Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sad news.

Hi everyone. I have some sad news to deliver.

The Indonesia trip is basically canceled. At least, for me it is. It has been a pretty dramatic day and a half. It turns out that the folks at Compassion were unable to arrange the east Indonesia (ID) part of the proposed trip, so they had to make it just western Indonesia (IO.) The trip also got moved to June. I found part of this out this morning, but didn't have any concrete answers until this afternoon. So I fretted about it all day at work. Then I found out the rest. They got back to me so late because they were trying to find out if it would be at all possible to bring Tasya to me if I still wanted to go on the trip, but when I told them where she lives, they agreed with me that that really wasn't feasible. She lives so far east, and in such a remote area, that it can't happen. So I am sad. I am sad that now I am not sure when I will ever get to meet Tasya in person. I am also sad because I have been telling everyone "hey! I'm going to Indonesia!" and now I feel weird saying "well, actually, I'm not. Not in 2014, anyway." There was no way we could have seen this coming.

For the record, I still feel that it is my calling to go out into the world and visit these places where Compassion works. I am still planning on taking a trip with Compassion next year. I have to get a few details nailed down- the other trip I'm considering isn't an advocate partner tour, and I really do need the discount (I'm waiting to hear back if that is possible for a non-advocate partner tour, and there is some disagreement among fellow advocates as to whether this is possible. So I'm waiting for official word from Compassion.) I also need to work out a few details regarding the payment, since the final payment for this trip would be sooner than the elusive Indonesia trip was going to be. I am still going on a trip. I'm just not announcing where for a few days (hopefully Monday or Tuesday of next week.) I am still doing my fundraising for this very reason. I will be changing the title of my GoFundMe page as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I would really appreciate your prayers. I cannot accurately convey to you through written word how incredibly stressed I am right now. In addition to all this stuff going on, we had to have one of my family's dogs put to sleep this week. There's some other stuff going on, too. I am just praying for a relaxing weekend with lots of clarity and positive answers to my questions.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet Greetings

Happy Mail Call Monday, everyone!

This week we got a short letter from Jayid in India. This was a form letter on holidays and festivals.

Festivals we celebrate at our project: 

Festivals we celebrate at home: 

We celebrate this festival- Christmas- by December. Easter- April and Eid- September. 

Typical food we eat during the festivals: 
1. Biryani [yummy!]
2. Paneer [not my favorite]

Our project holidays in summer and winter are from May 1 to 7 and December 26 to 30

Dear Jessi, 
I am child development worker writing a letter on behalf of Jayid. He is fine. Family members are good but pray for his mother she is suffering from fever. Now he join school and attends daily. Yes he tells that he eats onion bhajis. He says thank you for stickers and letter. With love, he says. 

I am definitely praying for Jayid's mom, and will ask if she is doing better in the next letter I send to him! I was very tickled that Jayid wrote that he also likes to eat onion bhajis- back in May, I told him how my mom and I visited an Indian restaurant for my birthday, and onion bhajis are one of my absolute favorite foods. So it was neat to hear that Jayid likes them, too. : ) Also, it was interesting to learn that Jayid's family, like many Indian families, celebrate all sorts of holidays, from the Muslim Eid to the Hindu festivals of Holi and Diwali, to Christmas. Though there is some strife between religions in India, I have always found it interesting that the people there celebrate each other's cultures and holidays in peace and harmony. I pray that one day his parents will also want to celebrate Christmas in their home!

48 hours.

I am going. I am going to Indonesia.

I don't think that I really had any major doubts that this is what I should do or would be doing. But yes, it's actually happening. Or it will be. I have already started fundraising efforts. I'm not sure how much the first payment will be for the trip, but I think I'm pretty close to having it together. Registration opens on Wednesday. I don't work until really late that day, so I fully intend on calling as soon as Compassion opens (two hours later than my time zone!) and asking to sign up. This is an advocate partner tour, so I know that there is a discount either on the down payment or the trip itself, which is pretty awesome. And we will be visiting ID and IO. This morning trip details for just an IO trip were posted, so I was able to get a better idea about what will be going on during the trip.

I am really, really excited about this opportunity, and I kind of wish I could fast-forward until Wednesday so I can get registered! I can't wait to find out more about the trip. I can't wait to find out the exact dates (I sent an email back in July and got the tentative dates) so I can mark them on the vacation calendar at work. I can't wait to find out exactly where all we're going so I can learn more about the area. In general, I just can't wait!

