At 24, I moved across the country by myself for a new job.
At the time, my parents, as empty-nesters, moved to London, making the distance between us much, much farther — six time zones away.
Having recently graduated from college, with a big move and new job before me, I was asking myself the typical “20-something” questions: What did my faith mean? What was God’s plan for me? Would I ever get married?!
As a beginning step to discovering those answers for my life, I started volunteering with my new church’s youth group. One of the girls’ parents, Kay and Sandy, invited me over for dinner.
Through Kay and Sandy, I was given what seemed like the two greatest gifts at the time — free dinners and unlimited listening.
Of course, I was homesick and missed my parents, particularly my mother, very much.
Then, when the man I thought I was going to marry broke up with me, Kay put on the full eight hours of the “Anne of Green Gables” movies and cried with me.
She taught me to pluck my eyebrows. She convinced me to use cloth napkins. She loved me as I was.
Eventually, I moved again, took a position with World Vision, and got married. In 2006, before I had children, I traveled to Ethiopia to gather stories of World Vision’s work.
Looking back on this trip, now as a mother myself, it’s the mothers and daughters I met who most resonate in my heart.
I can still hear Bizunesh describe how she felt about World Vision’s help for her family, “Had they not intervened, I’d be dead.” She and her 9-year-old daughter, Zinash, would take their anti-retroviral medications together. But they needed food because the medicine would upset their stomachs otherwise. World Vision had given them seeds to help increase their crop yield.
And I can still see the goat’s milk tea in broken cups that Kebebush offered us as she poured out her gratitude for the sponsor of her 11-year-old daughter, Aznakech. “God sees me through her, so I thank God. She takes me away from this very hard life for a better life.”
As Kay walked alongside me, World Vision walks alongside children and their mothers who struggled to care for them, even in the most basic of ways.
While Kay will never take the place of my own mom, she cared for me with a mother’s unconditional love during a time I desperately needed it.
Now, as my children grow, I am sure there will be times when I can’t be there for them. My prayer is that there will be people like Kay or World Vision in their lives to walk beside them in a time of need.
This Mother’s Day, join World Vision in coming alongside children in their time of need. Sponsor a child without a mom.