Chris & Robin Thompson
Seven years ago we began sponsoring Clement, then 14, prior to our first Limpopo, South Africa GO Team trip. We had no children of our own at the time, but welcomed Clement as a part of our family. We had the pleasure of meeting him in October 2012, and with the help of a translator, we learned he lived with his grandmother and had a sister who was not sponsored. We immediately began sponsoring his sister, Emelda, who was 10 at the time. We welcomed Emelda into our family as well, but did not have the opportunity to meet her on that particular trip.
We took advantage of every chance we had to send letters, pictures, and gifts 3x/year. In the summer of 2015, Chris was able to GO back to Limpopo with a team and got to meet Emelda and see Clement again.
In the fall of 2016 we got a real treat...Emelda traveled to the US with the Sepedi Youth Choir and our family cherished each special moment we got with her. We were able to watch her perform multiple times, see her interact with her friends, grow our relationship with her, watch her interact with our boys (2.5 and 6 months at the time)...it was such a special time!
During the summer of 2018, both Chris and I had the opportunity to GO to Limpopo for a youth retreat. We were hopeful Emelda would be there as a leader, and that we might get to see Clement at the drop-in center. When we arrived, we learned Emelda would, in fact, be attending the retreat as a leader, and that Clement had been invited to attend the retreat, but declined. He was hanging with the wrong crowd, exhibiting concerning behavior, and struggling in school. Andries told us that he felt if Clement agreed to attend the retreat that it could change his life. We prayed the entire drive from Johannesburg to Limpopo, and learned toward the end of the drive that Clement had agreed to attend the retreat! The way God orchestrated everything was so amazing, and for 4 days we had a front row seat in our "big kids" lives. It was at that retreat where we had the joy of witnessing Clement accept Jesus into his heart!
On our last day in Limpopo we visited the Sekgopo drop-in center. We were able to spend more time with Clement and Emelda, as well as many other kids, some who we knew before and others we did not. As we drove away, Chris took the words out of my mouth when he said "I feel like we need to sponsor 2 more kids, a brother and sister again, but younger". Shortly after we returned, we began sponsoring Matome and Lesedi, 9 and 5 (the same age gap as Clement and Emelda). We are looking forward to meeting them in the future when the Lord takes us back to South Africa! But until then, they are already a part of our family.
All 4 of them are covered in prayer daily, just as our 3 biological kids are. Our kids are learning about sponsorship and love writing letters and sending pictures to their "brothers and sisters in South Africa". We are so honored to be "mom/dad/little brothers/little sister" to Clement, Emelda, Matome and Lesedi, and grateful that Horizon International has provided us such an opportunity!
I had become a sponsor to our boy Gift in 2013 after I returned home from my very first mission trip. On that trip I learned firsthand how sponsoring a child helps not only them but their families.
I went on another GO team mission trip in 2016 and was able to visit Gift in his home. There I met his Aunt and I met his brother John. When I got home we decided to start sponsoring John as well. Sponsoring one child is an amazing gift but getting to sponsor their sibling is even better. Knowing we are able to put them both through school and help give more food supplies to their family is such a blessing. The small amount of money it cost to sponsor a child gives them more than you can imagine.
Seeing firsthand the difference between a child who is sponsored and a child who is not really put things into perspective for me. I think when you get to sponsor siblings it helps them grow closer together. When one is sponsored the other feels left out and not deserving. They are quiet and very reserved. When they are sponsored together it unites them making them more appreciative and loving towards one another. They feel a different bond and can share their experience better.
I am so glad God allowed me to visit Gift and brought John in our lives. It is such a great feeling knowing that we get to help these young men grow and have a chance at a real future!