Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Live your life with arms outstretched

I’ve been so busy with activities in the Dominican Republic the past few days that I haven’t had much more than a few minutes to log onto the computer. And when I could log in, my internet was extremely slow & sketchy. There’s so much to share from what we’ve experienced and so many pictures I want to post, that it’s probably going to take me at least five more days to try and scratch the surface of all I want to share!

On Thursday, we visited a in Santo Domingo. The children were older (ages 11-15) and they didn’t warm up to us as quickly as they did on Tuesday.

However, after playing some rousing outdoor games and sitting in their classroom and asking them questions about their home, parents, food, and life in general, they began to slowly warm up. And once they warmed up, they just ate up our love and affection.

This little boy, Darius, stole my heart. He said he didn’t ever know who his father was and, from the questions I asked, it sounds like he lives in very primitive conditions.

He was starving to just have someone look into his eyes and tell him he was loved, cared for, and valuable. He drew me this picture to take home, but honestly, I just wanted to take him home with me!

I’m so grateful that he’s part of the and is getting regular meals, education, attention, love, clothes and shoes, and medical help as part of the program. I truly don’t think I could have left without knowing he was going to be taken care of!

While the children were waiting for lunch to be served, I showed them pictures of my children and introduced them to –a game on my phone that my daughter loves. They were mesmerized and I didn’t even have to explain to them how to play the game; they got it right off!

Even though most of these children come from very deplorable home situations, they are bright, cheerful, industrious, and intelligent. And with the right education and encouragement, they are going to go so far in life!

{This home–a very nice one for this area–was available to rent for the equivalent of around $1 per month!}

I’ve appreciated the past four years that we’ve been involved in it, but now that I’ve seen the work firsthand, I’m a hundred times more excited about the work they are doing.

Most of these children come from homes that have little joy and comfort in them. They spoke of fights, disease, family problems, and lack of parental involvement when we asked them specific questions about their living conditions.

The pain on their faces as they shared broke my heart. I wanted to scoop them all up, take them home with me, and provide a safe haven with plenty of food, clothes and shoes, a soft bed, medical care, and lots and lots of love.

I can’t bring them all home with me, but by investing $38 per month, I can provide all of that for one child who is in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program. If you don’t already , may I encourage you to prayerfully consider it?

The $38 per month commitment amount might seem outside your budget right now, but maybe there are some things you can cut from your budget in order to free up the funds? Or maybe you could partner with some other families and pool together your money to be able to . I promise that it will be worth it.

If you don’t feel led to support children through Compassion or you just truly don’t have any extra room in your barebones budget–that’s completely okay! I don’t share this with you to guilt you into doing something that’s not what God is calling you to do.

That said, I want to encourage you to do something. Find a single mom in your neighborhood who could use a bag of groceries that you got for free with coupons. Find an elderly couple who could use assistance or friendship. Donate some supplies to your local homeless center or work in a nearby soup kitchen. Write a letter of encouragement. Be a listening ear. Freely share your knowledge and experience with others.

Step outside your comfort zone, give freely and generously of your resources and time, and live your life with arms outstretched. And I promise you’ll be blessed beyond what you can imagine!

On Monday, I’ll share about the Water Store Project and, if I have space, I’ll also include details and photos from the slums we visited. I can’t wait to share more as my heart is just about bursting right now!

Subscribe for free email updates from December212012® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Toni says:

    There just are not words to express how I felt as I read your post. Precious in His sight, every single one of them. :'(

  • says:

    Keep the posts coming! I really enjoy them 🙂

  • Ruth says:

    Amen! I agree; precious in His sight and keep the posts coming!

  • says:

    Crystal, thanks for sharing your experience and for showing pictures. It’s very inspiring. I will look into what my family can do to help. Please keep up the good work and in spreading good causes. Looking forward to the next post.

  • says:

    $1 a month seems soooo cheap to me. To build a trash shed in the largest dump in Cambodia (not in the city) cost $5 a month to rent a piece of land as seen by this photo:

    I am very impressed by how clean they are. Not only is that extremely clean for third world conditions, but its also very clean for village children period. Compassion is doing an amazing job with their program.

