By Kaylee Howard, Makarios Summer Intern 2014
Ever since I have left the Dominican Republic after my two months there this summer, I have felt a weird sense of being home-sick. It is strange to me, however, because I didn’t ever feel homesick for America while I was in the DR. When people would talk about how they could not wait to get back to America to have a certain thing, or a certain comfort, or even simply to be in AC, I internally disagreed. I have found myself missing the Dominican Republic way more than I thought I would.
After two months living and working with Makarios this summer, I fell in complete love. I felt at home and leaving was hard, really hard. However, there is so much joy in knowing that I get to be apart of their lives in a different way from the States. I have been continuously checking on blog updates, pictures from Makarios and other staff and have absolutely loved seeing the joy of starting school again. Lately, with all of the posts about needing more sponsors, my heart has been moved. I am the biggest supporter of sponsoring kids through Makarios because of the incredible joy that I have experienced through my sponsor kids.
My sister and I started sponsoring Jeriel (a spunky, fun, adorable 5 year old) in May before I went to the Dominican Republic. (You can read more about my relationship with Jeriel here.) God had been tugging on my heart since my first trip in January to say yes to Him and sponsor a child, looking back I cannot believe it took me so long to commit. Through saying yes, I learned what it meant to blindly give to a kid I did not know. I knew it was going to affect this kid’s life for the better and I loved that I got to have some sort of part in God’s plan to grow up Jeriel in a Christian school that would provide for him.
Little did I know that Jesus would spoil me with getting to form a close relationship with not only him, but his whole family. This summer, Jeriel’s family blessed me way more than I could ever bless them. Through this experience this summer, I got to see first-hand the joys of giving. The joys of getting to be a part of God’s incredible work through Makarios. Now when I look at the list of kids needing sponsors, I feel a completely different feeling than when I looked at the list of kids who needed a sponsor in May. I recognize these faces and I see more than just an adorable picture. Flashbacks of memories with these kids flood my mind, memories of Marileidy and her unforgettable sweetness and times spent at her house in Pancho Mateo. Or memories of never being able to understand precious Darving because of his adorable high-pitched voice. Memories of the wonderful Sawyer kids, Allie, Gracie and Annabelle and all the struggles and joys they experience by growing up in a different culture in order to serve this ministry alongside their parents. And the list goes on and on.
My first reaction when I look at this list is to want to support them all myself. However, that is not only incredibly impractical, but it is incredibly selfish because of the other people who will be blessed by sponsoring these remaining kids. I think it is easy for someone to look at these pictures and think that these kids are incredibly adorable, but to move on with their days and miss out on the incredible joys of getting to sponsor a child.
My dad’s first response when I decided to sponsor Jeriel in May was a little hesitant. I had just graduated from college and would be leaving in a few weeks for my internship in the DR, only to not know what I would be doing when I came back in the fall. Now that I have a job here in Austin, I have an even stricter budget than I could have ever anticipated. However, that in no way deterred me from sponsoring Jeriel. Because yes, being a sponsor is a sacrifice. I am giving up $50 a month that I could be spending on things people my age buy. I could buy that cute shirt that I want, I could eat out a few more times, but who I get to give my money to is so much better than that. It is eternal, it is providing daily for Jeriel in more ways than I will ever know. And it turns out, God was calling me to sacrifice even more and I could not be more excited.
A couple weeks ago, I got an email about how Rosita needed a sponsor. This was an answered prayer. This might sound crazy considering my age, and my dad will testify that it is even crazier considering my income. However, to me it seems to be the clear choice. Yes, it would be nice to be able to eat out as much as I am used to. Yes, I thoroughly enjoy shopping. Yes, I love living comfortably. But even more than that, I adore my precious Rosita and my crazy Jeriel. Rosita taught me how to laugh, be joyful and love so beautifully and freely (not to mention she knows the phrase “tickle me please” in perfect English, does it get any cuter?). Jeriel taught me how to be lively, energetic and has the cutest giggle I have ever heard (and if you ever heard him say “i love you so much” in his not so perfect English, your heart would literally melt). These two have a special place in my heart and I cannot thank God enough for spoiling me with these relationships.
I challenge anyone who is reading this to look at those pictures and look even closer to see a kid who has a story that God is unfolding. These kids are getting an education that is unheard of in their areas. Their basic needs are being provided. But more than that, if you could only see the teachers that they get to have. God may not be calling you to support these kids, but if you feel a little tug on your heart to let God use you in their stories, LISTEN. You will not regret it.
Has your heart been moved? For more information of how to sponsor a child thru Makarios, click here.