Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Project Letter: ET-338

Here's another one of the pastor's letters I received last week! This one is from Ethiopia, where our little guy Yekersew is!!

May the grace and peace of our Lord be upon you.

My name is Gizachew Honelegn, the pastor of Bichena Meserte Kirtos local church. We are partners with the child development center attended by Yekersew. We are located in northern part of Ethiopia, in the town of Bichena.

Thank you for your continued support and generosity you have been providing for Yekersew.

In our community, the dominant religion is Islam and there are some Orthodox Christians and few Protestants. Most of our community members are illiterate and living in poverty; these are the main challenges in the community. Many families are unwilling to register their children in the center or will withdraw their children from the center because of negative influence from other religious groups. 

Even so, the center creates positive impacts on the lives of children. They are more hopeful and confident concerning their future when compared with others. They have access to school and attend classes happily. Two children made a confession of faith in Christ last year. 

The church believes in doing everything it can to break down the chain of poverty. Therefore, we give training on entrepreneurship and encourage our church members and others to learn skills and work hard to support their families. At the Christmas and Easter festivals, the church and the center make fellowship with the children and their local families. At least 20 children from the center and 15 of their family members are our local church members. They serve as deacons and ushers.

Building the relationship between sponsors and children through letters has great value in the life of a child. Children are joyful when they read a letter from their sponsors and get to learn more about them and where they live. When a child writes a letter, he or she develops good communication skills. They also have improved self esteem because they know someone far away cares for them and wants to know more about them. 

Pray for us that we may continue offering an effective ministry and improving the lives of the children. Currently we have more than 220 children at the center and some of them are still waiting for sponsors.

Thank you again for your continuous support to Yekersew. May the Lord bless you and your family!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pastor's Letter: Rwanda (RW-961)

I started receiving some of my own pastor's letters last week! Here's the letter we received from Habimana's center. 

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

My name is Hamenyimana Bonaventure, pastor of Rugarama Parish, in the northern region of Rwanda, that ministers to your sponsored child at EEAR Gafumba Student Center. Our area has got the Volcano Park and the mountain gorillas.

I am very thankful to you for supporting, praying for, and loving Habimana.

Our area is a village whose people live mainly by agricultural products, though the land is small and less productive. We have widows and orphans who really need holistic support and who are willing to be released from poverty.

What I have personally seen regarding the children attending the center's program is that children are making progress comparing to others who are not supported by the center. There is really a positive change, financially and spiritually. Because of preaching and telling them about our Lord Jesus Christ on Saturday, their lives are always renewed and getting well. Some families of sponsored children have been able to fulfill many important plans such as buying a plot of land, cows, goats, and they are repairing their houses for good comfort. 

There is always a great joy when children receive a letter from their sponsor. Actually they become very happy and so much interested in what is written. They are happy because there is someone who is interested in their lives. On the other hand, when children miss a letter from their sponsor, it makes them feel sad and worried and always continues to pray that one day they may get a sponsor and start to communicate to the sponsor through receiving and writing letters, pictures, toys, and also welcome a sponsor. The children wish to meet their sponsor and to thank their sponsor. If possible, please accept the invitation and come so that your child's joy may be filled. May God always bless you!

It is with great pleasure that we thank you for your generosity for Habimana. We would like to tell you that the children will always pray for you and wish you all the best. Many blessings from our heavenly Dad.

Sweet Greetings from India, Kenya, Honduras and Brazil

It's the last Mail Call Monday in April!!

I was really happy to receive five letters this week! The first was from Jayid in India.

I'm looking forward to the day when Jayid writes his own letters again! His first two letters were written by him, but after that, we've been getting letters written by the child development workers. They write in English, which is nice. Jayid said that his dad is doing some better (he has been sick with TB off and on for years) but to please keep praying for his work. Jayid also likes to tell me when he makes new friends, and his new buddies are named Aman and Raman. He also likes playing cricket at the project!

Next, we heard from Anahi in Honduras. 

As usual, Anahi's momma wrote her letter! The letter was about her project. She said that there are 371 kids who come to her project!! Wow! Anahi goes to the project two days a week, and she likes to color there. And eat a "variety" of foods! She also got to go on a field trip to Lake Yojoa in Honduras, and she saw crocodiles there! She reports that the lake is very beautiful, she got to swim a lot and eat a lot. They said they are glad to share about their family, and they believe that "family is a gift from God." Anahi said her family is rejoicing that Brandon's uncle Dennis is out of the hospital and doing so much better, and asked that we pray for her family's health. 

