Nail Polish, Bubbles and $38

Today I want to tell you simply everything and then I keep sitting here looking at the computer and typing nothing. It’s just too much. And I can’t conjure up a great post and tie it neatly with the proverbial imperfectly beautiful bow.  I wish I knew some really great new, fancy, space age words that could somehow convince you beyond a shadow of a doubt how life altering it is for a child to be sponsored through Compassion International. Because when you see everything that we’ve seen in the past few days all you can think of is how much you want to do anything to make life better for these children living in poverty. And right now for me, that means using my words to help them and my computer clock says it’s 2:59 and my body clock says it’s too jet lagged and my Tanzania clock says  it’s 9:59 and I know I cannot do this.

I can’t write a compelling enough, good enough, worthy enough post of what we’ve seen. I wish my sister were here so she could make me laugh and then she could crank out a really beautifully crafted post and I could pretend I wrote it. But I also know you and I know you can make a decision to sponsor a child whether or not I use magical words because heart changing isn’t my job. It’s His.

I’ve walked on roads filled with trash, stepped over a muddy dirty bra on the ground, saw a baby crawling in 3 inches of mud (next to some kind of black duck squawking around) and then the baby grabbed a handful of mud and stuck it in its mouth.

I think tears have blurred up my eyes a thousand times today as children have greeted us with singing and grabbing for us to hold their hands. One pretty little girl politely punched another pretty little girl a little taller than herself just so she could get to hold my hand, and then smiled the most adorable smile {it’s exciting to have visitors}. Every person in our group had a swarm of little children around them grasping for hands and hugs and smiles–the children we met today were an extremely affectionate bunch.

The highlight of the day was being there as Amy met her sponsored child Mektreda and then getting to go with them to visit Mektreda’s home. It was a cinder block home that they rent and had a mattress and two plastic chairs and I think a table. Mektreda is one of five children, four of whom still live at home with their parents. The 17-year-old brother moved to the city to try to find work. Anyhow, Amy’s writing all about meeting her sponsored child at her blog so I beg of you, go read her story.  Really, all I want to do today is not write and tell you to go to Amy’s place.

a 30 second video of Mektreda and her new baby doll–her big sister ran and grabbed a wrap so she could wear the doll on her back just like all the real mammas click here to watch on you tube

And all I can think of is that if everyone could have witnessed that meeting and that home visit, everyone would immediately sponsor a child YESTERNOW .  The impact is unquestionable.  Children sponsored through Compassion can go to school (complete with uniforms) receive health care and learn about the biggest life changer–Jesus.  They have hope for a future and the parents have great hope for them as well–it really affects the entire family.

We spent a few hours with Mektreda’s family and learned how her mother helps to provide for them by roasting and packaging beans to sell at the local market. The daddy is handicapped but is able to repair shoes to help support the family too.  But still it’s not enough.

As for me, I feel like today my introversion has come out in full force.  I was able to be a fly on the wall and just watch the unfolding of great story. And while Amy was inside giving a few more gifts to Mektreda and her family, I stayed outside with a bunch of adorable children.  I blew bubbles.  They blew bubbles.  They popped bubbles tirelessly.  Then they popped more.

Then I pulled out the big guns–my blue nail polish.

I’ve never had so much fun painting nails in all of my life.  I painted the tiniest, darkest, sandiest little toenails you’ve ever seen.  It’s something I’ve never gotten to do, you know, since I have three boys. I never actually painted a child’s nails before. But today  I painted little girls’ toenails, little boys’ toenails, infant toenails and a young mother’s toenails.  It was glorious. And for some reason is one of the highlights of the trip so far.

I feel so helpless with my keyboard and blue nail polish and measly $38 sponsorship.  But I also feel so happy that my $38 is made HUGE when it’s in the hands of Compassion International.


