The Life-Changing Impact of
Meeting Your Sponsored Child

Story and photos by Kalis Parra, Dominican Republic Field Communications Specialist

A communications student from Florida finds even deeper meaning in sponsorship after meeting his sponsored child face-to-face.

Tyler, right, was thrilled to meet his sponsored child, Yandel, in the Dominican Republic.

Tyler, a young man from Florida, is passionate about the communication industry. He works, studies, and even serves at his church in that field.

And when he sat down to share his experience of meeting his sponsored child living in poverty in the Dominican Republic, it was obvious that Tyler was communicating straight from his heart.

Where the Journey Began

Tyler recalled the day a OneChild representative visited his church, CoastLife. The representative explained how sponsorship helps kids and shared profiles of children waiting for a sponsor. Little did Tyler know how much the decision to say “Yes” to sponsorship that Sunday morning would impact him.

“I prayed to God,” Tyler said. “I knew my finances were really in a tough situation, but at the same time I knew that God had still blessed me, so I wanted to give back.”

Tyler visit’s Yandel at his home.

Looking through the profiles, Tyler was drawn to a little boy named Yandel, and chose to become his sponsor.

“He’s almost 9 years old,” said Tyler, with pride. “He loves to draw and loves art, which is one of the reasons why I was drawn to him, because of my background in marketing and graphic design. I felt that was something we had in common.”

Tyler didn’t realize then that he would soon meet Yandel face-to-face.

Meeting Yandel

After sponsoring Yandel, Tyler heard that a team from CoastLife church was planning to visit the Dominican Republic, and he immediately joined that team.

He knew something big and special was waiting for him in the island nation, and he didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

Every year the Dominican Republic welcomes sponsors and visitors from various churches and cities across the U.S. on Discovery Trips to support their partner churches in the Dominican Republic.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to minister to kids as they learn more about our country, the OneChild ministry, our Hope Centers, and the Child Champions who serve the children.

It’s also the best way for sponsors to meet their sponsored children and spend some time with them.

With tears in his eyes and a voice full of emotion, Tyler shared what it was like meeting Yandel for the first time.

“We were hosting a water day and field day with his Hope Center,” said Tyler.

“And when they first introduced us, I remember I just started to cry. You see the picture of the kid, you write letters, but there’s always a piece missing.”

Yandel was timid at first, but as Tyler tried to communicate with him the little boy began to open up. That day Tyler and Yandel started a beautiful friendship as they talked, played games, and made lots of memories together.

“We started playing ball together,” Tyler recalled. “And at one point in the day it was just me and him playing ball for at least an hour. It was like nothing else mattered in that moment. It was just building that relationship with him. And I got to see his personality, him starting to smile more. That was truly touching.”

A Visit to Yandel’s Home

A special highlight of a sponsor’s visit to the Dominican Republic is visiting their sponsored child’s home. Home visits allow the sponsor to see the environment and reality of where their child lives and to meet the rest of their family.

Yandel holds the gifts given to him by his sponsor, Tyler.

Tyler described his visit to Yandel’s home as one of the most special moments of his life.

As visit host, it was also one of the most emotional home visits I have personally ever witnessed.

Seeing a sponsor in tears with their sponsored child and expressing their love and connection shows the degree of impact both the sponsor and the child are making in each other’s lives.

“When we arrived at his house, he was already waiting outside to greet me, and he was super excited,” Tyer said. “When I got there, he gave me a hug and he just had that smile on his face.”

They went inside Yandel’s house where his mom was waiting, too.

“We sat down and started talking. It was an incredible experience,” said Tyler. “Seeing him crying [with joy] … it really shows the bond we had created just in that short time, within a couple of days [together]. It’s an impact that’s going to last a lifetime.”

During the visit, Tyler was able to learn more about Yandel’s hopes for the future and to encourage him.

“I learned that he wants to work in construction. And I just encouraged him to follow his dreams. I know that there is so much potential for him, and I told him I’ll be there for him every step of the way to see him accomplish all that God has for him in the future.”

Tyler with Yandel and Yandel’s mother.

Two Lives Changed

Asked how he would describe sponsorship, Tyler said, “Life-changing.”

Listening to Tyler, I’m reminded that sponsorship is not a one-way street. It is a two-way street where both child and sponsor are impacted with that love that goes beyond borders, distance, and language. I have witnessed many lives touched just like Tyler’s.

“Receiving letters from your sponsored child is almost like waking up on Christmas morning,” Tyler said. “You receive this letter and you’re so excited! You open it up and no matter what it says, it just kind of warms your heart. It puts literally the biggest smile on my face.

“No matter what I may be personally facing in my life or in my day, reading those letters just makes me forget all those things and remember my sponsored child and the relationship that we have, and it just makes everything worth it.”

Tyler added, “It’s more than just giving your monthly contribution. It’s really about building this relationship. It’s about keeping in touch. It’s about writing the letters, sending photos, and just letting your sponsored child know that you’re thinking of them even though you may be miles apart. That you’re always there in their hearts. It truly makes that much of a difference.”

Tyler told us that sponsorship reminds him of the importance of giving back to others, and that the opportunity to meet Yandel in person confirmed the impact that it’s making.

Blessed in Giving

Tyler says he thinks everyone should pray about becoming a sponsor.

“It’s truly been the best experience I’d ever had and I’m so glad that I took this step a year ago to just step out in faith and say ‘Yes!’”

Tyler chats with Yandel’s mother.

He admitted that it hasn’t always been easy, financially, but says that when he looked at what he really spent each month he found places where he could make small sacrifices, like Starbucks or fast food.

“I know life has its ups and downs and its challenges,” said Tyler. “But it’s just remembering that the overall impact is bigger than our current situation, and God always blesses the giver. And reminding yourself that it’s about someone that has much less than you and that your contribution is far more to them.

“And if you’re ever worried or challenged by the financial impact, just pray and talk to God. I believe that God is always going to find a way to make it work out for the greater good.”

When Tyler tried to tell us what he wanted to say to Yandel, his voice quavered with emotion.

“No matter what challenges or obstacles you may face in life, never give up,” he said. “You’re always going to be able to accomplish your dreams — just have faith, trust in God and He will guide you the rest of the way.”

Tyler’s dream for Yandel is that he will stay focused on God and excel in school.

“I know the world is his,” Tyler added. “So I’m excited just to watch him and see him grow up and to see him accomplish all that he sets out to do.”

By saying “Yes” to sponsorship today you can begin a journey like Tyler’s that will impact your life and the life of a child like Yandel. And that can impact an entire generation.



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