Monday, February 25, 2013

Kindness, Week Eight

This week's acts of kindness were fun! I have some new info to share with you regarding ways you too can be kind and do nice things for others!

February 19: Gave a bookmark with a significant Bible verse to my friend Liz.

February 20: Signed up to receive emails from Prisoner Alert, and prayed for each prisoner listed there. Prisoner Alert is a website run by Voice of the Martyrs which lists Christians in other countries who are currently in prison for sharing the Gospel. Information is also provided so you can write to some of these prisoners, as well. The website lists some key phrases in the prisoner's language so you don't have to worry about translation issues. Of course, you don't have to send letters, it's just an extra nice thing you could do, if you are so inclined.

February 21: Left a fun bookmark (penguins that say "Reading Is Cool") in a picture book I got from the library. Since I work at the library, I know a lot of times we find stuff in books and keep it up at the desk for "lost and found" purposes, but I stuck this one in the book in such a way that I think it will go unnoticed, until a kid checks the book out and takes it home to read it. : )

February 22: Donated a dollar to the American Heart Association. How many times do you visit a store, go to use your credit or debit card, and the screen asks you if you want to make a donation to whatever cause? I know that Petsmart card readers ask if you want to donate to charities that help feed shelter animals. This day, I was at Walgreen's picking up a prescription, and hit the "Yes, I would like to donate" button. Easy peasy.

February 23: Organized a surprise for someone. I can't give more details on this one just yet, unfortunately! But when the surprise in question comes to fruition, I will definitely post about it! : )

February 24: Made a card for a friend I haven't seen in a long time. My friend Darlene hasn't been able to come to our last several Bible studies, sadly, and I miss seeing her. I got a card from her this weekend saying she had organized a "card shower" right after my surgery (so I'd get a get well soon card in the mail every day), but she got sick, and her husband was supposed to take care of mailing them. Then she got better, and found out that the cards were just hanging out in his car! I laughed when I read that. Anyway, I made her a card thanking her for thinking of me, telling her I miss her and that I hope we get to see each other soon.

February 25: Visited the Post Pals website and made a card for a sick kid in the UK. Post Pals is brilliant. I want to find out if we have something like that here in the US. Basically, Post Pals is a website that has a database of kids in the UK who are sick (cancer, cystic fibrosis, or a number of other illnesses that lead to frequent hospitalization.) They provide a profile for each of the kids, including when their birthday is, their favorite colors and activities, TV shows they like, and things like that. They also list any siblings they may have, and what the siblings like, so they can receive mail, too. Then there's a little biography of the child (written by a parent) with updates on his or her medical condition. Post Pals provides an address where you can send a card or package to the child you choose. You don't have to say much, you don't have to send a gift (although you totally could- it's up to you- and there are precious pictures on the website of children receiving gifts from their Post Pals!) You don't even have to make a regular commitment. Sending "post' to one of these kids can be a one-time thing, just a nice little card to say hi. I found a precious, bald-headed little girl named Caitlyn whose birthday is the day before mine. She loves pink and purple, princesses, and tea parties, and she has a little sister named Jessica. I found a pink card in my box of greeting cards from my closet, and wrote Caitlyn a note. I included some princess stickers (two sheets of pink, two sheets of purple) and a reminder to share them with her little sister! I love this program, and definitely plan to send more post to kids in the future!

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.

This week we got two form letters from Jayid in India!

Jayid was my correspondence sponsor child before his financial sponsor dropped him and we, after prayerful consideration, decided to take him on as a financial commitment with Compassion. Between that and the recent changes to Compassion's letter-writing program, we accidentally got a repeat of some of Jayid's letters. We got another copy of the "My Community" form letter (which had a personal message and a lovely drawing) and another copy of the "My First Letter" form, which we first received about a year ago! This one also had a very short message about Jayid's community in Madhya Pradesh. The grown-up at the center who helped Jayid write his letter said that everyone in their community are Muslims, and that they all celebrate the holiday Eid-al Fitr together. I don't know if Jayid's family practice Islam, but he has mentioned in the past that his favorite song is "Telephone to Jesus" and he likes the Bible stories at the center. 

