Monday, October 26, 2015

Sweet Greetings from India, Indonesia, Tanzania, Kenya, Peru, and Brazil!

Happy Mail Call Monday- the last in October!!!

We got quite a few letters this week! The first was from Jayid in India! 

Jayid's letters are still written by a project staffer and pretty much say the same thing each time. He does say that he's doing well, and it's really hot where he lives! He was also looking forward to celebrating Teacher's Day, and he drew a pretty butterfly! 

Then we got a long-awaited letter from Prayer in Indonesia! 

At the beginning of the month, it had been six months since we last heard from Prayer, which is unusual. I asked about it, and a letter had been processed from him recently. It finally arrived! Prayer says "the time goes by so fast" and he's right! He started 8th grade and he says he is succeeding in school because of Jesus' love! He said he played football with friends on his summer break, and he shared that his mom recently had a baby! Prayer is a big brother again- his family now has four boys, just like Brandon's! Prayer said he is praying for our grandparents and for baby Lilly! 

Then we got our first letter from Zalifina in Tanzania! 

Zalifina's letter was a bit warmer than other Tanzanian letters I have received (it's a cultural thing) which was awesome since this was our first letter from her! She said she and her family are fine and she's enjoying school. She asked for prayer for her country because of the upcoming elections (which were actually this weekend) and said it's the windy season and the trees are dropping leaves! Just like here! Zalifina said "I thank you so much for keeping to sponsor me. My family loves you so much." She shared 1 Corinthians 15:10 and asked how she can pray for me! 

We also got a letter from Elifagason in Tanzania! 

Elifagason didn't have much to say, just that he and his family are fine, and he is keeping us in prayer. He asked that we pray for his studies and he is praying for mine. :) 

Then we got a letter from Mishel in Peru! 

This letter was written about two weeks before my friend Kara traveled to Peru and dropped off a present for Mishel, so hopefully I will hear about that soon! Mishel said that she was glad to get all the letters and cards, and her sister had a baby! She helps her by giving gifts to the baby and taking care of him. She also said her school celebrated its anniversary, and that her friend was chosen as "Miss Angelina 2015." Mishel asked if I had younger siblings and asked about my favorite sport, and sent a bug hug and many kisses! 

Next was a letter from Patricia in Brazil! 

Patricia's letters are so perky! I love them! She said school break was "so cool!" She's glad to be back in school with her friends again. She said cats are her favorite animals, and her sister recently had a baby, too! Wow, lots of new babies in our far away families! Patricia said lots of cool stuff is going on at the project, including parties and camping! She really liked camping and played a lot of games. She said "I am very thankful for the letters you sent me. I keep all of them with me with lots of love." Patricia said she liked baby Lilly's photo and asked that we pray for her family's health! 

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

Festus is a real sweetheart! He shared about his schoolwork and said that he is struggling some because he doesn't have the proper books, but "at home they are making me do better." :) He said they've been studying the solar system in science, and he enjoys that! Festus said at home he has three sisters and four brothers, and his family plants peanuts! He also said he goes to church every Sunday to worship my God. I like God because he is my saviour." He shared Psalms 136:1 with us!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Thailand, Mexico, Ethiopia and Colombia

Happy Mail Call Monday!

We *almost* went another week without letters, but the mailman came around late on Saturday and dropped off four envelopes!

The first letter was from Yekersew in Ethiopia!

Little Yekersew filled out a form letter about his family. He has two sisters, and spends most of his time with them and his mom. He lives in a town, and his favorite family activity is playing together! He said that his favorite way of helping his family is by obeying them! He also shared that his family is Protestant, and he asked that we pray for his schooling. He drew a donkey for us!

Next was a letter from Julian in Colombia!

Julian shared that his last medical checkup was August 2014, and he learned that he should take vitamins, shower, eat healthy, and brush his teeth after every meal. He said that he likes running and playing soccer at the project, and he was very happy to get our letters and read more about us! Julian wrote that he does like pizza, and he enjoys drinking Coke! He said that he went on a vacation to Bogota with his dad, and they played soccer and practiced target shooting. He shared Psalm 46:7 and sent lots of hugs and kisses! :)

We also got a letter from Brenda in Mexico!

Brenda sent a letter about her favorites! Her favorite activity is watching TV, her favorite animal is a dog, she likes soccer and Superman! She asked that we pray for her siblings, asked about our pets, and said thank you for all the gifts! She told me that she went to the park near her house and her whole family played together and had a lot of fun. She also likes to eat quesadillas! Me too! She drew a happy picture of a park with butterflies!

Lastly, we heard from Pitchaya in Thailand!

