Friday, February 28, 2014

Compassison Joys: February

I'm linking up with Jill at Compassion Family for this month's Compassion Joys post!

 Compassion Family

This month held a lot of very happy Compassion-related stuff!


This month we received two letters from Jayid and Elisha, and one letter each from Brenda and Bonifas!

Tanzania Trip Progress!

This month was pretty good in terms of fundraising for the trip! I was very touched when my grandparents called to say that they had talked to their Sunday school class, and the members had decided to take up a collection and make a donation! I still have a ways to go, but I have made quite a bit of progress over the past two weeks! Also, since the trip is just a week away (wow!) I've received our itinerary, a list of my fellow travelers, and a fun assignment- I'll be leading the arts and crafts team for the VBS day we are going to do at one of the centers! I love arts and crafts, especially doing them with or for kids, so I am very excited about this opportunity!


Patricia celebrated her 13th birthday this month! We are still waiting on a first letter from her, but I've already sent her several letters, including a card and a gift for her birthday!

New Kid!

Just a few days ago, we received a new correspondence child- Sharifa! Sharifa is 10 years old and lives in Bangladesh. She actually just turned 10 on February 1! 

Lost and Found!

On February 20, Compassion called to say that Carlos' financial sponsor had dropped him. It was particularly frustrating because he only has 8 more months in the program- his profile says he is "graduating" on November 1! I asked them to keep him on hold, but I wasn't sure that we would be able to pick up the sponsorship, especially with the expense of my upcoming trip. The next day, I reached out on one of the advocate facebook pages, asking if anyone would possibly want to pick up his sponsorship. Within an hour, I had three responses! Now Carlos is all set up with a new financial sponsor- and I get to keep him as a correspondent! Yay!


This month we got a very special treat- photos of Brenda and Jayid with the gifts I was able to send them at the end of last year! My mother in law took a small University of Kentucky backpack full of gifts and mailed it while in India (those went to Jayid.) Then I was able to send a package to my friend in Mexico, and she then mailed it to the field office for me! Getting extra photos of our kids is always such a huge blessing- it's only happened a few other times! But these are extra special because they show them with the presents we were able to send!

We have had a lot to be thankful for this month- but I think next month will be the best of all! : )

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sweet Greetings from Tanzania and Mexico

Mail Call Monday again! I'm so thankful that I have some letters to post about! : )

This week we got two letters! One was a short letter from Elisha in Tanzania. 

11 January 2014

Dear Jessi
1. We have a dry and/or rainy season: winter
2. We have a hot and/or cold season: cold
3. Right now the weather is: somehow cold
4. When the weather is sunny I like to: planting flowers
5. When the weather is rainy I like to: cultivation
6. My favorite kind of weather is: summer
7. On my birthday the weather is usually: summer
8. At Christmas the weather is usually: winter

Praise the Lord! I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ. Me and my family are doing fine. I am doing well with my studies. Let us keep praying for each other. 
May God bless you. 

Between the phrasing of the questions and the fact that Elisha is really young, the letter is a little confusing! That's ok, though. It was nice to get another letter from him before the trip! I am really looking forward to meeting this little guy! He and Bonifas both have drawn soccer balls in their I'm feeling a little bad that I was only planning on bringing one for Said! But hopefully someday I will be able to send one to the other boys. And they can always play soccer with each other while we have our visit!

The other letter was super exciting! I can't stress that enough! I was a little bummed on Saturday when I got home from work, because I'd had a long day and there was no mail in the mailbox. When I got inside, though, I saw a Compassion envelope waiting for me on the table! Inside was a letter from Brenda in Mexico! The envelope was thick because technically, the letter consisted of three pages: the letter, written by her mom; a second printed sheet with the translation; and a picture of Brendita with the gifts I was able to send to her! I was SO excited- and still am!

25 January 2014

Good afternoon Jessi! 
We are so glad for everything we have received from you, especially Brendita, she send you greetings, a hug and a big kiss. 
Brendita has changed a lot in the project, she is very obedient. 
Always before eating she tells Mom and Dad have to thank God for the food, these things full of joy to the family and joined more. 
Thank you for everything and because you thinking (of) my daughter. 