Here are Jayid's newest drawings:

And here's a Youtube video of some precious Indian kids singing Jayid's favorite song!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kindness, Week Seven

My kindness project continues to chug along quite nicely! I'm telling you, it's genuinely fun to think of ways to be nice. Sometimes it is a bit tricky finding things I can do while I'm stuck at home, but it really is fun. I like making people happy, and I like helping and trying to make a difference. Being kind puts me in a better mood (at least, around the time the act of kindness is being...enacted, I guess), and I like making people smile. : ) Give it a try this week- it's fun!

February 12- Took Valentines to my Bible study group. Everyone got a Hello Kitty Valentine with a matching pencil (when did card companies start making Valentines come with bonus gifts? I don't remember stuff like that when I was a kid!) It was fun to do something I enjoyed so much as a little kid, and also, everyone can use their pencils to do their Bible study work!

February 13- Shared the info for a little boy in need of a Compassion sponsor. Something (rather, someone, aka God) moved me to take a look at the list of waiting kids that day, and I found a little boy named Ilas in Burkina Faso whose birthday was that day. He turned 5 years old. Between 15-20% of children in Burkina Faso don't live to the age of 5. I shared his info with my friends, asking them to give him the great birthday gift of sponsorship. Ilas got a sponsor that day, which is great!

February 14- Took our massive wad of plastic grocery bags to be recycled. Sometimes an act of kindness can mean being kind to our planet! This one is so easy-  most grocery stores actually have bins near their doors where you can drop off your plastic bags. We have two grocery stores in our neighborhood that offer this service. Brandon dropped me off at the door at Walmart (I was pretty achy) and he brought the bags inside and tossed them in the bin.

February 15- Signed a petition to the FDA about genetically modified food. Again, acts of kindness don't always have to directly involve another individual. The writers of this petition were specifically talking about "frankenfish", freaky genetically altered salmon, which are a bad idea all around. They set a goal of 1 million signatures, and when I signed, they were at about 940,000. I bet they are really close to reaching their goal!

February 16- Left coupons at the bookstore. My local (amazing) used bookstore had a coupon last week for 20% off your entire purchase. I printed some extra copies and gave them to my mom and my brother, who used theirs. I also left one coupon in the children's section of the bookstore, and then told the sales clerk that she could apply the coupon to the purchase of the next customer who didn't have one (I didn't need the coupon back, so why not let someone else use it?)

February 17- Purchased a magazine subscription for a friend. This was another fun, free act of kindness. I drink a lot of Sprite because of my tummy troubles, and the Coke brand has a neat program called My Coke Rewards. You get codes on all Coke products, create an account at the website, and then redeem the points you get from the codes for prizes. I'm sitting on a healthy stash of points right now, and one of the few things I find in their rewards catalog that's actually worthwhile is magazine subscriptions. I posted a status on facebook offering a subscription to one of these magazines to the first two people who asked for it. Only one friend responded, so I ordered him a subscription. I think I'll save my points and use them to surprise someone else later on. : )

February 18- "Tipped" my friend when she brought me lunch. I finally got together with my best friend this week- I haven't seen her since our post-Christmas Lord of the Rings marathon, so she came over on Monday and brought lunch and we watched a few movies together. I gave her a few extra bucks for bringing me lunch, since it was so nice of her. I was really grateful, too, because I get tired of eating peanut butter sandwiches while I'm home alone! We enjoyed our meal of chicken tenders and cheese fries, and watched The Muppets and The Amazing Spider-Man together.

I'm looking forward to seeing what this next week brings!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.

I thought that this was going to be another week without any letters, but on Saturday morning I realized that Friday, I hadn't been home when the mail came, and I didn't remind my husband to get it, either (he wouldn't have had reason to because we weren't expecting a Netflix movie that day.) So I found my slippers and headed out to the mailbox, and was so happy to see two envelopes from Compassion! 

