Ours starts similarly to how any conversation between two strangers begins. What’s your name? How old are you? What’s your favorite color? The only difference – I am in a foreign land, sweating profusely, and I am thinking of questions to interest a 13-year old boy.
That was five years ago on my first trip to India, and I remember distinctly the answers to Avi’s* questions. A confident boy even at 13, he was inquisitive, kind, and already had a dream.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked him. This question I’d asked many of the children in my first days on Back2Back’s India campus. Unlike the traditional answers, like doctor, engineer, teacher, and nurse, his took me by surprise. “I want to be a pilot, Sister.”
His eyes lit up when he shared he wanted his first trip to be to Switzerland. An earnest dream, I admired right away how much thought he had given it. This conversation stirred within me until I knew I wanted to cheer him on. By the end of my first trip to India, I decided to sponsor this young dreamer, thinking I would be part of his life changing. I never could’ve imagined it was my life that would change.
In the last five years, Avi has written and spoken of a dream that has never wavered. I have anticipated his letters and prayed for him through exam weeks and admission tests. I’ve learned the kind and gentle disposition that first struck me represents a character who asks about my own family and life.
I know Avi better now, having celebrated birthdays and visited him again. I’ve been to his school, and had the immense fortune of meeting his extended family. I’ve received letters detailing what he’s learning and witnessed his growth – physically, educationally, and emotionally. I am watching him grow into a young man, complete with a mustache.
Avi studied hard, graduating from junior college earlier this year. He still dreams of piloting a plane and is focused toward this goal. He has learned to ask questions when he needs help and pray fervently for guidance. The young boy who’d never been on an airplane sees his goal approaching and has not relented in his pursuit. He’s done it all with determination, grit, and grace.
Avi impresses me, but he also encourages me, challenges me, and surprises me. I hope in the next five years, we’ll continue changing and helping each other grow toward the dreams God plants in each of us, and I hope he continues to change every person he encounters for the better, just as he did me.
If you are interested in learning more about Sponsorship and how to get involved, visit www.back2back.org/sponsorship