Meet Hindia. She lives in Ethiopia.
Steve first “met” her through Compassion International in 1996 when she was about 5 years old, (at the same concert where he met the Pastor of a newly forming church that would become our “home” for the next 14 years and more significant in my life than I can even attempt to write here), before we were even married, while I lived half a continent away. It is because of her that I now spend some time at concerts and other events helping others meet a child that will change their lives. (By the way, it was during the first larger event I volunteered at, that I unexpectedly “met” Sandrah from Uganda, the other child we sponsor, who shares an exact birthdate with Natalie.)
Hindia is now 20 years old and we got this in the mail earlier this week.
We had received an earlier notification a few months ago to let us know that the time was coming “within a year,” so it was not without warning. Prior to that, her age alone left us wondering when she would be “too old” for sponsorship (though it is not entirely dependent on age, but also grade level in school and probably other factors). This current letter from Compassion indicates that she will be graduating “soon.” Still, even with time to have thought about it, I am left wondering this: What do you write to someone when it may be your last chance, to someone whose mother died before you knew her and only now do you fully realize that maybe you could have been more motherly, to someone you could have written to more often, something that won’t be lost in translation? I am at a loss for words…
At the same time, I remember that I know much more about Compassion now than I did years ago and I have read amazing firsthand stories from people who have traveled the world meeting children like her. It makes me stop thinking so much about what to write in the final letter and start wondering if she has a collection of all the letters and photos we did send (like nearly every other child I have read about). I wonder what she will be doing in the future and where she will be when she is done with school and beyond. I wonder what it was like to grow up without a mother. Will she get married, have children of her own? I find I have so many more questions, to which I will most likely never know the answers in this lifetime, and I realize maybe I don’t have a loss for words after all.