We did receive quite a few letters this month, though things have slowed down over the past two weeks. I think that there might be a little delay in printing the letters since the new website launched! And that's ok. :) This month, we heard from Abdias, Amitie, Benji, Bonifas, Celestine, Elifagason, Elisha, Julian, Kajal, Michel, Mishel, Milder, Rachelle, Said, Yekersew, and Zalifina! And Milder's letter was our first letter from him!
Plenty of birthdays this month! Kajal turned 8, Teresia turned 11, Juan turned 13, Reine turned 15, Jeferson turned 10, Herlan turned 17, Estha turned 8, Bijay turned 18, and Angelina turned 12! I hope they all had very happy birthdays!
This month we celebrated one year of writing to Jeannette in Rwanda and Pitchaya in Thailand, and three years of writing to Mishel in Peru! Wow! I can't believe she's been a part of our family for so long. We love her dearly!
We received a few new correspondents this month! We got cute little Hankel in Nicaragua, beautiful Carla in Bolivia, handsome Milton in El Salvador, and mysterious Desire in Burkina Faso. I say that Desire is mysterious because after requesting sponsorship history and high res photos, we found out that one of Desire's pictures is of a girl, and one is of a boy. :) Chances are, Desire is actually a girl, and the older picture is correct, but I am still waiting to upload the photo until we know for sure what our kiddo looks like!! What a silly mix-up! We also took over sponsoring Mary in Kenya, who is very dear to my heart, and Sandier in Honduras (another very special child, whom I will visit later this year) after their financial sponsors dropped them. More on that situation in the prayer request section!
This month, we learned that we are able to send a present to Zoila in Honduras, whom we sponsor through Manna 4 Lempira. I am also going to pack bags for two kids sponsored by overseas friends, since international shipping is a huge pain in the behind. :) I love packing presents, though, so I don't mind at all- it's exciting! Below is what we are sending to Zoila. We are sending a sandwich bag, and I know that a lot of people don't think you can fit much in there. Well, Zoila is getting a quilted coin purse, a keychain with my favorite verse (in Spanish!), a pack of magnetic bookmarks, pink nail polish, a tiny stuffed bunny, a super sparkly bracelet (which I was going to bring her myself when I come to visit Honduras!), two hair bows, a cross necklace, paper soap (which is tiny and easy to pack- I recommend trying to find some!), a princess notepad, two glitter headbands (also originally purchased for my trip), and some crayons. I'll try to send her some coloring sheets with my next letter. :) I also found out that we can send books to our Manna kids, and we can send gifts up to a half inch thick, so I got her a Spanish copy of "A Little Princess" (another book I was going to bring her in Honduras!) And coincidentally (or not), we got a letter from her in which she said her favorite stories are about princesses. :)
A few updates came through this month!! We got new pictures of Gloria in Kenya, Frainelyn in the Dominican Republic, Eyo in Burkina Faso (who bears a striking resemblance to our long lost correspondent Joane- that made me smile!), Angelina in Ghana, Jeannette in Rwanda, and Austin in Kenya! Our girls in particular have grown so much in the past few years. I really didn't recognize Angelina at first!
We got a couple of extra photos this month! We got a picture of Zoila with her new shoes, which she received when the Manna kids got new shoes and backpacks. :) She looks excited! And there was a picture of her with our letter and folder we sent, too! We also got an extra picture of Mishel with the gifts we sent her last summer, but unfortunately the photo was damaged in transit. We are trying to get another copy sent digitally so we can print it on photo paper. She has all her presents from her backpack lined up on a long bench, and at the end is a smiling Mishel. :) Steph and I also got a few extra photos of Maribel, including some holding our letters and gifts!! Wow! I heard that she had trouble holding them all, because there were so many that she kept dropping them. That makes me happy. Finally, I received a very special facebook message recently. Our little Erick's mom had sent a friend request from Ecuador last year, and I explained in a message (with Hannah's translation help!) that we couldn't be friends or have contact outside letters until Erick graduates. A day or two after the earthquake, though, she sent a message with a picture of Erick and his little brother giving a thumbs up. :) So we knew that their family was ok!! Praise God! And then later she sent a sound file of him reciting Proverbs 3:1. It was so cute.
I have a few prayer requests for share! First, for our guy Tamirat in Ethiopia. It has been eight months since we heard from him. We submitted an inquiry after six months, and the field office in ET is not responding to the requests. A compassion staffer told me a week or so ago that they "escalated" the situation, but we still haven't heard anything. Please join me in praying that Tamirat is ok and nothing has happened to him that would prevent him from attending the program or writing. Second, please pray four our little guy Yekersew, also in Ethiopia. This month in his letter, he shared that his dad had abandoned their family. My heart hurts for them. Finally, please pray for God's provision in our sponsorship efforts. When we learned that Sandier was being dropped by his financial sponsor, it immediately sent me into a panic because we have a very close relationship with him, and we had just picked up Mary's sponsorship. I was very torn thinking I might have to drop one of my other sponsorships in order to keep Sandier. After sharing this prayer request online, several friends sent messages asking if they could help out by paying for a month or two of Mary's sponsorship, since she has about a year to go in the program. I was really blown away by these messages of kindness and generosity, and shared with each person how they could contact Compassion to make this happen. When I tallied all of these messages and offers up, it looked like we were going to have most, if not all, of Mary's last year in the program covered. So we went ahead and contacted Compassion, giving them a heads up about the situation and then adding Sandier to our account. However, a few days have passed and at this time, no one has contacted Compassion about making a contribution toward Mary's sponsorship (one friend sent a month of fees through Paypal, though!) so the part of my brain that is prone to anxiety (also known as "my whole brain") is a bit scared that things aren't going to work out as we thought they would. Please pray for me to have some peace about this situation, and to walk the walk of relying on God's provision each month to match the "talk" I've been talking. I really, really appreciate it. :)