Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Compassion Joys: March

Can you believe that 2015 is now one-fourth over? We only have 75% of the year to go! Good grief! Here are our Compassion Joys for the month of March!

 Compassion Family


This month we received one letter each from Marc in Haiti, Tasya in Indonesia, Barry in Burkina Faso, Eduardo in Honduras, Merlyn in the Philippines, Brenda in Mexico, and Kevenel in Haiti. And we got two letters from Kajal in India, which was pretty neat! I am keeping my fingers crossed that more letters come in April, since there are several kids we haven't heard from in 4-5 months, which is a little unusual (the holidays might have skewed things a bit.) We also have many first letters that should be arriving over the next few months! 


Weirdly enough, we just have one kiddo with a birthday in March! Victor in Kenya turned 18 this month! 


One year ago, the day that I returned from Tanzania, I emailed Compassion asking for another correspondence child. After meeting the kids there and getting to know them, I knew that my mission would be to do all that I could to see that no child goes without letters. Just a few days later, little Sandier turned up on our Compassion account. And then more and more and more kids showed up, too! :) 

New Kids!

A few more correspondence children joined our family in March. 

Austin in Kenya

Mjay in the Philippines

Sithum in Sri Lanka

Tinnakorn in Thailand

Samoresh in Bangladesh

Mary in Ecuador

Rayza in Bolivia

The addition of Rayza to our family is very special to me. Sometimes I struggle with the fact that we are not able to financially sponsor more children, and I have wanted to sponsor a child in BO571 for a long time. I've heard so many stories about how great the correspondence is, but I also like how especially engaged the staff are, too. And the kids' families! It's just a little exciting knowing more about a particular center. Anyway, I was SO excited when I saw that Rayza is at this center. Just blown away. I was actually at work when I accessed my Compassion account, and it took a lot of willpower to not just shriek with excitement. What a wonderful gift from God! 

Guest Post! 

This month, I did a guest post on Laura's blog, Mommy Maleta. You can read it here. 

Photo Updates! 

In March, we received photo updates for three of our kiddos! 

Caleb in Uganda

Fatuma in Kenya

Prayer in Indonesia


While I don't have any gifts going in the mail this week, I am finishing up a small gift for Anahi in Honduras, and am packing up mini backpacks for Carlos and Mishel in Peru! I am super excited about them, and am looking forward to sharing photos when I get them all together! 


This month marked the one-year anniversary of my trip to Tanzania. I shared several photos and memories from my trip on Instagram. If you'd like to check them out, my username is hellojessi01, or you can view them here

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Mexico and Haiti

Happy Mail Call Monday- the last one for March!!

We received two letters this week! The first was from Brenda in Mexico! 

Brenda wrote about her school holidays. Her Christmas break is 15 days, and her favorite things to do are play and celebrate Christmas. She usually goes to see her grandparents, but she would also like to see her cousins. Her favorite thing to eat during the holidays is "de todo un poco"- a little bit of everything! For her Christmas gift from the project, she got a pink jacket and candy (Brenda LOVES candy, so I bet she was happy!) She also said that she is having trouble learning to read (but her mom is helping her and she will move on to the next grade.) I am sending her a paperback easy reader in Spanish to help her out! I don't know what it's about, but it's the easiest reading level, and I think the story is about a boy going on a scavenger hunt with his dog. :) 

We also got a letter from Kevenel in Haiti! 

Kevenel's letter was about hobbies and pets. He likes to play soccer, and while he doesn't have a pet, he would like to have a cat. He said he would take it for a walk! Kevenel's helper at the project wrote quite a bit, and filled up half of an extra sheet of paper with his responses to my letters! He said thank you for the Christmas gifts, and he does know what a pumpkin looks like (this was in response to my letter about my cities Jack o' lantern art display.) Kevenel also insisted that it is cold where he lives, and is not warm this year. I had written to him explaining that even though he thought it was cold, in Haiti it is pretty warm compared to where I live- and at its coldest, it really only gets as chilly as a warm spring day! Apparently he doesn't take much stock in that comparison. :) Kevenel says he's doing well in school, and that his Christmas tradition is to get together with family and friends, have a meal and talk about the good and bad things that happened to them throughout the year. He also asked what my cat's name is, but I don't have one, so I'll tell him about Gimli instead! Kevenel asked that we pray for his schooling, and for his family to stay "healthy and cooperative." He finished his letter with this: "He tells you that he loves you so much and he asks God to always protect you and your family. He leaves you with this Bible verse: Romans 3:23. He hopes that God bless you!"

