Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What I've Learned from Being a Compassion Sponsor

There are a lot of things that are really stressing me out right now.  First, I’ve been ill for a week.  It’s nothing bad, just bronchitis, sinus infection, and so on, but man, is it ever frustrating!  I haven’t even gone to work all week, and this is not a good week to miss.

Secondly, the economy is really getting me down.  Okay, like I’m the only person affected, right?  I know I’m not, and I’m not even affected as much as most people probably are, but it’s depressing.  I haven’t gotten a raise in … … three years?  Four years?  Not even sure anymore.  Yet, my water bill, my sewage (yuck) bill, my electric bill, food prices have all gone up.  And let’s not even begin to talk about gas prices.  Wow.  That’s especially depressing.

We’re supposed to have this great health care “reform” in the country, yet I keep getting messages from my pharmacy and my employee benefits office about the rising cost of health care, and how that will adversely affect me.  This is reform?

Oh wait—I forgot I’m getting a 1/2% raise next year.  Yep.  HALF.  I should be thankful for that, right?  Well, the city council decided last night to take almost $24 million dollars away from the school system.  Seriously??  The reason?  Partly to give a 2.5% raise to city employees.  Hellooooo!!  Not only does that not allow school employees to get more than a 1/2% raise, but it cuts staffing and increases class size.  The last two don’t affect me personally, but they certainly will affect the quality of education for kids in our city.  That would be our future, brilliant people on the city council.

Oh but that’s not all.  The city council also decided that each of us will now have to pay $10 a month for trash pickup and that our sewage bills will rise each year.  That may not seem like a big deal except that those two things negate my big 1/2% raise.  Thanks.

Seriously.  It’s demoralizing.  And it’s kind of scary.

But then … I think of my Compassion kids.  They don’t have sewage bills.  Oh that’s right—they don’t have sewage systems.  Or trash pick up.  Or water service.  Jack’s father died, and the father’s family kicked him and his mom out of their house.  Isaac’s dad has to work in another place because there are no jobs in their town.  Francis and Michelle don’t even have their fathers in their lives at all.  Gethory lives with his grandmother and three siblings. 

It is beyond my scope of comprehension to be able to even begin to imagine the conditions in which these children live.  Not only do they live in abject poverty, but they live  with the imminent threat of gang violence and drug traffic daily, some more than others.  I have a Glock to protect myself in case someone might happen to break into my house.  I’m confident it wouldn’t take much to break into the shacks that serve as the homes of those children.

I’ve discontinued my cable TV service, my Starbuck’s visits, my Diet Coke purchases, and my visits to Pittsburgh in order to save money.  (That last one is HUGE.)  I’m still stressed, and I’m a little concerned, but nothing I face can compare to what those kids and their families face every day.  That realization doesn’t make my situation easier, and I’m still very concerned about the city and national governments, but it sure does put it in perspective.  I’ve always told myself in situations like this that God has blessed me richly and that there are people who don’t even have enough money to have the problems that I do, but now I have faces to put with that thought.  And I will continue to trust and to sacrifice to bless the lives behind those sweet faces.

That’s just one important lesson that I’ve learned from being a Compassion sponsor, and I’m just beginning.

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