Please pray for: 
That my dad that he can go to the church
I would like to ask you: 
Will you visit Mexico one day? 
I want to thank you for: 
Thanks for my doll toy, my coloring books, my Bible with butterflies, my bag, my Barbie and my memory game

I think my friend Mrs K might have snuck a few extra presents in there! : ) Seeing Brendita holding the dolly I sent to her (which I hugged and kissed on the forehead before packing) just makes me feel so happy. Ridiculously so. I'm very thankful I had the opportunity to send those gifts to Brendita, and I'm glad I was able to send her own Bible with her name on it! That's something she can use and hold on to even after she outgrows her dollies! 

And in other letter-writing news, something really good happened last week! On Thursday, Compassion called and told me that Carlos' financial sponsor had dropped him. They asked if I wanted to pick up the sponsorship, but I wasn't sure we could. I was frustrated because Carlos actually graduates in November- picking up his sponsorship would only mean an 8 month commitment. Plus, his chances of getting picked up by another sponsor are kind of slim, since he's older. He might not have found another sponsor before graduation, and I really wanted him to have that extra encouragement. I ended up reaching out to the advocate community, to see if anyone could help out. Within half an hour, Carlos had a new financial sponsor lined up, and best of all, I get to continue writing letters to him! God is so good! I have had a lot to be thankful for this week!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Myths, busted

I have an anxiety disorder. Most of you already know this. I mention it every month or two. Sometimes I talk about it more than others. I've never been one to hide it, though. For one thing, I don't think that mental illness is something to be ashamed of. It's a part of my life, just like diabetes or any number of other conditions are a part of other people's lives. I also feel that if you're around me for very long, I can't hide it, even if I wanted to. I'd rather go ahead and tell a friend "hey, I have anxiety disorder. Sometimes I get so scared that I kind of space out for a little while, and most of the time, it happens for no reason. If I'm having a big attack, I might pinch myself or absentmindedly press my fingernail into my skin, to try to snap out of it. It's no big deal." It's better than them thinking everything's fine one minute and then all of a sudden they notice I'm scratching myself and having trouble breathing. That's a pretty severe example, but it's happened. I'm all about honesty.

And to be honest with you, some things have been bugging me lately. I know that I have been under more pressure and stress than usual, and that can affect the frequency or intensity of my panic attacks. I also know that I've had some other things going on that are affecting my biology, which in turn affects my anxiety. I recently switched one medication because my doctor realized that my hormones were out of whack- too much estrogen can cause depression, anxiety, and nausea (and nausea makes me anxious! Go figure.)

Despite the fact that I have been living with anxiety for about 20 of my 25 years on this planet, there are still people who are close to me, whether they are friends or family, who just don't get me. And that's ok. I'm not asking anyone to understand me completely. I do, however, get very frustrated and even angry at times when certain, shall we say, attitudes about anxiety and mental illness pop up. I understand that there are people in the world who do not know anyone with anxiety, depression, or some other illnesses, and therefore, in their ignorance, they may believe that the people suffering from these illnesses can overcome them by sheer force of will. They don't get it. Once you get to know me, though, and hear my side of the story....if you still believe that, then I don't know how we can be friends. Anxiety is a medical condition. It's not a myth. And for many people, it's not temporary. Sometimes it turns up later in life, but sometimes it starts in childhood. Some people wind up with an anxiety disorder because of a traumatic event (think of soldiers with PTSD, a very severe form of anxiety), but some people have it because of the way their brains are designed, or because of their genetics. It's life. They can't change it just because you think they should be able to. So I'm going to take it upon myself to be the Anxiety and Depression Mythbuster, because people like me need to know that they are not alone, and people not like me need to know the real deal.

MYTH: You can get over  your anxiety if you try hard enough.
FACT: You may cope better with your anxiety if you try, and there are some things you can do to make it better, but if you have anxiety, IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT. Medications and therapy might help, and so can diet and lifestyle changes- sometimes. But if you are trying to make it go away, and it's not budging, it has nothing to do with you personally. I myself find statements like this to be tremendously offensive. I would never approach someone with a legitimate medical condition and tell them that they can overcome it if they "try." If it was that easy, don't you think they would have already done it? You are implying they're lazy, incompetent, or they just don't care enough. And since anxiety is a legitimate medical condition, people who have it shouldn't be subjected to remarks like this.