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Getting to Know You: Caleb

Here's the next installment in my series introducing my kiddos! :)

Name: Caleb
Age: 13
Birthday: August 21
Country: Uganda
Sponsored since: January 2014

How we got him: I like to think of Caleb as my anniversary gift. :) Brandon and I generally don't do anything for our anniversary, and sometimes that can leave me feeling a little down. But Caleb showed up on our account on our anniversary, and that was a pretty neat surprise gift!!

About his family: Caleb  lives with his parents, who are farmers. I think he has talked about whatever they are planting in just about every letter he has sent to me! He has an older sister and a little brother- his sister is 18 and his brother should be about five!

Hobbies and interests: I am pretty confident that Caleb's family life revolves around farming, and he is proud of that and interested in sharing about it with me. He is a really sweet guy- his first letter was so warm! I am always pleasantly surprised when my teen boys send such sweet letters. I guess I'm expecting to have a hard time connecting with him! Caleb wants to work at an airport when he grows up.

Here are some excerpts from Caleb's letters!

"I greet you in the  mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

Caleb's previous photo, from before we got him

"In Uganda I am very fine, and all my family members, too."

"It is rainy season and people are busy planting crops like beans, maize, and cassava. My mother plants them, too." 

Our first photo of Caleb!

"I love you so much and will continue praying for you and your family." 

"May the Lord bless you in whatever you do. Thank you so much for the letter you sent. I enjoy reading it daily."

"I am so happy that you chose me to be a part of your family." 

"I enjoy Sunday school services so much." 

"Praise the Lord! How are you my friend?"

"How I wish God gives me wisdom."

"I am praying for you and your family to have a long life and bless time. In the project we are enjoying life."

"It is so nice to see how God has cared for us. How nice it is to read Genesis 12: 3. It says, I will bless those who bless you. But I will curse those who curse you. And through you I will bless your nation. 
May God bless you and your family and wish you a happy Christmas."

Caleb's photo just got updated this week, as I was writing this post! :) He's so handsome!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On being intentional, and various other buzzwords

I haven't been particularly chatty lately. I don't know if you have noticed- if you haven't, that's ok! I'm keeping up with my regular posts on my blog, but I haven't been posting much extra. I'm slow to respond to emails and messages, and I've realized I'm not reaching out quite as much as I normally would. I think that there are a lot of reasons for the way I've turned a bit inward these past few weeks. Changing jobs has been exciting and a relief, but at the same time the change has weighed heavily on me. Any time there's a big change in my life, it affects me physically and emotionally. Even rearranging furniture can be unsettling for me. And I would say that there are some things in my life right now- feelings I'm dealing with, stuff that's coming up in counseling, and even a few issues with my physical health- that are causing me to move a little slower, think a little harder, be a little quieter.

There has been a lot of introspection going on lately.

During this inward turn, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude, and doing more journaling, too. When looking into some journaling prompts, I found a really neat blog series about a gratitude challenge. Well, I don't know how neat the series is, because I haven't read it yet. But I did find a graphic in which the author lists a particular theme for weekly posts about gratitude. She challenged herself to be more grateful (and be more mindful of the things for which she can be grateful) throughout the year, and her posts shine a light on particular areas of her life, and how thankful she is for those things. I am going to work on tweaking her list a bit to better suit my needs, and maybe come up with my own graphic to share on here! But in the meantime, I wanted to share an introductory post today, explaining what I'm hoping to do. And I think that a good place to start is to share something I'm grateful for today.