I know you’ve been thinking about it, haven’t you?  I know you’ve been meaning to talk to your husband or let your kids help pick out which child you want to sponsor. I know because I put off sponsoring our first child for a year.  I had great intentions, I followed the bloggers and read the posts and thought, “YES, this is AMAZING, I am so going to sponsor a child tomorrow!”  But time passed and good intentions were forgotten and it wasn’t until a year later, when I followed the next blogger trip when I realized that if I didn’t just go right then and look at that page full of waiting faces and pick out a little child to sponsor that it would never happen. Don’t be like me.  So go ahead and do it now, because I promise you will thank me later.  Click here to sponsor a child through Compassion International.


  1. serious tears {like serious!} … i think you know why. :)

    and i’ve been wanting to sponsor more children for a while now. before this tanzania trip is over, we’ll be sponsoring 3 more.

    praying God blesses you, keeps you, and uses you in mighty, mighty ways …

  2. Welp, sounds like a good use of that saved up girly-with-no-girl energy. Know that you blessed them by adding a bright spot to their day. When they look at their feet they’ll know that you love them and that He must, too. After all, painting toes is kind of like washing feet. xo.

    • I used the word “yesternow” just for you. actually I should have just now put the word “word” in quotes as well. that was confusing.

  3. i’m a blubbering mess. i know why you said you “birthed” this post. your words and the images have been a tool of HIS to stop me in my tracks this week. my last excuse just flew out the window. we are compassion sponsors now of a little girl from the center you visited yesterday.

    love you girl & your bubbles & blue nail polish.
    prayers continue.

  4. what a journey. and that bit about Him changing the hearts, not your words? oh the tears. but your words make it real… and your love shines on thru in tracie’s blue nail polish!!!

  5. no worry about your words … the pictures say it all …

  6. I love your call to action. I pray that hesitant hearts would take that step of faith today. Right now.

    I know that it takes courage but God will provide. Start with one child. (Who knows, maybe that Compassion family will grow in time. I know a few people with modest income that sponsor over 40 children each. God will make a way!!)

    I am so hopeful reading your posts. I know that many children will soon receive that exciting news. God bless you all!

  7. You wrote a beautiful post, but you are right–Sometimes it’s not about what we put into it…it’s about Him. :)

  8. Christie says

    What a neat idea … introversion out in full force and painting toes. Service in your introverted style.

  9. Thank you so much for your beautiful words, sharing your heart and willing to stay up as late as you have to tell your stories! Those children are so beautiful!!

  10. Blue nail polish = me blubbering. Who knew? Thinking about you and praying for you :-)

  11. Kristen says

    Have been considering a sponsorship for nearly a year, and this sealed the deal. Doing so now. Thanks for posting; I found myself clicking through my blog bookmarks today, asking myself out loud “I wonder how her trip is going.” ;)

  12. Valerie J. says

    Thank you for writing. Thank you for spreading the word.

  13. Colleen says

    I just did it. I read yesterdays post and logged on to the Compassion site. When my 11 year old came home from school feeling grouchy, I asked him if he wanted to pick the child we would sponsor. He studied the site, entered criteria that was important to him. When I finalized the payment, I realized that the child he chose was in Tanzania. Thank you for sharing your trip. Your posts give me goose bumps. I just showed the last post to my son and he was grinning from ear to ear over the video saying maybe our guy is singing there too. Safe travels!

  14. It was your highlight because today you touched the very feet of Jesus. “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:40 NLT) And that is why we are all in tears. Thank you for telling us about your touch with Jesus today.

  15. Your heart is huge and I love you for it.

  16. Chris Langford says

    thank you for the blessings of your words and your pictures. One thing I remember about the TZ children is that if you have a free hand, there are a dozen children that are ready to grab it! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Have you met ‘our’ Agnes in Tanzania? She is a beautiful 12 year old. She was born on my son’s birthday and they are the same age. We have sponsored Agnes since she and my son were 5 years old. Wow, the years do fly by. It is wonderful to hear your eye witness account of life there. Thank you! Your posts are so inspiring. Thank you for helping to spread the word!

