Monday, June 29, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Haiti, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Uganda

It's the last Mail Call Monday of June!! The year is officially halfway over!!

This week we received four letters! The first was from Caleb in Uganda.

It was nice to hear from Caleb because we hadn't heard from him since January. Caleb's letters are usually about farming. This one was also about farming. He said he's growing maize, cassava, mangoes and oranges. He asked if I like to eat mangoes and oranges. He also said that at the time of his letter (April) he had finished exams and all the school kids were at home helping their parents- with the farming, of course. He also shared that he likes social studies and math best. Lastly, Caleb shared a memory verse John 14:6.

Then we heard from Barry in Burkina Faso!

Barry had a little form letter about Festivals and Holidays. His favorite local festival is called "SNC/National Cultural Week." He likes it because of all the performances of dances and plays. His favorite holiday is Christmas because it celebrates Jesus' birth. Barry also shared some happy news- his mom just gave birth to a baby girl! He asks that we pray for his new baby sister. I can't wait to learn more about her!

Then we heard from Kevenel in Haiti!

Kevenel had a form letter about his hope for the future. He says that his family is small, and when he is grown up he wants to have 2 kids. He wants to be a doctor. His helper at the project also wrote a whole lot- they filled up an extra sheet of paper! He says that his family is doing well and it's really hot in Haiti. Kevenel said that he has been to a wedding in Haiti, and described it for me- the "presenter" asks the assembly to sing, someone reads a Bible passage, the pastor gives the groom some "advices" and "makes them do a vow", and then they put rings on each other. They end with a prayer and a blessing. Kevenel says he is very healthy and he really enjoys geography. He also said his parents grow fruit and sell some in the market. He asks that we pray that he becomes "more intelligent" and does well in school, and he has never heard of a banjo before. He also said he likes to sing, and his favorite song is "I do have confidence in Your kindness." Finally, he said he loves us very much and he shared John 3:16 with us.

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

We got Austin as a correspondent in March. He is one of our oldest kids! He said "receive much greetings from me" and he was happy to get letters. He said that he likes to go to church to praise God with his friends and family, and "we learn many things about the death and resurrection of Jesus." He also says that he's thankful that God carried his family into the new year. Austin says that the weather is rainy, and his family is weeding their crops. He aso says he's praying for us, specifically for me, for Brandon, for my dad and my grandfathers. He asks that we pray for him to have success while he works to have a career as a mechanic. He also shared John 3:16 with us!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On a Break

Edit: Everything below this line, I wrote about a week ago. I didn't make this post live because I was still really conflicted about what I was feeling, but today was the straw that broke the camel's back. This morning, on a totally inane article about the representation of the Confederate flag in media (like, how it's painted on the General Lee on "Dukes of Hazzard") I saw some of the most distressing and appalling things from people who live in my own city. All of them, except one lady named Wanda, were upset. Upset that my senators are talking about taking down the statue of the traitor Jefferson Davis that stands in the capitol building. Upset because they feel the flag is a part of their history, and to deny it would be un-American. Upset because they saw a picture of a black guy holding the flag in a picture so that means it's not racist at all. Arguing that the Civil War was not about slavery, despite all the states' declarations of secession stating otherwise. And then there was the guy that said, in essence, that black Americans should not complain too much about slavery, because if it wasn't for slavery, their ancestors never would have made it to America, which is "the greatest country in the world." And I just started crying. I can't cope with the violence and depravity and ignorance and dumb-assery anymore. My heart is broken and there is no way that it can get any better while I'm still exposed to this garbage. The internet and I are going on a little break. Hopefully when I come back, whether it's in a couple of days or a couple of weeks, humanity will have gotten itself together and stopped being quite so disappointing. 

I'm having a struggle with social media.

If we are facebook friends, you know that I spend a *lot* of time online. It's not that I just spend eight hours a day in front of a laptop- though if I'm having a really bad day, I might come close. It has more to do with the fact that I'm constantly connected, through my phone, my tablet, and of course, my computer. And the fact that I have a lot of free time- remember, I only work 20 hours a week and I have no children. And I'm by myself a lot. I'm very alone. Two days a week, I don't see my husband until 9:30 at night. Two days a week, I don't see him until almost 6:30. The other three days are hit and miss. Even if we are together, we may not be talking, because Brandon isn't a chatty person. I'm not picking on him- if you know him, you know he doesn't talk much. He talks to me more than he talks to anyone else. But we don't have frequent, long conversations. Our talking, most of the time, comes in short bursts. Now, I don't think I'm an extrovert, but being alone by myself, having no one to talk to, for most of the hours during the week is hard. Sometimes it contributes to my depression. Some days I feel lonelier than others. It's a little embarrassing to say to the world "I'm lonely," but it's true. I live a pretty isolated life, and sometimes it's hard.