Today, I'm grateful for rest. I'm having my own little sabbath today. It's been a bit of a challenge to adjust to having Wednesdays off (again, changes in routine are hard for me.) Monday and Tuesday were a struggle. Time crawled very slowly. Work sort of dragged on (I am so happy to be there, but things seem to move a little slower at this branch- maybe it's because everyone pitches in to help out, so there doesn't seem to be as much to do!) My issues with my feelings haven't been dragging me down, but they definitely have made me a little off kilter. And to top that off, I'm having problems with both my stomach and my back. For days, I have just been craving rest. Do you ever feel that way? It's not the same as wanting a lazy day. It's not that I don't feel like doing anything. The issue is that I need to not do anything. I need to give myself a break- I have been pushing myself really hard lately, trying to be a better home-keeper, a better spouse, and even a better employee (I still feel like I'm trying to make a good impression, one month in!) Something I'm really working on is convincing myself that missing out on something, or not getting everything done that I write on my to-do list (which is very ambitious, most days) does not make me a failure. I am extraordinarily hard on myself when it comes to, well, just about everything. Giving myself a break helps me work on breaking that negative thought habit.

I'm grateful that I have a built in day of rest this week. I'm grateful that my responsibilities for the day are at a minimum. I'm grateful that I get to spend some time with my husband this afternoon and evening- we don't get to spend a lot of time together during the NCAA tournament (he camps out with all our available screens to watch the games and keep score for our entire family.) And I am especially grateful that I get to go to my magical new hair place today, which is really more of a very affordable and friendly spa than anything else. I'm so looking forward to it!

Seeking the good things and being intentionally grateful has been really great for my headspace, and I think that if you give it a try, you'll find it's pretty great for you, too! And you're welcome to join me in this blogging challenge- whether you want to post publicly or want to use the topics as journaling prompts, I think that it will be a lot of fun!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sweet Greetings from India, Honduras, and the Philippines

It's Mail Call Monday once again!

This week we just received three letters, and I think they all came on the same day! I hope that more are on the way this week- it feels like a long time since any have arrived! :) 

First, we got a letter from Kajal in India!

We actually just heard from Kajal two weeks before this letter arrived! And the letter was written about six weeks ago! It's neat to receive a letter so soon after the last one! Kajal said she likes reading, listening to music, drawing, and coloring as hobbies, and she does her hobbies with her brother! She also shared that she has a pet dog named Somea, and she would like to have a cat. She would name it Melni. Kajal's helper at the project said that she is learning lots of things there, including actions songs! She also shared that Kajal is praying for us! How sweet!

Next, we got an unusual letter from Eduardo in Honduras! 

I say Eduardo's letter was unusual because it was a quick form letter, meant for small children, and it looked like one that sponsors usually receive right after they sponsor a child! Eduardo usually writes pretty lengthy personal letters, but this one was just some questions about his height, weight, and the color of his eyes. I did like the fact that he said what he likes most about himself is "everything!" He wrote out some questions, such as if we have children, but he already knows the answers to them! He might have been busy with school or something like that, and didn't have time for a "real" letter. That's ok! 

Lastly, we heard from Merlyn in the Philippines!

We got Merlyn as a correspondent last fall, and this was our first letter from her! I was not surprised that it took a while, since Typhoon Ruby came to the Philippines right after we got Merlyn. The letter was written by her mom, Elena. Merlyn said Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and that she likes getting my letters and hearing my stories! She said that for Christmas at the project she got sandals, a blouse, an umbrella, and some groceries! She also asked if it was ok if she calls me "ate", which means "older sister!" I love it!! Merlyn shared that her favorite pet is a cat, and she asked what a walrus is, because she doesn't know about it (and then she drew a little happy face!) I have mentioned to my kids before that walruses are my favorite animals, and provided just a very short description of them. So last week, because of Merlyn's question, I sent a letter all about walruses! We should be hearing from Merlyn in the next few months about a few other exciting things- my friend Katie C. took a gift to the Philippines for me, as we got Merlyn right before she was travelling to visit her sponsor kids. That was back in November, I think. Plus, we were able to crowdfund a financial gift for Merlyn's family so they could repair their home after the storm damaged it! It will be really fun to see at least one picture of her (and maybe her mom, too!) 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Golden Child

We recently hit a sort of milestone in our sponsorship with Compassion. I say "golden" in the title, because your 50th anniversary is supposed to be the golden one, right? Well, this week, we received our 50th Compassion kiddo. Meet Samoresh, from Bangladesh!

