for when provision looks different :: day 2

This isn’t where we visited today. We weren’t allowed to get our cameras out while on the street, so this is a photo I took from the bus of a neighborhood nearby. These homes here are much nicer than the ones we saw today.

This is Rose Ann. We saw her home today.

This is her only light.

This is Rose Ann’s kitchen.

Her home was neat, all their clothes folded together on one small shelf. To get into Rose Ann’s house, you have to climb a ladder. The door is a swinging piece of plywood with no lock. Her entire home is smaller than the inside of my mini van. Four people live there.

You might be tempted to think, Why can’t we do anything about this? Where is God in this poverty? The answer? Somebody is doing something. And God is right in their midst.

Shaun, Kat and I stood in Rose Ann’s tiny home, her son AJ asleep on the hard floor, and we watched Beth, a worker at the church where Compassion hosts a program called the Child Survival Program, of which Rose Ann is a part. Beth sat beside her on the floor, asked her to open her Bible, and together they read from the New Testament. They read living words, and the Living Word stood protective over that room.

And there was a craft and a book and vitamins for AJ. Small things. Kid things. Important things. And Beth sat casual with her shoes off and leaned in close to Rose Ann, asking her questions about AJ’s health, about her home and her well-being. And they do these kinds of visits regularly.

To question poverty is normal and important. But don’t say you are helpless to do anything. Because we were there, in that tiny one room home. And there was a home just like Rose Ann’s one ladder climb below us who didn’t have anybody standing in their room. They might one day soon, but Rose Ann does today. She has people pray for protection for her family today. She has people casting vision for her son’s future today. And it’s because of people like you who sponsor children and support programs like Compassion.

But her poverty is not going away. She still lives in a room the size of a small walk-in closet with her husband and her two sons. As I rested my backpack on her small kitchen in that hot one-room home, I fought with my stupid eyes as they leaked ridiculous all over my shirt. Who am I to cry for her? She’s not crying, she’s laughing! And I was struck broken by the question that came next.

Am I crying for her, or am I crying for me? I wondered if I was thinking of her and her needs, or if I was thinking of me and what my life would be like in her shoes. It does her no good for me to project my life into hers. I was forced, in that moment, to reconsider my concept of provision. And to look at her with eyes that weren’t so self-centered.

The truth is, because of Compassion, she has support now. And Rose Ann needs support.

There’s Rose Ann holding AJ in the front row this morning during the Child Survival Program.

Her son won’t die of pneumonia now. Her family is being prayed for now. And when AJ turns 3, he will be eligible to enter the Child Development Sponsorship Program and be sponsored by someone like you. I knew I wasn’t prepared to see poverty like this. Today was proof that I was right.

I thought I was prepared to see what Compassion International is doing about it. Today was proof that I was wrong. This organization is doing more than I ever thought possible. And they are doing it better than I ever imagined.

The Philippines is filled with mothers like Rose Ann who love their babies and simply want the best for them. Not so different from what we want for our babies. Will you join me in supporting young mothers in the Philippines like Rose Ann by choosing one of their children to sponsor today?


  1. says

    “It does her no good for me to project my life into hers.” These are truly profound words, Emily. Important words. Life-changing words. Thank you for writing this.

  2. says

    Oh Emily, we knew it would be worth waiting for. How you challenge us with your fresh eyes. The difference between feeling sorry for ourselves and feeling compassion. What a thought.

    Mothers are the same the world over – aren’t we – wanting clean house, neat kitchen, play space for our kids – that little green basketball rim? That almost undid me.

    We love you and this journey you are walking with us. Thank you for saying yes, Emily.


  3. says

    I remember those homes and, as you described, the ones you couldn’t get pictures of, the ones that were so much worse. Thank you for doing this–for taking the pictures and telling the stories.

  4. says

    “I wondered if I was thinking of her and her needs, or if I was thinking of me and what my life would be like in her shoes.”