So being online is important to me. Most of the week, it is my connection to the outside world. I can chat with friends, and make new ones. The time-wasting aspect is fun. It's a creative outlet, because I can write posts on my blogs, or find new projects and recipes, or just make up funny stuff to share with friends. It's how I keep up with my extended family, whom I don't see all that often. And I can keep up with the news, too. If something is happening, I know right away. And I can fact check and poke around for corroborating stories, so I know that I'm getting the truth.

But sometimes, the internet is so hard on me. I feel overexposed- not that people are seeing too much of me, but I'm getting too much of them. It's like when you start to feel sick after being out in the sun too long. For a while, you don't notice it, but the more time you spend out there, just surrounded by this intangible force, it starts to make you sick. I am a very sensitive person who is very empathetic and has more than her fair share of emotions. There are days when my heart breaks many times, whether it's a tiny chip or a big, dangerous looking spiderweb of a break, like a busted-up windshield. Every once in a while, it feels like the break is too much and my heart shatters into tiny little pieces. It takes a while to put it back together.

My heart is so broken today. I am very overexposed. I am shattered. The everyday chatter is just too much. I'm witness to marriages falling apart- people abandoned by spouses in a sudden, abrupt end to what they thought was a fairy tale. I see people waiting to bring their children home, or aching to carry a child of their own. I see people having crises of faith. People grieving. People caring for ailing loved ones. People struggling with their own depression. People losing their jobs or struggling to make ends meet.

Beyond the personal tragedies, there are the ones that don't affect us directly. The news is unbearable some days. I'm not going to ignore it, because that's so disrespectful to the people who are suffering. I can't turn a blind eye to that. But I feel so burdened by how messed up the world is. Another shooting. Another murder. Another scandal. More victims. More bullies. More tragedies. Abuses of power. Neglect and abandonment. People being taken advantage of. And then the arguments that follow. This person can't say "I wish people wouldn't shoot each other" because that person will say "we have the right to carry guns and don't you dare talk about taking them away." This person can't say "some police officers aren't doing their jobs well, just like any other person in any other field, but it's a little scarier because people could get hurt" without someone saying "how dare you criticize people who are protecting us, I hope that if you are ever the victim of a crime, they don't come to help you." This person can't say "I cried for an hour after waking up today because a psycho racist went and murdered nine innocent people while they were having a Bible study" without that person saying "you're a race baiter." For crying out loud, the news media can't even share an unbiased story, just simply reporting a handful of facts, without people accusing them of "fanning the flames." Hello. They are reporting. The flames don't need to be fanned. The whole world is on fire.

And then, there's the stupid. My heart is broken and my stomach is sick and my brain is hurting because of all this stuff, and then......the stupid. I know people who are always willing to shout "religious persecution!" and post about praying for every group of Christians around the world who are suffering, and have not said one blessed word about the tragedy in Charleston- not even a picture of a candle, saying "we're praying for you." But they can share cheese dip recipes and funny animal pictures and other nonsense. I know people who are actually really kind and loving in person, but if you didn't know them and just looked at their facebook page, you'd think they hated half the world, calling them ugly names just because of differences of opinion. I've seen memes comparing the president of the United States to Hitler and Stalin because...I don't know, he belongs to a different political party? I've seen people sharing photoshopped pictures of black protestors carrying signs, and the signs have been digitally altered to embarrass them or slander them. Or the ten year old photos of Muslim men in the Middle East, protesting American interference in their affairs, and the caption says that this is taking place in Michigan, this weekend, and "Shariah law is a credible threat to our society." I see every form of underhanded, false, made-up, hyperbolic, nationalist, xenophobic scare tactic. I'm never going to say I don't make fun of people, because if you write "umbeyonce" instead of "ambiance" in a facebook post, I'm definitely going to laugh at that. That's silly. But I know people who have said the nastiest things about Caitlyn Jenner. I know people who STILL make AIDS jokes. I know people who joke about sending people to hell. And then share Bible verses. Or a picture of Jesus, demanding that you share his Divine Visage, or you are "denying him." Explain that to me, please.