I would really like to share my trip-related prayer requests with you all. There is a lot to pray about, for sure. So I've divided it up into categories.

  • Funding. Travel costs money. Since this is an international trip, it's sort of expensive, by some standards. I thought about it and it's actually a pretty good deal, considering everything that's covered. My payment to Compassion for the trip will cover my round-trip flights to and from Indonesia from Los Angeles; hotels; all meals; transportation in-country; translators and security if needed.....basically all aspects of the trip except souvenirs, a flight to California and back, and my passport and shots. A lot is covered for a really awesome price. But it's also the most expensive thing I've ever had to pay for. I know God wants me to go on this trip, and He will make a way for me to get there, but I will need help. I can't make it on my own. Right now I am doing a few fundraisers. I am selling crafts to help fund my trip (I have a facebook page here- if you're on facebook, please "like" my page!) and that has been going well. So far I've made $70! And I have a few orders from friends outstanding that I should get paid for soon. I have also set up a fundraising page on GoFundMe, which you can find near the top right corner of my blog page. And I will be doing other fundraisers, too. I already got approval from Krispy Kreme to sell coupons for their donuts as a fundraiser. When Chick Fil A puts out their 2014 calendars, I plan on asking if I can do that fundraiser, too. If you can think of any other similar programs, let me know! But please pray that my fundraising efforts will be blessed, and in a timely manner so I'm not freaking out close to time to go on the trip. 
  • Travel. I live in Kentucky. The farthest I've ever been from home is when I visited Miami. The longest airplane flight I've ever been on was Louisville to Atlanta. I've always traveled with family- my parents or my husband. Please pray for a stress-free trip: no flight delays, no major turbulence, a comfortable flight, ease in adjusting to the time change (I live in the Eastern time zone; the biggest time difference I've experienced is an hour.) I've also never had to deal with passports, visas, and all that stuff before. Pray that I don't mess anything up and get stranded somewhere. : )
  • My health. Please pray for my anxiety before and during the trip. My anxiety disorder is NOT going to stop me from going. I've already decided that much. I refuse to let it keep me home. But I still need prayer. I get nervous when traveling around my own city if the destination is somewhere I haven't been before. I don't know what it's going to be like getting on a plane by myself; having a layover by myself; getting to Los Angeles by myself; being halfway across the world with a group of will be different, most definitely. But I will survive. And I would really appreciate your prayers, for my anxiety and also my sometimes overly sensitive stomach. I'm sure that aspect of the trip will be an adventure as well. 
  • My travel mates. I will have a roommate on the trip. Pray that we get along well. Pray that I encounter nice people along the way. Pray that at least one person in our group will be understanding of my anxiety issues if they should arise. 
  • The kids. Pray that we'll all have a great time together! Pray that they will know they are loved. Pray that we can help the unsponsored kids be matched with sponsors. 
  • My friends and family. One thing I have been praying about regarding this trip is how it will impact people around me. I have a lot of hopes in this area. I hope that my journey will lead to more of my friends and relatives becoming sponsors. I hope that this trip will affect my friends and relatives who don't have a relationship with Jesus. I hope that it will be an eye-opening experience for my friends that may not understand how good they have it here in the US, living our comparatively wealthy lives. 
So. Now it's only 48.5 hours until registration day, and I can call Compassion to enthusiastically shout into the phone "I WANT TO GO TO INDONESIA! SIGN ME UP!!!" It's going to be a hard wait! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kindness, Week Thirty Three

I am still doing my daily acts of kindness, but I am a little slow updating my blog! Here are the acts of kindness for last week, almost in time to share this past week's!

August 13- Made my mom a present. My mom has been pretty stressed out lately. One night I was up late working on my crafts that I'm selling to fund a certain adventure next year (more on that soon!), and I decided to make her something. She really loves the minions from Despicable Me- people save minion kids' meal toys for her, and one year for her birthday I got her a minion t-shirt! So I made her some little minion figurines, and she loved them.

August 14- Met a friend for lunch. This was no ordinary lunch, though. This was the day my sweet friend Amanda arrived from Japan! She is currently serving in Japan as an English teacher, and has been over there for more than a year. Now she is on a little summer break! She got in on this morning and I went over and met her, most of her family, and my mom for lunch.

