Monday, 28 April 2014

My Carlen

My Carlen turned Seven yesterday. When we first "met", he was Four years old. I saw his little self looking up at me - so to speak - on that November afternoon after church. The head of Compassion Canada had visited Harvest Oakville, and our pastor had made the call for us to consider sponsoring a child through that organization. I think the focus was initially on children in Ecuador. But, closer to the end of the service, we were told that by the end of the other two services that weekend, all the children from Ecuador had got sponsors! But there were many more from other parts of the world.

As I perused the pictures and profiles on the table in the lobby that Sunday, I was not even sure what I was looking for. Each child was in need. The younger the child, the longer the $41/month commitment. A sponsor is in it until the child turns 18. Still, when I saw Carlen, from Kijiwetanga, Kenya, I kinda knew. I'd finally decided to come up with a few criteria, or I'd have spent the entire afternoon deciding. So, I wanted someone born in April - we could kinda celebrate birthdays together. And, I wanted a little boy. Carlen actually reminded me of another little boy I used to babysit years ago in Jamaica. There he was, standing with his hands by his side, decked out in a school uniform and looking up at me. His card said he was born April 27, 2007. Nice. :-)

Even though it's not an adoption, I still think of him as my Carlen. I must've mentioned in a post several months ago how touched I am by the endearment, "My Claudia". Once upon a time, someone called me that. "How is my Claudia?" He'd said. I liked it. A lot. And it still makes me smile when I remember it. I don't even think he'd ever watched the movie, "Water for Elephants". I dunno. It was from that that I'd heard the term, "My Marlena," and it had kinda given me goosebumps. So, when I'd heard, "My Claudia," you can imagine my warm delight.

Anyway, he's my Carlen. After all, his letters (via translator) sometimes say, "Your son says hi." Isn't that beautiful? The first time I read that in one of his letters, tears came. I had had a very bad day. I dragged myself to the mailbox and found the letter waiting. When I read that line, I just melted. Remember the movie, About Schmidt? He writes that last letter to his sponsored child, Ndugu. Then there's that scene - the one where he reads the letter from Ndugu. Yeah. It was kinda like that. Except that I don't write spilling my guts to Carlen about life's moments of disappointments. Too funny. It's always good to hear from him - what he's been up to at school; at home; at church, and with his friends and family. Lots about his favourite this and that. How he'd like to be a pilot when he grows up...

On one occasion when I'd sent extra funds for his birthday, he sent back saying he was thankful for the money. He had used it to buy a school uniform and a few school supplies. I found myself talking to him out loud asking why he hadn't bought himself a nice present. But, I guess, those were "nice presents".

You know what is a nice present? Realizing you make a real and positive difference in someone's life. That was my birthday present from him.

Happy Birthday, my Carlen!


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