So maybe social media and I need to take a break. I'm scared to do it, to be honest. I'm scared to remove that particular distraction from my life. I'm scared to be out of contact with people I do care about. I'm scared that the isolation and loneliness will become even more pervasive. And I like to say that I don't care what other people think about me (as long as what they think is true), and in some instances, that's an honest sentiment. But I don't like it when people say "I'm quitting facebook" just to get the attention. We're not in middle school. And I also don't want to turn around two days later and get right back to it, and have someone confront me about it. "Thought you were quitting?" So to clarify- I'm thinking of taking a break. Maybe when I come back, the news will be happier. Maybe people I care about will be doing a little better, carrying a little bit lighter burden. Maybe just taking a break for the weekend will make my heart and head feel better. I don't know. Both have been doing so badly this week that it's worth a shot.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sweet Greetings from India, Indonesia, and Tanzania

Happy Mail Call Monday!

Letters are slowly rolling in, which is nice. I know that I have more on the way- I emailed to check up on Victor, since this is the first time in two and a half years that there's a significant gap between his letter and Mary's. The Compassion representative who responded went above and beyond and let me know all the letters that they've received since Mary's, so I have an idea what's on the way. :) 

Last week, we got a long awaited letter from Amisha in India!!

The last we heard from Amisha was a pre-written first letter, received in October. So this was a long time coming. She shared that she has a cat named Chakky and she likes to color and draw with her parents. She also shared her parents' names, and said that her grandmother (named Merry) lives with them, and she is sick. Amisha said she's always praying for us and our family and friends, especially "aunty Jess!" How neat!

The same day, we heard from Kajal in India! 

Kajal's letter was about her hopes for the future. She wants to learn about computers and music, and she wants to be a teacher. She wants her community to have clean water and usable roads. 

Then came a letter from Tasya in Indonesia! 

Tasya wrote a nice long letter, about a bunch of random things. She said that there's a river near her house, with clear water, that flows from Mt. Awu, the volcano near her island. She also said there are lots of fish near her house because she lives by the beach. She also responded to my letters about pumpkins (she has seen them a lot) and my letter about crafts (she knows how to make flowers from plastic bottles.) She asked when cousin Siena was having her baby, and asked if there is a river where we live. She ended her letter by asking if I went on a walk with my friends for Valentine's Day! :) 

At the end of the week, we heard from Said in Tanzania. 

Said's letter was a little hard to read, but I made something out about "thank you for making me valuable before God and people," and he said that he appreciates the letters and his family is doing well. He also welcomed me back to Tanzania, so I could see the national park where he lives! 

Lastly, we got a letter from Elisha in Tanzania! 

Elisha's letter was about his community, which is called Kihesa. Only a couple of thousand people live in his community. He said that the main form of transport there are daladalas, which are big buses that carry lots of people and even some livestock (the translator just wrote "public transportation" on that line, though!) Elisha said that one fun thing to do in his community is "respecting other people." :) 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The First Decade

Today is a pretty good day to get back into the swing of my gratitude challenge.

Ten years ago, I was a very different person.

I had just finished my junior year of high school. I had long, black hair. I wore four-inch platform heels and knee socks with bows and too much eye makeup (well, that last part hasn't changed that much.) I stayed up until 4 in the morning and ate like a starving artist, living on coffee and cheese sandwiches from sun up to sun down.  I had just had a "friendship breakup" with someone who had become very close to me and was feeling a little lost. I didn't know Jess or Zach or Hannah or any of these other lovely people that have come into my life since then. Brandon wasn't even on my radar. I spent the first days of my summer break sleeping as late as possible and devoted the hours that followed to absorbing as many books and as much cable TV as I could. It was the age of AIM and screen names and no facebook (for high schoolers, anyway) and only texting every once in a while, because text messages cost money and most of us didn't have any sort of allowance for that on our parents' cell phone plans.

And ten years ago today was the very first day of my very first job. On June 20, 2005, I started working at the library.