August 15- Saved another patient from barf smell. This is probably the grossest act of kindness. I had a dentist appointment on this afternoon, and it was late in the day, so I was kind of nervous. I walked over there from work and as soon as I got into the waiting room, a baby (the younger sibling of a child being seen by the dentist) started projectile hurling around the waiting room. Oh my goodness. I will spare you the details of EVERYTHING that happened there that day, but once I got back to the exam room, I thanked the dental assistant for rescuing me from the smell and sounds, and she said "you know, there was another person out there who looked like they were really anxious to get away....if it's ok with you, I'll go get them and stick them in an exam room in the back, even though it's early." And I said go for it. Bleh.

August 16- Stayed at work. So I was unable to get all my dental stuff taken care of the day before...I was getting a crown and it needed some more porcelain, I guess. They said that I could come back the next day, but that would mean I would have to leave work in the middle of the day for a little while. I cleared it with my boss, but then I ended up calling and rescheduling. We were short-handed and it was busy and it was really better for me to stay there that day. I was needed.

August 17- Played nice. Let's just say, for the sake of privacy for all those involved, that I was put in a situation where I had to be around someone who has decided they don't like me all of a sudden. OK, it was a wedding. And there was someone there who has been kind of a brat lately- but I haven't done anything to them. They kept shooting me dirty looks and talking about me in a veiled way in my presence, but I ignored them, instead of telling them they were being really weird and lame. I had several things I wanted to say to this person, mainly "what the heck is your problem", but I just ignored them, and then they went away and sat at a different table. So much for seating charts. Oh well.

August 18- Served at my church. This was the third Sunday of the month, so it was the day that I got to work in the nursery. Normally I work in the "crawler" room, but I asked if I could work in the "crib" room since I have restrictions for a few more weeks. Help was needed, and I didn't want to flake out on them because of my back. Also, serving your church is really important, no matter how  big your church is or how many people are there each weekend. You can be a greeter, help with the bulletin, work tech like Brandon does, work in the nursery, volunteer in the library, or even help pull weeds or vacuum or other cleaning-type things!

August 19- Visited someone at work. I was out running errands on this day, and stopped by a friend's workplace to say hi and give them a hug, since I had seen earlier online that they had a bad weekend and were having a bad day. I don't know about you, but I really like getting visits at work. It makes me feel special, even if it's only for a few moments.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sweet Greetings

It's Mail Call Monday! Two weeks in a row I have something to share! : )

I was so happy to get a letter from Joane this week! I usually don't hear from Joane very often, but I have already had several letters from her this year! I'm so thankful for her sweet letters. 

18 June 2013

Dear Jessi
I feel very happy having the occasion to write you this letter. First of all, How are you, your activities, your health and your family? My family and I are fine. My school is going very well thanks to God. In my area, it is very hot and it rains every afternoon. Yes, my family and I grow corn, beans, canary seed. Yes, I have many cousins in my family. Thank you for the letters and your prayers, thank you for the information, thank you for the card and thank you for the stickers. I'm praying for you so that God bless you.  On June 9, the project organized a party for every children in the project. It was World Children Day. We danced, recited poem, sang, and ate. Do you celebrate it in your country, I'm having a good vacation thanks to God, eating, walking, and eating a lot of mangoes. I bank on your prayers, while I will keep praying for you that everything you do can be well. 


It's always nice when I know what Joane's talking about in her letters- sometimes she's vague in her responses, and by the time I get them, I've forgotten what I asked her about! : ) It was nice that she told me what her family grows- I told her about my parents' garden when they were planting it this spring. And I smiled when she said she's eating lots of mangoes! They're my favorite fruit! I always like reading about the Children's Day celebrations at the different projects. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Kindness, Week Thirty Two

It's a few days late, but here's this week's kindness post!

August 6- Wrote letters. This was the day that I hand-wrote letters to all ten of my sponsor kids! I tried to extend some extra kindness in these letters by specifically asking about my kids' siblings, checking in on them if I know about them, and trying to find out more about them for the future. I want to be able to pray for them by name, and I think I'd like to try to send an occasional treat to some of them, as well! Like Tasya's little sister, who I imagine is basically a mini-Tasya, following her around. Maybe I can find them some sister paper dolls or stickers. : )