In the past year, our Compassion family has grown by leaps and bounds. Exponentially. It's basically exploded. I am beyond blessed with the opportunity to write to so many kids, and I thank God for Compassion and the fact that they allow me to do this. Encouraging others through writing letters and cards has been my  ministry for longer than I have been a sponsor, and the fact that I am able to use that gift to connect with kids around the world just leaves me feeling overwhelmed sometimes. I used to say that I wanted to adopt a child from every continent- not for some weirdo purpose of having a collection, but because there are so many kids everywhere who could use some love, and I really do have an interest in just about every country! I love learning about other cultures and customs, and while I may not be the best at the memorization aspect of geography lessons, I genuinely do love the whole planet. I cannot say enough how thankful I am that I am able to write to so many kids- not just that Compassion allows me to do so, but also that I can keep up with them all. I'm fairly disorganized in other areas of my life, but Compassion sponsorship and letter writing is just something I have down. And for that, I'm grateful!

I decided a while back to follow God's leading when it came to the size of my far-away family, instead of leaving that decision up to the influence of other people, or my own self-doubts (it takes a lot out of me to admit that I might be good at something, because I have never really felt that I'm good at much of anything!) And by that, I mean that I'm not going to ask for more correspondence kids because I'm jealous that other people are getting new kiddos, and I'm not going to *not* ask for more correspondence kids because some of my friends may think I'm a weirdo for having so many kids. I want to encourage and uplift and love as many people as possible- and these people happen to be kids of various ages, living in 26 countries around the world. What's the big deal with that? 

Since so many new kids have joined our far-away family over the past year (when I left for Tanzania, I just had 15!) I have thought, more than once, that our family was complete. "OK, well, I guess that's it for a while, unless Compassion shares an immediate, big need for correspondents" I'd think to myself. And then I'd go to bed that night, after writing a prayer of thanks for our new correspondent in my prayer journal....and wake up the next morning with the distinct feeling that God had told me "nope! Not done yet!" This feeling was as clear as if I had heard an audible command. Sometimes there has been a little gap in between emails to Compassion, telling them I'd be willing to take on more correspondents. Sometimes I feel my heart tugged in a particular direction, like when I asked for some teenagers, 18 and up, so I could (hopefully) bless their remaining time in Compassion's program with a flood of letters, after they had gone years without receiving any. Or sometimes I'm pulled in another direction, perhaps because of hearing a missionary's podcast or reading a book about a specific country. Those times I usually end up moved to tears for one reason or another, and take some time to think of how I can help before asking to write to a child in a specific country. 

I know I have a lot of kids. I don't have the most, for sure- I know a couple of people who have about twice as many sponsor kids as I do! But as long as I am able to write, and remember everyone's name, and have love in my heart to share, I will keep corresponding with my kiddos, and will probably offer myself as a correspondent for a few more here and there. Right now, the need to reach out and send letters to as many kids as possible doesn't seem quite as urgent as it has in recent months....it's a weird feeling to explain. But I have a feeling that by the end of this year, the extended Jones clan will have a different number of kids in it than it does right at this moment. We have six or seven kids graduating next year, and I hope they all make it through the program to completion, but you never know who might leave, or for what reason (I don't think we lost any kids last year- Praise the Lord!) And you never know when some awesome company will announce that they want to sponsor a huge group of kids, and Compassion will find themselves in need of any correspondent who's willing to write ("All hands on deck!!") I'm excited to see where God leads us, and I'm thankful for the blessing of Samoresh, whose name rhymes with Bangladesh. : ) 

Getting to Know You: Patricia

Here's another installment of my series sharing about my kids!

Name: Patricia
Age: 13
Birthday: February 7
Country: Brazil
Sponsored since: December 2013

How We Got Her: This was another one of those times that I was just kind of hanging out on the list of waiting correspondents! I remember being really happy when we got matched with Patricia, though, because I have a friend named Pat who likes to sing, and Patricia's information says she likes to sing, too!

