You’ll Never Guess Where I Am

Curtis and I live about 30 minutes from our church, so we have a lot of time to discuss our Sunday school lesson and sermon notes as we drive home. There is a certain point on the Katy Freeway feeder road that always reminds me to encourage my husband about the lesson he taught. Last Sunday we were rapidly approaching it and I had nothing. Stink! It wasn’t because his lesson wasn’t great. I honestly did not hear a word he said. Neither did I have any idea what our pastor’s sermon was about.

I flashed back to February 1, 2009, which was the Sunday before Annabeth was born. I remember wondering why I bothered coming to church because all I could think, talk, or pray about was giving birth. Last Sunday I was completely consumed with thinking about an upcoming trip to Guatemala and I was literally good for nothing else. I realized it had been almost exactly nine months since I had been invited to join a group of bloggers on a trip to see Compassion International at work in Guatemala. And it was finally my due date! I was not getting a baby out of this experience, but I hoped I would be born new.

Curtis and I picked up our first Compassion sponsorship packet after a By the Tree concert when we were newlyweds. We have been blessed to partner with them in serving Marlon Alexander in Honduras for about seven years. Through his letters, we have been able to see him develop into a thoughtful and faith-filled young man. We were already fans of Compassion before I was approached about this trip, but I knew from my sister’s experience with them in India that I would be blown away by how truly excellent it is.

In a nutshell, Compassion International is a child development organization that serves over one million children worldwide. Six hundred thousand sponsors are currently partnering with this organization to rescue children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion’s aim is to be an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty, and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. This is largely achieved through monthly financial support from one sponsor to one child.

Our team arrived in Guatemala City last night. I’d never met any of the other travelers in person, but after only 36 hours, I already think the world of them. The bloggers are Lindsey Nobles, Ann Voskamp, Lisa-Jo from The Gypsy Mama, and myself. The Compassion staffers are Shaun Groves, Dustin Hardage, amazing photographer Keely Scott, and my lovely roommate, Mrs. Patricia Jones! My sister called me right before I got to the airport to tell me how much she had loved Patricia on her Compassion trip to India in April of 2009. She is a wonderful lady with an amazing family. I’m hoping some of her mothering skills will absorb into my being while I sleep six feet away from her.

Our day started off with a trip to Compassion’s office here in Guatemala City. We got to see the various departments and meet the ladies and gentlemen who run the hub of Compassion’s activity in this country. There are 142 child development centers here that serve a total of 35,000 children. One of the most striking things about the office was that many of the desks were empty. The workers were busy out in the field! They did not have time to sit at those desks. I loved that.

If you already sponsor a Compassion child, you can probably appreciate that my favorite part was meeting the correspondence staff. They were working hard at translating stacks and stacks of letters.

I took some of Mom’s Esther books in Spanish to give to the Compassion ladies.

Later, we arrived at the Dios Habla Hoy (God Speaks Today) Student Center. All of Compassion’s student centers are hosted in churches. Curtis and I are passionate about the local church and this aspect really appeals to me. More on that to come.

As we started filing into the church, the deafening cheers of one hundred and fifty kids filled the air. There was a sea of beautiful smiling faces, wide eyes and waving hands. It was very humbling to be shown such love. The children performed songs and recited memory verses they had learned. One by one, all the adult church members who volunteered in the program were introduced on stage. There were twenty of them.

The presentation ended with a rousing rendition of a song you and I know as Lord You Are Good by Israel Houghton. Oh my word, I was doing everything humanly possible notto fall in a heap on the floor in full-on ugly cry. The kids were dancing their hearts out and singing these words in Spanish: Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever…People from every nation and tongue, from generation to generation…We worship you for who you are…And you are good! Mom, I know you are reading this and I need you to know this was possibly the highlight of my life. Aside from my wedding and the births of my children. But it was high up there.