The first envelope was a newsletter from Compassion providing information about the area of India where Jayid lives. The second envelope was a letter from Tasya!

Dearest Mama Jessi, 
When this letter is being written, Tasya is in good health. At Tasya's place, it rains a lot. Many people get sick because of the rain. Tasya doesn't like rain because it can make the people get sick. How is the weather in Mama's country?

Tasya wants to say thank you so much for sending the Christmas gift to Tasya. Tasya will use it to buy the clothes for Christmas. Tasya will get the exam report book. 

Please pray for Tasya that she can get class promotion. Hopefully, Mama and family are healthy and blessed by Lord Jesus. 
Merry Christmas December 25 and Happy New Year January 1 2013!

Tasya also included an ornament she made out of paper. It was two paper stars tied together with green ribbon. The first star, on pink paper, was printed with "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" in Indonesian, and the second star, on white paper, was printed with Isaiah 11:1

I'm so glad I received mail this week! We're still waiting on a few first letters from some of our kids- we still haven't heard from Victor and he's been our correspondence kid since the beginning of November! Did you get any letters this week?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


My parents' 26 anniversary is tomorrow (Valentine's Day!) For their anniversary, my mom got a new puppy. She has been wanting one a long time- we used to get a puppy every three years, almost like clockwork. The last one we got was Elwood, the basset hound, and that was about five years ago. Anyway, she has been pretty insistent that she wanted a Corgi (maybe she will get one some day), but in Sunday's paper there was an ad for Papillon-Pomeranian mix puppies. And the one that my mom got is absolutely perfect. He knows who his momma is- I was in the car with them yesterday and every time my mom talked, he looked at her. He likes to cuddle, lay his head on your arm or your shoulder (he hides his face in long hair!) He was almost all the way on my shoulder last night! I have only heard him whimper twice. He even came to Bible study with us last night, and behaved perfectly. You wouldn't have known he was there, except every once in a while, when he got passed to a new person, you'd hear someone say "awwwwwwww" really quietly. It sounds weird to say that a puppy is an answered prayer, but he really is. He has only been home since Monday night and he has already brought so much happiness to my family. The only thing that's not perfect about him? He doesn't live with me!

Momma and her new buddy. She looks so happy!!

I am in love with this face. 

Loki and Sissy (I am "sissy" to all the dogs. My dog Diego knows to go find me when you tell him "go find Sissy!")

I collect walruses. I thought it would be fun to see if Loki was bigger than one of my stuffed walruses. He is not. I sat him down by the walrus, he took one look at it, and bit it. Ha!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kindness, Week Six

My kindness project is still going pretty well! I am finding it easier and easier to be generous with others (which can be a bad thing because I'm stuck at home with a laptop, internet access, a memorized credit card number and about a hundred different ways to spend money to be nice to others, right off the top of my head.) Also, I don't believe in "karma" as most people think of it, but the fact that I am making a real effort to be more kind, and to practice kindness every day, has made me especially appreciative of the acts of kindness people do for me- which is neat! For example, last week I got a surprise delivery from gift-wrapped packages containing a Swahili phrasebook and a complete beginners audio course in learning Swahili from my friend Zach. We sometimes talk about languages (he loves to study them) and I had mentioned the day before that if I was going to learn a new language, it would be Swahili. My sweet Said writes his letters in Swahili, and always gets so excited when I send him a Bible verse written in Swahili (God bless the internet and Bible Gateway!) I was so touched that I cried a little!

Anyway, here are my acts of kindness for the past week:

February 5: Gave my mom a tiny bottle of cake-scented hand sanitizer. Fun-smelling things are always exciting, and my mom likes cake!

February 6: Sent a birthday card to a Bible study friend.

