My grandmother loved roses. She loved all kinds of flowers too. She would spend endless hours in her garden planting new flowers, weeding, and pruning. She had a special knack for roses though. Every year her rose bushes would flourish no matter how harsh the winter and Northern California up in the mountains had harsh winters.
One time while she was visiting, I was showing her my garden and she was naming all my flowers. When she got to my climbing rose bush she stopped. I knew what she was thinking. It looked pretty sad. There were very few blooms on it and it was pretty scrappy looking. She gave this piece of advice, “You know in order for a rose bush to flourish you have to prune it back to almost nothing each fall. Pruning is a necessary process for a rose bush to grow thicker and healthier, resulting in more blooms.” And of course, she was right! That fall my husband pruned our bush way back, so much so, I truly had my doubts as to whether or not I would even have a rose bush come spring. But, spring came and so did the roses! So, beautiful!
Several years ago I was introduced to a very special rose (Rosi). I met her while on a trip to the Dominican Republic with 2nd Mile Missions. Her parents had left her with extended family unable to care for her. She looked lost, sad, and weary, but I was drawn to her. I was asked if I would like to be her sponsor, so she could attend the 2nd Mile Education Center. I immediately said yes! She didn’t really know what to think of me and I didn’t have any idea what to say or do either. But, I felt something special there, so our journey began.
Once I returned to Indiana, I started by writing her letters asking her what her favorite things were or what she wanted to do when she grew up. I sent family pictures, birthday cards, and Christmas cards. Future letters contained book marks with Bible verses in Spanish and English, some faith based stickers, and notes of encouragement. Being on staff at 2nd Mile Missions, I make frequent trips back. Each trip I would get to spend a little more time with her and over the years we have sat in church together, hung out at recess, and read the Bible together. I’ve learned enough Spanish and she knows a little English so we can communicate a bit; however, we do laugh at each other quite a bit in our attempts! Countless times I’ve looked at her photo on my refrigerator and stopped to pray for her.
What I have been privileged to witness and be a part of is God working in Rosi’s heart. Much like my scrappy looking rose bush, Rosi had been beaten down and barely surviving, but these past several years she has allowed the Holy Spirit to prune her. It’s a new spring and my sweet Rosi has blossomed into a beautiful young woman who loves the Lord.
If you are a sponsor, I would like to encourage you to not only pray for your student but write them. You have no idea how much a letter, photo or even a visit to meet your student can do for them. You’re planting seeds of hope and the Holy Spirit is doing the pruning. Click here and consider writing your student today!
Sue Vercauteren (and Rosi)