    I’m wondering this now, too. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. Thinking of Rose Ann, AJ, and the Compassion team back here in “farm town,” usa.

  5. says

    “I thought I was prepared to see what Compassion International is doing about it. Today was proof that I was wrong. This organization is doing more than I ever thought possible. And they are doing it better than I ever imagined.” – This is what I love about Compassion and how God is working through them. They continue to surprise me with how they approach ministry.

    I love, love, love the Child Survival Program. When I went Peru last summer, meeting the CSP babies, toddlers and moms was quite possibly the most amazing part of my trip (LDP students and program are pretty amazing, too!) Through Compassion, God takes our meager $20 a month and transforms lives. When we get letters from our CSP moms in India, I am moved beyond words.

    Thank you for this wonderful look into another CSP program.

  6. says

    “Am I crying for her, or am I crying for me? I wondered if I was thinking of her and her needs, or if I was thinking of me and what my life would be like in her shoes. It does her no good for me to project my life into hers. I was forced, in that moment, to reconsider my concept of provision. And to look at her with eyes that weren’t so self-centered.”

    We are all copying and pasting your words…………..we……..I AM CONVICTED!!!

    Who am I? Is it for me or for them? Those are some TOUGH questions that have to be answered……..deep within the shared life with have with GOD ALMIGHTY.

    Thank you Emily for stirring in me something that has been stirred before, but still becomes stagnant.

  7. Paige Szajnuk says

    Bowing head; trying to find words. Even seeing the pictures and reading your words, it is impossible to fathom. When I decided to sponsor a Compassion child, I let Compassion choose for me. So grateful now that they chose Prancess – a little boy who lives in the Philippines. I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you all on this trip, but my prayers and thanks are with you. Thanks for going, thanks for writing about it, thanks for letting us know that we are making a difference in these children’s and their families’ lives. Mainly thankful they have the Bible and Jesus Christ our Savior.

  8. says


    And remembering my exposure to 3rd and 1st world poverty.

    And remembering how overwhelmed my husband and I felt yesterday, doing yard work, worrying about all the house stuff we needed to do, and cursing the name of home ownership.

    And now I remember the joy that comes with spending time with people who have joy that is not based on owning much at all.

    Thank you.

  9. says

    I appreciate these glimpses into the lives of those living in conditions we in America can hardly fathom. Your words and images fan the fire that has been burning in my heart to spread the word and *do more* to advocate for Compassion.

    Thank you for sharing this. We are praying for you and your team.

  10. says


    I just have to say, that I adore you.

    I adore your heart, your soul, and your incredible ability to put God’s amazingness into perspective.

    Each time I come here, I am blessed.

    Today is no exception.

  11. says

    Oh my stupid eyes were not ready either. Your fresh words peeling back layers of my ignorance to the third world. Thank you, dear one.

  12. says

    We were for a short while, missionaries to Israel. Nothing prepared me to see business professionals my age without a home or food, people begging on the streets and various other sights. They live simply and thankfully. Thank you for posting as you travel. I know you are changed. Be prepared for Re-entry…it’s tough.

  13. says

    And just like that you are standing there, feeling, and entering into this compassion filled moment – and you see that He is already there.

    Why did we doubt that He was already there?

    Giving is our chance to be there with Him.

    Thanks friend.

  14. says

    Emily, Thank you so much for doing this. I owe you gratitude for helping out my fellow countrymen. I know this kind of environment and the living conditions in the country. Poverty is a part of life there. People learn to adapt but it is hardest when you have little ones. I wish I have the capacity to do this with you and could be a part of this campaign in the very near future. Again, thank you!

  15. says

    “It does her no good for me to project my life into hers.”

    How do we negotiate our truth with one so disparate? It’s hard. And I’m learning that it’s just all LOVE. That’s all we can do about it – feel love, be love, give love., whatever it means and whenever it means it.