August 7- Donated a DVD. There is a foster care organization in my city called Maryhurst. They take care of kids (almost all girls) who are wards of the state. They have a main campus with several dorms, and then they have a few group homes scattered around the city. One of them is pretty close to where I live and work, so the girls sometimes visit the library with a staff member or two. I have met many girls who live there over the years, but this crew that's there now is really special to me. I love talking with these girls about movies and books, encouraging them to read, and just listening to them. We are going to do a fundraiser for them soon, but I gave them a treat the last time they were in. I found a movie on sale pretty cheap on Amazon (Mr. Popper's Penguins- family friendly, and featuring animals, which is a plus for these girls!) I kept it in my locker at work until I saw them again. Only two of the girls came in on this evening, with one of the staff members, so I put the DVD in an envelope and gave it to him to take back to the home. I hope I get to see some of the girls again soon- they haven't been in since this night! If there are any group homes or children's homes where you live, I encourage you to look them up online and see if they have a wish list of items! Not only do they accept things like movies and craft supplies, but they have a great need for clothes, toiletries, and things like that, as most of the kids arrive at institutions like those with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

August 8- Mailed a surprise. My cousin recently decided to sponsor a child, which I am very excited about! On this day I mailed a sponsor folder to her- filled with stationery, stickers, a postcard from our zoo, and some info about Compassion. Melissa's sponsor child is named Cinderella, so I decorated it with Cinderella stickers. : )

August 9- Left a present in a coworker's locker. Our summer reading finale party was August 10, and I did not work it this year. It gets really hectic, and I don't like being there on that day. I would have been working, but since I'm still on restrictions at work, it just worked out better for me to work the day before. My best friend Jess was surely in for a crazy day on the 10th, as she is our children's librarian and has a lot of pressure on her. So I got her a little present (a keychain that looks like Uncle Si's tea glass, from Duck Dynasty!) and made her a card that basically said "you did it! It's over! You're awesome!" I put all this in an envelope and marked it "do not open until 5 pm on August 10", and left it in her locker! As I predicted, she did have a crazy day, and she really appreciated it. I'm glad I could do a little thing like that to make her day brighter!

August 10- Bought mom some ice cream. My mom and I got to go grocery shopping on this day, and we spent the day together. She has had a pretty stressful two weeks or so, so I tried to make it a good day for her, and that included forcing her to pick out some ice cream when we went to the grocery.

August 11- Treated Kelli to dinner. I like to say I have more than one best friend- I have a best friend I see all the time (Jess) and a best friend I hardly ever see (Kelli.) Kelli and I have been friends since middle school and I love her dearly. Since we are grown up and have responsibilities now, we don't get to see each other very often, but I treasure those times I do get to hang out with her, laughing and watching TV. Kelli's birthday was the 14, but we celebrated on this day. I made a pan of brownies and we went out to pick up dinner at Moe's, then headed back to my place to watch some funny TV!

August 12- On this day I just wrote "nail polish" in my little notebook. I love nail polish, and so do some of my coworkers. I don't buy the expensive kind, but sometimes I just can't resist getting a bottle or two when I go to the store to get other things, especially if they have new colors! Every once in a while, when I see a pretty new color, I'll get an extra bottle and bring it to one of my friends at work. So that's what I did on this day.

Monday, August 12, 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 was very blessed to receive two letters this week! It has been a long time since I've heard from our kids, so it was really nice to find letters in my mailbox on Friday and Saturday. .

The first letter was from our Said in Tanzania.

Dear Jessi, 
I would like to greet you in the name of Jesus. I say, Praise the Lord Jesus. 
My family and I hope that you are fine and getting on well with your daily works. 
Dear, the purpose of this letter is to greet you and tell you how things are going on here. 
My dear, the weather here is hot, and it sometimes rains and there are clouds. My dear, I also continue to attend [the project] on every Saturday. And on this Saturday, we learned a lesson from Matthew 3: 1-2, about the baptism of Jesus. Dear, I don't have more than these to say. 

Love, Said

Said is so sweet! I treasure each letter I get from him- I don't get as many since the letter writing changes last year. He also drew a lovely picture of a donkey:

Then I got a letter from Tasya! There is a bit of an interesting backstory here. My brother's dog, Wolfie, has not been doing well lately. He is a big dog, and he's pretty old. Wolfie and Jonathan are very close. Wolfie doesn't leave Jonathan's room unless Jonathan does. I can't really describe the bond that they have- you'd have to know them both to understand. Well, Wolfie hasn't been able to walk lately. He hasn't been eating well, which is not normal for a dog that will normally consume anything you throw toward his mouth. That is no exaggeration. He has had to have assistance going outside. Last week there was some talk about taking Wolfie to the vet soon to have him put to sleep, which is very hard to think about. Anyway, in her letter, Tasya mentions she is praying for our sick dog. None of the dogs have been sick, except for Wolfie, and that's pretty recent. Tasya's letter arrived the day after this discussion about taking Wolfie to the vet. It also arrived on the day that Wolfie miraculously was able to walk to the back door by himself, which is pretty neat. Sometimes we just get these feelings about specific prayer requests for our friends, even if they haven't told us about them. That's the Holy Spirit's work. Tasya may not know specifically which of my family's dogs is having problems, or what exactly is wrong with him, but obviously God put it on her heart to pray for one of our pets!

