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Change the world one kid at a time

Staff writer

After 11 years of sponsoring impoverished children through Compassion International, Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine, his wife, Susan, and their daughter, Brynn Paine, 31, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, made a weeklong trip to see three of the children on the occasion of one’s graduation from college.

“We went to El Salvador and jumped over to Guatemala,” Susan said.

The family left Nov. 8 and returned Nov. 15.

The Paines have visited each of their sponsored children at least once during the 11 years since they started sponsoring.

“We’ve sponsored 15 or 16 over that time,” Susan said. “For the most part I chose them when they were 3 or 4 or 5, and some of them have aged out.”

The Paines sponsor 12 children in various countries around the world.

Some of the children have remained in sponsorship to pursue higher education, like Lorena, who graduated from college with an English degree. Lorena was one of the three children the family visited on their trip.

Larry said his reason for sponsoring children is simple.

“It’s one way I can physically, financially, spiritually, emotionally change the world, one kid at a time,” Larry said. “Everybody’s got an idea that they want to make an impact with their life, and it happens to be one aspect of what we do.”

The Paines visited their 18-year-old in El Salvador and Brynn’s sponsored child as well as Lorena.

“Then we flew over to Guatemala and saw the Mayan ruins, and saw our little girl from Guatemala,” Susan said. “We chose her because she was born on the day I had a liver transplant.”

She describes Sophia, the girl in Guatemala, as “a spunky girl who could not be more fun.”

“Our daughter and we share Sophia,” Susan said. “We pay the sponsorship and she writes Sophia.”

Both Susan and Larry say sponsoring children gives more to them than they imagined.

“I think what it’s done for me personally is, I thought ‘we’re going to be really good to these kids and we’re going to be a blessing to them,’ but what I’ve found is, they are a blessing to us,” Susan said. “That’s something I really didn’t expect to happen.”

Larry said visiting the children is a special joy.

“The feeling that I get is that the kids have a pretty good feeling of thankfulness for how the sponsorship helps them and their family,” Larry said. “I don’t go down on those trips to think ‘what a good boy am I.’ It’s about how can I encourage them to grow in physical, spiritual, intellectual disciplines. I can see there’s something going on to break the cycle of poverty in the family.”

Being able to see the children is good for both the Paines and the children, Larry said.

“I think it’s the ability to relate to a person who we sponsor on a one-to-one basis and know that because of our visit, we’re not just a name on the bottom of the letter. There’s a living breathing person in Hillsboro, Kansas, that cares about those children and the ability to have the relationship is really the key part there.”

Susan said visiting the children is never like meeting a stranger.

“When God puts it in your heart to sponsor them, it’s like your hearts are already bound,” Susan said. “It’s not like you have to spend time getting acquainted, you already acquainted.”

Compassion International, a Colorado Springs, Colorado, based ministry launched in 1952, works with more than 50,000 children in El Salvador and 47,000 children in Guatemala, communications principle Tim Glenn said. The organization works with 1.5 million children worldwide.

A $38 per month sponsorship provides educational support, health care, and church-based programs focused on guidance, recreation and safety.

The leadership development program that Lorena was part of is in its final year.

“The leadership development program has been redesigned as a youth development program that works with them from a younger age and allows thousands more students to pursue tertiary education,” Glenn said.

Last modified Dec. 6, 2017

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