Written by Alyssa Esparaz of Pickering, Ontario

This series is about youth who strive to make this generation one of compassion. They are responding to the brokenness in the world by taking action with Compassion Canada. We hope these stories inspire and encourage you.

The Wish: Isabel’s Story

Isabel Schuppli never thought a trip to Ethiopia to meet her family’s Compassion child would be possible. First of all, Canada is half a world away from her Compassion child, Kidist. And last year another obstacle made a trip seem even more unlikely: at 16, Isabel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

“You never really expect something like that to happen to you,” Isabel says. “The whole year after was a very long process.”

Her therapy involved surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, and a week of quarantine in the basement of her family’s home. During this time the Children’s Wish Foundation heard about Isabel’s story and offered her a wish. Isabel was initially unsure what to wish for, until her mom suggested they visit Kidist.

“I thought that was a really cool idea because she’s like part of the family,” Isabel explains. “It felt like it was the right thing to do, and I was really excited.”

In the final moments before meeting Kidist at her Compassion Centre, Isabel’s excitement turned to nervousness. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect!” Isabel says. “We’ve been corresponding through letters, but you never really know what people are going to be like when you get there or how everyone’s going to react.”

But the nervousness melted away as Isabel and Kidist spent time together. The language barrier was a challenge, but Isabel says they made the best of it. “It was amazing to get to know her in other ways, like hanging out with her and understanding what she’s like.”

Isabel experienced many new things on the trip, including a boat ride in a lake that is home to hippos. But the highlight was her friend. “It’s one thing to be in Ethiopia and to see all these things for the first time,” Isabel says, “but to be able to do it with someone [who is both] a new friend that I just met and someone who is so close to the family – it’s indescribable.”

Isabel’s story is one that shows how God can transform the scariest seasons of our lives into moments of joy. She also inspires us to take every circumstance in our lives – even a life-changing and terrifying diagnosis – and use it for God’s glory.

Today, Isabel is fully healthy and headed to university. Isabel will continue to exchange letters with Kidist, and says she will never forget this trip. “I couldn’t imagine anything that could exceed this wish. It was amazing.”

Who’s your favourite person in the Bible and why?  It’s an odd one – but I am so intrigued by the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27). His story has taught me so much about being a follower of Jesu.