Next, we got our first letter from Fatuma in Kenya! 

I think it's really endearing when our kids have cute handwriting. And Fatuma's is the cutest. She wrote in sweet, little-kid cursive. I love it. She filled out a form letter about her typical week, reporting that she wakes up early and eats porridge in the mornings. She shared the name of her school and said that she plays football in the afternoon and then does her homework. Fatuma's favorite day of the week is Sunday, because she likes to go to church. Her church is actually called Lighthouse Church, and they have a facebook page which is really neat to see. They post their worship playlists most Sundays, and it's neat to know what Fatuma might be singing at church!! I think their pastor also got married this weekend ("pastor" is what "Pr." stands for, right?) and they posted pictures of that, too. :) Fatuma wrote quite a bit of response to my other letters. She liked the "name meanings" letter I wrote, and said that she doesn't know the meaning of her name, but she will ask her mom. She liked reading about my grandparents, when I wrote about them after Christmas (and she even used their nicknames, Mimi and Pappaw!) 

We also heard from Gloria in Kenya. 

Gloria had the same form letter that Fatuma did- "My Typical Week." She must have missed letter writing day because her letter was filled out by a project worker, and in her first letter, I was really impressed with Gloria's writing for such a little person! That's ok. : ) Gloria's favorite day of the week is Sunday as well, because she likes to go to church. The project worker shared the name of her school and church, but they were a little hard to read. 

Finally, at the end of the week we heard from Patricia in Brazil! 

Patricia included several responses to past letters. She said that they do eat turkey in Brazil, and that for Christmas she spends time with her family, eating lunch with them after church. She reminded me that the real meaning of Christmas is Jesus. She responded to my letter about the drought in California (I thought it would make a good "what's going on in my country, please pray" sort of letter) and acknowledged that the world is running out of water and this is a serious problem. She also said in Brazil they eat lots of fish, and she's never seen a tapir but her favorite animal is a dog. : ) 

We also got three pastor's letters this week, which was pretty exciting. I'll be sharing those soon! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Good and Perfect

This week's gratitude challenge was to share about something that someone gave me. It's really hard to pick just one thing to "celebrate" in public (meaning, on this blog. It's public, right?) So instead, I'm going to share my gratitude for the generosity of my friends in general.

There are such loving, kind people in my life who have given me such neat things or memories. And I remember why and how I got all of these different things. Giving gifts makes me really happy, and is my favorite part of holidays like Christmas. But everyone knows that it's also nice to get little surprises from people, too. :)

Jess and I exchange bags or baskets of little gifts for major holidays, which is so much fun. It probably started with Easter baskets. But we also do Halloween baskets and Valentine's baskets. There's usually candy involved, and she almost always includes either socks (fun ones!) or dish towels (also fun! I like seasonal themed things.) And things like lip gloss and nail polish and nice smelling candles. When we worked at our former branch, which was close to two grocery stores and a Walgreens, sometimes she'd surprise me with a pint of Ben & Jerry's waiting for me in the freezer! Little gifts from her brighten my day, and make otherwise boring holidays a little more exciting.

My friend Steph is such a generous person. She always buys things from me when I'm selling them, like the flower pens I made for our attempted adoption a few years ago, or jewelry from the Apparent Project fundraisers I've done. She's so funny- she loves blessing people with gifts, and she tries to find really unique stuff to give, too. It's so sweet. BUT because she's so excited about giving presents, she usually can't wait for the intended occasion to give the gift. :) When I started working at my new branch, she got me this super cool Erin Condren life planner, to keep my new schedule all organized and stuff. It's so fancy and lots of fun, and it's very helpful. But probably most importantly, it made me feel welcome. And I was so touched!

And when I started my new job, my friend Helen (who has worked with my mom for many years now) sent me a sweet card and a color-changing Hello Kitty pen from her recent visit to Disney World. HK is dressed up in a kimono on the pen because it came from the Japan pavilion at EPCOT (which I love.) I have a few authentic Japanese Hello Kitty items because Helen's daughter Amanda lives in Japan and works as a missionary, teaching English there. Amanda always sends me some cute Hello Kitty thing for my birthday, and when she comes home for furloughs (and she sent a gift when I had my surgery, too!) I even have Hello Kitty chopsticks and some other kitchen utensils!

