Sponsors meet friend after 14 years of sponsorship
December 21, 2011
Ed and Becci Bartolomeo with their sponsored friend Marisela in
The fact that CFCA sponsorships are long lasting is a testament to the generosity of our sponsors and the strength of the program. Sponsors commit to the relationship their trust, their hope, their resources and their willingness to grow.
Ed Bartolomeo of Fort Myers, Fla., and his wife, Becci, have sponsored 15-year-old Ana Marisela (Marisela) from El Salvador for 14 years. Their sponsorship started out like most. They sponsored Marisela after a CFCA preacher visited their parish.
"Things weren't financially great at that time," Ed Bartolomeo said. "It was tough paying our bills. We were getting by. But we thought if we don't go to dinner once a month, we could easily support this little girl."
They sent their monthly contribution, wrote occasionally and sometimes sent small gifts to Marisela.
"We didn't write that much," Ed Bartolomeo said. "Outside of sending the money and little things we could fit in an envelope, we wrote only a couple of times."
After about eight years of sponsorship, Ed Bartolomeo suggested they visit Marisela before she graduated from the program. A few more years passed and then the couple met Marisela and her family last summer on their first CFCA mission awareness trip.
"All of a sudden, we realized this is something we should have done years ago," Ed Bartolomeo said. "I was humbled beyond belief."
Marisela wants to be a nurse, and the Bartolomeos are committed to sponsoring her until she reaches her goal.
Ed Bartolomeo praised the dedication of the CFCA staff in El Salvador and the stewardship of CFCA in general.
"You people are really dedicated. You know where every penny goes..., " he said. "I've seen my money at work, live and in living color."
Since returning from their trip, Bartolomeo said he is "fired up" to talk about CFCA to everyone he knows. He and his wife plan to return to El Salvador next year with friends who just became sponsors.
"I get an excitement out of it that you don't get from a sporting event or anything else," Ed Bartolomeo said. "You realize that what you're doing is the most wonderful thing you could possibly do in your life. There is nothing — no place I have been and nothing I have done in my life — that has been as exciting as being a sponsor and seeing not just what we do, but what sponsorship does."
For sponsors, new or old, who can travel, Bartolomeo recommends a mission awareness trip.
"They love seeing you," he said. "You'll be loved like you've never been loved before."