I love getting letters from Thai kids- they write such great responses! Pitchaya listed the number of letters and all the gifts and extras he has received since the last time he wrote to us. He said he enjoyed the letter about Malala and he also liked all the pictures we've sent. He especially liked the letter and pictures of the farm, and said he thinks the farm must have a lot of interesting things to do. :) He was also happy that Stephen graduated high school! Pitchaya said he has started university and they had an orientation day to welcome new students, and it was a lot of fun (and he liked the food.) He asked us to pray for his health and his family,and he sent these pictures! The group photo is him with his friends from university!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Outgoing Mail: October

Hey folks! It's been a while since I've done a post like this- things have been bananas lately, even with sending out mail to our Far Away Family, but I thought I'd check in and share about what I'm sending out this month!

I think this is the latest that I've ever sent out Christmas stuff!! I actually was ahead of the game for a while, since I bought so many things on clearance last year, but then we ended up losing most of the correspondents I had stuff ready for, and I was left with the kiddos I still needed to shop for! :) This year I am sending out the most I've ever sent for Christmas for our kids. As of this writing, we have 67 kiddos, plus "half" a kid that I sponsor with my friend Steph! I've filled up two flat rate boxes full of goodies for the kids!!

For each child, I wanted to send three basic things- a Christmas card, a Christmas themed letter, and a gift. I made myself a chart so I could check off what I'd already prepared for each kiddo! Shopping the clearance sales after the last holiday season really helped me out by saving both time and money! I was able to purchase a few dozen little Christmas activity books on clearance from Lifeway. They are geared toward younger kids, but they were super cute. And the original price on them was $0.49, so when they went on clearance, I got them for pennies!! Some other items that we sent our kids for Christmas gifts included the following:

  • Mini wall calendars (Michael's and the Dollar Tree)
  • Student planners (Dollar Tree) 
  • Pocket calendars (Michael's) 
  • Sticker books (Michael's and Dollar Tree) 
  • Notepads and diaries (Target) 
  • Christmas-themed licensed character coloring books (Walgreen's) 
  • Dover activity books (Amazon) 
  • Christmas-themed advent devotionals (Lifeway) 
  • Mini "sampler" books from Priscilla Shirer (these are also at Lifeway, and are super cool! They're like little condensed versions of popular books and Bible studies!) 
I got this year's Christmas cards two places- I had a few boxes I purchased from Half Price books, and they were super cute! But then I started running low on funds, so I got the rest from Lifeway's selection of boxed Christmas cards (16 for $3.99.) They were also very cute, and I just put them in bigger envelopes so some extra stuff would fit in there! 

One new thing I sent out this year were personalized ornaments for the kids! My mom found these super cute angel ornaments at Hobby Lobby. They're blank, to be colored in, and each angel (boys and girls) is holding a little banner. So we colored them all and wrote the kids' names on there. I had my friends and family color some at my Compassion Christmas party back in August, and we've been working on the others ever since! After each angel was colored, I'd label the back with the child's number and include a message like "my mom colored this angel for you!" Then I had them laminated and punched a hole in the top. The string that came with the ornaments was really flimsy and not pre-tied, so I didn't include it, but a small of thread at the top should go through mail processing just fine- especially if the ornaments are tucked in an envelope, which mine were! Honestly, I think the ornaments are what kept us tied up so long- there were a lot of them to color, and then after I got them laminated I still had to cut them out and match them up with each child's card! It's worth it, though. I think they'll like them. :)

Sorry the pic is so blurry, but here's Patricia's card, gift, and angel (colored by Steph!) 

For my Christmas letters this year (which I am still finishing and will send a little later) I had what I think is a pretty cool idea. Sometimes I like to imagine how I would spend time with my sponsor kids if they came to visit me, instead of the other way around! So for my Christmas letters, I am going to write out what it would be like if they came to visit my family for the holidays! I'm telling them about the weather, my family's traditions, and all the places we would visit. I think it will be fun. Hopefully I will get some response letters telling me about holiday celebrations with my kids! :) 

Also in this package, I am sending out Thanksgiving cards, which I got for a good price at Lifeway (they have some bargain cards from Dayspring that are super cute!) In each card I just wrote a quick message like "Happy Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for you!" Thanksgiving letters will be sent out separately. I am also sending out some random gifts to some of the kids, because I need to downsize my stash a little bit. I've been thinking about literacy a lot lately, since we have so many programs at the library where kids can win free books- we have stacks of them sitting around, and millions more available for checkout. I think it's really important to send books to our kids, because low reading levels hold them back at school, it opens up new worlds for them, and they may not have many books accessible to them! So I am always shopping clearance sections and yard sales for paperbacks to send out to my kids (mostly the English speakers, but occasionally I'll find some in another language!) So I am also sending out books to almost all my Kenyans in this mailing. Some examples of the books I'm sending out are: an easy reader book about elephants; a counting picture book; a book about the human heart and how it functions; a book about space; an atlas; a book about service dogs; a book about plants of the rain forest. I hope that they're well received. Now I need to go stock up on some more! 

