My husband, Joel, and I took our first trip to the Dominican Republic with 2nd Mile Missions in 2008, before the sponsorship program even existed. We instantly fell in love with the people in the DR and the ministry of 2MM. When the 2nd Mile Education Center opened and the sponsorship program started, it was easy for us to jump in and support Rod and Nancy’s vision for breaking the cycle of poverty in the DR through education.
We were assigned to our current sponsored student in 2015 and to be honest, for a handful of the past five years, we were content to simply send in our monthly donation on her behalf, hang her picture on our refrigerator and feel good about the fact that we were doing our part to help Teicha get an education. Our oldest son even had the opportunity to meet Teicha when he went with several friends to visit the school during his senior year of high school.
My view of sponsorship changed, however, when I had the privilege to go on an Awareness Trip with my daughter and a group of other 2MM sponsors in the fall of 2019. The trip, for me, was an opportunity to give my daughter, who was in her senior year of high school, the opportunity to have a cross-cultural experience which would hopefully broaden her view of the world before she went off to college. I didn’t honestly have many expectations for myself and the ways the trip would impact my life because my focus was on Katelyn and her experience. But God always has a way of revealing himself to us and I walked away from that trip a changed person!
Because all of the members of the team were sponsors, Rod and Nancy organized a meet-and-greet party with our sponsored students and their parents on one of our first days in the DR. We brought our little baggie of goodies for Teicha and were expectant, excited and nervous to meet her. Now, a year later, when I think back to that meeting, several memories come to mind. First, the language barrier was definitely a challenge. We had a translator, but it was hard to communicate our thoughts effectively when we were coming from such different places in the world. But second, and more importantly, regardless of how hard it was to communicate with one another, there was this feeling of belonging. Even though we didn’t speak the same language and our lives are vastly different, we were connected. I’ll never forget sitting in that little circle of plastic chairs looking Teicha’s mother in the eyes as she thanked us for making a difference in her daughter’s life by giving her the gift of education. It’s an image and moment that has stayed with me to this day.
My perceptions of sponsorship changed that day. No longer was Teicha simply a picture hanging on my refrigerator. No longer was she just this girl who lived in another part of the world who got to go to school because of our financial donation. In that moment together, she became a living, breathing, beautiful young lady whose life is being changed through the gift of education and the opportunity to see Jesus through us. Yes, hopefully Teicha’s life is changed because of the gift of sponsorship, but our lives are forever changed by her as well. It is a blessing and privilege to be connected with Teicha and her family, to pray for them and to give her the gift of education.
You can read Teicha’s Family Story and see how sponsorship has given them HOPE!