Saturday, May 31, 2008

By Renée Ferguson, Senior Direct Mail Associate for Christian Children’s Fund

The gentle morning breeze whispered that this would be an exceptional day, not only in the tour itinerary, but forever in the lives of the sponsors and sponsored children alike.

During the bus ride to Tendas do Cumbuco Resort, some sponsors whose sponsored children live in northeastern Brazil were giddy with anticipation. Others appeared somewhat pensive. This was the day they’d all been waiting for -- they would finally meet their sponsored children.

We arrived at the beach resort, after a short stop at a crafts market to buy souvenirs. The children were lined up in front of the entrance. As soon as we were off of the bus, they started singing a song to greet us as. Then each child presented welcome gifts to their sponsor and the rest of us -- handmade heart pillows with our names on them.

The sheltered pavilion was right off of the beach set in a lush garden adjacent to vacation accommodations and two pools. We relaxed, chatted and the children played. We found it so touching to watch sponsors and children get acquainted over the next few hours. They would have much of the day to enjoy time together… swimming in the pool or wading in the surf and walking on the hot sand.

It was fascinating to watch each meeting progress from timid introductions, to more fluid conversations and the sharing of gifts. In no time, they were on their way toward developing warm personal relationships far beyond the friendship that comes from writing letters.

After lunch, we all played a balloon game. In teams of three, adults and children paired with each other in a relay race of sorts. The goal was to transport a balloon to the finish line without using our hands. Each duo was positioned back-to-back and the balloon was placed between them.

At the starting line, we quickly shuffled our feet from side to side toward the finish line, adjusting our movements for the height differences. Then the balloon was given to the next pair and they repeated the effort with the same goal. Many giggles and one aggravated sports injury later, one team won and the game ended.

Early afternoon approached and it was time to part. Sponsors and children bid sad, but grateful farewells to each other. And we boarded the bus to return to the hotel.

We had a wonderful Farewell dinner with the CCF Brazil staff, translators and tour guide at Restaurante Boi Preto followed by presentations, words of gratitude and many tears. For tomorrow we would be leaving for the city of Salvador.

No comments: