Lynda Lee, left, Carmen Alcantara, middle and Wilson Alcantara, huddle together to view their picture. For 12 years Lynda, a teacher from New York, and each of her kindergarten classes, has sponsored Wilson who wants to be an architect.
Wilson Antonio Juma Alcantara was five years old when my kindergarten class started sponsoring him through Compassion International in October of 1991. As a teacher in a Christian school, I wanted my students to learn how to share with someone from another culture who didn't have all of the advantages we had. We wanted to bless this child financially and encourage him to love and serve Jesus Christ. At that time, I had no idea how much my students and I would be blessed through this special relationship with Wilson.
During these 12 years of sponsorship, each of my kindergarten classes sent money, pictures, cards and letters to Wilson in the Dominican Republic. In return, his letters and drawings have blessed us tremendously. We have witnessed the growth of his faith and seen many prayers answered. For the last few years, Wilson had expressed his desire to meet me, and although the idea was exciting, I never thought such a trip would be possible.
In January 2004, I found myself on a plane headed to Miami, Florida, where I met up with my Compassion International sponsor tour group and traveled to the Dominican Republic. I was actually going to meet Wilson!
After an awesome time of ministry and fellowship with our group and the Dominicans at the projects, the long-awaited day to meet our sponsored children arrived. We waited anxiously in the hotel lobby for our names to be called. I had no idea who would be coming with Wilson or how our day together would turn out. After what seemed like an eternity, I was asked to go outside, and when I saw Wilson, I knew he was "my child" and we had no problem hugging and crying just like family members who have been apart too long. Wilson's mom, Carmen, was dancing with joy and crying at the same time.
We all boarded the bus and spent the day together at Rancho Michel, a lovely park that included a small zoo. Wilson had never been to a zoo and he and his family loved the animals.
At the park, we looked at the photo album I brought him with pictures of our school, the students who sponsored him through the years and my family. He loved his school T-shirt and the baseball cap, but his favorite gift was the stuffed eagle, our school mascot.
As the day drew to a close, we all gathered together for a group picture. Then we broke into our own little groups for a time of prayer. It still brings tears to my eyes to remember how beautifully Wilson prayed. We have a special bond and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though it was very difficult to say good bye, we know we will meet again someday... if not here on earth, then definitely in heaven.