A lot has changed since then. Not just in my personal life, in a lot of ways. Brandon and I eventually got together. I graduated high school went to college for a while, got married, had a few surgeries, lived without my parents for the first time, bought a house, got diagnosed with a few random things, went to Africa once and Disney World five times. Career-wise, I took a promotion after a year of work, had three different managers, had the rug pulled out from under me, and got reminded that, even though I'm not in 7th grade anymore, people can still be bullies and the world is not a fair place. I transferred to another place and now I am so, so happy. Still neurotic and anxious and stressed (I think those are part of my DNA), but happy (with work, anyway.) I have wonderful new friends. My work load is lighter, because I have a good and fair manager and sane coworkers. I have fun at work. I think people appreciate having me around- at least I keep them entertained. I feel welcome and wanted, and that's amazing. Even though I want to make more money by working a full-time job, I'm glad that I was able to move to a safer location, rather than leaving the library completely, because libraries have always been so important to me. Reading is a big deal in my family, and I've been a faithful patron since kindergarten. I love libraries and I'm lucky I get to work somewhere I love.

Ten years working in one place. Sometimes I feel weird about it- like, if I run into someone I haven't seen in a long time, it feels strange to say "I'm still at the library," like I should be embarrassed about it. A lot of people would be unhappy with themselves, working at the same place they've worked since high school. And I do struggle with it sometimes (I wouldn't mind as much if my debt was paid off and the rest of my life was like I want it to be.) But I've got it pretty good. I'm guaranteed the same number of hours every week. I don't have to worry about being downsized or let go for arbitrary reasons, because of the way my job is structured and the protections that are in place. My hourly pay is pretty good, for the skill level and education requirements. And it's hard to find part-time customer service jobs with benefits like mine. I was the only person in my senior class in high school that had paid vacation sick time, and government holidays. That's a sweet deal. And I get to have fun at work, not just with my coworkers. I get to know families I care about. I get to talk about books and share my experiences with others. My favorite part is talking to the kids, because we have a lot in common and they think I'm pretty cool because of that.

So I'm grateful for my job. I'm grateful that it helps me pay the bills. I'm grateful it's stable and steady, and I'm grateful for the good things it's brought to my life.

Monday, June 15, 2015

I'm Out of Spoons

I have been a big slacker lately. Slacking at life. I haven't been keeping up with my blog, or my gratitude challenge posts (but I did buy a gratitude journal, so that's good) and housekeeping has been falling by the wayside and I'm very slow to respond to emails. I feel like I have a pretty good reason for it, though- I feel like death. Or I did. Now I feel like death warmed over. Anyway. Here's one of those random personal posts that will serve as an update on my life, since this blog is supposed to be about my life and all that.

You probably already know that I have a genetic disease called EDS that can cause a bunch of random "accessory" illnesses, and also causes fatigue and chronic pain. And you may remember that I have anxiety and depression. And also a really bad stomach. Seriously, I've been on reflux medication since I was in elementary school, and I feel sick just about every day.

So a few months ago, I started having stabbing pain in my abdomen. For a while it reminded me of a gall bladder attack, except there's one problem: I had my gall bladder removed five years ago. The nausea's been worse, and my appetite is all but nonexistent a lot of days. I had an upper GI scope (which I'm supposed to have every few years) which showed that I've got some polyps in my esophagus, but the biopsies came back showing they're benign (apparently, taking reflux meds long-term can cause one to develop polyps. Fun.) I had some other biopsies done of my stomach tissue, and none of them provided any answers- except that I don't have Celiac's disease. Ok. But I still felt bad, so I started having bloodwork done. Everything seemed pretty normal, and the blood test for Celiac's also came back normal (one or the other test can sometimes be a false negative.)

Then a couple of weeks ago, I got hit HARD with severe fatigue. Two hours to wake up and get out of bed (I sometimes get this sleep paralysis thing where my head is awake but I can't do anything.) Then another hour and a half on the couch before I can even function. I told a few friends that I had lost my coping skills and was operating on "coasting skills," meaning that my primary goal for each day was to put on pants and make it to work. And that's about all I got done. There were at least a couple of days when I was too tired to wash my hair. Seriously. I was so worried. It's a scary feeling not being able to do anything, and then there's the guilt that comes along with not being able to take care of my house or get the things done that I want to do. My mom speculated that I was just having a fibromyalgia flare, since the fatigue really hit after I'd had a busy weekend- a day running errands with Brandon before his brother's graduation; work all day; then an all day family graduation party. Even if there was a semi-logical explanation for what I was feeling, it's still scary. I felt like my battery had run out, if I had one. I just couldn't hold a charge. I was feeling so badly that I was really starting to worry I was dying. I called my doctor and arranged to have a complete blood panel done, which revealed that I was anemic, and a bunch of vital things in my blood were low or at the lowest end of "normal"- my B12, vitamin D (which I always have trouble with- I have almost none in my body), platelets, hemoglobin, all these other random things. One being low would make anyone tired. But I had like, five different things, on top of my other issues that make me a fatigued person at times. All things considered, I'm really proud of myself for making it to work as often as I did, although other people may not understand that.