24 June 2013

Dear Mama Jessi, 
Shalom! I first give thanks to God for giving health to me and my family. I pray mama Jessi to get well soon and for your sick dog as well. 
You know, I'm so happy because I just finished the exam and will get school report soon. I hope you will always pray for me to get promoted to next grade. I also pray for your work that it is running well. 
The weather here is unpredictable as it sometimes rains and then warms that causes many people to get sick. That's it for now. God will always guide you and your family!


They are precious in His sight.

I am overwhelmed with grief this morning.

I saw something online when I woke up that has affected my whole day. When I explain it, it may sound silly to some people, but please understand that I am a very passionate and empathetic person, and I feel very strongly about certain things. I know a lot of you do, too.

This morning, a local news station posted an article on facebook about a family who is wanting to adopt from Bulgaria. I think they're both 23 years old. They are doing a puzzle piece fundraiser to help raise the funds. I'm not really sure why this story was on the news, since I know several families who are doing this kind of fundraiser, but one interesting thing about the story was that the wife has a degree in American Sign Language, so they specifically want to adopt a deaf child. That's great! A lot of times, special needs kids are overlooked by people wanting to adopt. And the longer they languish in the system, the more their development suffers. It's a fact.

As I was reading the news story, I accidentally saw some of the comments. I'd say there are probably about 150 comments on there so far. I don't know if the thread will continue to grow because I don't plan on reading any more of them. At least 90% of the comments- from people in my community- were pretty hateful. Nationalistic. Judgmental. Xenophobic. Racist. Anti-immigrant. A lot of them were pretty misguided about what exactly adoption is and why fundraising is needed. Some people talked about this couple like they were buying a child. Several suggested that if they needed to "beg" people for money, maybe they shouldn't be parents. A few also talked about what a shame it was that this special needs child, when brought to our country, would probably be a burden on the system, collecting government assistance and utilizing government programs. The attitude of almost every commentor was that we should take care of our own children first. How dare this couple adopt from outside the country, when there are so many children in the United States waiting for homes. Some people flat-out said that.

I would venture to guess that none of these people have adopted. I had a moment of internet creeping and glanced at a few profiles of the commentors. They had pictures of their families on their timelines, with their spitting-image, obviously biological children smiling at the camera. I'm not judging them for having babies of their own. I do think it's weird that they would judge others for not adopting American children when they themselves have not opened their homes to the tens of thousands of kids waiting in foster care. But I digress.

The tone of the comments was so hateful and disgusting that it literally made me sick. I cried about it. I was ashamed of the attitude of the people in my city. My city calls itself a "Compassionate City." Seriously, it's one of our slogans. And we have a rather large international community. You'd think that the people would be a little more open-minded about this couple working to bring a child into their home. I don't get it. I can't bring myself to go back and look at some of the posts for the sake of sharing them with you, they were so ugly. They reveal that there are some very dark-souled, nasty people who live near me, and that's horrifying.

I have news for these people. American children are not better than children in other countries. American people are not better than people in other countries. I'm not comparing governments or economies or test scores here- I'm talking about human worth. Many people in my country have the attitude that Americans intrinsically have more value than people who live in other places around the world. And some of them are worth more than others. It's like we have some weird chart somewhere- at the top of the list are Americans, and just beneath that, maybe Canadians and Europeans. South Americans are pretty high on the list, but not people from Central America, because we have some paranoia that they're all coming here to take our jobs. We definitely care about Africans, but not the ones up north, because they're mostly Muslim and probably terrorists. At the bottom of the list are people in the Middle East, because they hate America and our way of life. If a terrorist attack occurred in England and 10 people died, we would be upset about it, and it would receive more press than if a terrorist attack occurred in, say, Egypt, and 100 people died. We would mourn louder in public for the death of two school-children in Canada than we would for the slaughter of dozens of school-girls in Afghanistan.

