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. : )