What sorts of Christmas goodies are you sending out to your sponsor kids? I'd love to hear about them! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sweet Greetings from Kenya, Bolivia, Togo, Peru, Rwanda, and the Dominican Republic!

Happy Mail Call Monday- sick day edition! : /

It was nice that more letters started coming in last week! The first was our first letter from Jeannette in Rwanda! 

We had been calling Jeannette by her family name, Iratuzi, because that's what's listed on the website- so it's nice to know that she actually goes by Jeannette! :) She just wrote a short letter, but it was sweet and loving. Jeannette says that she and her family send warm greetings, and she is so happy to get letters from us! She was finishing her summer break from school when the letter was written (late August) and that her term will begin in October. I think her school is year round. She says that she is praying that peace is with me in everything I do! What a sweetie! 

Next was a short letter from Carlos in Peru! 

Carlos said that he was very thankful for the gift we sent via Kara and her mom when Kara went to Peru this summer! He said that it’s really cold where he lives and it’s been rainy. He asked about our weather and asked that we pray for his studies and his family. He said goodbye with a big hug, saying he hoped we’d write again soon! 

Next up, a letter from little Estha in Togo! 

Estha’s letter was about what she learns at the project. She says they’re learning dancing and how to help people with disabilities! She also likes singing and she learned about why washing clothes is important. She said they also learn about the community, and she found that her school was founded in 1966. She said thank you for the stories we send and asked that we pray for the prosperity of her family. She also drew a little picture of a tree! 

We also heard from Austin in Kenya! 

He says that they are doing well and he is thankful for our letters and photos. He said that he is praying for blessings for us, and he and his family attend an ACK church. He shared Romans 8:1-2 and said that he is doing well in a mechanic course! He is able to do small repairs on vehicles and engines, and he is very proud of his work. He also said he hopes to get a driving license soon, and he asked that we pray for his studies. He also wanted to know if I know about mechanics! 

Then there was a letter from lovely Mary in Kenya! 

Mary says she is doing really well and trusts that we are, too. She said she is always delighted to get letters from us, and she is encouraged by them! She also said that the “supreme” president Barack Obama visited her country and it was very special when he was visiting- she described it as a dream! I know that they had a lot of cultural celebrations and national pride during his visit. That’s so neat. Mary also shared Psalm 145: 18-21  and said she learned about that passage from her teacher Martin at the project, and that he is an inspiration to her. Mary also really liked the letter I sent about Malala Yousafzai. I basically gave a brief description of her life and told the kids how she is working to make sure all children can receive an education, and how she is very brave. Mary said “I loved the story about Malala. She is so encouraging just like you because you usually believe that I am a strong girl who is capable of great things. You usually love your job and that’s great because you have a passion for it and I hope you go and work there though the library is busy.” :) Mary said she was going to pray for Malala! She asked that we pray for her grandfather whose health is declining. 

Later in the week, we heard from Laura in the Dominican Republic! 

Laura is so sweet! She said that it has been rainy where she lives lately, and she likes grey days the best! Me too! She also said her family likes to visit the countryside when they have holidays, and she really likes going there, even though it takes a long time to get there. Laura also said she is starting university in January, and she will be studying pharmacy! She also said she enjoyed reading about Malala, and liked the fact that she works hard so all children can get an education! She said thank you for all the letters and asked that I keep writing! 

We also heard from Victor in Kenya on the same day his photo got updated! 

Victor said that Kenyans were really excited about President Obama’s visit, and “most significant is that we even shared our grievances with him.” I could tell that Victor had learned some new words because he used that one a few times and also said he was “presumptuous” that their grievances would come to an end. :) He asked that we pray for Kenya because of the increased terror threat there, and he thanked us for the encouragement of our letters and said that his school performance has improved since we have been writing to him! 

Next was a letter from Juan in Bolivia! 

Juan said he went camping in Molinos with other kids from the project, and they had fun and learned about God. And he was on the yellow team. He also said that his dad came in from La Paz and they went to Mariscal park and had a walk, and they ate Pique Macho. I looked it up and it’s kind of like chili with hardboiled eggs? It’s meat and hot dogs and potato things and....hardboiled eggs. It looks really hearty. He also asked about my favorite food and about my trip to Japan (there was apparently a translation error- I did write about my friend Amanda, who lives in Japan!) And he asked us to please send more cards and pictures! 

Then there was another letter from Kenya- this time from Mercy! 