February 7: Visited my friend Betty. Betty is in my Bible study group, but she doesn't attend when we meet in the cold weather months because of health problems. She has trouble breathing (and uses an oxygen tank), and she uses a motorized wheelchair to sit around. She has been stuck in her house for the past month, and I was so happy to see her! She actually lives within walking distance from my mom's house- if I still lived there I'd come visit her all the time. : )

February 8: Registered to be an organ donor. This is one of the simplest acts of kindness you can do! It's free, it's fast, and it benefits lots of people. A former schoolmate of mine passed away unexpectedly a few months ago. Her mom posted on facebook that she had registered to be an organ donor, and her "eyes, heart, valves, bones, tissue and skin" would be able to help 25-50 people! Fun fact: you can register to be an organ and tissue donor online, here. Don't forget to tell your family about this act of kindness!

February 9: Sent a small check to a facebook friend participating in the Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for the local chapter of the Special Olympics. Every little bit helps!

February 10: Gave a pretty bookmark with a nice Bible verse to my mother-in-law. "From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1: 16. You can never have enough bookmarks, and small surprises are fun! Plus, I think having verses written out on things like bookmarks helps us memorize them!

February 11: Sent an email to cousin Siena telling her I love her new house and bragging on her little boy Alexander. He is so smart! At a year and a half, he knows the planets- he has a little easy reader book about the planets and if you point to a picture of one of them, he can tell you which one it is. When I was a kid, I liked it when I did something good and someone told my mom or dad about it later. Kids like being bragged on, and parents like hearing it! They are doing a wonderful job raising their little kiddos, and I wanted them to know that.

All in all, it's been a pretty good week!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hooray for new cousins!

We got a new baby cousin on Thursday night! Meet baby Liam! He is very cute, and is perfectly healthy. I got to go see him, along with his big brother Alexander and his mommy and daddy on Sunday. It was fun! Congratulations, Bryan and Siena!

Liam! Yay!

Me and Liam

Big brother Alexander- he's gotten as many presents 
as Liam this weekend, I think!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kindness, Week Five

I spent a bit of time over the past day and a half trying to remember my acts of kindness from the time I was in the hospital and the week and a half or so after that when I was really disorganized. I've got my kindness journal all up to date, and I'm back to working on my acts of kindness every day. As I said in my first entry about this New Year's resolution of mine, posting about this on my blog is definitely not about bragging. I don't really think I have anything to brag about since my acts of kindness are not as impressive as some others I have read about (like, I'm not running a charity marathon any time soon. Sorry to disappoint.) But writing about this does give me a sense of accountability, and I also hope that sharing these little acts of kindness will inspire other people to try to be a little kinder, too- especially when I run across fun stuff like websites that donate children's books or pet food to shelters, for free!

Anyway, here are my acts of kindness from the last week:

January 29: Prayed for my friends. This was our first Bible study meeting of the new year, and whenever we get together for Bible study, we take prayer requests and I email them out to everyone. I did take the time to go ahead and pray over each request on the evening of the 29th, though. How many times do we say "I'll pray for you", and we never get around to it? I'm glad I'm able to help my friends in this way.

January 30: Wrote a real, paper-y thank you note to a sweet lady from church who sent me an awesome "get well soon" gift: alpaca socks. Those things are incredible. If your feet are cold, get yourself some alpaca socks ASAP.

January 31: Wrote a check to buy a puzzle piece for my friend Ashley's adoption fundraiser. She and her husband are working on raising the money to travel to Haiti in a few months and bring home their son! Check out this creative and fun fundraising idea here.

February 1: Emailed a funny article to a discouraged friend. I also signed an online petition to try to help someone who was unjustly fired get her job back.

February 2: Shared facebook posts from a friend trying to raise money for a good cause.

February 3: Took a funny TV series on DVD to my brother, who has been having a hard time lately. Hopefully it will cheer him up, if he ever turns his video game off long enough to watch it. : )

February 4: Sent a word of encouragement to a friend who is majorly stressing about an upcoming exam.

See? Pretty easy stuff. And the acts of kindness that did cost money hardly cost anything at all (a few postage stamps and five bucks!) Kindness is totally affordable!

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.