All the people in my life who bless me with tangible tokens of our friendship mean a lot to me, and I don't forget the stories behind the gifts they've given; from the Haitian ornament Ashley sent when her son A. was brought home, to the pretty necklace Zach sent from Connecticut, to the Bolivian doll from Hannah that's sitting on the bookshelf in my future children's room, to the little Newfoundland magnet another Hannah mailed to add to my collection- I think every gift is special, and I treasure them all, but I especially appreciate the relationships they came out of!

Take some time this week to think about a gift you've been given that means a lot to you, and maybe drop the gift giver a line reminding them about how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness. I guarantee it will put a smile on their face!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pastor's Letter: Haiti (HA-202)

Here's a pastor's letter my mom received from Haiti! 

I am Pastor Wilsor Etienne. I am leading "Papette" Wesleyan Church and the Papette Child Development Center ministering to and caring for Amitie.

I am proud in my heart while I am writing you this letter to greet you in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior. I am thanking you for always helping the community through supporting this ministry. I am a former sponsored child of Compassion International from 1980 to 1996. I studied theology from the STEP program. It brings me great honor to pastor with Compassion International and to work with Amitie. You are blessing her.

Our center represents a great bridge in the Papette community, especially in the way it is helping the children to be developed in all domains such as spiritual, socio-emotional, physical and economic. Through this program all parents who have beneficiary children actively participate in the church's service made each Sunday. In addition to this, the children find the opportunity to go to school, to learn many other things in all domains, which can help them to be developed. We also have club activities made for them to allow the children to learn some professions that will be useful for them in their later lives, such as sewing, tailoring, painting, floral art, calligraphy, putting down ceramics, etc.

For all the children at the center to be healthy, our staff visits the children and their parents in order to always know how the child is with his parents, and to encourage them to always attend all the center's activities. This helps the parents to support the success of the center. Also, the work we have done in the Papette locality, especially in this last year with a nice school building, is an extraordinary thing for everyone.

Finally, I thank God and I thank everybody who contributes to this work being done well. We are changing children's lives and releasing them from poverty in the name of Jesus. It's a privilege that God gives us for this big program. Thank you for using this privilege to bless Amitie.

I am asking God to always bless you and protect you and your family.

I love you very much with all my heart.

Pastor Wilsor Etienne

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pastor's Letter: Honduras (HO-504)

Here's another pastor letter my mom received, this time from Honduras! 

This is Walter Frano, pastor of Iglesia Amor Viviente Church where the Eduardo King Child Development Center works. Here, we minister to Junior. This center is located in the city of Danli, Honduras. I'm very grateful for your sponsorship and for the absolute support you give Junior.

The city of Danli is surrounded by hills, which gives us a tropical weather. There are many needs like the lack of jobs, many broken families, and lack of health care, especially for the children with disabilities.

We have been challenged to evangelize this city because we understand that Jesus' presence is needed to transform lives. The vision of our church is to expand the kingdom of God in Danli and make disciples of as many people as we can for Christ. Our vision at the center is that all children and their parents will receive Jesus as their savior and that they can become a role model so in the future their children will follow in their footsteps.

Children that are taken care of in the center have a vision for the future and they have Christ as the center of their lives. Currently, 50 youth have given their lives to Christ and attend church faithfully. 

As a testimony, there is a young man in the center who learned to cut hair with his dad and he taught other children at the center through a vocational workshop. Many children that attended this workshop now work in a barbershop to provide for their families. The young man that taught them is now self-sufficient and he has his own barbershop at home! 

Compassion International was born in the heart of God to bless others and we are grateful because in a beautiful and successful way they have helped our children to develop comprehensively; many of these children are very poor and couldn't have reached a total development otherwise.

The center has been a financial benefit for the people that work here, who are also part of our congregation. There is a good social outreach from the church and this helps in the development of the community. The church has developed a program donating wheelchairs and orthopedic equipment to people with disabilities. We have been able to bless many people that now can perform better in their lives. 

The relationship between children and sponsors is very important. The sponsors write letters to their children, encouraging them and asking them about their families. Children pray for their sponsors during devotionals and are excited to write back and answer the sponsors' questions. It is a lovely surprise when they are also sent pictures, cards, and stickers. This relationship created with the sponsors makes the children feel appreciated and it encourages them to keep attending the center. I bring this up because there have been cases of children who never received letters for months or even for years and this discouraged them and made them feel sad because they looked forward to knowing the person that has decided to help them grow, even without knowing them in person.