We enjoyed getting to serve Pollo Campero to the children for lunch. It’s like the Chick-fil-a of Latin America. I finally got brave enough to try out my rusty Spanish on some of the kids while they were eating their chicken sandwiches. They just grin at you whether you say something right or not. After lunch the children went to their classrooms and we went around visiting each one. The kids seemed very happy to be there.

Soon the children went home and we gathered with the project coordinator, the pastor of the church, and all the volunteer workers. The pastor spoke of how much the children meant to the church. The program is relatively new at only 16 months old. The church has eleven new families that became members after their children entered the program. A man who I believe worked as a tutor stood up and spoke with tears in his eyes. His older children serve there with him. A precious woman who is in charge of serving the food also spoke through tears about how much the children meant to her. She, too, serves there with her older children.

I think the most profound thing I saw today was the beautiful relationship between Compassion and the local church. I expected to see the benefits the child development program on the children. I did not, however, expect to see the children having such an amazing effect on the church members. The children are served there twice a week and the volunteers admitted it was hard work. But the joy, fulfillment and energy that their presence brings to the church was palpable. It was clear that the children were highly valued. I was so moved that families were serving God there together.

We have three more days to experience the Lord’s work through Compassion here in Guatemala City. Please pray for our team to be a blessing to the children, to the workers, and to the families. Pray that we will allow God to have His way with our hearts. Pray that hope and new life will be born in the poor and the rich. Gracias, hermanas!

Con amor,


92 Responses to “You’ll Never Guess Where I Am”

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  1. 1
    Jeannette says:

    my adult connection group are doing “stitch” bags again this year. I was wondering where I could get about twenty of the “Jesus, the One and Only” in Spanish. We have been sending the gift bags to a little city in Mexico for about twenty years. Many years we send car batteries which they use for electricity. We also send enough money for one family to eat for one week. Actually we send money for several different families to eat for a week. In the stitch bags we designate them for different groups. Infants, boys, girls and adults. This year we are concentrating on the young ladies. Please pray that we are once again able to share the joy of Christmas again this year with our adopted city.

    • 1.1
      Amanda says:

      Jeannette, call Diane or Evangeline at our office and they will be happy to help you with that question. Blessings!

  2. 2

    Just prayed, Amanda! You look fantastic! It’s good to hear from you, and those children are absolutely beautiful! God is sooo AWESOME!

  3. 3
    Leigh says:

    I sponsored my Compassion child last year as a result of reading Melissa’s blogs from India. Corresponding with our sponsored child has been an unexpected blessing. I love how Compassion sponsorship is so personal. I am thinking we’ll be adding a Compassion child from Guatemala to our family soon…Amanda, thank you for going and sharing with us.

  4. 4
    Lil says:

    Dear Amanda,

    Pollo Campero we have those in Los Angeles if you need a fix. Thanks sweet Amanda for giving us just a few more blogs and time spend away from your loved ones we appreciate it! God Bless

    !Felicidades! Hermana Siesta que Dios te bendiga Usted y todo tu familia! Latino America adora Beth Moore y LPM! (and because I felt like it I decided to put your translators to work! )

    Now if Los Angeles and Texas could have some amazing restaurant crossovers that aren’t Pollo Campero I would be very happy as one cannot have enough good food! PS Beth and Amanda would love to cook a Mexican meal for you and your loved ones anytime! And I would be happy to let you practice Spanish with me if you send me to the LPM offices pretty please!..No all I can ask for God to return Amanda home safely, bless the trip and increase Compassion, LPM and all my siestas greatly AMEN!

  5. 5
    Letty in Las Vegas says:

    We will be praying for you here in Las Vegas. God is so good, the children are so beautiful and so are you! My new mission is to help stop child trafficking here in Las vegas. I am participating in a walk Oct 2nd with SCTNOW. My heart breaks… So much to do, God is on HIS throne and through Him we can do more than we think possible.

