You saw me when nobody saw me

One of the things that I feared as I prepared for this Compassion trip is that my previous exposure to poverty in Ethiopia would make me feel less for the children in the Dominican Republic. I was afraid I would be jaded. If you’ve seen one tin shack, you’ve seen them all, right? I mentioned this to my cousin Dave, a thoughtful man, and he said, “Well, maybe you’ll be less overwhelmed than some people. Maybe that will let you write better.”

I was encouraged by that viewpoint, but there was still a part of me that was afraid. I prayed that I would be able to write well, to describe what I saw in a way that would bring you there with me. But still I was afraid.

All week long, as we bloggers sat together at that horseshoe of tables in our hotel, talking and laughing and pounding out posts, I was always one of the last bloggers to finish writing. I delayed starting to write, toying with various approaches, wondering which stories would do the best job of helping you feel what I’ve felt this week. I hashed over words and erased paragraphs and resisted the urge to beat my head on the table.

At one point Steve looked across the table at me and said, “Do you feel pressured, knowing we’re all sitting here, waiting to read each other’s posts?”

I told him that wasn’t it. Instead it was that I felt such a sense of privilege, such a weight of responsibility on this trip. Compassion had chosen me to advocate on behalf of children living in poverty, to speak for those who have no voices.

At one of the Compassion projects this week, the kids sang a song that contained the line, “you saw me when nobody saw me”.

That is the job that Compassion entrusted to us this week. To help our readers be the lucky people who have eyes to see what is out there in the world, to see what is beyond the scope of our everyday lives. Yes, seeing the reality hurts. But it’s better to hurt than to never see.

I wanted to do the best job possible at bringing that world to you. No– let me rephrase. I wanted to do the best writing I’d ever done in my life. I wanted every word to be perfect. All week long I struggled under that burden, that longing to be wonderful for the children. I must say here that the burden I felt was entirely self-imposed; no one in the Compassion group was anything but encouraging to me, and certainly I know that it is God who does miracles, not me.

But still, I went the whole week wondering if my writing was doing the work I wanted it to…was it good enough? Compelling enough? Detailed enough? I spent the week vaguely unhappy with myself, wishing always that I could tell the story of these children a little bit better.

Last evening at dinner as we were getting ready to wrap up the trip, we did some talking about what we had seen, and how we felt about it, and I realized that one of my fears was that not enough would change from this trip, from my effort. That too many children would still be in need a week from now and a month from now and a year from now.

At the conclusion of our discussion Shaun read these words from 1 John 3:16-20

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

And I found myself weeping in the middle of this room full of new friends. God knows my heart. He knows my hopes and dreams and intentions. He knows my abilities and weaknesses. It is silly, perhaps downright arrogant to hope for great sweeping changes in this world because I hopped on a plane and wrote a few well-intentioned blog posts. But silly as it is, in my heart of hearts that is what I long for. Because the children of the world deserve nothing less.

I know that there are lots of ways to help out in the world. But if making a difference in the life of a child is something that interests you, I hope you’ll visit Compassion International and become a child sponsor. And don’t forget to read the stories of the other bloggers who also want to make a difference for children. The need is enormous. The scope of the work can be intimidating. But together we can make a difference.


  1. All I can say is thank you for sharing this. Actually, it was convicting as I sat here in my office chair, in America, for I realized that I have the chance to make a difference and yet, I take that chance for granted so often. Thanks for reminding me to do my best for those who don’t have a voice.

  2. Mary, for what it’s worth, I really DO feel like you’ve been writing with an extra anointing this week. Hard to explain, but the passion and fervor were very much from the Holy Spirit, and you should rest in the knowledge that you have been a vessel used by Him; you have been faithful and He will do the rest. I have so much enjoyed your words and your perspective, and I used that same scripture in a post about Compassion that I did just yesterday! God’s heart is obvious…I pray also that many lives are changed for the better in the days and weeks to come.

  3. God’s hand was evident in all of your writing this week Mare. It was truly inspired.

  4. thank you for sharing your experience. you are an inspiration. i feel compelled to thank you for all the work you have done and continue to do.

  5. Well, if it’s any consolation, I found your blog through a fellow Compassion trip member and added you to my favs. I have loved reading all the stories and sharing laughs and tears. I have also been seriously trying to figure out what ‘want’ I’m going to give up so I can sponsor a child and possibly in the future go on a trip. I think what you guys did is awesome and admirable, and I have enjoyed every word! And Yikes! about the lizard! LOL

  6. I sponsor a child with Compassion too and would recommend them highly. Sponsoring a child also serves as a great home school lesson that teaches about prayer, tithing, geography, writing, reading, culture and much more.

  7. Mary,
    I leave home here in 24 hours, to head out with Compassion for Guatemala…. and I am re-reading all of your Dominican posts… and feeling *exactly* what you wrote here. To pluck the right words out of the air, to somehow ensure Compassion’s investment in inviting me to Guatemala has good return on investment… and I am scared. Your posts encourage… your heart calms mine. Your writing inspires.

    Thank you for what you’ve given, Mary —

    I can’t thank you enough…
    All’s grace,


  1. […] You saw me when nobody saw meOne of the things that I feared as I prepared for this Compassion trip is that my previous exposure to poverty in Ethiopia would make me feel less for the children in the Dominican. I was afraid I would be jaded. … […]

  2. […] ring of strangers gathered around their little patio classroom.  First came the singing, including You Saw Me When Nobody Saw Me.  Then a little boy stood up and proceeded to read us a story out of the […]

  3. […] had that clarity before. When coming home from travels, after seeing poverty in Ethiopia and in the Dominican Republic. Seeing the faces yourself is different, somehow.  It makes you more ready to act, even if acting […]

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