Today it is 18 years since Anna was born. Tonight we will have some variation of our typical Italian meal to celebrate together. Anna loved eating at the Olive Garden when we visited my parents in California, so while we don’t often go to that restaurant anymore, we always choose some variation for the birthday celebration.
I have two things to share this year. The first will be brief. The second is more important. First, Timberley and I went to see Michael Fabiano last night give a recital in Raleigh. He is a fantastic singer. If you love opera, you need to hear him when you get a chance. He performs with opera companies around the world so he will likely be coming to some place near you. If you do not love opera, what are you waiting for? What does this have to do with Anna? I am pretty certain that she would have loved the recital last night. But I am absolutely certain that had she gone to the recital, she would have decided to have 18 children instead of 17 and that her 18th child would have been named Fabiano. You can read a bit about her children here.
The second thing I would like to share is about a recent trip we made to Indonesia and about how you can help children and families living in poverty.
Sam and I and a group of other students and professors from Southeastern seminary left after Christmas for a trip to Indonesia. We had a fantastic time there, working with a family as they try to reach several people groups with the gospel of Jesus. There is much I could say about that part of the trip, but it is the second half of our trip that is important now.
After we returned from the island where we served and landed back in the capital city of Jakarta, and after the rest of the team returned to America, Timberley came and joined Sam and me. We took another week to visit our old stomping grounds and meet with old friends. We wanted for Sam to see the places where we lived and to solidify for himself some of the memories that for all of us were beginning to fade from view. We visited the homes where we lived and the school where he attended first grade. We visited friends whom we had not seen in almost ten years. It was a good trip.
But we also took one day and visited a little girl that we had not met personally but whom we had photos and letter correspondence that had been going on for several years. Timberley and I had decided some time ago to begin sponsoring a child through Compassion International. We were at a Keith and Kristen Getty concert at Southeastern and a plea was made to support a child there. When we went to the table we picked up several cards with children’s information. Then we found one that immediately ended our search. A little girl that lives in Bawen needed a sponsor. “Bawen,” we thought. “That is 30 minutes from where we lived in Indonesia!” So began our journey with Compassion International that has grown to where we now sponsor three little girls. (Sam has noted that each of the children, in some way, look suspiciously like Anna, but I’m sure that is merely coincidence.)
When we learned that we would be going to Indonesia, Timberley contacted Compassion and arranged for us to meet our child. We had a wonderful time with the family and with the good people that run the orphanage where our child and her older brother are cared for. I won’t go into the specifics here, but just let me say that your sponsorship of a child through Compassion will change the lives not only of that child but of the whole family. If you allow it, it will likely change your life as well. I strongly urge you to consider this ministry in your giving.
Anna, we still miss you and think of you always. Turning 18 is am important milestone for young people. But you have passed through many much more significant milestones already and I am sure would look back with a bit of a condescending but charitable laugh at the idea that having another birthday was of some significance. But allow us to have our little parties nonetheless. We are not where you are and do not see the things that you see. But soon, Anna, soon. Maranatha. Anna resurget.