About Her Family: I honestly don't know much about Patricia's family, other than she lives with her parents. I will tell you, though, that I am a little dumb- I save all of my kids' info packets, but I hadn't been reading them. When you become a sponsor or correspondent, you get a printed booklet that has info about your child, including photos, and tips on letter writing. Stuff like that. I hadn't really been reading them because I assumed that it was the same information I have online, describing their neighborhood and stuff. And while that info is in there, the booklets also have the same profile information that you would see before a child is sponsored- including who the child lives with and how many siblings they have. All of my booklets (save the last dozen or so) are in a storage box in a very messy spare bedroom. I am working on going through them, though, and making a spreadsheet with *all* the info for easier access! : )

Hobbies and Interests: Patricia's letters are very short. She writes pretty regularly, but she doesn't say much. Her letters are always very affectionate, though. They're not cold- I just think she is very busy hanging out with her friends, being a little social butterfly! Patricia usually signs her letters with kisses and little hearts or drawings of lips. She does like singing, and loves being with friends at school and the project. She also has access to computers and is taking some courses in foreign languages- including Russian! Her favorite subjects are art, math, and Portuguese.

Here are a few excerpts from Patricia's letters!

"I expect to get a letter from you. Kisses!"

Patricia's previous photo, which I requested when we received her as a correspondent

"I'm very well in school. I love going to school to study and meet with my friends. I also love being in the project. I have lots of cool things here."

"I am thankful for your letters, magazines, and stickers, and picture of you and your husband. I'm very happy because your family adopted a dog."

Our first picture of Patricia

"I do many things here, such as computer and other things."

"In Brazil on Christmas people like to do fireworks and the sky gets very beautiful and we stay with family and go to church."

"Hello! How are you? I'm so glad to write to you."

"We have classes of English, Spanish, French, and Russian at the project."

"May God keep you and make you very happy."

Patricia's updated photo!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Indonesia and Burkina Faso

Happy Mail Call Monday!

Mail has been pretty slow lately, which is kind of a bummer! At the library, when we have a lot of books going out to fill reserves, sometimes the sorters at the Main branch can get a little backed up, and we have a small delivery for a few days before a great big one. I am hoping that maybe that's what's going on here! :)

The first letter we received was from Tasya in Indonesia.

I'm glad that Tasya's last two letters haven't been too far apart. I used to get sooo many letters from her! Now they're more sporadic. Tasya's letter said that she had been sick for three days. I am praying that she is all better now. She said that my letters had helped her feel better, and that made me glad! She shared that her church does not have any musical instruments they use in praise and worship (a response to a letter I had written about music at my church) and she said thank you for the kitten calendar I sent her for Christmas! I sent out a lot of calendars- I think that the ones I sent Tasya were actually a little bookmark calendar. Michael's had these booklets of twelve bookmarks, and each one had a one month calendar on it. I'm glad she liked them, and it was great to know that they made it to her safely!

At the end of the week, we got a letter from Barry in Burkina Faso!

When Barry's letters are written by a helper, they call him "Omar" (his name is listed as Omar Cheick Barry.) When he writes them himself, he says his name is "Barri." Just to be certain, I asked him in my response which name he prefers! Barry's letter was about the weather. He said that when it rains, he likes to play in the puddles, and right now it's cold where he lives! In the main part of his letter, he shared that on Christmas, he went to church. After the service, the kids did ballets, and then the workers at the project handed out gifts. Barry got a new outfit! He asked if American kids also receive Christmas gifts at their projects. : )

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting to Know You: Prayer

Name: Prayer
Age: 12
Birthday: October 22
Country: Indonesia
Sponsored since: July 2013

How We Got Him: I was on the waiting list for a correspondent, and was really surprised when we got Prayer! He lives in Indonesia, like Tasya, which is made up of many islands. Since they're all spread out, Compassion's Indonesia offices are divided into two groups (like their India offices.) Indonesia, and East Indonesia. I thought it was neat that not only is Prayer an East Indonesia kid like Tasya, he actually lives in the same area that she does! Prayer lives on the main island of Sulawesi, and Tasya lives on a little island bit just to the north of the mainland. What are the odds that out of all the kids, I'd get another one from the same area? :)

About His Family: Prayer lives with his mom (Neni Yunita) and dad and two brothers. They are younger than he is, and their names are Famoel and Anugerah.  His family sounds like they get along well and they all like to spend time together on the holidays! They also all go to church together, which is great! Apparently their church is called Indonesia Bethel Church.