    It is indeed different to see something in person. Going back to 1st world conditions is never easy. Its really neat that you have a blog which to share on, though.

  • Jessica says:

    Bless your heart!

    For me, domestic violence is near and dear to my heart as I grew up with it. Each year, I fill up boxes and deliver them to a rural domestic violence shelter. I have a tight budget but those “free after Extracare Bucks” and “free after Register Rewards” items help me fill the boxes. Most of the time I am able to fill up 4 or more copy paper boxes with feminine hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, toothpaste, tooth brushes, non-prescription pain relievers and even other basics and even some fun things like new socks, nail polish boxes of crayons and coloring books. The women and kids in domestic violence shelters usually arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

    I also donate to a local food pantry at the church where my kids used to go to daycare. We do charity birthdays. For my birthday last week, I took two boxes of food and supplies like crayons for the kids.

    • says:

      Speaking of birthdays, another great donation to bring to a woman’s shelter (checking in with the administrators first, of course) is a “birthday box” full of fun plates, napkins, cups, favor goodies, cake mixes, frosting, and candles. These extras aren’t usually part of the key basics covered in a shelter, but can bring a welcome normalcy and joy to a mom with a child who will have a birthday while in residence.

      • Jaime says:

        Speaking of birthday boxes, check out I volunteer with them and they host birthday parties for kids in homeless shelters. They bring cake, decorations, activities, and gifts to let the kids have a bit of “normal” in their lives. You’re absolutely right, birthdays parties in shelters are extras and this is where birthday wishes come in to help with that. My two boys, now 10 and 12 have been helping me make cakes for about 4 years now. I wanted them to realize how fortunate we are and that they can help others, even in something as small as a cake.

  • Michelle says:

    We have sponsored children for years, and it is amazing! I love their letters. You can send a bit more if you want and one child wrote that he was able to get a blanket so he wouldn’t have to sleep on the dirt and would be warmer. One of my favorite places to sponsor children from is Indonesia since they are extremely poor and it is not a Christian country. Would highly, highly recommend this!

  • says:

    You brought me to tears again as I read your post. We sponsor a child through Compassion in Nicaragua. Your post puts more of a face to the children’s needs and you’re right, it makes you want to do whatever we can to help them. Thank-you for sharing!

  • says:

    I am so happy you are doing this, what a wonderful blessing to your heart and to these children. Thank you and keep the posts coming.

  • says:

    God has truly blessed you with the joy of giving. Thanks for all you do, you inspire me to do more. We are trying to get a soup kitchen put together in my area. There is such a great need for food world wide. God bless you and your family.

  • jen h says:

    This is wonderful! I went to DR last year and took a tour of the country side. Like you said, I wanted to take all those beautiful children home! keep the pictures coming <3

  • CJ says:

    Thanks for the photos and information, and for encouraging us. Such beautiful people in that country 🙂

  • J says:

    The people and children are beautiful! I am so excited to see more and hear all about what you learned. Blessings.

  • Jamie says:

    We took our family to see Winter Jam this year and they talked about the work being done on behalf of children in poverty. I had the little hands of my own precious children tugging, poking, and squeezing mine. “Please, mommy, please. We can do that.”. Then my heart shattered as I looked into one of my daughter’s eyes as she cried because SHE wanted to help these children and was willing to give-up so much to do so. Pretty much everything, in fact, except her family because we already made a promise in front of a Judge to be hers FOREVER!!!
    And, she is only one of MY 12 children who continuously push me to do more than I ever dreamed possible……the Impossible, without GOD!!!

  • Rosanna says:

    Beautiful experience and awesome contribution to the life of those kids in Dominican Republic. Thanks for sharing and inspiring others.

  • says:

    Crystal-This has been so moving! Isn’t it amazing what can be accomplished with God’s power?!?!

    We have sponsored a lovely girl from Bukina Faso for about 7 years now through Compassion. She is now 14 and has hit an age where in her area- would probably not have the oppurtunities that she has now, had it not been for Compassion’s Program.
    Our Letters from her are written in her handwriting now and are truly starting to show her maturity and strong faith in Christ. How amazing!