  18. Nester, I loved this! We are sponsoring two children – one in Tanzania (!!!) and one in Peru … And I am headed to Peru in August on a Compassion trip. I am do excited and scared all wrapped in to one and I am truly, just truly enjoying every hesitant and honest word you share here. I hope to channel your sister too if I ever find even a single word I can type while I’m there! Keep it coming! I check back several times each day waiting to hear your voice in my day! Love it!

    • Praise the Lord! You will love Peru! I was there in 2010 with Compassion and there is nothing to be scared about! There they love to greet you by giving you kisses on the cheek!

  19. PS I thought about taking nail polish to Peru and this sealed the deal! You say blue is the going color? Done ;)

  20. The blue toenails did me in, I tell you. Our precious FAIZA is there in Tanzania. Oh, I HOPE you can find her and let her know her sponsoring family sends her hugs!!! I wish I could be there to paint her toenails blue and kiss her precious little forehead.
    Thank you for the time you are spending away from your handsome family to give to Tanzania…and to us.

  21. this post may have been difficult to write – but it made me come to tears so easily. What an amazing moment , painting their nails. Maybe the modern day washing of feet? Those people children will forever remember the american lady who took time and sat with them, blowed bubbles and shared her nail polish. Love you and your heart and these stories you are bringing to us!

  22. I just love all their sweet smiling faces!

  23. Aimee Wolf says

    I’ve been following your Tanzania trip and feel moved and amazed by the experience you are having and the evidence of the good work done by Compassion. But I’m really struggling with the religious aspect of it. Why can’t Compassion serve as a conduit for the adoption and help these communities create change for the good without imposing a foreign religion? Doesn’t the Tanzanian culture have its own religion and traditions? I am Jewish, and while I want these children and families to thrive and prosper, I don’t think they have to be Jewish to do it. Please understand that I am not writing to be insulting, but I have to be honest and say that adoption through Compassion presents challenges for me.

    • Aimee you bring up a point that many people ask. Compassion’s motto does claim to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name and one of the areas of sponsorship is having the children exposed to the Gospel. Since they are Christian based they partner with the local Christian churches who already have ministries helping those in need. They come along side these ministries and partner with them. It makes a great match because while there are guidelines they can be accomplished in the way and culture of each country and community. It is NOT a requirement that the people being served be Christian or become Christian. They do however get exposed to Christian values and the Gospel along with education, health, social and nutritional help. If they choose to become Christian that would be their choice. There are many countries that have different religions in the areas where Compassion serves and there is no pressure to become Christian. Rather the great thing is that families are being brought together and working in harmony supporting each other and loving each other regardless of their religous beliefs. I have witnessed this on my trips to India and Kenya and Uganda. Especially in India where you have Christians, Muslims and Hindus and it was a beautiful thing to see the harmony of everyone loving each other and supporting each other and really being one. The Human race in peace. Not sure if this answer helps or not. Also working through churches allows Compassion to avoid some of the corruption that occurs withing governments and the money getting used as it is supposed to be used.

      • Oh thank you Cheri, you answered beautifully, so sorry Aimee that I’m just now catching up on comments–thank you for leaving yours

        • So thankful you can all travel and blog and create such beautiful entries that create discussion and awareness. I have been on a Compassion trip or two and I know how intense it can be. Glad to help out and praising the Lord for connecting people and releasing people from poverty and materialism!

  24. So glad you are there experiencing this…and VERY thankful you are sharing with us.

  25. nester girl, you’ve done a mighty fine job of telling your story.
    the thought of all the blue toes walking around tanzania has me in tears.
    god speed!

  26. Nester, you rock! Blue toenails and all! Keep on rockin’!

  27. You are leaving your mark in such powerful ways. The blue nail polish is just a nice touch.

    God bless you, Nester!

  28. praying for you right now, friend.

    an amazing post where your humble-heart-full-of-love shows through. God is using you, willing girl!

  29. It’s His. And you are His. You’re doing great, girl.

  30. You are amazing.
    prayers and love coming your way.

  31. In tears with the others. Thank your for sharing you words, your experience and what God is doing through Compassion.