    • 5.1
      Deidra says:

      Good Morning, Letty,
      What an amazing ministry of rescuing children from child trafficking. The thought of such cruelty is heart breaking. I have appreciated all that Lisa Bevere has done in other countries, but I guess to know that the same thing happens in this country is mind blowing. Thank you for your tender heart to this ministry. God bless you.

      • Letty in Las Vegas says:

        According to SCTNOW child traficking numbers in the 1,000’s her in Las Vegas. Also check out JC’S GIRLS a ministry that ministers to men and women in the sex trade her in Las Vegas. Much Grace is needed her in this city, and the Lord provides abundantly. I am proud of Amanda and the work she and Beth and Melissa do, I would not be able to minister here were it not for Beth’s testimony. I could not believe my ears when I first heard Beth, and I thought if someone like her can say this happened to me, than so can I. The Lord is using that which almost destroyed me to help others who are hurting.

  6. 6
    Leanne from Canada says:

    I’m awake when I should be sleeping and stumbled upon your post! I’m praying now (middle of the night on the west coast) that worry for the safety and care of your family will not hinder in any way all that God has for you on this trip. Blessings on you and the team you are with. We’ve sponsored through World Vision for years and are about to sponsor a Compassion child so that my daughter can have a sister!! (she needs one with 3 brothers!!) Looking forward to all of your posts to come..I could close my eyes and hear the children singing!! Powerful!!!

  7. 7
    Misty says:

    Oh my! Such memories… I went on a mission trip to Guatemala in 2007 to build churches and host a couple of VBS for children, but your pictures brought back so many memories. I will cover you, your precious team and Compassion ministries in my prayers.

  8. 8
    Sue says:

    Praying for you and your team, the church and the kids! I love Compassion and what they do. I encourage anyone who reads this to sponsor a child if they don’t already, it will change your life. What an awesome opportunity Amanda to be able to see the work in person. Have a blast!

  9. 9
    lavonda says:

    I don’t know how you kept from the ugly cry right there on the floor while the children sang that song! Just reading your words describing it I had tears falling off my cheeks. Can’t wait to hear more about the trip and the children there. Praying for each of you, and your families while you’re away…

  10. 10
    Elizabeth says:

    I haven’t read the blog in several weeks and felt pulled to read it this morning. I am so glad I did because the Guatemala story is such an encouraging way to begin the day! I teach English to high school students in Houston who are refugees and new immigrants. I have many students from Guatemala and from what they have told me there is great need for the work that Compassion is doing. I’m so glad to hear that these children are getting good food and training in the Lord!!

  11. 11
    Kristi Stewart says:

    I am so excited you are there! We sponsor a child from Guatemala! I looked to see where you are hoping you would be at her church/project. She is at Jesus El Beun Pastor Christian School. I think she is a little west of Guatemala City. We just got a letter from her this week. I am with you on the partnership with the local church. That is a very precious aspect of this ministry. Praying you have a fabulous time! Blessing to you!

  12. 12

    Awesome, awesome. Thanks so much for sharing!! Can’t wait to hear more!

  13. 13
    Debra Hanson says:

    Wow! How exciting for you and your family! Hope to be able to sponsor a child soon too! You are truly an inspiration!

  14. 14

    Amanda you have made my day! Made me have a lump in my throat and then just burst out in tears… and its only 7:30 here!

    Thank you for going and then letting us share this. I’ve been to Guatemala and it is a fantastic country. Beautiful people! and beautiful scenery. It blesses my heart to think of what Compassion Itl. is doing there.

    I’m praying for you and I can’t wait to hear more.


  15. 15
    Joyce Watson says:

    Heavenly Father,
    We rejoice in knowing that Your Word is being taught to these people and the children in Guatemala. Guide Amanda and the workers as they bring hope to these people. Help them to see You in every aspect of their lives. Guide them to understanding, meet their needs and touch their hearts.
    We pray for safety, protection and provision during this time as Your work is being done. Thank you, Lord for your righteousness and your goodness.
    in Christ,

  16. 16
    joyinthejourneys says:

    praying for you amanda!!
    “for such a time as this”…God is working through you in a mighty way 🙂

  17. 17

    Amanda, thanks for this amazing report. That last photo is absolutely priceless. We’ve been sponsors with Compassion for over 20 years now, and it’s such a blessing to hear your first-hand report. Thanks for sharing!