    Keep encouraging others, It is awesome!!!!!!!

  • Rosa says:

    I was thinking of visiting Santiago, DR because I’ve been chatting with a guy there so it was nice to read your post & to see pictures of the DR.

    I also thought of doing something good like giving, teaching or volunteering while I’m there but I didn’t know what.

    Looking forward to reading more about your trip.

  • Mary says:

    Just wondering why all the fences/boards are up around property? Did anyone say why?
    thanks for all you do to support others in need

  • says:

    I have loved the photos and updates! I’m so excited that you guys were able to go and to sponsor a community. What a blessing! And I love that you mention not only sponsoring a child but also looking at your neighbor’s needs. It drives me crazy when people have that mentality to say we need to fix our own problems first. Both are possible! You can serve and love and give locally and abroad. We have a sponsor daughter in Uganda, I hope that one day we will be able to go and visit her as well. But honestly, we love Compassion International and sponsoring Faisi has been not only a blessing to her but especially one to us! I hope lots more people are encouraged to join in sponsoring!

  • lee says:

    I wish I could have gone with you. We sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic also. He is a wonderful young boy named Edwin, 7 I believe. We have had others that graduated. What a blessing each one has been through the years. I just love them so much.

  • Katie says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  • sarah says:

    I just heard a women speak of Compassion International at the Hearts at Home Conference. I was on the end and there were a stack of postcards each with a child on them to pass down the row after her talk. The top one was a boy from India which is where my husband is from and named Ajay which was the name of my brother-in-law who passed away from cancer 6 years ago. Thank you God for making it impossible to say no to this wonderful ministry.

  • says:

    Thank you for sharing your life changing experience in your busy schedule. I’d love to visit some day. I am an orphan who was scooped up in Seoul, Korea and brought to America by a loving family. I hope to sponsor a child soon. I’m going to pray how I can further open up funds to do this. Until then, we’re giving locally through freezer cooking. Every little bit helps, like you said, just taking baby steps of giving. Blessings for your inspiration.

  • cheryl says:

    I would encourage anyone who wants to make a real difference to adopt, especially older children. If you can’t adopt, donate funds to a family who is. Children in most countries are kicked out of their orphanage at age 16 with no one to care about them, no skills, no home, no money, no further education, no hope. The stigma of being an orphan follows them their entire lives so they can’t make their lives better. Many commit suicide, become prostitutes, homeless, and drug addicts.

  • Cheyenne says:

    THANK YOU for sharing this with us and for being such a wonderful Christlike example of loving & giving to those in need. I’m anxious for the posts to come!

  • Deborah Jennings says:

    That first picture looks a whole like Jamaica. The houses were just shacks. The roads in your picture are wider than the ones in Jamaica. They are only one car wide and someone has to pull over for the other to pass. It makes me want to just cry. There are so many babies in this world who are hungry and dirty. Even here in America there are some.

  • Sporksoma says:

    There are children in the United States who live in identical conditions, without enough food to eat, with very poor shelter, with family problems, etc. There are children EVERYWHERE who live in conditions like that, except possibly in northern European countries. They can all be helped out, so anything anyone can do to help is just wonderful.

    • B says:

      Thank you Sporksoma. I too think it is important to remember there are children right here at home that need our help too.

    • Crystal says:

      I so agree that anything anyone can do is *wonderful*. It might seem like our efforts are a drop in the bucket, but if we all reach out and live a life of giving, our collective efforts will make a huge impact.

      If you know of any fantastic organizations who are reaching out to the needy children in the U.S., I’d love to have you (or anyone else) share links and info. We had this article just recently:

      I think many are unaware just how rampant the needs are here–and abroad.

    • says:

      Sporksoma – We tend to agree with you. Thanks for speaking out! We’ve recently “reallocated” our tithing in an effort to keep it all at “home.” It’s so important to do ministry in our own families and communities – before taking it to all ends of the world.

      BUT – everyone absolutely needs to do what God calls them to do — not what other people tell them to do!