MYTH: The Bible says not to worry, so if you worry, you are a sinful person and a bad Christian.
FACT: This is crap. Yes, the Bible says not to worry. And I take a great deal of comfort in scripture- often, reading my Bible verses that I've written in a little notebook helps me calm down faster and more thoroughly than medication. But I am not in control of the chemical imbalance in my brain. I am not in control of my genetics. That has nothing to do with personal sin. Faith plays a factor because I believe I would be much worse off, if not for my faith. To imply (or say outright, as some have done to me) that I have "a complete lack of faith in God" because I have panic attacks is more offensive to me than if you were to just spit in my face. Seriously. My panic attacks are caused by biochemical reactions, that can be worsened by circumstances or other outside factors. They are not caused by sin in my life. People who have cancer didn't get it because they sinned. They may have a genetic disposition toward cancer, or they may have made choices that multiplied their chances of getting it (like smoking), but it has nothing to do with sin. And I sometimes hope that God has gives a stern talking to the people in my life who have said these things to me, when we get to heaven.

MYTH: You won't be depressed if you just think positive!
FACT: Well, yeah, you'll probably feel worse if you surround yourself with super sad things,  but just thinking about feeling better does not necessarily make you feel better. If you have a stomach virus, you probably really want to stop puking, and wouldn't sit down to eat a really greasy, nasty meal while watching gross-out videos on youtube. But even if you're doing all the right things- resting, drinking ginger ale, and nibbling saltines- you might still puke. Willpower may help in some situations, but won't solve any of your long term problems if you are medically, clinically depressed.

MYTH: Having anxiety or depression means you are weak.
FACT: Illness, physical or mental, can hit anyone. It doesn't discriminate. And just because you have an illness doesn't mean you are weak. You may struggle to cope with situations more than some other people would, but that doesn't mean you're weak. My friend can't handle gluten. Not only can't she eat it, but if a shampoo or lotion has something like oatmeal in it, she can have a reaction to that. That doesn't mean she's weak, it's just the way her body works. Anyone who says that anxiety or depression means you're weak could probably be called a wimp because of some aspect of their life, if we look hard enough.

MYTH: Depression is not a big deal- everyone gets a little down sometimes.
FACT: Depression is a very big deal. For one thing, it's not the same thing as feeling a little down. When you are a little sad, doing happy things can make you feel better. When you are clinically depressed, a nice lunch with a friend or a funny movie is not enough to make the problem go away. Clinical depression affects every aspect of a person's life- from your relationships with your family and friends, to your productivity and effectiveness in your job, to  your physical health. Sometimes depression manifests itself as literal, physical pain. And if you aren't getting help, it can seriously alter your life- or even convince you that ending that life is the only way to solve your problems. If you think you may be struggling with depression, talk to a doctor as soon as possible, even if it's just at an urgent care clinic. They can help you get the help and care you need.

MYTH: Depression is something that only happens to women.
FACT: So, so false. Ugh. First of all, that leads back to the whole idea that men shouldn't have emotions or feelings because that's weak and womanly. And I hate that attitude. Everyone has feelings, and having sad feelings doesn't make you less of a man. Men are less likely to seek help for their depression, and that makes me sad. If you're a man and you're depressed, please seek help. Your depression hurts not only you, but it hurts the people you love. If they're decent people, they care about you and want you to be better. Men suffering from depression tend to disconnect from their family and friends and internalize all the bad feelings that come along with depression. Hiding your feelings away in a corner somewhere doesn't really make them go away.

MYTH: The only real way to treat these problems is with bottles and bottles of pills.
FACT: Prescription medications don't work the same way for everyone, they may not be a long term solution, and some people may not respond well to medication at all. The best thing to do is to find a good doctor who will actually listen to what's going on with your mind and body- and that means you have to open up a little bit. Then, your doctor can help you find the solution that works for you. It may mean sometimes medication, or every day medication, or both. It may be therapy or counseling, or practicing biofeedback to learn to pay attention to signals from your mind and body. Some people, like me, also find a lot of comfort and strength in faith or spiritual practices. Don't hesitate to admit that you're struggling with depression or anxiety just because you are afraid of or concerned about antidepressants. They aren't the be all and end all for treatment.

