Half Empty or Half Full?

by Jennifer Donovan

I’m an optimist by nature, so instead of dwelling on a dark ominous cloud, I often try to find the silver lining. On our last day in the Dominican Republic, I spent a couple of hours playing with kids: learning new hand-clapping games, teaching them some English, and working on my Spanish (and sweating profusely all the while).

After we left the project, we walked through the neighborhood served by project 424. In the four days we spent in the D.R., this was by far the most abject face of poverty. We walked through a neighborhood off the main roads — it was strewn with trash, with puddles and ditches filled with water and sewage contaminated from the nearby coal-processing plant.

Half-clothed children and emaciated dogs hung out in every doorway. All of this existed just a few blocks from the center with a bright mural adorning the front of the building, small but clean rooms inside, and a wonderful courtyard play space in the back where the children can play.

So is the glass half-full or half-empty?

As we were walking the neighborhood, Chris, one of the Compassion employees who oversees that project told us that the skin condition that caused lesions on the children’s skin as a result of bathing in the contaminated water had almost disappeared. Because of education about boiling the water and adding a little bit of bleach to sterilize it, almost every child we saw had clear skin. Brian had visited that very center just four months earlier and he said that he was amazed in the change that had taken place in so little time.

That glass is half-full.

Knowing that the children have to leave the clean and bright center each day and return to these homes is enough to squeeze the hope right out of a person. It seems an almost impossible situation to break out of.

It could be a half-empty glass, but in the center that morning I met a ten-year-old boy in a red cap who gives me hope (I think his name was Juanden).

As we were observing their morning Bible class, he got up and not only read the scripture about Peter walking on water to his classmates (and in front of 5 visiting Americans). He read as well (or better) as my own ten-year-old who is a rabid reader. But not only did he read the passage, but he went on to give the meaning of the passage with far more understanding than my daughter would have.

Later I asked a translator to ask if he was going to be a preacher — to keep telling people about God like he did this morning. “Yes,” he answered. A bit later he added, “I play music at church, too. I play the guitar and I’m learning to play the piano.”

That glass is more than half-full. It’s bubbling over.

CompassionThe next time a group of Americans comes to visit, I hope he and the other boys with whom I visited will remember the English that I taught them. I hope that they’ll impress them with an introduction in their heavily accented English: “My nnname isss Juanden.” I hope those visitors will be able to hear one of these children teach the word of God and another sing a song of praise, just as we heard.

This simple interaction with people who care about their future fills them with hope. It seems so little — a few hours spent playing, a few words in different languages exchanged, a smile, a hug. But they remember.

It doesn’t take much to give these children hope. Would you like to make the difference in a child’s life in the D.R.? Sponsor a child today. I think you’ll find that their hope is contagious.

Psalm 9:18: But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.

Visit my Compassion Trip Page to see all of my posts from my journey and go to CompassionBloggers.com to read posts from all the bloggers on this trip.



Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kalisha (Mommy Lounge) November 10, 2008 at 2:22 am

Great post! Glad to hear that you had a good trip. What an opportunity! It is hope that keeps the glass half-full and I really appreciate you sharing your experience.
Thanks!
Kalisha

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2 Financial Aid for Kids November 10, 2008 at 8:01 am

Hi Jennifer,

I appreciate your work. small things give us lot of satisfaction. thanks for sharing.

Julia

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3 Amber Stevens November 10, 2008 at 8:02 am

Thank you for sharing your experiences and for loving the Lord!

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4 Emma November 10, 2008 at 8:08 am

It is really difficult sometimes to think “half full”, right? Especially looking at your second picture… Anyway, just wanted to say that it’s a great post.

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5 Katie November 10, 2008 at 9:47 am

I wish I could go to see this myself. So little makes these children happy and helps them so much! It is an amazing thing to make a difference in a child’s life. Glad you are back safely!

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6 Jessica November 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm

What an impressive post! I can relate to what you are saying as I work at a full time humanitarian. I am blessed to be a stay home mom and have my own business in which enables thousands of children to become sponsored. Thanks for sharing the pictures of those wonderful children.

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7 Liz November 10, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Thanks for sharing your Compassion stories. I plan on sponsoring a child! Is there any way to send packages to your sponsored child or family?

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8 Carrie, Reading to Know November 11, 2008 at 1:56 am

What an amazing trip you had! I’m eagerly awaiting my child’s package in the mail. I’ll let you know when it gets here.

Thanks for going and sharing and bringing back such amazing stories and testimonies.

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9 Coal Processing November 11, 2008 at 2:21 am

Yap.. you given useful information in this all of amazing to discuss about this regarding I appreciate you this type matter.

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10 Lisa - TheScrapPrincess November 11, 2008 at 8:44 am

What an amazing fit you are to these children. You have touched their lives in undescribable ways….
We just decided to sponsor a child after reading about your journey. It is something we have been thinking about doing but couldn’t figure out which organization to use. Thanks for helping us out!

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11 Hand Me Downs January 19, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Touching. It gives you a great sense of fulfilment when you see the results of our efforts blossoming like in Juandens case.

Thanks for sharing.

Ronald.

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