All life is precious. Every single one. When someone dies, we should be sad, whether they have pale skin or almond-shaped eyes or they wear a turban or blue jeans or a sarong. And when children need homes, we should help them, whether they're deaf or autistic or above average in school, whether they're white or brown or somewhere in between. Whether they're from Pennsylvania or Port-au-Prince. Whether they're coming from Bulgaria or Boston. We should celebrate and honor and support those who open their homes to these children. And we should never, ever judge them for the choices they make. If someone wants to adopt a newborn, we shouldn't judge them for not bringing home an older child. If someone wants to adopt a child who looks like the rest of their family, we shouldn't judge them for not adopting outside their ethnicity. If someone wants to adopt a child who has no special needs, we shouldn't judge them for making that decision. The whole point is to be the best parent you can be. That should be the goal. The whole point is that because of adoption, fewer kids will go hungry. Fewer kids will be lonely. Fewer kids will be on the streets. More kids will get an education. More kids will get the medical help they need. More kids will grow up to their full potential instead of spending their lives in a cold metal crib in an institution. Fewer kids will be living in group homes.

My heart is broken today because of the revelation of the darkness in my community. I am sad for my city. For my country. I am sad for the families who have to deal with this garbage. I'm sad for the kids who might grow up listening to people's stupid comments and whispers behind their backs. The whole thing is messed up.  My stomach hurts. I know that some people probably think I'm being ridiculous. I have already been subjected to some rude comments on the news story (I did post on it, saying I was disappointed and saddened by the poor attitudes that people have presented.) I just feel very strongly that every life is valuable, and that no child is worth more than another because of the color of his skin or the place of his birth.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kindness, Week Thirty One

I know it's a few days late, but here is my Kindness post for this week.

July 30- Thanked someone I hate. That person is the dentist. I spent three and a half hours at the dentist this day. Dentists are my mortal enemies, but after twenty-something years, I finally found a dentist's office that I could tolerate. The assistant lady is especially nice. And on this day, I told her so, as I was leaving. I mean, I don't hate her, but I hate having dental work done (I don't like having my mouth open and having people dig around in there), but I made sure to tell her how much I appreciated her kindness and the good job their team does. The fact that I was able to make it through that experience without a major meltdown was a miracle- even though I did have nail marks on my arms, imprints from my bracelets on my wrists where I pushed them in, and I had to take two xanax and have the laughing gas turned on the whole time.

July 31- Signed a bunch of petitions. This was a lazy day. I like those petition websites that save my info so all I have to do is browse the topics and click a button to add my signature. I think I signed four different petitions about elephants on this day, and threw in one or two for girls' education, too.

August 1- Let someone get a card. Like pretty much all libraries, ours has some rules when it comes to getting library cards. You either have to live, work, or go to school in the county to get one. If you don't have ID to prove this (even if it's a piece of mail or something like that), you can't get a card. We'll let people use the computers with temporary passes, but they can't check out books. On this day it seemed like I had a lot of people who had problems- not enough money for printing, no ID to get their card number, etc. A young woman in her early 20s came in to get a card. She lived out of town. She was going to go to school here, but she didn't have an ID yet. And of course, she needed to check out a book, and not just use the computer. I started explaining to her that I really couldn't get a library card for her today, as she was digging through her wallet to make sure she didn't have anything proving her school enrollment. And I spotted a Lifeway rewards card. I said "is that a Lifeway rewards card?" and she said yes. I asked her if the school she was going to go to was the seminary, and she said yes. I sighed and told her I'd make her a card, active for a month, if she promised to come back with her school ID within that time. And she was very grateful.

August 2- Printed stuff for a grieving patron. Another library act of kindness. An older lady came in sniffling on this day, asking if we had access to living will forms. Instead of pointing her in the right direction, I walked her over to the database computer, brought up the forms for her, used my library card number as ID, and waived the printing cost. I would have felt like a total heel asking her to produce her library card or telling her to pay for these few pages while she was standing there sniffling into her hankie the whole time. When she tried to ask me how much the print job was, I told her not to worry about it, that she didn't have to pay anything. She put her hand on my arm, said "God bless you, honey" and shuffled out the door, sniffling all the way. It was really sad.