MYTH: Depression or anxiety are things that you are going to suffer from for the rest of your life.
FACT: If you're diagnosed with depression or anxiety, you will probably not "suffer" from it for the rest of your life. But it will always be there, in many cases. There are a few important things to consider. One is that depression or anxiety that are strongly linked with circumstances (such as a trauma) can be "overcome." Those folks whose depression or anxiety is caused by biology, though, can't necessarily overcome biology. That being said, there is hope. You may not always struggle with the difficult aspects of these illnesses. I myself went about five years with no medication and no major issues- I could probably count on one hand the number of panic attacks I had annually during those years, and they weren't anything really major. But then the pendulum swings the other way, and I wound up in a place where I did suffer, and where I did need both daily medication and "as needed" medication. Though I have never struggled with an addiction, I think that depression and anxiety can be similar in some ways: each day is a battle. A recovering addict will never refer to himself as a "former addict", because it's just something that sticks with you. Someone who has a true addiction could go twenty years without using, but that condition is always there. Each day is a new battle, but it can also be a new victory!

I hope that you found this helpful, whether you know someone with depression or anxiety, or if you struggle with it yourself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Clipboard O' Fun

(If you are/were a fan of the show Full House, that title might make a tiny bit of sense for this post.)

There have been some pretty exciting developments about my upcoming trip to Tanzania!

For one thing, this past week has just been full of financial blessings regarding the fundraising. One particularly awesome thing that happened was that one of my patrons (from the library where I work) called and asked for me last Saturday. My coworker emailed me and told me her contact info, and she asked about the fundraising. I shared the link with her and she and her family made a very generous donation. Her kindness and generosity just blew me away, especially since we barely know each other!

Also, on Monday, I realized that my trip itinerary should be arriving soon. Compassion told us to expect more detailed information about three weeks before the trip. Monday was a holiday, so there was no mail- but I publicly wished that it would arrive the next day...and it did! Right before I left for Bible study, I found a FedEx envelope on my porch from Compassion. I opened it right away, and found the itinerary for the trip, emergency contact info (including the names of our hotels), and information on the child development centers we will be visiting! I'll go ahead and list those here so you can have a look:
123- TAG Jerusalem Student Center
229- ELCT Amani Singida Student Center
341- St Peter Anglican Student Center
556- Moravian Itigi Student Center (this one is close to Said!!)
651- Katesh Student Center
812- FPCT Katesh Student Center
813- Kibaoni Student Center
814- FPCT Kisaki Student Center
901- KLPT Singida Student Center

I was also excited to see that center 341 was on the list. I mentioned before that I was making prayer cards for the centers by searching Compassion's website. At the time I was making the cards, there were a lot of kids at 341 who were waiting for sponsors. Some of their faces stood out to me in particular. I wrote some of their names down, and prayed more specifically for that center than others. It's so exciting to see that this is one of the centers we will be visiting.

Then on Wednesday, we got a group email from one of the trip leaders. It contained some information like a facebook group that's been set up for the tour, and a spreadsheet confirming our kids who will be visiting us on the sponsor fun day. All three of my boys- Said, Bonifas, and Elisha- have been confirmed! Just imagining how excited the boys must be, particularly Said, really brings my spirits up when I feel down or stressed out.

The email also provided a little more detail on the VBS-type program we are going to be doing for the kids in Singida. Sean, our trip leader, said that we will have four stations for this program: Bible stories, worship, games, and arts and crafts. He asked us to email him if we'd be interested in working within a particular group. Well, I was so excited to read that. I actually got the email on my phone, and was with my mom at the time (we were headed to the hospital to see my mother in law.) I read it out loud to her, and she punched me in the arm when I read "arts and crafts." If arts and crafts could be considered a spiritual gift, that would be mine. I have been doing crafts my whole life, basically- my family has always encouraged creativity, and several of my family members are involved in crafting. My dad is always making some craft or another. My grandmother sews and quilts, and bought countless craft kits and activities for us growing up. She was even our art teacher for a while at our small private school! And now, I get to make crafts at the library, and help with children's programming! Of course, I very enthusiastically emailed the trip leader to basically shout at him that I would LOVE to be on this team. We've emailed back and forth a bit, and I'm so excited to be working on getting a creative project together for the kids! To be truthful, I was a bit worried about the VBS portion of our sponsor tour. I'm really not a big fan of the physical activities that come along with VBS programs, summer camps, and things like that. I will definitely be more at ease helping kids express themselves creatively than I would, say, participating in a relay race!

