An Embrace that Crossed Cultures: A Sponsorship Story

We’re both named Sam, I guess that’s what initially drew me to her sweet face in the sea of Sponsorship Cards I was looking over.  I had had this small and steady feeling on my heart for awhile to step up and join the many compassionate Eastsiders in taking a sponsorship child under my financial and prayerful wing.  That day on the plaza of the church, I was drawn to Sammy, and that’s where our relationship took flight.

Sam was the oldest sibling of three living at the City of Refuge orphanages in Rosarito and Tijuana, Mexico.  We began to exchange letters, the ones I sent were translated into Spanish upon arrival, the ones she inscribed were translated at the orphanage and sent to me in English.

As we continued to exchange letters, I learned more about this 14 year old girl, who loved playing volleyball and telling me about her friends.  Because Sam was of high school age, she resided at the Tijuana campus where they focused on education for the older kids, about 12 miles driving distance from Rosarito where the other orphanage housed the younger children; including Sam’s siblings.

When the opportunity arose for me to travel across the border for the first time and visit the City of Refuge, our main mission was to complete minor projects around the Rosarito campus and love on the blessed children living there.  I was thrilled to have the chance to go, but my heart felt a tinge of sadness to be so close in proximity to Sammy, yet not have the opportunity to meet her in person.

Our time there proceeded as the team predicted, helping to serve breakfast, unload bags of food we had brought down with us, paint nails and color with the countless kids we were meeting, etc., all the while filled with such joy to be there.  However, as the day progressed, word was given that a van load of older kids from Tijuana were coming down in a few hours to visit with their siblings, though their identities were not known.

Anticipation bubbled up inside of me at the off-chance that Sammy would be in that van!  I quickly talked myself down from the instant emotional high I had reached at the thought of seeing Sammy, as I wanted to prevent myself from the disappointment that would come if my sponsor child was indeed not one of the children on their way to us.

To my utter joy, I was given word that Sam had arrived at Rosarito before I actually saw her.  I remember the moment we both came around the corner of the lunch hall, surprise on our face at seeing each other in the flesh for a split second, then instant embrace.  A tight squeeze that held so much emotion, so much gratitude for each other and the precious moment we were sharing that crossed all cultural, economic and language barriers.

That day was nothing short of a testament of God’s provision and goodness–that He would allow and plan for such an unpredictable encounter would profoundly touch the hearts of not only both Sam’s, but the team that observed that day as well.  To learn more about sponsoring a child or helping out in with Eastside’s global missions in Mexico, visit

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