And then, at the end of last week, I had another appointment to try to explain my increased problems with my stomach. I went in for food allergy testing. My doctor was so nice! He was funny and charming and a kind Christian man whose son is married to the daughter of my parents' church, where I got married. Small world. Anyway. They scratched my back with 150 different things after a long interview talking about all my problems, and 20 minutes later the doctor came back in and said "Jessi, we may have something here. We just might." I had a positive reaction to 22 different things that they tested me for, which is kind of a lot (but could be way worse.) Twenty two! That doesn't mean that I'm truly allergic to all of those things, that they will make me sick every time I consume them, just that my body was  like "hey, no, what is that, nope" when exposed to it. Something's going on there. So I am supposed to embark on a "process of elimination diet" thingie over the next few months. I'll pick six or seven of the red flag foods, eliminate them from my diet completely for 2 weeks, and then start reintroducing them, one at a time, for a week at a time. If my symptoms continue, then I know not to eat that food. However, I am seriously considering just cutting them out of my diet and leaving them out. It's a weird feeling, having this little ray of hope. Like I said, I've felt sick almost my whole life. It's just gotten so much worse over the past few years. Wouldn't it be weird to feel like a normal person? Or halfway normal? If that means giving up these foods, I want to give it a try. It's going to be challenging, because some of the foods are harder to avoid. Like, two things on the list were baker's yeast and potatoes. That's a huge part of my diet- bread and potatoes. I know that's not super healthy to begin with, but that's my life. So this weekend I've been eating everything on tortillas, because that's the closest thing to bread I've found so far (haven't checked out any specialty breads yet) that doesn't have yeast in it. And pretty much everywhere I go, I order fries. Not anymore, I guess. My mom and I like to meet for lunch at this burger place in the same shopping center as her store. The only main dish that they serve that doesn't come on a bun (yeast) is a rolled oyster. And guess who tested positive for an oyster allergy? Plus the only side they have is fries. So we will need to find somewhere else to meet for lunch, I guess. We'll see how the next few months go. I've got a follow up appointment in September, and maybe by then I'll have this whole restrictive diet thing figured out.

Anyway, that's why I haven't been posting as often, and haven't kept up with my regular post, and haven't been leaving my house much lately (not that you would have noticed that.) I have about 15% more energy this week than I had last week, which, while it's an improvement, things are still kind of rough. It's 9:37 in the morning, technically I've been awake for almost three hours (I did take a quick nap) and I've put six things in the dishwasher and made myself a pot of coffee. That's about it. I've stopped making to-do lists for each day and started making lists of things I'd "like to get done this week." But hopefully things will get better soon, between the vitamins I'm taking for the fatigue and the foods I'm eliminating for my stomach. Hopefully the fall will be better than the summer. And spring. And winter. It's something to look forward to, anyway. This is the first time in a long time that a medical professional has told me "there is something that you can do that might make you feel better." Normally they just say "well, that's part of what's wrong with you. You'll just have to cope." And coping is hard. It's exhausting. But now I have a little bit of hope. I don't have french fries or potato salad or Olive Garden breadsticks or guacamole strawberry smoothies or these other things I really enjoy, but I have a bit of hope. And that's kind of nice.

PS If you don't understand the title of my post, give this a read. 

Sweet Greetings from Kenya and Honduras

Happy Mail Call Monday!

Letters feel like they have been very few and far between lately. I actually know that several are on their way (for more than one of our kids, it's been 5-6 months since we've heard from them) so I emailed to check up on them. It's discouraging to check the mailbox each day and not see any letters when I'm legitimately expecting about 12! 

The first letter of the week came from precious Mary in Kenya. 

