of questions to ask our kids – they warned us that we would get caught up in the moment and forget what we wanted to know if we didn’t write it down. They did tell us, and I did ignore them. I couldn’t think of anything in particular that I wanted to know – I just wanted to know my kids. I just wanted to see them, hug them, and tell them I love them. I didn’t have anything to ask them. I am, by nature, a quiet person, an extremely introverted person. Small talk tires me – it was enough, in those few moments, to simply hold my kids. To just be there with them – to be completely there. To breathe in the air and know that this moment will never happen again.
And so, like they warned me, I forgot anything I wanted to ask. I stumbled over the small talk- amazed at simply being there. I had no idea what to say or what was appropriate to ask. Fortunately, I was blessed with an amazing translator who kept the conversation going as me and my kids are all quiet, reserved souls – and there were so many new people. Only when I had said my “bye-for-nows” did I realize there was so much that I didn’t ask. So much more that I wanted to know.
Below are the questions I forgot – the ones that I’m now including in my letters, but wished I had included in my face-to-face conversation. Some of them don’t seem like much, but they are gold to me. Let me encourage you, if you are ever taking a trip to meet your sponsored child, take a notebook with you. Write down your questions for them, and their answers to you. Write down all the names of all the people you meet. Write everything down. Memories are frail and fleeting when it comes to small details – notebooks, pen, paper, cameras – invaluable.
Things I wish I had asked both Emily & Josué:
- How are your father & siblings?
- What did you do when you found out I was coming to visit you?
- What kind of “extras” do you like to get with the letters? (do you still like stickers? Do you like the paper planes better? What makes you most excited to open the letters?)
- Which letter is your favorite, and why?
- What size clothes do you wear?
- Exactly how tall are you?
- What is your shoe size?
- What is your home like?
- What does an average day for you look like?
- What is the hardest part of your day?
- How many kids in your project get regular letters from their sponsors?
- Do any of your friends/siblings not get letters?
- How old is your Compassion Project?
- How long have your tutors been working with Compassion?
Things I wish I had asked for Emily specifically:
- What is your favorite part of the Compassion Program?
- What kind of lessons does your mother teach for Sunday School? Does she have a favorite lesson?
Things I wish I had asked for Josué specifically:
- How did you get started with your baseball team?
- Tell me more about the service projects you and your friends do for your neighborhood.
- Who is your best friend, what do you like most about them?
- Of all of your baked goods, what have you been most proud to make?