  18. 18
    pam b says:

    That is amazingly wonderful! I love to see Jesus at work thru His faithful followers. Yes, we will pray for you, the team, the churches, the children, and Compassion.

    Lord, You are GOOD!

  19. 19
    Carrie says:

    This is awesome. It makes me think of the two kids I sponsor through Compassion (Juan is in the Dominican Republic and Jasoda is in India). I can’t wait to hear more!

  20. 20
    Bobbie says:

    With your beautiful heart, I knew you would have a wonderful trip, seeing God’s face in every child! I can’t wait to hear more from you and your team about this amazing organization in Guatemala.

  21. 21
    Bethany says:

    I read both this blog and Ann Voskamps blog and as of late have felt the tug to sponsor a Compassion child. I think this is the Lord’s way of telling me to DO IT!!!!!

    What a beautiful picture of grace these children are, I love it. I don’t know how you kept from crying.

    In Him

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Deidra says:

    Thank you so much, Amanda, for your post this morning. My sponsored child lives in Bolivia. I do so hope to meet her one day. I have had the privilege of sponsoring her for almost 8 years. Your pictures help me to imagine how it might be for her. Thanks.

  24. 24
    Patty says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your trip. I’ve sponsored a child from Thailand ever since we went to a concert about a year ago. I so love this little boy! How I would love to go on a trip with Compassion, but I’m not sure I could control the tears – what a blessing it would be to see their work in person. We have so much to be thankful for. I have a photo of my precious little one right in front of my computer. Perhaps God will provide an open door for me someday soon.

    Thanks for the photos – you look so pretty.
    In Him,

  25. 25
    Darrensgal says:

    Thanks Amanda for your post. My hubs and I sponsor a little girl in Guatemala through Compassion I. — this came as a result of my sister and niece moving there this summer to serve in the orphanage and maternity house at Huehuetenango. They also serve as mission team coordinators for that area. She describes the same unbridled worship of the people there that you experienced too!
    On Sunday, Guatemala experienced horribly destructive mudslides just north west of Guatemala City. My sis and niece were on the very road that the majority of the slides happened on…but the Lord provided such safety for them and they eventually made it into Guatemala City to drop off the last mission team. — A 5 hour trip turned 15 1/2 hours long! For now they are stuck and can’t get home b/c the road is completely gone. Please, to my sisters out there, say a prayer for them. I know they are so unsure of their next step right now. God will see them through, it’s just scary in the mean time!

    • 25.1
      JoAnn Janik says:

      God is working out a way right now. I lift you all up in prayer. May the peace of God and the freshness of His Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts, rule in your dreams, and conquer all your fears. In the Saving Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

      I could only hope to be as brave as your sister and niece. For now, I will minister in prayer.

  26. 26
    Jessica says:

    How cool is this!!! Those kids are so adorable, and Amanda you look like you’re having a blast with them. We sponsor a child in Tanzania, and I had no idea Compassion worked so closely with the local church. That is really exciting! Have a great week, Amanda – you are so beautiful!


  27. 27
    Forever His says:


    Praying now. Thank you for posting the pictures. It is so nice to see the children.

    Phil 4:8

  28. 28
    Michele says:

    so glad that y’all made it safely and that you are both being blessed and being a blessing.

    You are an inspiration.

    More prayers for the rest of your trip and safe travel home.

  29. 29
    texatheart says:

    How blessed you are. Thanks Amanda for sharing. If anyone has never had an opportunity to go to a foreign land and see God working through programs such as these, I pray there will be an opportunity. I went to Seoul, South Korea while I was in college and I was so excited to show them how to live the Christian life. I learned more from those humble, spirit-filled Christians than I had to teach them. God used that time as a humbling, pruning time for me and I am better off for it. Enjoy.