This week we received our first letter from Mary Mbari (her info on Compassion's website says that she goes by Mbari, but in her letter she calls herself Mary. That's going to take some getting used to!) I was very happy to get this letter so we can get to know Mary better. I always feel a little weird writing letters to our new sponsor kids (or correspondence kids) before we hear from them. When I get that first letter, it really helps me feel connected to them!

Most of Mary's letter was the usual "getting to know you" form. She shared that she lives in a town. Her parents' names are Rahab and Eliud. She has a 12 year old sister named Elizabeth and an 8 year old brother named George. She has three best friends: Evalyne, Ann and Sharon. Her "best game" is basketball. Her "best song" is "Everyone Needs Compassion" (I wonder if that's actually the hit song "Mighty to Save"? I did some hunting online and was unable to find any other lyrics that could be for this song.) Her "best foods" are chicken and Black Forest cakes. Reading that made me smile- I love Black Forest cake, and I was happy to read that Mary at least has some access to sweet treats! Her best school subjects are history, languages and biology. Her "best Bible story" is 1 Timothy 1:12. Her "best colors" are pink and light blue. 

Here is Mary's actual letter: 

How are you? I hope you are fine. I feel good for having you as my sponsor. I hope even your family is also doing well. I am Mary. I live in a place called Waithaka. I go to a school called Mwenda-Andu Secondary School but we like calling it Mass Complex. I am in Form Two. I am a born again Christian and I am in the age of 16. As for me, I like socializing and making new friends. I love singing and I love my country Kenya. It is an amazing country and as for now the weather is sunny. I would request you to pray for my family, country, and I for God to open the doors for my dream of singing. 

Wow! So much information in Mary's first letter! It made me so happy to read that she is a Christian, and I enjoyed learning the name of her school. I tried to find pictures online- I haven't found any pictures, but I did find their phone number! That was pretty neat. I think it's great that she wants to be a singer! 

Today I was also extremely blessed to receive a rather gigantic letter from Joane! This is so exciting, since we very seldom hear from her, and we just received a letter from her a few weeks ago! Joane had so much to say that she had to continue her letter on a piece of copy paper. Sadly, we received word that the goat Joane purchased with her birthday money last year has passed away. Since she has a birthday next month, hopefully she will be able to get another goat!

Dear Jessi, 
I am delighted to be writing to you in God's name the Almighty. I take advantage of this opportunity to greet you in Jesus' name. How are you doing and activities? As for me, I am doing very well thanks to God. My family are doing well too. Generally I get together with my family each Sunday from 3 to 5 pm. The church I attend is named Bethlehem Baptist Church of Ennery. Our pastor's name is Ludner Cardichon. My goat looked like a sheep, but it died. Yes, it is important to go to school and I like that. My favorite subjects are English, Spanish, Algebra and Social Science. My favorite Bible verse is Romans 12:1. Thank you for the letter and prayers. Glad to hear from you and family. I'm praying that God protects your life and that we can continue to communicate in the Lord's name. Thank you for the stickers. I take advantage of this opportunity to let you know that the Project will organize a big Christmas Party for the children on December 24. So I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013 in God's name the Almighty. I want to tell you about my school. I am in grade 8 now. I took the first control exam, but I don't get the result yet, but I know that I will do good in God's name. May God bless you in all you do. 


I just love it when letters provide more information about where my kids live. I did some searches for Joane's church and her pastor, to see if I could find any pictures. I was sad to see a blog entry with an obituary for Pastor Cardichon's wife, who passed away last April. The blog entry had many pictures. I also saw a picture of him and his family on a facebook page. 

