The walk home today is more painful than the hunger growing in my stomach. Fear whirls in my mind and each dusty step fills my heart with more dread.

Approaching the stench of our small farm, I hear a pleading voice from behind the tarp. I know that my grandmother is speaking with my father in the house.

Her smooth words advocate for me. “This will be good for Wendy, my son. Surely you can see that? Do not let your hardened heart stand in the way of her best interest.”

“Her best interest? Haven’t I laboured to keep her off the streets? She is a lazy child, who does not deserve to go to school. I cannot allow her to attend a church programme,” his firm voice bellows above the loud flapping of the tarp.

“I will not back down Juan,” comes the quiet reply of my grandmother.

“Wendy must be registered tomorrow for the child development centre. I believe that God has sent this opportunity to us.

My father does not respond. His silence scares me. I creep closer, but terror prevents me from entering the small room where they converse.

Finally, his strong voice speaks.

“If it gets her out of my sight,” he retorts,” you can take her tomorrow, but God has sent us nothing. He has only taken from me and my family.”

Suddenly, the tarp flies back sharply, and my father storms past. After observing me angrily, he disappears behind the rusty shed…

Taking my grandmother’s wrinkled hand, I step into a long line of waiting people. The children stare blankly at the splintered floor of our tiny church. Pastor Jose greets the crowd kindly.

I tug at my grandmother’s sleeve gently, fearing that she will become irritated with me. She turns her head and I can read the sympathy in her eyes.

“Why are we here, with all of these people?” I ask imploringly. She nods with patience and I wait for her response.

“I am going to register you with the Compassion project here at Pastor Jose’s church. This will help you greatly, my child.”

Wendy's ife changed when her ganrdmother registered her in one of Compassion's centres. 

I want to believe her, but I am also puzzled. I know of a young girl in my school who attends the project once a week. She talks about her sponsor and shares about the activities and games she plays at the centre.

She says because of her sponsor, her family is now able to buy groceries and provide her uniform. And still, I do not know what to expect.

My grandmother takes me home. I am very tired. Next week I will come to the project and meet my teacher. I want to be happy, but the truth haunts me. I know she will soon discover that I am a failure. I wonder if I must take many exams at the project?

I have attended the project for many weeks. At the project, we learn fascinating Bible stories and I am making new friends.

I still don’t have a sponsor, but the teacher has prayed that one will come soon! I am very happy.

I have passed the third year of primary school. I had hoped that this would make my father glad, however, most days he is silent.

He will not speak to me, but I talk to him. I tell him all about the joy I have found at the project.

“Papa, today my teacher, Marie, taught us how God sent His son Jesus to this earth, just so He could die to save us from our sins. Do you think He did that for me too?” I beam with excitement.

But Papa does not reply. My heart sinks with a heavy burden. Suddenly he speaks, but his words cut me like a knife.

“So, is my daughter too stupid to deserve a sponsor? I knew no one would want you. It has been four months now, and no one has chosen you.” He turns to leave the room. I lower my head to hide the tears.

The days pass by and I eagerly count each one. I am longing for the day when my sponsor will find me. At the project, Marie pulls me aside when it is time for the children to return to their homes.

“I have a gift for you,” her voice dances with happiness. I take the small box she places in front of me. Inside is a beautiful black Bible, all my own. I have never held a Bible before, so I touch its smooth cover reverently.

This Bible is a precious jewel to me; my only possession. Its treasured words will lead me closer to Him, the one friend I have. The One who gave salvation to a failure.

“And now,” she continues. ” I have some very special news for you, my little Wendy.

Marie pauses and places her warm hand on my stooped shoulders. ”Someone has decided to sponsor you!”

At first, I do not look up into Marie’s smiling face. But as her words sink in, gratefulness overflows the tiny cup of my heart. My brimming eyes turn upward.

They want me? I whisper with a cracked voice unlike my own. Marie nods. They love me. I breathe.

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