  30. 30
    Deb Weaver says:

    Oh Amanda, sweetheart, I’m so glad you have this opportunity! I loved your note to your mom about it being one of the highlights of your life. I went to Bolivia in 2007; it too was an incredible trip. Thank you for sharing. I am praying. May God supply every thing you and the team lack or need to demonstrate His love and care.

  31. 31
    Melissa H. says:

    Thank you for doing this Amanda!
    I can’t wait to show this to my 20 year old son. He wants to work in foreign missions and has considered Compassion. He is thinking of majoring in foreign language and has good computer skills…and he has a tremendous heart for children. I can see how he could be used in this organization!
    We have two children we sponsor with Compassion and it is so encouraging to see what is going on!
    Thanks again!!
    Melissa H.

  32. 32
    Siesta Stephanie says:

    Oh how exciting!!!!

    Me and My husband have sponsered a child with Compassion for about 6 years now. His name is Guilherme and he lives in Brazil. He has grown so much over the years and we enjoy getting his letters. Hope you have a fun safe trip.

    Siesta Stephanie

  33. 33
    Holly Smith says:

    Praying, praying, praying for you all!! Love and admire your heart for Compassion, too, Amanda.

  34. 34
    WorthyofLove says:

    Dear Amanda,

    You look radiant! (the Glory of the Lord :)) Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. My heart is encouraged to serve others…Lord please let me keep that thought alive for my family today.

    Will be praying for your trip.

    Mucho Grande HUGS,

  35. 35
    Melissa says:

    Mand, I am so glad to know you made it there safely and that you are rooming with Patricia Jones, no less. I so wish I were there! I can’t wait to hear some stories about Compassion Guatemala! I’m already in love with the kids. I love you and am praying for the Lord to do great things in all of your hearts and ours. Love, Melis

  36. 36
    His Jules says:

    Amanda – thanks so much for sharing this, I almost went into full-on ugly cry just reading your words! Amazing!! Our God is amazing and the works that He does are so unimaginable. You have made me want to dig deeper into Compassion and its ministry. We already sponsor a child through World Vision but I don’t feel the kind of connection that you are showing that these children recieve through the local church. Thanks again for sharing and for your sacrifice to be there!

  37. 37

    I was just writing my letter last night to my compassion child who lives in Guatemala! I got to go with Compassion 6 years ago and meet her! What an incredible experience! Anxious to hear more!

  38. 38
    Janet says:

    So proud of you, Amanda. It makes me tear up just thinking about the children singing: “Lord, You are Good!” Amen and Amen!!

  39. 39
    Beth says:

    I can hardly hold back the tears. It might be fun for our Siestas to know that I am getting glimpses into your Compassion experience in Guatemala right along with them since we’re not corresponding this week by cell phone. I leaned forward on my computer so I could get as close to your experience as possible and I stared into each picture. The ones showing the whole group of children nearly took me to the floor. I am so moved that I want to sob. I am imagining their voices singing about the goodness of our God. I KNOW He is good and you being in my life is one reason. Thank you for going, Darling. Thank you for trusting God with all your concerns and with your precious family. No one knows better than I do how much you battle fear. I also know where you got it unfortunately. YOU WON this battle. YOU WON. Thank you for caring about children. I am so blessed that you and your sister caused me to catch the Compassion bug. Stay with it, Sweet Thing! And tell us every detail!

    • 39.1
      Jill says:

      I was holding back the tears through the post, and then I read Beth’s comments and just blubbered… love ya’ll.

    • 39.2
      Edith says:

      Thank you for your response. I am from Guatemala and going to Guatemala on a mission trip in October. I also battle fear and God has been awesome. I was able to go to Zambia last year on a mission trip and I had so much peace from God. I am looking forward to answer prayer again.

  40. 40
    Leah Adams says:

    Oh Amanda, I want to go!!! My child is in Tanzania and one day, when she is older, I fully intend to go.

