Jenny and Vanessa enjoyed a sunny day at Cumboco Beach near Fortaleza, Brazil. The two swam and rode horses and never ran out of things to talk and laugh about.
Around the time Jenny started sponsoring Vanessa, Jenny's dad, Wess, became Compassion's president. Whenever he visited Brazil, he always spent time with Vanessa. He delivered gifts and letters and answered numerous questions for both girls. During a trip in 1998, when Jenny was 15 and Vanessa 13, he e-mailed Jenny:
I thought of you so many times today as I had a wonderful time with Vanessa. I find it so interesting how much alike the two of you are. ... She is obviously the leader in most anything she is part of. She loves to act and sing sound familiar? ... She was deeply touched that you had sent her your very own teddy bear. ... It was her favorite present. ... Someday, I hope the two of you get to meet each other!
Meeting each other was a recurring theme in the girls' letters. Perhaps Vanessa summed it up best in a July 2000 letter: "Even without knowing each other personally, there is a big friendship between us," she wrote. "Perhaps someday we will be closer and talking to each other. Certainly we will have a lot to talk about and that will be a real feast."
After 10 years of wishing, Jenny wrote to Vanessa early in 2002 to say that she was coming to Brazil that August. Compassion was taking a group of sponsors to the country and she was going, along with her father, mother, Donna, and younger sister, Katie. Both young women waited for August with excitement and anticipation.
The long-awaited day finally arrived and amid the music and celebration that accompany a sponsor's visit to any Compassion project around the world, Jenny and Vanessa finally met. From their first moment together, the two laughed and talked as though well, as though they had known each other for years.
Vanessa joined several other girls in an interpretive dance and sang a song she had specially prepared. The two also sang the praise song "Shout to the Lord," enjoying the blending of languages as Jenny sang in English and Vanessa in Portuguese. The following day, they headed to the beach with the other sponsors and sponsored children. They swam and rode horses and talked and laughed some more.
At 19, Jenny is studying theater and music in college and 17-year-old Vanessa will soon graduate from high school. Jenny hopes to pursue a career in the performing arts. Vanessa talks about becoming a doctor. Vanessa is nearing the completion of the Compassion program and the two do not know how easy it will be to stay in touch once the Compassion connection is no longer there.
As they said goodbye, the two young women hugged and cried. But their dream of meeting each other had finally come true and there were smiles too.
They don't know what the future holds. But, as Jenny's dad is fond of saying, they know who holds the future. And so they rest secure in that knowledge.
View Part 1:Jenny and Vanessa: Growing Up Together ... a World Apart
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