I think that's all that's been going on with the trip lately....I'm excited to share all the details with you!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Something important.

I have mentioned on my blog many, many times that I just adore my in-laws. There's this American stereotype that one's in-law are supposed to be terrible, overbearing people who are fussy and hate you. I don't know why. Mine are great. They can't be the only ones out there. So many people would say "ugh" if they had to visit their in-laws. I love spending time with mine, because they are great!

And I just love my mother in law, Denise, to pieces. I know I've said that on here, too. She is my other mom. My mom even likes her, and they are good friends- another anti-stereotype. Denise has been doing Bible studies with us for a few years, and I love seeing her at church or when we go to their home to watch a ball game, since Brandon and I don't have cable (actually, he watches a ball game, I talk to Denise and watch fun tv with her and my youngest brother in law, Jonathan!) I love spending time with her, whether we're going out shopping or just staying home and having a nice long chat.

Because I love Denise so much, I have a prayer request to share with you, my bloggy friends. Denise is having surgery on Wednesday afternoon. She is having a nephrectomy- they are taking out her kidney. And attached to her kidney is a very large (5 and a half inch) tumor. The doctors found this tumor two weeks ago when Denise went for a CT scan because of some belly pains she was having. We were expecting a hernia that could be easily repaired with some surgery. But they found this dumb tumor. And her doctor has said that it is, in all probability, cancer. But there is some good news- a second scan didn't reveal any more tumors, and her lymph nodes look great. This could mean that the cancer is contained to that one spot, and may be easy to fight against. Easy as cancer goes, anyway. It's different than having a mole removed. But hey, it's a good thing we all have two kidneys, right?

I would really appreciate your prayers for our family this week. Pray for Denise, that the surgery will be an amazing success. It would be great if this turned out not to be cancer, but if it is, pray that it's the kind that's easier to eradicate. Pray for any nervousness or worries she may have. Pray for her husband and sons. Pray for wisdom for her doctors. Pray for a short hospital stay and an easy, quick recovery. Pray that I won't worry about her too much while I'm gone on my trip. I'm personally hoping that one good thing that comes out of all this is that she gets a break from work- her career is very hectic and crazy right now and she has been working way, way too hard. In all of this, I'm thankful that she will have a recovery period after the surgery where she won't have to work- and I can go over to her house during the day and spend time watching movies and hanging out with her. You have to look for the silver lining, you know?

I'm glad that I have friends and caring people who read this blog and are willing to pray for me and my family. I'm thankful for all of you, and I pray that you will be richly blessed.

Google images reveals some amazing things from time to time. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sweet Greetings from Tanzania and India

It's Mail Call Monday once again- and we've had a pretty great week!

This week we got three letters! The first one was from little Elisha in Tanzania! We started writing to Elisha in November, so it was exciting to finally get a letter from him- especially since I will be meeting him in a few weeks!

17 December 2013
Festivals and Holidays
Dear Jessi, 
Our national festivals/holidays are: union and farmer's day
My favorite national festival/holiday is: farmer's day
My family celebrates my favorite national festival/holiday by: union day
My favorite foods to eat during celebrations are: rice and meat
My family celebrates Christmas by: visiting friends
At my project we celebrate Christmas by: thanking God
My family celebrates the new year by: visiting friends
At my project we celebrate the new year by: eating together

Praise God. I am very well and healthy. Are you well and healthy? I am doing well on my studies. I also attend well at the center. God bless you. Thank you for the letter I received. 

I'll have to see what I can learn about the holidays Elisha mentioned! It was nice to read that Elisha's family visits their friends on Christmas- that's what my family does, too! And I wonder what kind of New Year's celebration the project has? I'm sure it's fun!

The next letter was from Jayid in India!

