If you are reading this, you have partnered with us at some point in our mission to love, educate, and empower. Partnerships are the lifeblood of Makarios, the invitation into this family. For our partnership story we wanted to hear from YOU, the people who have been instrumental in strengthening our focus on relationship. One of our long-time sponsors, Hayley Savens, shares her story of how she became a Makarios sponsor and how that has changed her life here in the States.
MEET HAYLEY SAVENS
I am just honored to be a part of the Mak family. There is a song that we sing called “We are Makarios” and I think that sums it up perfectly. This isn’t some sponsorship system when you give a donation and get a picture of a kid, but never really know what happens with them. Makarios cares deeply about the sponsorship relationship and desires deep connection between sponsors and their kiddos or the staff members they support. There are so many opportunities to go visit your kiddos through scheduled trips, and we often receive letters and videos of them, updating us on how they are. It’s such a special connection and I feel so blessed to be a part of this beautiful family.
1. How did you become a Makarios sponsor?
I became a Makarios sponsor after going on a short term trip to the DR with the Austin Stone. After spending a week with the students and staff of Makarios, I knew I wanted to sponsor someone. I believe wholeheartedly in what Makarios is doing for the families in the Dominican Republic; I am honored to partner with them. I signed up to sponsor and chose a student randomly.
2. Tell us about your sponsor student.
My sponsor student is Yiskiery. She is 9 years old, but will be a big 10 year old in just a couple weeks! I did not meet Yiskiery on my first trip to the DR, but started sponsoring her about 6 months later and then returned to the DR on another short term trip to meet her.
Yiskiery is quite possibly the sweetest soul you’ll meet. When she found out that I was her sponsor, she wrapped me in the biggest hug and never left my side. She cares deeply for her friends and loves her teachers well. She is a spunky little thing and a great big sister to her younger brother, also a Makarios student. Yiskiery is growing in her love for the Lord and sends me updates about loving her Jesus Storybook Bible, which I just adore.
3. What’s been the most impactful thing about sponsorship?
The most impactful thing about sponsorship has been the relationship with Yiskiery and her family. I have sponsored other children through various organizations, but actually getting to meet Yiskiery, spend a week with her, and continue to cultivate our relationship through letters has been just incredible. Now, when I give each month, it’s not just about supporting a cause I believe in. I see Yiskiery’s face each time. It’s her. It’s about supporting her and her family, and showing the love of Christ through sponsorship and relationship.
4. How did you know you wanted to sponsor Yiskiery?
On one of the first days of our visit , our team got to take an entire grade level to the beach. I was so excited when I found out we would take 2nd grade because that was Yiskiery’s grade and I could not wait to meet her. When the students arrived, I recognized her immediately and introduced myself. I didn’t tell her that I was her sponsor just yet, as she seemed pretty shy. So we just started playing in the sand and the water with other children and tried to get to know each other. About an hour into our time together, I had her teacher tell her who I was. As soon as she did, Yiskiery jumped into my arms and gave me the biggest hug. With a significant language barrier, our communication had been pretty limited before, but this spoke volumes. From that point forward, during our week together, Yiskiery and I were side by side whenever possible. That week, I was able to meet her family in Pancho Mateo. One day, while she was in class and our team was setting things up in the cafeteria, Yiskiery and her teacher appeared in the doorway. Her teacher told me that some of the other girls had been saying some mean things to Yiskiery and she had asked her teacher if she could come give me a hug because it would make her feel better. The opportunity to comfort her was a moment l I will cherish forever.
5. What has the Lord taught you through sponsorship?
The Lord has been so faithful during my time as a sponsor. He has broken my heart for the people of the Dominican Republic, but also shown me so much about my own brokenness. The reality is that we are all just as broken without Jesus. Our financial stability has nothing to do with our eternity. Sponsorship has taught me to pray, not just for the physical well-being of these children and families, but primarily for their salvation and for Jesus to redeem any spiritual brokenness.
6. What would you say to people who are on the fence about whether or not to become a sponsor?
Just do it. You will absolutely be blessed by your experience and this is how children like Yiskiery get to meet Jesus, grow up in a loving community, and learn things they never would be able to otherwise. When you become a sponsor, you think you’re doing something good for someone else. The reality is that God will likely do more in your heart than even in theirs.
7. Other than financial, how do you view your responsibilities to your sponsor student?
I sort of view my role as Yiskiery’s big sister that lives far away. I want her to know that I love her and care about her. I want her to know that she is special, important, and worthy of so much love and affection. I pray for her salvation, her family, and her everyday comings and goings. My financial sponsorship allows her to go to Makarios, but if I didn’t do that, someone else would have that opportunity. What makes our relationship different is that I know her, I’ve come to love her, and I am deeply invested in much more than her education.
8. Have you seen the student impacted by sponsorship?
My biggest hope is that Yiskiery knows how much she is loved. Little things like sending gifts or letters might not seem big or important, but it has proven to be impactful to her and the other children that are sponsored. Yiskiery gets to hear the gospel everyday, encounter Jesus in her community and school.
9. What is your favorite thing about sponsoring?
My favorite thing about sponsoring is the relationship I’ve built with Yiskiery. I am so incredibly thankful for this opportunity and the privilege it is to know Yiskiery and partner with Makarios.
CURRENT SPONSORS: HAVE YOU HEARD OF SPONSORSHIP WEEK?