Did you receive any letters from your sponsor kids this week? I love reading blog posts detailing the letters everyone receives. It's so much fun to learn about the different kids' personalities and cultures!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Salad Bar

My dear husband had the day off on Thursday, and we spent the day together. We started the day off by chopping up some veggies left over from Bible study Tuesday and making a little "salad bar" for our ratties. I hate to admit it, but since Guinea Pig died last fall, they haven't had many special treats in the way of fresh fruits and veggies (and I know they haven't had anything fun to eat since I had my surgery- I usually share a little bit of my breakfast with them since I eat breakfast upstairs on the computer. Surgery has kept me downstairs, though!) Anyway, we put the veggies on a paper plate and headed upstairs. I sat in the computer chair while Brandon let everyone out of the cage, and I took pictures. Monster and Cupcake were really happy about the snacks. Monster tried to step on everything, and Cupcake kept taking pieces of veggie off to different parts of the room to eat in secret. Glitter, ever the suspicious one, wasn't having any part of it at first, but she eventually came around. She didn't eat as much as the others, and she eventually decided she'd rather spend time snuggling with me in my new bathrobe! This made me really happy because she is generally pretty anti-social and skittish with anyone but Brandon. I am happy that I am able to go upstairs sometimes and visit with my fur-babies again!

Monster has the first taste of salad-y goodness.

Cupcake checks things out.

A rare moment of cooperative sharing.

Glitter finally decides to check things out.

And then decides cuddling is better than salad. : )

Friday, February 1, 2013

February Letter Topics

Having trouble finding the motivation to write letters? Here are some letter ideas for February.

  1. Valentine's Day. I send my kids Valentine's cards every year. I simply explain to them that Valentine's Day is a holiday on February 14th, and it celebrates love. I tell them that it is a good time to remind our friends that we love them. Our sponsor kids ALWAYS love to hear that they are loved- and sending a cute card is a fun way to do that! You can also tell your child about the Valentine's tradition of sharing cards with classmates. 
  2. Siblings. My brother's birthday is in February (he will be turning 21 this year, which is just disturbing.) If you have siblings, you could write to your sponsor child about them. Share their birthdays. Tell your sponsor child about a funny family memory. Ask about your sponsor child's siblings. How do they play together? Do they get along? Sometimes sponsor kids share stories about bickering with their siblings- just like any American kids. Tell your sponsor child that it is important to share with his brothers and sisters, and tell him that you are praying for them, that they will be good friends and grow up well together. 
  3. President's Day. Tell your child about this American holiday. Share with him or her that President's Day takes place in February to honor two of our presidents who were born in February- George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. You don't have to write a history report, but you could tell your child that Washington was our first president, and Lincoln is admired because he ended slavery in the United States. Ask your child if there is a similar holiday in his or her country- many countries have holidays celebrating their presidents or other leaders. 
  4. Pets.  A lot of people I know have been talking about pets lately. A friend of mine recently got a new puppy after losing her beloved dog last fall.  My mom has been thinking about puppies a lot lately. I don't know what it is, but there has been a lot of pet talk around me recently. Do you have any pets? Tell your sponsor child about them! Send pictures, either printed off or via the online letter writing tool. Did you have a pet as a child? Write to your sponsor child about your favorite childhood pet. Was there a pet you always wanted (or still want) that it would be completely impractical to own? It would be fun to discuss the possibilities with your sponsor child. Ask him "if you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?" 
  5. Your spiritual walk. What is your congregation studying in church? Have you learned a new Bible verse recently? What has God revealed to you lately through His Word? My Bible study group very recently started our newest study together. I have enjoyed writing to my kids about Bible studies in the past. For example, when we did Francis Chan's Remembering the Forgotten God, I wrote to my kids about the Holy Spirit. I told them how I would be learning more about the Holy Spirit with this study. I said that many American churches do not talk about the Spirit very often. I asked them if they learn about the Holy Spirit in church. Joane wrote back that yes, she learns about the Holy Spirit, and she received it well. Tasya wrote the following: 
In church, the Holy Spirit is very important as Holy Spirit is one in Father and Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit is source of my strength. He teaches and gives me inspirations to know God deeper. Holy Spirit also strengthens us in doing our daily work and serving God's work. These knowledge about Holy Spirit are thought by my father (he is a pastor.)

I hope that these ideas have inspired you to write to your sponsor child at least once this month!