2 January 2014

My Friends
My closest friends at the project are: Aman Khan, Sourabh, Manish
Games I like to play with my friends: Cricket, Handball, Football
Activities I enjoy doing with my friends are: playing cricket, story telling
My best friend is: Sourabh
My best friend studies in class/grade: III
Things my best friend and I have in common: complete home work with together, and storytelling
Message for my sponsor: 
Dear Jessi, 
I am CDW writing a letter on behalf Jayid. He says he is fine here but some fever is to him. Here is very cold and he says that he learn Jesus prayer and action songs and Bible words Philippians 4 4-8 learnt by heart and Isaiah 60 also. Jayid say love and thanks.

Jayid wrote about making friends with Sourabh pretty recently, so it's neat to hear that they're already best friends! I was bummed to read that Jayid has had a fever, but I'm sure he's doing better by now! It's funny to read that Jayid's town has been very cold recenty- I bet it hasn't been as cold as my town! : ) In fact, last week I wrote a letter to all the kids telling them about the snow, the ice storm, and the consequences of the weather- like huge cracks in the concrete, or fallen trees! I'll be interested to see what everyone has to say about the icy pictures!

The last letter we received was from Bonifas! It's great to hear from him again- the more letters I receive from him and Elisha, the more at ease I feel about meeting them next month! 

23 December 2013

Our national festivals/holidays are: The 8th day of August, the Independent Torch
My favorite national festival/holiday is: 7th day of July
My family celebrates my favorite national festival/holiday by: visiting animal game parks
My favorite foods to eat during celebrations are: spiced rice and chapati
My family celebrates Christmas by: going to the church
At my project we celebrate Christmas by: being given clothes
My family celebrates the new year by: walking around 
At my project we celebrate the new year by: glory and cheer

Bonifas says thanks so much for the letters you sent to him. He says thanks so much and God bless you richly. He says that he prays for you including your family very much. 

It was neat to see that both little guys from Tanzania wrote form letters about the holidays- though the letters were on different stationery! I wonder if this means that the form letters are on a schedule for kids in TZ- like, each month they have a different one to send. Anyway, Bonifas' letter made me laugh! I'm sure he probably means they walk around visiting friends or something like that, but I just had a funny picture in my head of his family walking around aimlessly.  : ) I also smiled when I read that they visit the animal parks- Bonifas lives about an hour away from Arusha, which is where we will be spending part of the trip. It's a popular area to visit for safaris and stuff. And you can see the Indian influence on Tanzania's cuisine- chapatis are Indian flatbread! Many Indian foods are popular in Tanzania, because they were brought over from traders, via the Indian Ocean. 

I also had some correspondence with Compassion this week, and I have some updates to share!

A few weeks ago, I got in touch with the sponsor donor department to ask if they could email the India offices, to see if our kids had received the packages my mother in law mailed for us while she was there on business. Two packages went to the India office, and one went to the East India office. There was some concern about whether the packages arrived safely, because of the way the tracking appeared on the website for one of them. The lady I have been talking to, Colleen, was so helpful! She called to tell me that unfortunately, the packages did not arrive to the India office. Those were for my mom's girl Amisha and my friend's girl. It was very sad news. My mom has the opportunity to send another gift to Amisha through a very kind sponsor, but the bag will be smaller and she doesn't have the space or funds to pack quite as much as the other package. That is disappointing, and I know my mom is sad about it. We are just praying that whoever took the packages needed what was in them. 

But I do have good news, too! The East India office wrote to say that Jayid's package arrived in November- it was delivered by a group of people, rather than FedEx, so I think maybe it came back to wherever they sent it from, and someone was kind enough to hand deliver it! The field office also said that Jayid has written a thank you letter, and they are also sending a picture of him with his gifts!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited about that part!! The letter and picture were still in India, so it will be about another month before they arrive in my mailbox. I'm really looking forward to it! Colleen also sent a memo to the Mexico field office to ask about the gifts my friend Mrs. K received and then mailed for me in Mexico. That field office said Brenda's dolly and Bible arrived two weeks ago, and one of the child development workers had picked it up! They said that Brenda has a letter writing day this week, and she would be writing a thank you letter then! Maybe I'll get a picture from her, too!  : )

Monday, February 3, 2014

Memory Verse: February

As I mentioned last month, I am doing a series of posts with memory verses this year! Since I am reading through the Bible with my Bible study group, I am encouraging my kids to memorize Bible verses with me. I plan on presenting the verses to them creatively each month, to encourage them to memorize!

