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Raymond: Potential Almost Lost

Raymond! Talk about a little boy with a big personality!  Raymond was always in the middle of the action wearing his tattered “Mom’s Rock Star” shirt with the pink hearts.  He was inquisitive, always the first to catch on to a new activity, and had a mischievous streak that provided countless stories and laughs during our first trip two trips to Arua, Uganda in 2013 and 2014.  But on my most recent visit to Arua, I could immediately tell that something, sadly, had changed in Raymond.
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Barely recognizable, the normally exuberant and energetic Raymond, sat dejected and hunched over in front of his home as we approached his village where we had been invited to meet the families of some of the Solid Rock Christian School students.  Amidst the joyful greetings from his extended family and neighbors, Raymond averted his gaze.
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We later learned that although Raymond’s sister attends Solid Rock School, Raymond had been denied enrollment.  The sad reality was that there were more children than available spaces at Solid Rock.  Given it is often harder to find a sponsor for older children, an age limit of ten was set and Raymond was twelve.  Even after the school term had already started, Raymond continued to walk to the Solid Rock entrance asking through tears, “Can I PLEASE come to Solid Rock?  PLEASE!  I want to learn English!”

I will never forget the look on Raymond’s face that evening when we waved him down while crossing the street to tell him we would sponsor him and that he could start attending Solid Rock Christian School the very next day.  It took a few moments for the reality to sink in before his whole face lit up and he BOLTED down the middle of the road in his bare feet running towards home to tell his family!

The next day, Raymond was all smiles.  That life and fire that first exuded from him was BACK!  What a thrill it was to see him enthusiastically learning, singing praise songs, and playing with the other children!  Raymond approached my husband to ask our names.  Throughout the day, Raymond kept finding my husband to repeat them, each time sweetly smiling with the reassurance that he could remember and perfectly pronounce all five of our names.

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I pray that our sponsorship continues to bless Raymond, but I am not convinced Raymond is the bigger recipient in this relationship.  What joy we now have in being able to give Raymond the opportunity to chase his dreams! Instead of lost potential, we now look forward to watching Raymond grow into the amazing person God has made him to be.

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