I'm grateful for the support you have given to Junior. I'm sure that God will reward what you do for him!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Honduras, Tanzania, and Bolivia

Happy Mail Call Monday!

We had five letters this week, which was pretty nice. Sometimes I wish that I'll check the mailbox and there will be a big stack of letters inside, but sometimes I also think it would be nice to just open it every day and fine one inside. Like political ads before a local election. Except more exciting. :)

The first letter came from Sandier in Honduras.

Sandier's letter was about his Christian learning, which is the same form letter we received from Anahi about a month ago. Sandier's favorite Bible story is about baby Moses escaping the pharaoh's decree that all the boy babies should be killed. His favorite song at the center is "crocodile rhythm," which makes me think of the Elton John song "Crocodile Rock!" Sandier also wrote that he likes the letters I send because they're "funny." Sandier's tutor says he has started 1st grade and he knows about pumpkins because there is a Honduran tradition of eating pumpkins with honey.

Next, we heard from Said in Tanzania!

I hadn't heard from Said in several months, but even though I miss hearing from him, I'm never mad or frustrated because not only is he a teenager who is preparing for a future outside secondary school, but he is the man of the house. So I'm patient and don't take it personally when I don't get a letter for a while.
Said said he and his family are doing fine, and he hoped we were too. He shared that he got new clothes for Christmas and wore them to church, and then he came back home and ate a great meal prepared by his mom! We also got a progress report about his work at the project and the school. Said has great dreams of being a doctor when he grows up- please join me in praying for his studies. I did some research on his school and they are not so well equipped and have some struggles.

We also heard from Elisha in Tanzania!

Elisha's letter was a form letter about his medical checkup. Apparently he had one a few months ago, and he went with his mom and a social worker. Elisha's letter also included a progress report, and he's doing pretty great! He has several A's and he's covering lots of interesting things at the project!

Later in the week, we got a letter from Eduardo in Honduras!

Eduardo wrote about church. He goes to church on Saturdays, and on Sundays he practices soccer with his brother. He also asked about our church. Eduardo wrote to say that he was going to be having surgery soon (in a previous letter he mentioned sinus surgery) but not to worry, because it was no big deal. The translator added a note at the end of the letter saying that his surgery was February 3, and that the doctors removed a small, benign tumor. Praise God that his surgery went well and that it wasn't anything more serious!

Lastly, we finally received a first letter from Juan in Bolivia!

We were assigned Juan as a correspondent in November, so it was really good to finally hear from him. Juan shared a little about  his school schedule, and he wrote quite a bit about the picture of my grandma's mule that I sent to him! Mammaw made a Christmas blanket for Wilbur, her mule, and put a Santa hat on him. She sent out his picture as Christmas cards! So I sent a picture to all the kids. Juan was so impressed, and asked a ton of questions about Wilbur, and asked me to send more pictures! I will have to take some more pictures of Wilbur when I go out to Mammaw's for Derby dinner. : )

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Getting to Know You: Sandier

Name: Sandier
Age: 6
Birthday: December 28
Country: Honduras
Sponsored since: March 2014

How we got him: I got home from Tanzania around 2 in the morning, March 20. I slept for a few hours and then got up and went to my parents' house- they fixed me some of my favorite foods and I got to spend the day going through my pictures and watching TV! I sent an email off to Compassion that very day, asking for another correspondence child. I said that I knew the wait might be long, but I had just gotten back from Tanzania, and I felt an urgent need to make sure as many kids as possible were receiving letters from a sponsor, whether they were a financial sponsor or a correspondent. And I could write letters, and would write letters as long as Compassion would let me. And on Monday morning, Sandier showed up on my account. :) He was child #16, and our number hast tripled since then, but Sandier will always have a special place in my heart, and I will never forget the day that we got him as a correspondent!

About his family: I don't know a whole lot about Sandier's family, but he does have a 9 year old sister, and they like to play together! He lives with her, his mom, and his grandma.

Hobbies and interests: I can tell from his letters that Sandier has a lot of energy. He loves to play and he likes animals. He's also a really good artist! He always draws a little outdoorsy scene for me, usually featuring a cat or a dog.

Here are some excerpts from Sandier's letters!

"He is a restless boy but a good one at the same time."