    I love seeing this through your eyes, Emily. I want to talk to you for hours and hours and days and days over fountain Cokes when you return.

    Can we make that happen?


  16. says

    I knew you would take our hearts there with you. Oh Emily, I never thought of it in just that way. Is it me I’m feeling sorry for? You are giving us eyes of true compassion through your words and pictures. Thank you for going, and for taking us with you.

  17. Steve Jones says

    What a beautiful post. Thank you for having the honesty to ask “am I crying for me?” Oh how many times I have sat in those homes and shed tears that I thought were for them but only realized afterward that it was my condition I was crying over.

  18. says

    “Am I crying for her, or am I crying for me? ” Honestly, I think I’d be crying for us both. I love how you pulled back the curtain to reveal just what the CSP does with mothers and their babies. This glimpse and your heart are precious, Emily. Thank you. :)

  19. says

    …Rose Ann does today… I am reminded that we are to consider today, and to not worry about tomorrow. I have today. And I can do something today. Last week, I committed to sponsoring a mom in the CSP in Bolivia. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to write her and encourage her in my own little way. But it’s been weighing heavily upon me because we sponsor several children and the worry that I’ve taken on too much has gotten the better of me at times. But I can confidently say, I have more than enough TODAY, and tomorrow is just my next today and I trust I will be able to say the same thing again…and again. Because my Rose Ann is being provided for, not by my doing but His alone and I know He will not let her down.

    Thank you. Your words were just what I needed to hear today.

  20. says

    And now we’re all collectively crying together, for Rose Ann and for ourselves. This is all so heartbreakingly beautiful, the way you weave with your words what you’re seeing with your eyes and experiencing with your life. I’m praying for you, that God will keep giving you the words we all need to read and that He will move us all to give.

  21. Jacque Watkins says

    As I stream tears and sob and fight with my own eyes…thank you, THANK YOU for sharing this. I will be following and I will be praying for you as a team and for all who so desperately need sponsors. May many be moved to partner with Compassion Int’l…

  22. says

    You have made me cry with these words and these photos…Rose Ann’s smile did me in. to smile like that in the face of such poverty is amazing. I just sponsored a little girl from the Philippines because of this post. Keep writing, Emily…keep writing what you see.

    • says

      Oh! Melissa! You do not know what that means! Your money will be so well handled, so appreciated. And I am not exaggerating when I say that you are saving lives. I thank you on behalf of the Filipino child and her family – thank you for your sacrifice and for your belief.

  23. Sissy says

    Again, the tears are flowing, and here I was thinking I’ve had a bad day…but then I read this and realize, um, not so much. My world is often wrapped up in the baby I DON’T have, not on what God has blessed me with in this life.

    Can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post!

  24. Kendra says

    Like all of the other commenters, I’m really struck by your perspective on whom you’re crying for. Really humbling. I’m so glad you’re there, Em. Yours is a voice people need to hear. Love you.

  25. Kris says

    Oooooh, the philippines. If you see our sponsor child, say hi! Her name is Jessa. Hug any Jessa’s for us! :) Oh to be on that trip. Breathtaking in a unique way.

  26. says

    Emily, wow God is using you!

    Thank you so much for allowing us to see through your eyes….

    amazing. Yes, asking myself your questions.

    praying you through….

  27. says

    oh also forgot to say…. I did not understand the CSP…. and NOW I do. How awesome. Also that AJ will enter the sponsorship program…. how cool. I have people ask me…. “how do they choose the kids that will be in the program?” Now I can answer some of the ways. I am working on advocacy…. I am in awe at the integrity and LOVE of this organization….. THANK YOU JESUS. So thankful to be a part….


  28. says

    I’ve not seen it first hand. I’ve seen it through the eyes of my parents and now your eyes. We are so blessed because we are to share our blessings with others. What a perfect way to do that. Tahnk you for your words, Emily. Your fresh perspective will do much for those who are facing hardships each and every day.

