First, though, I wanted to talk about something I learned recently regarding letter-writing. There was a discussion on Our Compassion, sort of a social network for sponsors (it's mostly just forums, but still very handy and a nice way to make new friends) about correspondence kids, and somewhere in the jumble of responses was a question about how often correspondence sponsors are allowed to write. As far as all of us knew, there is no limit (though you can only write one online letter per day), but someone said they remembered receiving a letter a long time ago asking correspondence sponsors to just write once a month. While no one ever came up with any recent proof of any request like this, one sponsor whose family visited Tanzania earlier this year offered up some helpful information. She said that when they visited the field office, the staff said that because of the expense of translation and postage and everything else, it might be best if correspondence sponsors only write once a month or so. And when you think about it, this isn't a bad plan, because it puts less pressure on the kids to remember every letter they've received in a certain period of time when they go to write their responses! Now I don't think that I could just write once a month, but I am going to try a new system for myself- writing twice a month. I've decided to do send my letters on the weekends I get paid (which is twice a month.) That will be an easy time for me to remember to write, and it also works out pretty well for those times I need to send a big envelope via the post office! Right now I'm writing between 2-4 times a month (usually every week and a half or so, actually), so it won't be too big of an adjustment. But I thought I would share my idea for a letter writing schedule in case it helps anyone who might be reading the blog (and I thought the info from Tanzania was interesting- when I go in March I plan on hugging everyone who works at the field office and thanking them for taking care of my letters!)
And now, onto my letters for my kids!
This time around, I wrote three unique response letters for the kids I've heard from recently. The other seven kids are getting very similar letters, with some minor tweaks. I responded directly to Mary and Carlos' letters, asking them some questions and replying to what they wrote to me. I added a little something fun to Victor's that I plan on using for my other kids in the future. Victor told me he wants to know more about my country, so I told him I'd be happy to tell him more, and asked him what he wanted to know. I then told him I would love to know more about his country, Kenya. For starters, I asked him about the animals that live in his area. I then told him a little bit about the animals that live in my area. I said in Kentucky we have squirrels, deer, raccoons, skunks, and many kinds of birds. Then I made a little "field guide" of local animals- just a sheet of card stock with "Animals of Kentucky" printed across the top, and included six pictures of local animals (and labelled them!) I have thought about doing something like this before, but the impetus for finally doing it was the realization that "skunk" is a pretty funny word and I kind of doubt that a lot of my kids have ever heard of them! : ) I saved the document for future use with my other kids, and I hope to make more little "field guides" like this one for other subjects!
For the other letters, I opened with greetings and talked a little bit about the weather. I mentioned that we are enjoying the beautiful weather the change of seasons brings, and that the leaves on the trees will start to change colors soon.
Then I addressed school- I wanted to check in with my kids on how they're doing. I told them they are ALL very smart, good students and hard workers, and that I'm proud of them. I asked them what they have been studying recently.
Before signing off, I talked a little bit about our church service this weekend, which I thought was very good and provided an opportunity to talk briefly and simply (in terms easy to understand) about God with my kids. I also asked what they have learned in church recently, or at the center if I wasn't sure if they attend church.
"Today in church we heard a wonderful message. It was about the importance of showing love to all God's people, because that's what Jesus would do! Jesus was nice to everyone He met on earth, even if others were mean to them or ignored them. And we should follow His example!"
And now, for the fun extras! Mary, Carlos, and Said all have birthdays in November, so I am sending them birthday cards and extra special gifts. Carlos is getting a Spanish version of a little "Experiencing God" devotional booklet, which I found at Lifeway (there are lots of skinny Spanish books in their Spanish aisle!) Mary is getting a pretty notebook with a songbird on it. It has a verse from the psalms on the front that references singing, because Mary loves to sing! And Said will be getting a little origami book with a few sheets of origami paper- I found that at the Dollar Tree and it looks pretty fun! Victor is getting a Kentucky Derby postcard and a scripture card. Tasya is getting a little Dover paper doll book with princesses (and glitter!) Brenda is getting one of the English/Spanish princess storybooks I found at Target a few months ago- this one is about Belle and her horse Philippe! Mishel is getting a paperback storybook about Jesus feeding the multitudes, in Spanish, from Lifeway, of course. : ) Prayer and Jayid will be getting sticker sheets and postcards. And last but not least, Joane will be getting a cute little notebook I found in Target's dollar spot. The cover is made of that brown craft paper, with foil gold accents. They had several different designs and they all come in *exactly* at a quarter inch thick!
I just love sending fun extra gifts to our kids! What stuff have you found recently to send to your kiddos?