Our first picture of Sandier

"He wants to tell you that he has a pet named Picho that is a pretty cute kitty and he also is doing well in kindergarten."

"He says bye sending all his love and blessings. "

"The boy says he is doing really good at the kindergarten and that he is happy that the storms are not where you live. "

"He says he is thankful to God for meeting you. He also says he know the ABC. He says thank you for writing to him and he says he hasn't been in a  library but that he would love to."

"Sandier wants to tell you that the beaches in Honduras are very beautiful and that most of the people are very kind and generous and what he likes the most are the swimming places."

"Sandier says that at kindergarten, he is doing very good and what he likes to do the most is to learn how to sum and what he wants to be when he grows up is a firefighter or a teacher. "

Sandier's photo got updated just a few months after we got him! 

"Sandier wants to tell you that he and his family are doing well and he says that mom and sister and him play by running and that they watch TV together and he also says he has heard about baseball. He says that it is a very fun game and he wants to tell you that he has never been to a zoo or a museum and that in his community there aren't any crocodiles."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pastor's Letter: India (IN-311)

Here's another pastor letter my mom received! 

Greetings in the name of almighty God. I am Nelson Sumithra, a partner with Compassion International in Delancey Methodist Child Development Centre. We minister to your sponsored child associated with Methodist Central Church located at Humnabad, Karnataka, in India. Thank you for your sponsorship of Swati.

I am very grateful to you for your valuable sponsorship and your prayerful support to the children in need. The center serves the community people; there are different types of community. Hindus, Muslims, and Christian people are living together in this village. People are doing labor work like grass cutting and agriculture labor.

Our church is facing some challenges like quarreling in the families, and some of the fathers of our center children are drug addicts. So we give counseling to them and create awareness on living a moral life.

Our vision is to release the people from spiritual poverty, social poverty, and educational poverty. The impacts of the center in the community are people develop good manners and learn to be happy with one another. They are all living together unitedly, irrespective of caste and creed.

We have seen children are learning spiritual songs and God's word. They are growing in God's word and their knowledge has improved considerably. One of our Hindu girls does not know anything about God's word when she got admission in our center. Few years later she became very active in all the spiritual activities. Now she likes to sing spiritual songs and daily she reads God's word.

We conduct special activities for children like vacation school, retreats, personality development, leadership development training, parents meetings, Father's Day, Mother's Day and Children's Day. Now in our center around 200 family members of our children are attending the church service.

A child feels so happy and praises our God on receiving letters from a sponsor. Letters are a tool for exchanging the happiness and appreciating one another. Letter increases the love and strengthens the relationship. It is good to see the children addressing their sponsors as dear Mom, Uncle, Brother, Sister or Aunty. Please write Swati a short letter as it makes the children so happy to get mail.

Your prayer is always needed. Once again, I am closing this letter with a heart full of thanks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pastor's Letter: Tanzania (TZ-827)

Here's another pastor's letter my mom received! 

I am Simion Nyakubusa, pastor of Urambo Church and also the FPCT-Urambo Child development center where we minister to Christina. 

I am so grateful for your sponsorship of Christina and for supporting our ministry. Thanks to you and the other sponsors, our children are being released from poverty in Jesus' name and have the opportunity for education, health care, socio-emotional activities and to learn the Word of God. This is a miracle for them! 

The people in our community are very poor. In the face of poverty there is unemployment, lack of housing, food and clean water, disease, dysfunction, and lack of opportunity and education. The children are the ones who are the most vulnerable and who suffer the most. 

The vision of the church is to grow in ministering to the people of the community and the vision of the center is to minister to the community by first transforming the lives of the children at the center. We are doing this through our holistic development program through which we develop the children in the cognitive, physical, socio-emotional, and spiritual areas of their lives. We see very positive impacts on the lives of the children at the center. They are attending school and performing well. They are socializing well and have good behavior. Physically, you can see the changes in their appearance in that they are healthy and happy from the medical care and good food they receive here. And, spiritually, they are attending church on Sundays and testifying their faith and many families are inspired to attend the church. 

We thank God for the child-sponsor relationship established through letter writing. This is a huge blessing to the children and serves to uplift them, encourage and strengthen them in all areas of their development. It is important for you to understand that through the letters, the children feel loved, known, and protected. The relationship they have with their sponsors fosters their desire to work hard in school, in their lives, and in their journey with God. 

Thank you again for all that you do for Christina and our ministry. I am honored to have you as a part of our program.