    One thing struck me profoundly about your post. At my church, here in North GA. we are having such a hard time getting volunteers to work in extended care (nursery) on Sunday mornings. Yet, it sounds like the child care center there is staff with church volunteers and doing well. Those precious volunteers obviously understand that they are pouring into those young lives…lives that could very well produce the next Billy Graham, Luis Palau, or Beth Moore. Our people in my church haven’t ‘gotten’ that yet or we would not have trouble getting volunteers.

    Blessings all over you!!


  41. 41
  42. 42
    Karla K says:

    What a joyful surprise to read this. I am grinning ear to ear. Please share more, I am looking forward to it.

  43. 43
    Mary H. says:

    Thank you for your update! Love the pic!!

  44. 44
    Lynn says:

    Thanks Amanda for taking time on your trip to share your pictures and comments about your experiences! I was truly blessed and touched by your story! I pray that God will bless you as you reach out to these children! I will look forward to hearing more later!

  45. 45
    Warm in Alaska says:

    Amanda, what a treat for you to take this trip! I’m so going to look forward to hearing your updates. Loved the good report about the local church and Compassion – I always, always love to hear when local bodies and para groups are makin’ the thang work for God’s glory! All the kiddos look positively darling! (Wish I could sign off with something swell in Spanish – but, no hablo espanol – even tho I did study it for two years, eons ago…)

  46. 46
    Tami says:

    My best friend from high school packed up (or gave away) everything she owned and moved with her husband and four young children to Guatemala two years ago. They work with orphans at the New Life Children’s Home. Testimonies like this continually awe me. We have two Compassion children and hope to take our own children to visit at least one of them in the next few years. Your pictures and story are so moving. Thanks for this glimpse into your trip!

    BTW, LOVE Ann Voskamp. She is such a gifted writer and photographer and lover of God’s world.

    • 46.1
      Amanda says:

      Tami, Ann is even more wonderful than you think she is. I’m grateful to be here with all these special people!

  47. 47
    Heather says:

    Hola Amanda,
    So exciting! Especially as a mom…there’s just nothing like little kiddos singing praises that makes you want to definitely do ugly cry. We leave for Honduras on Saturday and we are so, so excited! It’s a beach trip, but we are very excited about visiting a small orphanage on the island. I found it online, talked with them and found out some things they could use. I want my children (ages 2 and 4) to have fun, but I also want them to see that God is all over the world. We can serve Him here, there and everywhere! I am praying, praying, praying that God uses that moment in the life of my two small children, myself and my husband. To give is most definitely to receive!!
    Enjoy your time!

  48. 48
    Sherrie Watson says:

    I love Guatemala. My daughter (who was 11 at the time) and I went on a mission trip there in 2008. We served in Guatemala City and went to Eagles Nest at Lake Attalian. It was the most awesome experience. We came home and sponsored a child ourselves. It is a little girl that lives at the Lake and when we make it back with the group we went with we will get to meet her. Her face smiles at us every day on our refrigerator. Praying for you.

    Sherrie Watson
    Oak Ridge NC

  49. 49
    elaine says:


    I was so moved by Melissa’s postings while in India that I went on to sponsor two Compassion children. The first, Kandiel Blandine in Burkina Faso and then Prema Kumari in India. In January I am traveling with Compassion to Burkina Faso, West Africa. I could not be more excited!! I know it will be the experience of a lifetime.

    Enjoy your trip. I look forward to reading your updates. Compassion sponsorship is such an incredible blessing.


  50. 50
    JoAnn Janik says:

    Amanda – I was thinking just this morning how I was going to blog to you and say how I miss you already. And, there you were, on a mission trip no less. It’s wonderful to hear from you and I’m praying for a safe and spirit-filled trip. I am definitely looking into Compassion Ministry to sponsor.

    Thank you and your group for your time and blessings to the children and staff there and thanks for touching my heart.

    God truly provides with so much love.

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