I just finished writing letters to my kids, and I mentioned Valentines Day. I said that we have a holiday here on February 14 that celebrates love. I tell them that school children often give each other small cards, and sometimes share candy with each other, and that married people sometimes give each other flowers! I also told them that my parents were married on Valentines Day!

Going on with the theme of love, I chose a verse from the Bible about love! This month's verse is Matthew 22:37.

"Jesus said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and 
all your soul and all your mind.'" 

This month, I decided to make bookmarks for the kids! I started with plain, colored printer paper. I would have preferred to use red, but the closest I had was fluorescent pink! I opened up Microsoft Publisher and made heart shapes with the shape tool- three per page. I then put text boxes inside each heart, with the verse. I printed them out, cut out the hearts, and laminated them! If you don't have access to a laminating machine, you can use clear packing tape instead. There are also self-stick laminating pages available at office supply stores, and most stores that have a decent office supply aisle (like Target or Walmart.) The hearts were cut out again, and I punched small holes in the top of each one. I found some ribbon and looped two pieces through the top of each one. If I had wider ribbon, I would have just used one piece. I know that small pieces of ribbon are acceptable to Compassion, but I always include a note saying it can be removed if necessary. Tasya made me some bookmarks last year (that's where I got the idea!) and put a little bit of ribbon through those, so it should be ok! Just as long as you keep it short and unobtrusive, it should be fine. 

Here's the result: 

I hope everyone likes them! Even the boys.   : ) Because I am including stickers with the bookmarks, I put each one in an envelope and then wrote our names and numbers on there. I had originally planned to send the bookmarks by themselves, and if I had, I would have put that information on a blank label, to make sure they got to the kids! 

Sweet Greetings from Tanzania

It's Mail Call Monday!!

This week we got two letters from Said in Tanzania!!

When I got the first letter on Thursday, I posted on facebook that I got my last letter from Said (probably) before I get to see him in March. But then I got another one on Saturday!

8 December 2013

Dear Jessi, 
I greet you in the name of Jesus, praise the Lord Jesus so much. 
Dear friend, I am so happy to write you. I am fine doing well together with my family in daily activities. Are you fine? How are you doing in your daily activities? Dear friend, the aim of this letter is to thank your beautiful gift which I enjoyed so much and I was able to buy shoes for my young sister, sugar, bedsheets, and school uniforms. Dear friend, God bless you so much. 
Also, every Saturday we attend the project and learn word of God and hygiene. 
Today I end my letter here. 

Dear Jessi, 
Praise the Lord Jesus, I hope you are doing well together with all of your siblings. Also we are fine and we thank God. 
Thank you so much for your post card, letter, and beautiful pictures, God bless you so much for your lovely heart for me, I am so happy. Also my mother thanks you so much for your lovely heart. God bless you and increase you where took for me. 
Dear friend, pray for me in my subjects at school so that I perform well. Also pray for me for my broken leg when I was returning back from school and also I ask your prayers for my family in general. Also I pray for you. God increase you more blessings and better health forever. 
God bless you. 


I was so glad to read about what Said got with his family gift! My mom actually gave me a little bit of money to send to Said's family after he wrote that his sister had died. Even though the amount wasn't much, he still got so much with it! He may also be including his birthday gift in there, since his birthday was in November. I was very shocked when I read the second letter, though! I wonder how on earth he broke his leg coming home from school?? I feel that his leg will be healed by the time I travel to Tanzania next month, but just in case, I emailed my trip coordinator and asked her if she thought we could check on him, and maybe find out a little earlier than expected if he would indeed be able to come see me on our visit day. If the second letter was sent at the same time as the first (it was not dated), then it has been almost 2 months since the letter was written, and it could have been a little while since his accident. Then there's another month before I travel, so he should be good by then, right? I hope so! Said is also the man of the house- his dad is not in the picture and his mom works so hard to take care of him and his sister. They also help his grandmother twice a year, with the planting and harvesting. They have to travel to do this. I hope that their lives weren't interrupted too much by this injury!

It's so exciting to think that I will actually be seeing Said before my response letter gets to him! Haha!