Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Mathew 19:14
These beautiful words of Jesus are experienced by Food for the Hungry volunteers as they step off the plane and onto the hard tarmac in Sucre, Bolivia. As they look up to the upper level of the airport, they can see the eyes and sweet faces of hundreds of sponsored children who can’t wait to see them, hug them, and get to know them! It can be an overwhelming and emotional experience for volunteers - but it’s also the reason they’ve come. Just ask Nathan Deterding.
“A major part of my going to Bolivia was to meet our sponsored child. It was central to my reason to go,” Nathan said. “I really wanted to meet him and make that connection.” But, Nathan had no assurance that he would get to meet Efraim in March of 2016. He knew that Food for the Hungry was going to try to set up his meeting Efraim but that they couldn’t guarantee it. The days and months leading up to his trip left him feeling down and a little skeptical.
The night before flying out, he rolled his ankle and sprained it badly. With just 10 hours before he was supposed to leave, Nathan looked at his new set of crutches, and asked himself,
“Is this God telling me not to go?”
“I was upset that I probably wouldn’t see my sponsored child,” he said. “I could barely walk, and I wasn’t feeling connected to the group. They had been meeting for months but I was living in Colorado at the time and didn’t even know who was on the team.”
It wasn’t until 2 a.m. that Nathan decided that he was going on the trip. “Even if it meant that I just stayed in my hotel room and prayed for the team,” he said, “it would be worth it.”
And he was right! It would be worth it. God would affirm Nathan’s decision in a way he never could have expected.
“When we got to the airport, it really hit me.” Nathan explained, “We had landed and exited on the tarmac and looked up and saw all these kids on the upper level looking down, waving at us and they just couldn’t wait to get close to us. It was at that minute that it became real. I realized I wasn’t just here for my one sponsored child, we were here to see and support all of those kids.”
Within a few minutes of picking up their luggage something phenomenal happened.
“This woman, who literally come up to about my belly button, kept pointing at me saying ‘Nethen, Nethan.’ I didn’t even realize that she was saying my name,” he recounted. “I finally made the connection and in broken Spanish said, ‘Yes, my name is Nathan.’ She turned around, grabbed a kid out of the many children there, and said ‘This is Efraim!’ I thought, that’s cool. Thanks for introducing us!”
Nathan didn’t even realize that this was his sponsored child for a few seconds. First, the situation was not at all how he was told he would be introduced to his sponsored child (if it happened at all), and second he didn’t realize until then that he had been mispronouncing “Efraim” for months.
“Then I really looked at that little boy and realized who it was! I had been pronouncing his name wrong but could clearly recognize his face! It took me a moment to catch my breath and realize, ‘This is my Ephraim!’” Nathan exclaimed. “It was unbelievable that God met me right there at the airport,” Nathan said, “just minutes after getting off the plane!”
The next day Nathan had another chance to see Efraim, as well as to meet his family in the traditional setting. He gave Efraim’s mother a basket of food, and then was able to take Efraim to play soccer. “The whole experience was just amazing,” he said. “At the end of our time together, he was clinging to me and made me promise that I would come back and see him again. My trip to Bolivia this year is to fulfill that promise to him”
Nathan’s perspective is totally different after meeting Efraim, talking to him, seeing where he lives, and spending time with him.
“For me, it hard now to even imagine that I considered not going. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to miss out on that experience. What would have happened if I hadn’t gotten on that airplane?” Nathan asks aloud.
Luckily, he will never know. He listened to God’s calming voice, followed it, and had the experience of a lifetime.
Child Sponsorship through Food for the Hungry is an absolute gift, to those sponsored and to those sponsoring. The knowledge that you can profoundly bless a child, family and community through a simple monthly donation of $38 is powerful. Visit MCC Food for the Hungry Child Sponsorship page to learn more or talk with Jennifer Ward this Sunday, she will have a table set up in the foyer.
MCC Elders and Connectors are hosting a Starting Point Lunch this Sunday, January 12 after second service in the Fellowship Hall. The luncheon is a great way to learn more about MCC, ask questions and meet new people! No RSVP needed. Contact Sarah with questions.
It’s time for The CareNet Baby Bottle drive! Please take a bottle off the table in the foyer, fill it with your spare change or cash, and return it to the table by January 19! Contact Joann Tallant with any questions.
The MCC Missions Team is hosting "Missions in Focus" Tuesday, January 21 and Wednesday, January 22 at MCC! It is a family-friendly, interactive event celebrating what God is doing locally and internationally! Enjoy a cultural meal, hear speakers active in local and foreign missions, and participate in activities for a chance to win prizes. Each night will be unique, educational and fun! Contact Emily Gray to RSVP or get involved!
The Women’s Community Bible Study resumes Tuesday, January 14 at 6:30pm AND Wednesday, January 15 at 9:15am with Max Lucado’s “Unshakable Hope” study. Childcare is available for the Wednesday morning study only. Contact Pam Cravens for Wednesday mornings or Sharon Albonico for Tuesday evenings.
Praying with others in community is rich! Join us any weekday morning for prayer at 6:00am in the Fellowship Hall. Contact Scott Walker for more info.
We are updating the church directory and will be taking new directory photos January 19 and 26 in the Fellowship Hall! Please make sure to update your contact information and your photo if A) we don’t have it in the current directory or B) you look different than you did 3 years ago! Either way, we’d like a new photo and updated contact for you so please stop by and update your info!
Looking for some Biblical financial tools for 2020? Come join us for the Living Debt Free Workshop on February 1 from 9:00am – 3:00pm in the Fellowship Hall! Practical topics including what the Bible says about money, how to set up a spending plan, saving, debt payoff, and more! Lunch and child care provided! Sign up in the foyer or call Elisa Trullinger.