Hobbies and Interests: Prayer has mentioned soccer as being his favorite sport, but I get the feeling from his letters that he is pretty much an all-around happy guy. He does well in school but doesn't stress about it. He likes playing with his little brothers and spending his time off from school with them, which is nice because he's a middle schooler and they're younger than him. He likes hanging out with friends and getting together with family and other people from his village. I imagine him being very laid back and just a chill little guy- the kind that everyone in school likes, but they're not intimidated by him because he's kind in addition to being really cool.

Here are some excerpts from Prayer's letters!

"I hope you and your family are fine and get blessed by the Lord Jesus." 

"It's only by God's favor I'm in the sixth grade. I got good scores as the result of the final test. I was second best in class. I thank God because he loves me." 

Prayer's previous photo, which I requested when we got him as a correspondent.
 Look at that little face! 

"We hope you and your family are just fine and get the blessings from the Lord." 

"Through this letter Prayer wants to say thank you to Jessi who have chosen and become the sponsor of Prayer."

"I'm so happy to go to the project because I can learn how to love God in there, also with my friends." 

"I hope dear Jessi is all fine and blessed in Lord Jesus." 

Prayer's current photo, which is the first one we received of his. We should get an update really soon, since we got him in 2013 and Indonesian kids get new photos every two years. 

"Here in my country, there will be a general election of president and vice president of our country. I hope it can go well and the elected president and vice president are good people and fear God." 

"I thank the Lord for his blessings for us, for the farmers that they have good harvest. We have many guests, families from other villages. We had dinner together, and talked and everybody was satisfied and happy." (about Indonesian Thanksgiving festivities)

"I'm happy to get many letters from mother Jessi, including the picture of the jellyfish and your beautiful picture." 

"My family likes planting vegetables." 

"I love praying for mother and the family there because every Tuesday our church has prayer time together."

"The Christmas is near. How do you celebrate it? I and my family are gathering at the Christmas, we might have fun together."

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sweet Greetings from India and Haiti

Happy Mail Call Monday!!

This week felt super slow, letter-wise, because the only letters we received came last Monday! They arrived after I did my Mail Call post. I so hope that more letters come in this week! : )

Our first letter of the week came from Kajal in India. 

Kajal's letter was a form letter about her community. It was funny to read, because the first page was multiple choice questions. On most of them, she checked *every* box, and on some of them, she didn't check any! So we didn't learn the primary religious group for her region, or a few other random things, but we did learn that her community does have a police station, a school, and a health center; people use all modes of transportation to get around town; and the apparently have some decent access to electricity, because email and telephones are available, in addition to postal mail! These were great things to learn because we now understand a little more about Kajal's every day life. Her helper at the center also wrote that her dad does "permit work" and her mom is a home-maker, and she has one brother and one sister. Kajal said she was sad about my mom in her letter, but I'm not sure why- maybe my mom had a cold or something when I wrote to her a few months ago! I was sure to tell her that my mom is doing well in my reply letter. And her center uses stationery that has an area to color and an area to draw. Kajal drew a flower, and did a great job coloring the government building! 

Next up we heard from Marc in Haiti. 

As a sponsor, the first letter in which I feel really connected to my child is incredibly special. I always worry a little about the teen boys I've received as correspondence, because I second guess my ability to connect with them (or if they'd be interested in what I had to say.) On top of that, it took a very long time to receive a first letter from Marc- over six months. And then, the first letter we received wasn't even addressed to us- it was to his financial sponsor, so there wasn't much detail there (because they didn't have much of a relationship!) Well, Marc must have finally gotten all the letters I've been writing to him, because his letter was warm, loving and sweet! Teens are such great letter writers. :) 

Marc said that his family is doing well and healthy, but his grandmother is "handicapped." I told him I am praying for her and asked about her health in my response letter. He also shared that cholera continues to ravage Haiti (his words, not mine) which has been a prayer request of mine for what seems like forever now. He said it feels cold to him in Haiti, and it doesn't rain often. His family is getting ready for Easter, and he was thankful for all the letters I've sent- that he really appreciated them! He responded to my letter about mine and Brandon's wedding anniversary in January, and said "I wish you a lot of joy and success in your marriage. I think you enjoyed your wedding birthday." He also said that he has seen pumpkins before, and something about losing goats that didn't make a lot of sense. But then he closed with this: "Thanks for your prayers. May God protect you every day. I love you because I have you in my life. I'm so proud of you!" I thought that was sooooo sweet! I read a letter like that and wonder "who WOULDN'T want to write to this kind young man?" Oh well. Their loss is my gain. I am happy to write to as many kids that God will put in my path. :) 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Getting to Know You: Bonifas

This week I'm profiling Bonifas!

