In 2014, we received a grand total of 100 letters!!! Wow! I had to buy a new binder in which to keep them all, because I ran out of room! : ) With those letters, we received several extra photos of our kids with gifts, whether they had photos taken with what they bought after receiving a financial gift, or they received a gift from us!
Speaking of gifts, it was a huge blessing to be able to send packages to so many of our children this year. Kim H. took quart sized bags to Honduras for Eduardo and Sandier; Shelley carried bags to Kenya for Victor and Mary; Katie C. took bags to Peru for Mishel and Carlos, and again to the Philippines for Merlyn; I also have an opportunity lined up to send a bag to Erick in Eduardo next year, and I'm hoping to send out some more gifts as well!
One of the neatest gifts to send were the Bibles going to Carlos, Eduardo, Mary, and Victor. Carlos and Eduardo's were in Spanish, and they thought they were "beautiful!" Mary's and Victor's were English, and we had them imprinted with their names. This is Mary's gift- her Bible had flowers on it!
Obviously, the biggest event of this past year was my trip to Tanzania! I never, ever would have imagined that I would actually make it to Africa, though I have dreamed of going since I was a little girl. I signed up for the trip so I could go be with my boy Said, and while fundraising and waiting for the trip to come, we wound up with Bonifas as a sponsor child and Elisha as a correspondent. Spending a day with my boys was a gift that I will treasure forever. And even if I hadn't been able to meet them, the trip still would have been worth it. I love Tanzania and the people there. I would move there if I could. My heart has never felt so at home as it did there.
Our Tanzania tour group!
When the year started, we had 12 sponsor and correspondence kids. I left for Tanzania in mid-March, and by the time the trip arrived, we were up to 15. When I got back, I knew that my mission, for lack of a better term, would be to make sure as many children as possible were receiving letters. As of this writing, our far-away family is now made up of 30 children around the world, aged 5 to 19, and we are on the list for a few more, as a company recently sponsored 1,000 children in Kenya who all need correspondents! I'm so thankful that our family has grown so much this year, and that miraculously, we have not lost a single child. For the record, in 2014 our family was joined by Kajal and Amisha in India; Sandier, Eduardo and Anahi in Honduras; Merlyn in the Philippines; Elifagason in Tanzania; Angelina in Ghana; Reine and Barry in Burkina Faso; Juan in Bolivia; Sharifa in Bangladesh; Caleb in Uganda; Julian and Michel in Colombia; Erick in Ecuador; and Marc and Kevenel in Haiti.
This year I set up my own Compassion table for the first time. It was not successful at all, unfortunately, and I will not be participating in that particular event again. I was so disappointed by the attitudes of the people I encountered. BUT the good thing was that it was my first experience doing my own semi-formal Compassion set-up, and I got some good ideas for the future. And our table looked really cute! I also participated in the nationwide Lifeway partnership, which I was looking forward to for months, as my mom (who works for Lifeway) found out about the partnership ahead of time. After our day at Lifeway, my mom and I went through the resource catalog and picked out some stuff for her store, so there is a separate, permanent area full of Compassion information for the customers to look at!
I brought my letter binder to my Compassion events so potential sponsors could see what letters are like!
I blogged more this year than any other year, as my sponsorship commitments and advocacy have grown! Here are some of my favorite posts!
Compassion at the Library. Here I unveiled a new blog feature- at the top of my blog, there's a page where I keep track of tons and tons of children's books relating to the countries where Compassion works! I read a LOT, particularly children's books, and I know so many teachers or folks with kids of their own, that I thought I'd put together this resource! It's being constantly updated, so check back often!
Hannah Talks About Prayer! I had a few guest posts this year, and this one was from my dear friend Hannah!
High On a Hill, It Calls to Me. In which I write out how desperately I miss Tanzania.
Juggling for Beginners. I offer some tips on how to write to more than one sponsor child.
Tanzania Recap: Day 10. The day I met my precious boys.
31 Other Ways. The problem with junk fundraisers and the value of a financial gift.
I'd also point out that all my Tanzania recap posts, a long with a few posts about specific children or events, can be found at the top of my blog, under "My Mission Trips!"
2014 has been a pretty great year for me as a sponsor. I can't wait to see what's in store for 2015!