If I close my eyes I can see her.
After cutting the crust from his sandwich she snaps his lunchbox shut, slips it into his backpack and heads upstairs to wake him for school. She’s the nanny. But she’s more than that to the boy.
Dad expresses love in sixty-hour work weeks, food on the table, a roof overhead. She speaks hers in a thousand loads of laundry, eggs and toast, hugs, bandaids on skinned knees and broken English.
When classmates bend him with insults thrown like sticks and stones, the boy comes home to arms that hold and a hand that strokes his hair and words that whisper him upright again. Maria looks into his eyes and speaks what she sees: a smart boy with so much good inside.
She is one woman without much to give. But what she has is his. Like the bible’s generous widow she offers her mite’s worth and the boy is made rich. And the boy makes a promise in his mind: Someday, he decides, he’ll repay all her love.
The days pile into years. The boy rockets into a man. And the man never forgets Maria or the promise. And one day he repays her.
The nanny’s mite has multiplied by then. The boy has much more to give.
His offering scoops lunch onto 44,000 plates every day and folds as many hands in thanks.
His tribute wakes 44,000 children from ignorance and sends them off to school.
His donation bandages and heals the bodies of 44,000 grateful souls.
His love gift shares with 44,000 the story of God moved by love to give.
His repayment tells 44,000 impoverished children that they are as valuable as the nanny thought the boy to be all those years ago: smart children with so much good inside.
The man gave a large donation to Compassion International with one condition: It was to be used to start the first Compassion center in Nicaragua.
And so the nanny who comforted, fed, taught and loved him well as a child was repaid when Compassion brought medicine, food, education and love to the poorest children in Nicaragua — Where Maria was born into poverty.
This is the story of how Compassion International’s ministry spread to Nicaragua in 2002. It began with one woman’s small gift to a little boy in America many years before. That mite multiplied in the heart of that one child, who gave to 44,000 more. Who knows what those children will give one day?
$38 isn’t much is it? But it’s a gift that will never be forgotten by a child.
I’m in Nicaragua right now with a group of bloggers learning more about Compassion International’s ministry to children. Go here to learn more about Compassion through our stories, pictures and videos.