  32. The blue polish was such a gift! I remember when I was in Peace Corps in West Africa. I still had a bag of Skittles in my pocket from the airport and I passed them out in my village~ you would have thought it was gold. I’m sure that your polish was like gold to those boys and girls too. Be blessed.

  33. I read yesterday and immediately decided to sponsor a child. Your posts convinced me that Compassion is a trustworthy group that will really help Diana Amos … the little 6 year old girl that I’m now sponsoring. She was the only face on the page … she looked so sad. Loved seeing all the pictures of the blue toenails … I’m sure I haven’t cried as much as you have, but the past two days have brought tears on all levels.

    Thanks for what you’re doing.

  34. Candace Saxman says

    Thank you for visiting Tanzania! We sponsor a child there, Neema, we have sponsored her since she was 6 years old; Neema and I share the same birthday, she is now 13 and I’m a LOT older. I am pouring over your photos and videos trying to catch a glimpse of her. The reports are wonderful and sponsoring a child (we have a boy in Swaziland too) is a very humbling thing to do. It takes so very little money and time to make a big difference in a child (and their family’s) life.

    Don’t know if I’ll ever get to travel to Tanzania but I am so glad you have. Keep up the posts, I’m reading every word. Love, love love.

  35. Wonderful post and I love the nail polish. My husband was recently in Mwanza Tanzania and I wrote about part of his trip – – the autrocity of the Albino children. Bless you!

    • We live and minister in Mwanza, Tanzania. You are right, the stories of albinos are atrocious, and unfortunately, not exaggerated! So sad what happens to innocent children because the witch doctors say their skin will bring people good luck. God is doing a work here though!

  36. Who knew that little items like blue nail polish and bubbles could have such an impact, not only to those children in Tanzania but also with the folks back here in the US. You have a wonderful soul and a joyous heart. God bless and safe travels!

  37. Stephanie says

    LOVED your post! I was in tears along with the others and the blue nail polish pictures spoke volumes. I agree that the nail polishing was a lot like feet washing in that you humbly served these children (and adults) and made them feel loved by doing what you did. I love Tanzania and sponsor several children there. They bring me SO much joy ! I’m thrilled to see your posts (and those of your traveling companions) are changing hearts and helping others better understand the amazing work Compassion does. May He continue to use you and inspire you to inspire others!

  38. Blues toes on my screen, and a weeping heart here in Ohio. What grace, Nester. Thanks for this glimpse.

  39. So before commenting and after reading this post and being moved by the blue toe nail polish I went to Compassion’s site, which I have been praying about all week. My husband and I and our little girl Elin are now the proud sponsors of Beatrice from TZ. So excited! Thank you and all the other bloggers this week. I cannot wait to start forming a relationship with this little girl, I’ve just left her a message.

    Safe travels!!

  40. I pinned this post, I hope you don’t mind. Thank you for sharing your experience. This will forever stick in my mind…… what beautiful spirits these people have. I’ll be praying for them and you.

  41. What an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing and for putting the sponsorship idea in my head.

  42. Honesty. Raw honesty. It’s why this post touches so many hearts, including mine. I truly “get it.” Sometimes the mixed emotions and the weariness and the task are just too great for us to feel “put together” enough to write a compelling post when we’re in the middle of an experience like this — and that’s when God takes our availability and obedience and compels anyway. You’re so right: it’s not our job to change hearts. It’s His. And I’m so thankful it is … because you and I just don’t have that ability, do we? Thank you for sharing our Father’s love with the children … and their families. You remain in my prayers.

  43. What a beautiful day you had!

  44. What an awesome post. I cannot wait for the opportunity to meet my Compassion child someday. Thanks for this great reminder of why we do it.

  45. Thank you for not knowing what to write and just writing about blue nail polish. It was beautiful. I’m watching the videos w/my daughter and crying b/c I so love to see kids being loved on, raised up and taken care of.

    Thank you for taking us with you!

  46. I want to to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it.
    I have you book marked to check out new things you post…

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