Name: Bonifas
Age: 9
Country: Tanzania
Sponsored since: 2013

How we got him: When I registered for the Tanzania trip, I started advocating for kids who needed sponsors there. I posted tons of them on my facebook page. Bonifas had already been waiting almost a year for a sponsor when I shared him- and then over a month went by, and he was still waiting. He had the cutest little smile in his picture, and I just couldn't understand why no one was sponsoring him. I wound up feeling really sad about it, and one night I texted my mom about my frustrations. She asked more about him, and ended up offering to help me out with his sponsorship!! And I was really happy to share this story with Bonifas when I met him in Tanzania. With the help of the translator, I explained how I was drawn to his sweet smile, and how I prayed for him to find a sponsor before becoming his sponsor myself. He smiled when we told him this story! And the translator laughed and said "we should tell all the children to smile BIG!" We actually got Bonifas before Elisha, but it took a little time to get everything set up with Bonifas' account and mine, so that's why this post comes after his. : )

About his family: Bonifas lives with his mom and dad and four sisters!!! One of them is named Karen- which was exciting since my mom's name is Karen. He loved that! His family raises cattle and donkeys, which is pretty cool. They live not too far from Arusha. Out of my three boys, his journey was the shortest to the hotel for our child visit day- it only took him about an hour to get there!

Hobbies and interests: Bonifas is just such a cool little guy. He has a very quiet voice. He smiles a lot and is up for whatever- he didn't hesitate when I asked if we could sit inside and play for a while, but he also was down for whatever Elisha suggested. His gift to me was to pray for me- and when we prayed, he put his little hands on my arm and prayed in a sweet, soft voice. He is also a bit of a klutz. I lost track of the number of times he fell down while playing! He fell down doing cartwheels, fell down while playing soccer, even came down the slide on the playground pretty crazily....and fell onto the ground. He seems pretty used to it, though. With the translator's help, I asked him if he was wearing slippery shoes. He thought that was pretty funny. He's also pretty funny. When we ate lunch together, he kept trying to use his utensils in different ways than they were intended. Like loading food onto the flat side of a knife and eating off of it like it was a spoon. And then laughing when we noticed. He packed away quite a bit and then sat back in his chair with his hand on his belly, like someone's grandpa after a big Thanksgiving meal.

Here's what Bonifas has had to say in his letters!

Bonifas' previous picture, which I asked for by email

The first picture we received of Bonifas, with is famous little smile! 

"My family celebrates national holidays by visiting animal game parks."

"At my project we celebrate Christmas by being given clothes. My family celebrates new year by walking around. At my project we celebrate the New Year by glory and cheer."

"Bonifas says thanks so much for the letter you sent to him. He says thanks so much and God bless you richly."

Falling down the slide

Playing some soccer

"After school I like to graze our cattles."

"Bonifas says thanks so much for letter including stickers you sent to him. He is so happy. He says that he was so happy when (at the time) you came to visit him. ou are most welcome to Tanzania once again."

What a privilege to see my sponsor kids drawing and coloring right in front of me!

Scooping his food up with a knife. :) 

"Bonifas says he loves you very much. He says he welcomes you so much to Tanzania."

"He has a Bible passage from the book of Psalm 23:1.'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.' He asks what do you want him to pray for you?"

Shaking hands the Tanzanian way before we get into this little guy's presents. 

He was so full! This is one of my favorite pictures ever. 

"Bonifas is greeting you in the name of Jesus. He says that he loves you so much. He asks on how you are doing....he says he has seen your questions which you asked. He says that he has his sister called Prisca and they go to school together."

"He says he was happy to see you in Tanzania an he welcomes you again."

"He says that a crocodile is an animal living in water."
"He asks you to pray that he can build the house and pass his exams."