  29. says

    It’s hard to know what to say…..thank you for your posts while traveling.
    Our electricity went out at church early Sunday morning. I sat in the pew listening to some people talk about how warm it was getting without the air conditioner, and how they wanted the pastors to reach a decision about whether or not we were going to have a service.
    I just sat in the pew listening, and remembering where you were, how you had flown out so early that morning, how hungry and tired you might have been.
    How comfortable we can get, right? Your posts are a great challenge to go beyond ourselves and make a difference today.

  30. Audrey says

    Tears are falling. I needed this today it seems. Perspective is everything. You are right; this is still God’s provision.

  31. says

    Thank you. You remind me of my visit to Ethiopia with my husband four years ago, ready to have my heart be broken for the poverty we would see. But what I saw, instead, was the poverty of my heart, the poverty we can have for taking for granted all the provision we have been given. The adventure there, in Ethiopia was life-changing, and the truest part of the adventure was what I would do with my heart once I got home. That is when the challenge began.

  32. says

    Emily… Wow. All I can say is that it is obvious that God wanted you on this trip. What a blessing it is to read your writing. It comes straight from your heart… and is so beautiful! I can see how much this trip is touching you! Be safe! I will continue to keep you all in my prayers.

  33. says

    So hard to see I know and not take it personally. These homes remind me of “shanty town” as we called it in Panama City. Like these they were any type of debris held up off the ground on stilts with newspaper stuffed between the cracks for privacy and to keep the snakes out. It bothered my mom so much that she wouldn’t even drive by them anymore. Us kids wanted to see it and asked all kinds of questions for which she did not have the answeres. BUT you know what….sometimes it’s okay not to have all the answers. Just be and trust that they will come when you are ready to receive them and keep sharing…that is the most important thing that you all are doing right now. Fondly, Roberta

  34. says

    thank you for turning our eyes off of ourselves today. prayers for you all, Rose Ann and her family, and the families in the Philippines.

  35. says

    Thanks so much for your sharing your pictures,your experiences.Poor them,the child is so small to understand that his life is too miserable.God bless them

  36. says

    I have stupid eyes, too, with the crying! My first thought when I saw Rose Ann’s picture was, “How beautiful she is!” I sit in my little cocoon of comfort and whine about my day not going like I want it to…what ignorance! This post makes me all the more want to get us to the place where we can sponsor a child…to do SOMETHING. I’m wishing I could go on a trip like this, yet I know my heart would not be prepared for what it would encounter.

  37. says

    You are speaking to my heart with this one. “Am I crying for me?” I understand those tears. I understand being shaken by my own poverty.

    Thanks for helping me stay far away from the middle.

  38. says

    How easy to look at those pictures and think of what all she doesn’t have, what her son doesn’t have, what WE wouldn’t have if we lived there.

    But that’s not it at all.

    She has GOD and the people whom HE has moved. She might not have everything, or much of anything, but she has the Everlasting. Oh the things we have here. But do WE have the Everlasting?

    Thank you for this new perspective on provision.

    Praying for the rest of your journey there. And for GOD to move again!

  39. says

    Thank you for crying those tears and letting Rose Ann see them… Those tears are appreciated more than you know. We filipinas are an emotional bunch :) Thank you for visiting my country and loving Rose Ann… A taste of heaven on earth when 2 cultures meet eye to eye w/ Christ at the center.

    *I do hope you get to see the other parts of Philippines as well. Take care :)

  40. says

    Bless you sharing your experience and giving me a change of heart about overseas ministries. I look forward to sponsoring a child before the end of the summer. Thank you for taking me along you journey.

  41. Jenn says


    I have to get back to work….but I wanted to tell you that your words are beautiful and I cannot wait to finish reading about it. What an amazing experience.

    For what it’s worth – I just got back from Uganda last month and I too hate flying and was scared….like I cried on the plane scared….yep, sad, so sad….but truth :)


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