Monday, January 20, 2014

Mourning a child an ocean away

It is an odd reality to mourn someone you’ve never met. But that’s what our family faces since we received the news last week that the Compassion International child we’ve sponsored for over 10 years passed away.

We’ve supported two children through Compassion for 15 years. Our first child, Gilmario from Brazil, aged out of the system two years ago. Our second, Selina from Tanzania, was about to age out; we were in our last year of her sponsorship. But on Tuesday, I received a call, letting me know that she passed away on December 31.

The very nice man on the phone said he’d call me back on Thursday to answer my questions – good idea, since I couldn’t formulate a clear thought or utter a concise sentence through my sobs.

But Thursday afternoon came and went and my phone did not ring. I gave the guy until 4:45 before I called him. My grief had given way to anger and I really wasn’t interested in waiting another day to hear what had happened to Selina. The first person I spoke with told me she wasn’t trained to handle my type of phone call; I guess not. And I guess I’m glad because that means there aren’t a bunch of sponsors calling to see why their Compassion kid died.

She connected me with someone else who was able to take my call; the woman who answered said the man who was supposed to call me was out of the office. I don’t know, Compassion, but I think if you tell a sponsor that her kid died you might want to make every effort to call her back when you say you will…

Anyway, the woman I spoke with was very apologetic, but the news I heard was not good. The Compassion team in Tanzania knew Selina was sick for a year but never gave that information to Compassion headquarters in Colorado. That is supposed to be standard operating procedure, but in Selina’s case, it was not followed.

And now, all I can think about are the if onlys: if only we’d known, we would have done something. We would have given more money or flown her over here for treatment or gotten her better treatment over there. I would have rallied my friends who live in Kenya who would have certainly had contacts in Tanzania. We would have done something.

I did ask if anyone knew if Selina had made an indication that she understood the Gospel, and thankfully the Compassion workers in her village said that yes, she loved the Lord and was clearly living as a Christian. I am resting in that knowledge and praising God for that good news.

Thank you to everyone who has emailed or called or commented on Facebook – the outpouring of love, support and prayer has been amazing and I am so thankful for it. Please do continue to pray for Selina’s mom. Her husband passed away and now she’s lost her daughter.

Again, thanks for the love and support.


The most recent picture of Selina.