Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sponsoring Esperance: Part 1

I love figure skating.  As a teenager/young twenty-something, I was especially obsessed with the sport and it was partly due to figure skating that I sponsored my first ever sponsored child.  (It was also because of figure skating that I met Svenja!)

Let me explain.

About six years ago, I really, really wanted to sponsor a child.  It was a sort of secret desire though, mainly due to the fact that nobody else I knew did so.  Looking back on it, it seems silly to me that I didn't sponsor just because I didn't know anyone else who sponsored, but at the time it seemed important. 

Every year, for about fifteen years or so, I saved up my money so that I could attend a spectacular figure skating extravaganza show.  I wasn't rich, I only work part time (in an ice rink of course!) and tickets were somewhat expensive, but it was a yearly tradition to spend the evening watching skating superstars such as Kurt Browning, Shae-Lynn Bourne, and Victor Kraatz take to the ice in Canadian Stars on Ice

It just so happens Canadian Stars on Ice is sponsored by World Vision and year after year one of the figure skaters, the lovely Jennifer Robinson, would take to the ice and explain to us all why Child Sponsorship was such a great thing.  And oh boy did I want to sponsor a kid!

I didn't, for the reason stated above, for many years, until that time about six years ago.  Around this time I was getting excited for another Stars on Ice performance.  I had the tickets I'd bought for my mum and I (Front row!) and the show was about a month away.  And then my parents dropped a bombshell on me.

They said:  "We've decided to sponsor a couple kids through World Vision."


Well, there went that lousy excuse.  I'd never discussed it with them before, they'd never discussed it with me before, but I knew right then that if they were going to give sponsorship a try, so was I!  I responded easily, "Then I'm going to sponsor one too."

My parents chose two children off the World Vision Canada website that night, a beautiful six-year-old girl named Thineshka from Sri Lanka, and a handsome little five-year-old boy named Francois from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unlike my parents, I didn't sponsor through the website.  See, I knew that if I just waited until that special evening of watching figure skating, there would be World Vision tables set up all around the rink.  And I knew that if I sponsored at the show, I could get some sort of neat figure skating souvenir at the same time.  They always did that, made some sort of announcement at the show saying, "And if you sponsor a child tonight, we'll give you a free autographed program" or something of the like.  

And so I waited, but I also convinced my mum to head into the show early that night.   I ran to the World Vision table as soon as we entered the rink with the intention of sponsoring right there on the spot.  I think the girl at the table was a bit surprised to see me.  The show hadn't started yet, none of the speeches had been made or anything, but I stepped through the doors, made a beeline for her table and announced, "I'll sponsor one of them."

And then came the hard part, the bit that I wasn't counting on.  See, that girl must have had thirty child packets on that table and a stack of a couple hundred more beside her.  And I was expected to choose.  I naively asked her if she knew which child needed help the most, and she said the all did.  I scanned the packets for birth dates, deciding that I wanted to sponsor a child who was at least seven years old.  

I picked up every single packet and read their information.  This child was an orphan, that one had eight siblings, this one looked sooooo skinny, that one... you get the picture.  After awhile I noticed that I was especially attached to the packets of the little girls, so I narrowed it down by saying that I wanted a girl.  My mum and the lady at the table were trying to help me, handing me packets and saying, "What about this one?"

And then the music started in the main part of the rink!  Oh no! The show! I was going to miss the first number!  And I'd spent a lot on those tickets, unfathomable!  I had to hurry!  I looked at my mum and said, "Maybe I should just close my eyes and pick one!" But she encouraged me to keep looking.  

I looked, I looked fast, and grabbed a packet of a little girl from the table, barely saw her, scanned over the text on it, and said, "She's seven! She'll do."  And this would be the part of the story where I surprise you with a plot-twist.  I never sponsored that little girl.  I don't even recall what she looked like now, or what country she was from.  See, as the lady behind the counter started to pull the sponsorship form out for me to fill in, another packet caught my eye and I caught my breath as I stared into the sad, soulful eyes of my little girl.  It was her!

She was only five-years-old, younger than I'd planned, but it didn't matter because I just knew then that she was mine, that God wanted me to sponsor her.  I felt a little guilty as I sheepishly picked up her packet and informed the lady, "I changed my mind, if it's not too late.  This one is the girl I'm going to sponsor."

to be continued....(Click Here to Read Part 2 of this story)
Esperance, Age 5.  This was the first photograph I ever saw of my little girl.

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