Mary's letters always make me feel good, no matter what I might be going through. She wrote a response to my letter about the meaning of names, telling me that she's named after her "grandi" and because Mary is the mother of Jesus. She said that her name means "pure in heart, lovely, and righteous." Mary said that she passed her exams and she is hoping to study to be a party planner, basically, working in catering and also singing for people's parties. I feel like this is the perfect career for her, as she is so sociable and hospitable (she also said she likes her village, Waithaka, because the people like socializing!) She also shared that she has been sick but she is thankful that she's regaining her health, and she signed her letter, "I love you, my big sis Jessi, Yours lovely, Mary." 

We also got another letter from Sandier in Honduras, about a month after his last letter!

Now that I think about it, I realize that the form letter I received from Sandier (about his project) was the same form letter we got last month. However, the rest of the letter, outside the form, was new and different information written by his regular tutor Iris. Sandier likes visiting the project two days a week, and sometimes they get to go on field trips (which is one of his favorite parts.) He said the thing he likes about the project workers is that they love him, and he usually eats soup, milk and fruits while he's there. Sandier's letter shared a lot about food, it seemed- he told me that at Christmas, his family eats sandwiches and they dance. They also have Christmas crackers and sometimes watch fireworks. At the project's Christmas celebration, they had a special lunch, cake, and presents for each of the kids. I also learned that Sandier's sister Hayk is 9 years old, and he said that the primary dangerous animals in Honduras (in response to a letter about alligators in Florida) are poisonous snakes and big black spiders! He also said that weddings in Honduras are beautiful and they eat a lot at the party. He said that he has been to the beach and he really likes seeing how big the ocean is, the nice breeze, and all the fish- Sandier says that there are so many fish, they can be put in soup, fried, steamed, put into empanadas, and many other cooking methods. Lastly, he said that he'd like us to keep praying for his grandmother, and to pray that his mom will ask Jesus into her heart. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Peru and Ecaudor

Happy Mail Call Monday!

It feels like letters have been so slow lately. It's a little discouraging. With 70 sponsor and correspondence kids, many of whom joined our family about five months ago, it's a little surprising to not have more letters coming in during the week- and the Kenya kids are due for letters this week, too! I'm hoping that more will be arriving as the week goes on. Letters are a huge encouragement to me, and it would be nice to have some of that this week. 

I am happy that we did at least hear from two of our kids since my last post, though. The day after I shared about Carlos' letter, we heard from Mishel in Peru. 

Mishel always writes lots of answers to my questions, but the answers are usually pretty short and I don't always know which questions they go with. :) But I did learn that she has dogs, cats, chickens, and turkeys. Her mom makes pachamanca for Christmas dinner, which is a dish she has mentioned before- really, it's more of a cooking method, and involves cooking lots of different ingredients in a stone oven in the ground! Mishel also said that she's never seen a tapir before, but she really likes giraffes. I am going to write her a letter about giraffes soon! She closed by saying she likes all the letters, stickers, and notebooks I send, and she is sending me "a big hug and many kisses."

On Saturday, I checked the mailbox and found a long-awaited letter from Erick inside. 

I've heard from several sponsors that letters seem a little slow getting out of Ecuador lately. When we got Erick as a correspondent, he wrote a few letters in a short period of time, and then we didn't hear from him for 6 months. In fact, the day that I emailed about an inquiry, I heard back that a letter from him had arrived at the Colorado office that very morning. I hope that everything is going OK at the country office level and that they are able to get back into the groove of things soon. 

Erick's letter was a form letter about his family. I learned that his dad's name is Cesar and his mom's name is Monica. They live in a rural area and Erick has a four year old brother (one year younger than he is) named Dilan. Erick also shared that he was able to buy a mattress with a recent financial gift. That's great! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Honduras, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Colombia, and Peru

I was so wrapped up in finishing my Compassion Joys post that I forgot it's Mail Call Monday!

If I had posted this earlier in the day, as I usually do, I would have just had two letters to share. But after I got home from work tonight, there were three more letters in the mailbox! 

First, we heard from Eduardo in Honduras. 

Eduardo says that he is doing really well after his sinus surgery, and he feels pretty great. He also said that his church's name is Christian Brigade of Love, and wants to know more about my church. He attends the project on Saturdays and goes to church on Sundays after playing soccer with his brother. 

That same day, we got a letter from Marc in Haiti!