Mercy said she and her grandmother are doing really well and they have had enough rain for their crops, and now they are waiting for things to dry out so they can be harvested (they plant beans.) She said that she liked seeing the pictures of the hippos at the zoo, and wants Dia to take more people to see the animals there!! Or maybe she meant she wants Dia to take me to see more animals. Either way, it was cute! She asked us to pray for her education and shared Isaiah 50:12. 

Lastly, we got a letter from Brian in Kenya! 

This was our first letter from Brian since taking over his correspondence in June. Brian said his family sent their greetings and he was really happy to get all our letters, especially the ones with pictures. He said he’s doing well in school and they had a football competition at the project during August break, and his team was moving on to regionals. Brian said that it’s cold in Kenya and his family was planting beans, too. He also said he’s learning a lot at the project, including how to obey God and our parents. He shared John 14:1 with us! 

Today is a holiday, so there is no mail (sadly) but I am looking forward to what this week has in store! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Trash to Treasure

Did you know that the majority of orphaned children in Haiti gained that status not because their parents are deceased, but because they can't be cared for? Poverty's grip on Haiti is so strong, so crushing, that many, many families have had to relinquish their children because they can't feed them. Some wonderful organizations work to rehabilitate starving children with distended bellies, providing free medical care and assistance in the hopes that these precious little ones can return to the homes of their biological families. In some cases, sadly, parents feel that they have no other options- they may live far from these ministries, or resources may be stretched too thin- and their children are placed for adoption.

Part of "orphancare," a favorite buzzword of the American church, includes preventing children from becoming orphans in the first place. We are commanded to care for the less fortunate, and that includes people in other countries. One way you can help is by supporting businesses that offer employment opportunities and training for these moms and dads.

Apparent Project is a ministry I have talked about many times on my blog. I love what they are doing- turning refuse into art, training Haitian men and women to create beautiful things, and thus providing them with income. And I love gifts that serve more than one purpose. I am much more likely to buy jewelry or home decor if I found out that some lovely person in another country made it, and a portion of the proceeds return to those artisans to support their livelihoods! I work with Apparent Project every chance I get, and this year I am doing another Christmas fundraiser with them!

This year, AP's artisans have created some gorgeous, handmade holiday ornaments from recycled paper and discarded oil drums. They spent hours upon hours cutting, shaping, stamping, rolling, and forming the pieces of these ornaments. There are several new designs this year, too! I love them and plan on getting several for myself. :) If you would like to purchase an ornament, you can view the designs below and send me an email at hellojessi01(at) The ornaments are $10 each, but discounts are available if you would like to purchase more than one! I can also ship them anywhere in the United States and Canada. For each ornament purchased, $5 is returned to AP's artisans, and $5 goes toward my Honduras trip. For me, though, the most important thing is selling as many ornaments as possible so these lovely people can feed their families!!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Compassion Joys: September

Better late than never! :) Life has been so crazy lately with two jobs and family stuff going on. Here are my Compassion Joys for last month!

 Compassion Family


This month we received Pitchaya and Thanakan; Abdias, Benji and Kevenel in Haiti; Carlos in Peru; Sandier and Eduardo in Honduras; Barry in Burkina Faso; Amisha in India; Merlyn in the Philippines; Angelina in Ghana; Caleb in Uganda; and Mary Paola in Ecuador. Pitchaya and Mary Paola's letters were first letters!


September is really light on birthdays for us! Elisha in Tanzania turned 9, and Iratuzi in Rwanda turned 13!


This month we celebrated one year of writing to Elifagason in Tanzania, and one year of writing to Angelina in Ghana! We love these kids so much- they are both super sweet!

New Kids!

One new little guy arrived on our account this month! Meet Kevin from Peru! I love the letters I get from our other Peruvian kids, and I'm excited to get to know Kevin!

We also lost a total of 20 correspondents in September, which was really sad. It was hard writing all those goodbye letters. I agreed to be put back on the list for 10 more correspondents for now, so they may be showing up next month, since I was sort of high up on the list. I can't wait to see who we will be matched with, and share our new friends with you on here! 

Trip Update!

Last month, I had a bake sale at my church's outdoor market to raise money for my Honduras trip. After expenses, I ended up raising over $100 for my Honduras trip next year! On top of that, a few donations have come in from my fundraising page, so I am almost at 10% funded!

I am also doing another ornament fundraiser with Apparent Project. I have the ornaments until the first of November, so if you are interested in purchasing one, let me know at hellojessi01(at)! Only a couple have sold so far, so I'm hoping things pick up soon. The nice thing about doing fundraisers with AP is that it supplies income for struggling parents in Haiti. I want the fundraiser to be successful for their sake! This year's designs are pictured below!