August 3- Exercised patience. There is a chain of consignment stores in the area where I live, and they have the worst customer service on the planet. Seriously. You can take some clothes in there to sell, with two or three people ahead of you, and wait two hours for them to get to your stuff. They're slow and rude and generally awful. The last three times I went there, I waited almost two hours, then took my stuff and left. The last time I vowed never to return. But I have some shoes and purses and stuff I want to get rid of, and I need money for my Indonesia trip, so I decided to give it another go. I showed up half an hour early and waited in the parking lot. Ten minutes before they opened, I went to the door. Another girl met me there, and although I was there first, she went in the door before me and threw her stuff on the counter. I was second in line, and it still took half an hour to get an offer for my stuff. Some other people came in after me, and the sales girl took her time explaining the process to them, and got distracted a few times, but I stayed quiet. A loud lady who smelled like smoke came in and was hollering about how she wanted to go home while she waited for them to price her stuff (which is against store policy), and complained about how long it was going to take. Of course, while she ranted (and came back to do so two more times), the girl looking at my things had to stop and talk to her. And I really thought about saying "she would probably get to your stuff sooner if you let her do her job", but still I stayed quiet. You know what happened? The girl who cut in front of me only got offered a dollar for her stuff (they only wanted to buy 1 shirt.) When I got my offer, it was almost $15 for five items. I still have three bags of stuff to get rid of, but that's a pretty good deal,  you know? Almost three bucks a piece! And every little bit helps. : )

August 4- Tried to make it a good day. I made an effort on this day. I cooked for all three meals. I cleaned some. I tried not to complain, and I didn't argue back when faced with a bad attitude from someone else...but it still wasn't a great day. I did try, though.

August 5- Shared some gum. My friend Jess was telling me at work recently that she was out of gum, and she didn't get any for her birthday recently (last year she got tons of gum from her husband, apparently.) When I was shopping on Saturday, I saw some gum I knew she liked (it's cupcake flavored!) and added it to my cart. On this day, when I got to work, I dropped it into her purse. : )

Monday, August 5, 2013

Oh, Haiti.

I am posting this link for a few reasons. My friend Ashley, mama to an adorable Haitian boy, shared this on facebook earlier today. It's a blog post from some folks who work at the orphanage my buddy used to live at. I'm sharing the story because these people are in desperate need of fervent prayer. I'm also sharing it because most of the people who read this blog are Compassion sponsors, and many of you have sponsor kids in Haiti. We all know about the devastating poverty in this country, and the challenges it presents. But I think that sometimes we forget about the other things going on there, too. Like political unrest. Dark magic and "religious" community members communing with the Enemy himself. Corruption and lawlessness. Violence and desperation. Human rights violations. Deplorable prison conditions.

Please, if you love someone in Haiti, or you care about God's people, take a moment to read this post. Pray for Emilio and his family. Pray for Haiti, as well, that she will experience a great revival and the darkness that grips the country and its people will be cast out.

You should also subscribe to the blog, too, because the author's posts are very moving. She's a tremendous writer!

"Family Prayer Request" from If This Life I Lose

"Family Update"

Thank you, Lord, for protecting Emilio and for these small victories! Folks, this family still needs a great deal of prayer!

Outgoing Mail

How sad- another week without letters! Since I don't have any letters from our kids to share, I'll tell you a bit about the letters I've sent the past few weeks.

Last week, I wrote to our kids and told them about Anell's homecoming. I have been sharing my excitement about this little boy with my kids for a while. I have told them in the past that my friend and her husband were adopting, and asked them to pray for them. So in last week's letter, I told them that Anell is now in the United States with his mom and dad, and sent them a picture. I told them that scripture tells us when we become Christians, we are adopted by God, and we are His sons and daughters- and that our inheritance is heaven!

This week I'm doing hand-written letters, since it's early in the month. This month's letters are kind of short, and focus on two main topics. In my intro paragraph, I tell my kids that I would love to learn more about their families. I ask them if they have any brothers and sisters, what their names are, and how old they are. I decided to go ahead and ask everyone for this info for a few reasons. One is that there has been some confusion about the names of some of my kids' siblings, or how many they have (like Tasya only has one sister, but over the years, I've heard two different names for her. It is totally possible that she goes by a middle name- after all, Tasya's name is actually Renica Natasya!) Secondly, some of my newer correspondence kids have skipped the introductory form letter, so I've missed out on some of that basic information. I really do want to know the details about my kids' families, but I also want to know more specifically about Tasya's and Prayer's families, since hopefully I will be meeting these two beautiful children next year!!