Marc wrote a really sweet letter. He explained that in Haiti, it's hot during the day, but it gets quite a bit cooler at night (which is why it feels so "cold" to him!) He also shared a little bit about Haitian weddings, saying that "if the bride is not pregnant" at the ceremony, they read some verses and meditate on them. I don't know why this was so funny to me- do pregnant brides not get to hear Bible verses? Haha. I'm sure that if I read Haitian Creole it would make a little more sense in what he originally wrote! He said that his family spends time together on Christmas eating and praying. 

Today, we heard from Julian in Colombia. 

Julian's letter was a form letter about his house, which is the same letter we got from our other Colombian, Michel, about a week ago. Julian lives in a black house with his mom and aunt, and he likes the common room best. He also likes eating and playing with his family when they get together. Julian says that his prayer request is that he never gets the Chikungunya virus, which is something that I am always praying for my kids. 

We also got a letter from Reine in Burkina Faso today.

Reine's letters are usually pretty predictable- she tells me about the weather and a little about school, and asks about the weather in my country. Today, she wrote some new stuff, which was exciting. She says that recently she had a "sore eye" and with Compassion's intervention she was able to see a doctor and get glasses. I'm so glad that she was able to get this help! I wish I could see her in her glasses! She also asked me if I have ever been to Burkina Faso, and if any singers from Burkina Faso are famous in America. What a neat question! I will have to do a little research on that one. 

Finally, we got a letter from Carlos in Peru! 

As usual, Carlos had a lot to say in his letter! He told me that he's seen pumpkins on a farm, and that he lives close to the ocean, where there are plenty of fish. He said that he has seen several weddings at his church, and that after the ceremony, people play games. He also shared that he was working on entrance exams to a vocational school to learn about auto mechanics! And he said that he loves music, likes to play guitar, and also likes to sing, but "only in the shower," which made me crack up. :) 

Compassion Joys: May

I can't believe it's time once again for another Compassion Joys post!

 Compassion Family


This month we received one letter each from Eduardo in Honduras, Marc in Haiti, Michel from Colombia, Estha in Togo, Juan in Bolivia, Sandier in Honduras, Thanakan in Thailand, Merlyn in the Philippines, Rose in Kenya, Motempa in Kenya, Habimana in Rwanda, Elifagason in Tanzania and Angelina in Ghana! And Estha, Merlyn, Thanakan, and Habimina's were first letters! Toward the end of the month we hardly received any letters- we went a week and a half with no letters, and then got three. I hope more are on the way soon!


We have nine birthdays this month! Barry in Burkina Faso, Michel in Colombia, Bonifas in Tanzania, Warakorn in Thailand, Eduardo in Honduras, Wendy in Guatemala, Fatuma in Kenya, Tasya in Indonesia, and Benji in Haiti!! : )


This month we celebrated one year of writing to Anahi in Honduras and Michel and Julian in Colombia!

New kids!

Several new kiddos joined our family this month! And a few of them are graduating really, really quickly (one is actually already graduated this month, but I have the chance to send a few letters on his way out of the program.) What a blessing it is to be able to see these new faces and send them off with a few letters after years of hearing nothing from their sponsors. PLUS we have a new SPONSOR CHILD! Woohoo! So here's the complete list:

Cristian in Mexico, Carlos Daniel in the Dominican Republic, Vandana in India (our sponsor child), Maite in Bolivia, Melat in Ethiopia, Warakorn in Thailand, Eduardo in El Salvador (graduated in May), Jerald in the Philippines, and Clarisse in Rwanda.

Compassion Experience! 

This month, my mom and I worked the Compassion Experience at a local church. I was so excited that it finally came to my city!!! I wrote about the day here. 

Photo Updates! 

We had two photo updates this month! Eduardo in Honduras got his photo updated, and then about a week after we got him, so did Cristian in Mexico!

Special pictures! 

This month we got three sets of special pictures! We got an extra photo of Sandier with the gifts that the field office staff purchased for him after my baggie got lost on the way to his center (an incredible kindness), extra pictures of Merlyn with the gifts that Katie delivered to the Philippines in November, and unsolicited photos of Rose with her daddy! Wow!


My friends Paul and Kara are on their way to Peru in a few days, carrying a bag of gifts for several sponsor kids there! I'm sending a drawstring backpack of stuff to Carlos and Mishel, and offered to send gifts for a few other sponsors who have taken gifts places for me! :) I can't wait to hear what they think of everything! Please join me in praying that the gifts get to the kids ok- I think that they will probably be dropped off at the field office directly, but things can still happen, as they did in the case of Sandier's gift!