Bonifas had his picture updated at the end of 2014. I was excited to see it, and then freaked out a little when I recognized his stripey shirt as one I had brought him in Tanzania!!! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Tanzania, Mexico, and Kenya

Happy Mail Call Monday- the first of March! The year is flying by!

Just three letters to report this week! The first was from Elisha in Tanzania!

Elisha's letter was a form letter about going to the dentist. He hasn't gone since 2013. Since the public schools don't stress dental care in quite the same way that American schools do, I am sure that the only time most of the kids see a dentist is when they have a visit because of Compassion! Elisha reported that he went to the hospital to get his teeth checked, and that his mom and a teacher went with him. He also said he is doing fine, and said to have a happy new year!

Next we heard from sweet little Brendita in Mexico!

Brendita wrote a form letter about her future- it was the first of its kind that I've seen! She told us that she wants to be in the dance and tambourine academy, and when she grows up, she wants to go to university and become a doctor. She doesn't want to get married or have kids when she's older, and she wants to visit the USA and meet me! Brendita also says that she is making a good effort at school, which is neat! She said thank you for the gifts we've been sending, and asked that we pray for her family to come to church.

Lastly, we got our first letter from Nkoyio in Kenya!

Nkoyio's letter was written by a project worker, and most of it was not filled out. This is a little unusual since she is 18 years old. It's possible that she was busy with exams, or was unable to be at the project for letter-writing day, and they wanted to get her first letter out soon since she was newly sponsored. I will wait to see what her next letter is like before deciding if I should ask Compassion about it. According to the letter, Nkoyio's favorite color is blue, and her favorite song is "God Created Me." She also like soccer. She said that she's very glad we were matched to be her sponsor (and I am, too!)

I hope this week brings lots of letters! : )

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Getting to Know You: Elisha

This week I'm profiling Elisha!

Name: Elisha
Age: 8
Birthday: September 10
Country: Tanzania
Sponsored since: September 2013

How we got him: I had been on the waiting list for a correspondence child for a few months, and after finding out from several friends that they had been receiving kids after just waiting a few days, I sent an email to ask if maybe my request had been misplaced. I got a reply that day, saying that they weren't sure what had happened, but they had matched me with Elisha! I was really surprised because he was in Tanzania, and of course I was preparing for my trip there. When I signed up, I was just going to be visiting Said. But now I would be seeing three kids! Elisha was meant to be with me. It's hard waiting sometimes, but I believe that God has a sponsor and a correspondent picked out for each child, and in order for me to get Elisha, it meant I had to wait a long time, and for my request to get lost. :)

About his family: Elisha lives with his mom and dad, and he has older siblings. He doesn't talk about his family much in his letters, but after meeting him, I totally understand why he has never offered up tons of information about his life or interests.

Hobbies and interests: Oh, Elisha. This child has so much energy. If you could harness it, you could power a small town. He does not sit still. He is loud. And fun. He makes sweet scribbly drawings and likes to run and play and show off. He likes being the center of attention, and is a bit of a ham. He would best be described as a class clown. He also knows how to display a little bit of attitude. When we exchanged gifts in Tanzania, he immediately put on the sunglasses I brought and totally understood that they looked very cool, and he showed it in his stance and facial expressions. He knows how to say "whaddup" and postures a little when he says it. He is really, really cool, but I don't think I could handle a day with him on his own. I love to play and have fun, but I would have to be on some kind of crazy drug to come close to matching his energy!

Here's some of what Elisha has had to say in his letters.

"Praise God. I am very well and healthy. Are you well and healthy?"

Elisha's first and only official photo we have from Compassion

"My favorite holiday is Farmer's Day."

"When the weather is rainy I like to: cultivation."

"At Christmas, the weather is usually: winter."

"Let us keep praying for each other."

"After school I like to: sweeping."

"During my school break I often go to: the village to my grandmother's."

"My favorite day of the week is Wednesday because I come back home (from school) early."

"In the afternoon, I typically do: eat ugali with fish"

"Shikamoo! This is Swahili greeting from junior to senior. To respond you say Marahaba."

Elisha's letters never say much, but I am really surprised they say as much as they do. I imagine a project worker asking him to answer questions while he runs around the room. :)