In the second part of my letter, I told the kids about our summer reading finale at the library. I have mentioned summer reading several times in my letters these past few months, telling my kids how important (and fun!) reading is. This is the last week of summer reading at our library, so each of the branches is having a party on Saturday. I told my kids a little bit about how we'd celebrate- with lots of games, some crafts, face-painting, and popcorn and snow cones (which I referred to as "flavored ice.") I told them that the library will be very busy that day, but I know it's a lot of fun for the kids, and I'm glad that we do it. I told them that when I was little, I loved to come to the library for the end of summer reading, but these past 8 years I have been working there instead! I still get a snow cone, though. : )

I tried to think of library-themed stuff I could send to my kids, but couldn't come up with anything off the top of my head, so they're getting Louisville postcards instead. When we went to the airport for Anell's welcome home celebration, I made sure to stop by the gift shop and stock up on postcards! The selection has dwindled since the last time I was there, but I still got three postcards for each kid, I think. I got some with the Louisville skyline, some that featured horse farms (the ones with the foals on them are super cute!), a few featuring the Louisville Slugger museum and the giant bat for some of the boys, and some others!

What kind of letters have you been sending lately? I'm looking forward to the upcoming change of seasons- I feel like so many of my letters this summer have either been about the library (Tasya says I'm "always there") and the heat! I guess it's because summer is my least favorite season- I'm more enthusiastic about fall and winter, and there's more family stuff going on then, too!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Letter Writing Topics

How has your letter-writing gone this year? I hope that by now, if you have sponsor kids, you have written to them at least a few times this year! Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Best Friends. My best friend's birthday is in August. Her name is Kelli. What's your best friend's name? How long have you known each other? Where did you meet? Do you have a lot in common, or are you complete opposites? What do you have in common? What do you like to do together? Do you get to see your best friend very often, or do you just see each other occasionally? Do you know your sponsor child's best friend's name? If not, now would be the perfect time to ask! Ask her about her best friend, and what they like to do together. Maybe you could even send some matching sets of stickers or coloring books for your sponsor child and his best friend! I love to tell my kids about my friends. I always tell them when we get together for my birthday and Christmas. I tell them that we get together to talk and have fun, and share a meal together. 
  2. School. Now is the time that most kids in the United States are heading back to school. If you have kids, how are they getting ready? Are they happy to go back? What grades will they be going into this year? Did you enjoy going back to school when you were a kid? Even if it wasn't your favorite time of year, you can still encourage your sponsor child in his or her schooling. Now is the perfect  time to stock up on flat, papery gifts for your sponsor child, too! You can get stickers, certificates, coloring and activity pages, calendars, maps, and all sorts of fun stuff this time of year!
  3. Local holidays- Indian independence day. India's independence day is celebrated in August. I personally am very interested in the story of India's path to independence, which of course includes the famous activist Mahatma Gandhi. Have you ever read about this important time in history? Now would be a good time! Even if you don't have a sponsor child in India, perhaps you could write to your sponsor child about peace, which was Gandhi's goal. Do you have a favorite Bible verse about peace? Share it with  your sponsor child! Tell him that you are praying for peace in his country. Explain to her the importance of having a relationship with the Prince of Peace- Jesus.
  4. Kids. My husband and I have six or seven friends or relatives who are expecting babies this year, and almost all of them are due in August. We also have some friends who are in the process of adopting from other countries, are about to start the process, or have just wrapped it up! If you are close to someone who has welcomed a child into their family recently, you could write to your sponsor child about that. When Brandon's cousin and his wife had their first baby two months early, I wrote to my sponsor kids and told them that we were going to have a party for the mom and new baby, but the baby came early- the day of the party! I asked them each to pray for baby Alexander, that he would grow up big and strong even though he was born early. I got some really sweet responses from my kids! And earlier this year, I sent each of our kids a picture of Alexander's baby brother! Our sponsor kids love learning about what's going on in our lives- and that includes new friends and family members!
  5. Maps. This one kind of goes along with the back to school topic, but I think it would be fun to send a letter with a little geography lesson. You could use a distance calculator to figure out how far away your sponsor child is from where you live, and talk about that in the letter- but be sure to mention that even though you live far away, your sponsor child is close to your heart! You can also send some maps to your sponsor child- binder atlases that are sold with school supplies, the laminated kind you can find at the dollar tree, or you could even print one yourself. Use a marker or stickers to label where you live, and the area where your sponsor child lives. I keep my kids' letters in binders, and on the cover of each I've made a map with clip art. I have a world map with a heart marking where I live and where each kid lives, with a dotted line connecting us!