    • Amy says:

      I think the key is doing what God calls you to do. I have friends who were called to adopt domestically while we were very clearly led to adopt from Ethiopia. Because of our experience there, we also support a child through Compassion in Ethiopia. If each person will simply do what God asks them to do then needs will be met.

      • says:

        I was shocked when I read the book Breaking Night by Liz Murray. Children who go home to only have toothpaste, chapstick and mayonnaise to eat at times, here in America. In her case, it was because her parents spent their money on drugs and were too strung out to know that her clothes were filthy, she was hungry and could not do well in school because of it. I was shocked at how recent it was, and how much she was blamed for her circumstances.
        Check in your area to see if there is a program to supply food for the children the school has noticed are often hungry, troublemakers, etc. as the weekend comes.

  • says:

    It’s awesome to see everything you’re doing there, and for you to see your sponsorship in action!

    I spent some time in both Guatemala and Mexico, and it was amazing to see how happy the people were despite the conditions they were living in. It really makes it hard to complain about life in the U.S.

    • Charity says:

      My husband and I used to do mission work in Mexico, and can reiterate what you say about their happiness despite their “rough” living conditions. To them their situation isn’t shocking and awful as we Americans see it. It is very eye opening to see their contentment.

  • cherie says:

    Thank you for sharing your amazing experience. I found CI through your blog and Jessica’s – and we are sponsoring a beautiful little girl who shares my daughter’s birthday.
    I have been thinking of how to work another sponsorship into our financial world – things are in flux at the moment but hopefully soon we’ll be able to find another child to share our lives with.
    It is so wonderful to see your photos!

  • Jo Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing! We sponsor one child right now and it’s amazing how connected we feel to him even though we will never meet him face to face. Your post touched me and encouraged me to keep doing what we can. I’d love to be able to sponsor a child for each of my four kids, but for now we’re thankful that we have the opportunity to try to make a difference in one young man’s life.

  • mary ellen spiece says:

    After reading your post about the DR this past weekend, I signed up to sponsor a sweet little boy through Compassion. I also just finished (and loved) reading Kisses from Katie which you recommended so highly. Thank you for inspiring and blessing your readers every day!

  • says:

    So WONDERFUL! I love seeing others being blessed – and you are so right, there are MANY things we can do right here to help others.

  • Sarah says:

    I live in Rural Appalachia America and our area looks just like these photos in fact some spots are worse. I do all that I can and I try to get the word out. We have folks living under conditions that no human should have to live in.
    We have children that rotate when they go to school so that they can share clothing.
    We have families where parents skip eating so that children can.
    We have families that huddle under one blanket in the dead of winter and go to bed hungry while they sleep on a cold floor and many of these families the adults are working!

  • Julia says:


    As a fellow shy person, I am really inspired by you and am trying to go where God is calling me without hesitation. I am definitely out of my comfort zone, but I know that I am not alone!!!

  • Julia says:

    And now that I took a moment to read back through the posts here, I know of a wonderful organization here in San Diego that helps the community’s homeless children. They often need just the basics (and couponing can help to provide!):

  • Christine says:

    Is any mission work being done encourage and show the men how to be godly and fathers, husbands ? This part of the equation to poverty and it’s effects always seem to be ignored by humanitarian efforts, secular or not.

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, the local pastors we met with were hard at work to reach the husbands/fathers/men. It’s an uphill battle, but we were encouraged at their efforts and heart–and at what strong, godly men they were themselves!

  • Tom Gannott says:

    We’re enjoying seeing the pictures and comments you have. They really hit home. We sponsor a child through Compassion in the Dominican Republic from the Santa Domingo area. It really makes us feel good that we are being a blessing to our sponsored child. We know now he has hope in his future because of us. Let the light of Jesus shine through the good works of Compassion!!

  • Mindy says:

    My daughter and I sponsored a child after reading your posts as well as Tsh at simplemom. My daughter was about to turn 8 and she tried to find a girl with a birthday close to hers. We read through many profiles and discussed it. She also writes letters to her. I plan on doing the same thing with my son, who is 4, when he gets a little older. Compassion is a wonderful ministry.

December212012® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Do not be silent