By Rosanne Bowman LIMA — Ted Darbyshire, who teaches gifted students at Shawnee and Perry middle schools, has been sponsoring children through World Vision for 28 years. “When we married 12 years ago, I became a part of that,” said Denise Darbyshire, a manager at the Spencerville branch of the Lima Public Library.As each child would phase out of the program at age 18, the Darbyshires would receive a new child to sponsor. About a year ago, they decided to sponsor a second child, in addition to Nareba Riyaldeen, an 8-year-old girl from Sri Lanka.Denise Darbyshire wanted to sponsor a little boy this time because the couple has three granddaughters. “It was time for a grandson,” she said. “We think of our sponsor kids as family.”They were assigned Jose Capellan, an 8 year old from the Dominican Republic. Within only a few weeks of starting their sponsorship for Jose, Denise Darbyshire found out that her church was going to be going to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip. “As soon as I found out, I contacted World Vision headquarters to see if Jose lived anywhere near where we’d be,” she said. It turned out Jose lived only 45 minutes north of Santo Domingo where the mission group would be working, so plans were made for the Darbyshires to visit him during their stay. “World Vision was just wonderful in arranging all of this for us,” said Darbyshire. “We started out at the regional headquarters in Santo Domingo.”The couple toured the various buildings at the regional headquarters which included a building to treat those with AIDS and HIV, a youth center, a music and arts building where youth learn to play various instruments and a vocational training building where young women learn career skills such as sewing, baking, jewelry making and hair styling.“I just fell in love with the youth center,” said Denise Darbyshire. “Older teens basically ran it and most of them had been sponsored as young children. They in turn were working with the younger kids as a way to give back to their communities.”Once they had toured the various buildings, Ted and Denise Darbyshire, a driver, a volunteer community liaison, and their main contact with World Vision, Annelli Ferrari, drove to Jose’s village where he lived with his three brothers and one sister who ranged in age from 7 to 15.“The village is more like the projects in a big city with row houses,” Denise Darbyshire explained. While the family knew the Darbyshires were coming, the children weren’t quite sure what to make of the visitors that arrived bearing gifts. “We brought a gift bag along for each of them, but they really didn’t know what to do with them,” she said. “We had to open them for them, but each child had a gift that touched their heart.”For Jose, who loved baseball, that gift was an aluminum bat. “In all the pictures we had of Jose,” said Denise Darbyshire, “he was always very straight-faced, no smile. He was that way when we met him too, so we weren’t sure what to expect. But when he got that bat, he just lit up. We got to see him blossom and smile during that afternoon.”The couple spent the afternoon with the family and took them to a nearby mall for lunch. Because the streets were so difficult to drive on, the driver had planned to drop them off, allowing the couple to walk with the family back to the house to say good-bye.However, Jose’s mother, Gloria Capellan, warned them to quickly get back into the car and leave. “The Dominican Republic is well-known for robberies and muggings, so you have to be very careful as an American,” Denise Darbyshire explained. “We were so sorry to not be able to say good-bye. It wasn’t exactly the ending we had anticipated.”Ted and Denise Darbyshire found the entire trip to be a learning experience.“Now our letters to each other will have more meaning, and we will know better how to pray for him,” Ted Darbyshire said. He also felt that the trip showed him the need to simplify in his own life. “Despite poverty and hardships, the Dominicans appear happy with fewer possessions, especially those that are Christians,” he said.For Denise Darbyshire the trip — the first overseas mission trip the couple has taken — has changed how she views the world around her. “I’ll never see poverty the same way again,” she said. “Poverty now has a face. World Vision has a saying, ‘I came to change the life of a child, but a child changed me,’ and that couldn’t be more true.If you have a story idea or an item you feel the community would like to know about for the Religion section, please contact Rosanne Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-331-3958.