I'll try not to sing out of key.

This week's gratitude challenge post is supposed to be about a specific family member. I am not taking the bait- don't want anyone to wonder why they didn't get their own post. So I am changing the rules a little bit, and sharing about someone who is like family to me.

I do not have a sister (and no sisters-in-law yet, either) but if I did, I imagine she'd be like my friend Jess. But with a different name. I tell her sometimes she's like the sister I never had, but she already has a sister of her own, so I feel a little weird saying that . :) She is everything to me that a sister should be, though, minus the being related part. I met her when she started working at my old library branch, a few weeks after I did, and I remember thinking "ugh, another Jessica. This might be weird. But I was here first and I already said I prefer to be called Jessi, so she has to pick another name." Which is such a silly thing to think! And now neither of us calls the other anything but Jess. We are Jess and Other Jess. Sometimes interchangeable (at least, to the patrons...and some volunteers...) We have so much in common, but not so much as to be annoying. Some people think we even kind of look alike- I have been confused for her on more than one occasion, and she has done the same for me. And we usually just pretend that the confused person is right, and pass along their greetings when we see the other one- like when her high school English teacher came in to the library and greeted me with "hello, Jessica! How have you been? How's married life?" I was able to answer "great! Going on five years now!" because she got married a few months after Brandon and I did! This kind of thing happens surprisingly often, and it greatly amuses both of us.

More important than the little similarities is the tremendous amount of support she has shown me over the years. What started off as casual work friendship has grown much deeper. She is my sounding board, confidante, and encourager. She gives me advice and listens to my problems and is pretty great at making me smile or feel better after a stupid day. When she transferred to another branch last year, I was so sad, and made a point to come see her once a week on my way to counseling, but it just wasn't as much fun as getting to see her almost every day. I am so thankful that the opportunity opened up for me to move to the same branch. I would have come here anyway, even if she wasn't here, but it's just like, the best bonus.

This week, this special person I consider to be as good as family had a pretty major event, and expanded her own family! Jess gave birth to a precious, blond-haired, round faced little baby on Sunday afternoon, and I'm glad that she gets to be a part of my life, too. I have already gotten her waaaaay too many baby presents by some people's standards (I could have gotten more) but I had a thought. People who have babies get lots of presents, but the presents aren't really for them, they're for the baby. And they're helpful and fun and cute, but still. It's not the same. And I am blown away by the strength and amazingness my sweet friend displayed by creating a human being and then bringing that tiny person into the world (after a very, very long labor.) I wanted to give her a little surprise to express these feelings- the "way to go, you are awesome" feelings, the "congratulations" ones, and the "I'm so thankful that you are in my life" ones. So I got her a pretty silver necklace, the kind that comes in the box with the cheesy pre-printed saying, and then threw in a bunch of these candies she likes that were on Easter clearance. Surely the sugar will be helpful when she has to get up in the middle night and take care of the kid, right?

So my thoughts for sharing this week are these: sometimes, your family can be made up of people you're not related to by genetics, adoption, or marriage. These people are a treasure and it's good to periodically remind them that you cherish them. And if you know a new mom, maybe you can bless her with a gift that is just for her, not for the little person who is keeping her up every night and spitting up on her every day. : )

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Kenya, Indonesia, and Burkina Faso

Happy Mail Call Monday!!

This week we received three letters! The first was from Motempa in Kenya!!

This is our first letter from Motempa- but we did receive an envelope a month or so ago that should have had a letter from her in it. We accidentally got another sponsor's letter instead! So it was really nice to officially hear from her! Motempa sent her greetings and said her family is doing fine. She said she has moved to the 8th grade, and she is praying for my grandparents, that God will see them through in their old age. :) I'm just going to tell them she's praying for them! Haha.

Next we heard from Prayer in Indonesia!

A while back, I think I wrote all the kids a letter about musics, and I must have mentioned concerts because Prayer wrote to tell me he hasn't been to one in person, but has seen one on TV! He also said he knows what pumpkins are because so many people in his area grow them, and they are his family's favorite! He also said that his dog was stolen, which makes me really upset. I wrote back and told him that if he did not get his dog back, we could pray that the person who took it is at least taking good care of it. 

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

Reine wrote that her country celebrates Independence Day in December, and that her school terms start in October. She says she enjoys going back to school because she gets to see her friends. She also asked if it is raining or snowing in our country! 

We'll see how many letters show up this week- I'm still expecting some from Carlos and the rest of the Kenya kids, and we have a bunch of first letters that will be arriving over the next several months!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pastor's Letter: Togo (TG-120)

Here's another pastor's letter my mom received- this time from Togo!!

I am Amedjonekou Agbelessessi. I am pastor of the Maranatha Child Development Center where we minister to Jaki. This center is situated in the maritime region of Togo. I am really grateful to you for the sponsorship and support you give to Jaki. By this sponsorship, you give hope for a better future. 

The church is situated in a small village called Gbatope at five kilometers from Tsevie. The inhabitants cling to traditional practices, and many are idol worshippers. Jobs are scarce, and nearly all live below the poverty line. The lack of school systems and juvenile delinquency are almost daily threats to our community because some parents renounce their responsibilities and children are left to raise themselves. The church is overwhelmed by the requests of destitute families to register their children in the center's program, but since the number of registration is limited, we cannot satisfy all the demands.

The vision of the church and the center is to deliver the community from poverty and evil in all domains. We aim to act fairly with unconditional love, cultivate altruism, and encourage honesty, in order to build a radiant community where children can live in dignity, with the hope of a better future. The coming of the center allowed the children and some parents and relatives to recognize the value of the church and to confess Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.

The church has its big mission, which is door-to-door evangelization. The church also makes material donations to the families that are needy.

The letters received from the sponsor are a real sign of love and consideration for the children and their parents. The correspondence gives them a lot of hope and creates a strong link between children and their sponsors. Children wait impatiently for these letters that constitute an open door abroad for them. They learn about their sponsors' culture and way of living. Some even cry when they don't receive letters.

Thank you for your love and affection towards Jaki. I ask you by the grace of the Lord to pray so that the community could be converted to Christ. What an amazing blessing this would be for the center! Please also pray for the strengthening of the parents that are coming to church, and for the holistic development of all the children. May the Lord bless you and satisfy you with His good deeds.

Once again, thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of Jaki across the ocean.

Getting to Know You: Sharifa

Name: Sharifa
Age: 11
Birthday: February 1
Country: Bangladesh
Sponsored since: February 2014

How we got her: Bangladesh is actually on my mind quite a bit. I am aware of a lot of issues there because of some tragedies that have been in the news (much like the 2010 earthquake sparked my awareness of and care for Haiti.) We have lots of patron families at the library who come from Bangladesh. And we also know a missionary there (though the missionary lives in a more dangerous area where Christianity is not welcome- that's why I don't discuss that situation on the blog. Very hush hush.) For a period of several months, Bangladesh just kept popping into my head, over and over again, and I kept praying for the country and looking at the kids waiting for sponsors there, and praying for them, too. And the thought wouldn't go away, so I requested a correspondence child from Bangladesh. Sharifa appeared on my account a few weeks later. :)

About her family: Sharifa lives with her mom and dad, and her dad works as a rickshaw puller. Her family also grows some fruits and vegetables, though I don't know if they just grow them for the family, or they also sell them. Sharifa also has one sister.

Hobbies and interests: Sharifa is really a good artist- her profile on the Compassion website says she likes art and drawing. She also enjoys swimming. There's a lot of water where she lives, so I have a feeling that lots of kids around there enjoy going for a swim! It took a long time to get Sharifa's first letter, and it takes almost three months for her letters to get from her center to my mailbox, so we honestly don't know a bunch about her yet, even though we have had her for over a year! I hope that she stays in the program for a long time, so we can get to know her even better.

Here are some excerpts from Sharifa's letters!

"At first take my Christ greetings."

Our one and only picture of pretty Sharifa! 

"I go to school and project. I do coaching, play sports, dance, and sing songs at the project."

"Now it's summer. This time we get mangoes, jack fruits, lychee fruits, water melon, melon, etc. fruits."

"Greetings of Christ to you. Hope you are all doing well in Christ."

"I come at project and school every day. I attend in my coaching class at project. I take my lunch at project and learn about Jesus."

"In our area people grows cow, goat, chickens, ducks and horse."

"It is rainy season in our country. It rains almost every day. Canals, streams are filled with water. Lily flower blooms in that canals and streams and it looks really nice. We can ride on boat in this season and can travel by it. I like to get lily by riding on boat. Do you like to ride on boat?"

"Here I learn dance and song. I like to play with my friends and we go to church together, sing song, read Bible and have much fun there."