Monday, June 27, 2016

Sweet Greetings from Kenya, Rwanda, and Togo

Happy Mail Call Monday- the last of June!

A few more letters came in this week! The first was from Rose in Kenya! 

Rose is such a great letter writer. This time, she shared a lot about her house. She lives with three grandparents and her aunt right now. I'm not sure why she's not living with her dad and siblings, as she has been in the past, but she has a lot of brothers and sisters and she might be staying with relatives to ease that burden on her parents- I wish they could all stay together. Her house is made of mud with a thatched roof, and she gets water from a bore hole. She does not have electricity. She lives close to the school and the project, which is great! She said she liked the pictures we've been sending and she really enjoyed the "lessons" we have sent, which would probably be letters about the fruits of the spirit and the Men and Women of Faith letters we've been sending. She asked that we pray for her studies, and said that her family says "hey." :) She also drew this pretty picture of her home! 

Next was a letter from little Jaki in Togo! 

Jaki wrote a short form letter about her friends, saying that they don't go to the project, and she knows them from school. They like playing dolls and house together. Jaki also shared that her favorite animal is a hen, and asked that we pray that God would bless her parents! 

The same day, we got a letter from Celestine in Kenya! 

Celestine said that last month she had some trouble with her leg, but it's all better now. I'm glad she is ok! She said her family is doing well and she is enjoying school. She said they did VBS in April at the project, and it was a lot of fun. They also took a trip to Mombasa and had a nice lesson about the holy spirit! Celestine said that she received the book we sent (I sent a bunch of books out to our English speakers before the mailing guidelines changed, and I'm glad to know she got it) and she liked receiving the information. :) She also shared that her volleyball team is doing really well, and she is praying for my grandparents and for Brandon. 

We were very surprised later in the week to get two letters from our new correspondent Nehemiah in Rwanda! 

In one letter, Nehemiah said his family grows sorghum and beans. He shared that he is in grade 4 and he is happy to get to write to us. The second letter basically restated the same stuff, but was addressed to his financial sponsor- that's why we got the letters so quickly after getting him as a correspondent! It was nice that his center had him send an extra letter, though. That means he knows he has a "new" sponsor now, instead of waiting a long time to send a first letter. I hope to learn more about him in future letters, when he starts getting lots of letters from us! 

Lastly, we got a letter from our "beloved son" Victor in Kenya! 

Victor writes such nice letters. They're so sweet, but they also have a certain formality about them. He said he hopes we are doing well and that his family is doing fantastic! Wow! He said it's the rainy season in Kenya and people are planting and weeding. Victor also said he's praying for my grandfather, and that he trusted God would heal my back by now. He "wanted to inform us" that for the past few weeks, he was working on pre-exams- mock exams that would help prepare him for the big ones so he could move up to the next class. The results should have been in last month. I can't wait to hear how he did. Victor is always really tough on himself when it comes to his grades. He said he got a C+ last term and said that was "somehow not satisfactory." But I'm really proud of him! Secondary school is tough and there's a reason a lot of kids drop out early where he lives. He is such a hard worker and we are so proud of him. He also said that he has been getting encouragement from Revelation 22:12.

While I have you here, I just wanted to share that my Honduras trip is now less than four months away! The departure date was four months from last Wednesday. :) I'm so excited!!! Folks have been asking if they can donate anything for me to take to the centers in Honduras, and I'm hoping to bring a lot of Spanish books to help the projects stock their libraries (or start them if they don't have one yet!) If you'd like, you can take a look at my wish list here. If you have a Prime account and $3 or $4 to spare, you can pick out a book to be donated to the child development centers in Honduras! :) 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sweet Greetings from Tanzania, Ghana, Indonesia, and Haiti!

Happy Mail Call Monday!

A few more letters rolled in this week through email. When I get the chance, I'm going to try to go through my entire account looking for some that maybe snuck through and I wasn't notified about, because I have a really crazy number of kids who write frequently that I last heard from in January. It's unusual to have to do inquiries for them or their countries, so maybe there are some sneaky letters. In the meantime, here's what came in this week! First we heard from Elifagason in Tanzania!

Elifagason is such a sweetheart. He said he is so joyful that God is protecting both of our families. His family also send their greetings, and he's very glad that I write to him so often. He said he liked the stickers he got, and he said it's cold where he lives and wants to know how it is in my town. He shared Psalm 23 with us and said he is praying for my duties and hopes I will pray for his studies! I'd also like to note that there was just a 3 week turnaround between the day he wrote the letter and the day I received it!

Next was a letter from my beloved Said. 

Said said he's so grateful that I remembered him. Of course I do! :) He said he had his final surgery where they removed the "iron" from his leg, when he broke it a couple of years ago. He spent most of his letter sharing his gratitude for Compassion's services and for our sponsorship. He asked that we pray for his exams, coming up in June. And his letter just took a month to get to us- he wrote it at the beginning of May. I'm always praying for his studies, but I was excited to see that his prayer request wasn't too far in the past! 

The same day, we heard from sweet Rubby in Ghana! 

I was excited to learn recently that one of Shelley's kids attends Rubby's project. I plan on writing to her soon asking if she knows him. :) Rubby has the sweetest way of phrasing things. When asked about a thank you message for her sponsor, she writes "I really appreciate the letters and pictures you sent me. How should I thank you for your endless care?" She told us that she helps set up the church for worship services, and that apples are her favorite fruit. She also answered my question about coffee, saying that her family "has no interest in it" (depressing) but they really like fruit juice. She said she was praying for a speedy recovery from my back pain, and she asked that we say hi to my mother in law for her, which was nice. She then shared Psalm 16:1. 

The next day, we got our very first letter from Anggi in Indonesia! 

We waited a long time for Anggi- about six months for a correspondent request (girl in Indonesia.) And we sure got a cutie. Her letter was so sweet, too! Anggi's letter was about her hobbies and pets. She said she liked playing with dolls and swimming, and she likes doing those things with her siblings. She has a dog named Bleki and a cat named Sipo, but she'd also like to have a fish and a chicken, and she would name them Sisi and Popi. :) Her tutor wrote a lot on the back of the letter! Anggi said she loves fruit, especially strawberries, and wants to know what I like. Her mom and dad like coffee, but she doesn't. She said she's sad my Pappaw has been sick and she is always praying for him. She wants us to pray for her studies so she can be "smarter" and said "I'm so happy that I can know and be sponsored by you!" And she drew a very colorful picture! 

Later in the week, we got our first letter from Medilien in Haiti! She got a photo update this week, too!

She said she's very happy to greet us in Jesus' name, and she is doing well. She shared that her younger brother's name is Daniel and they are organizing a majorette group for flag day! She asked if we have a majorette group and what we do for flag day. :) She asked that we pray for her health and that God will make her successful in everything she does. 

Lastly, we got a letter from Elisha in Tanzania! 

I never get mad at Elisha for not saying much in his letters, because I know he's hyper and has a lot to do. Seriously, all his letter said that he's having fun at school, he loves me and he is praying for me. And that's ok. :) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Project Letter: RW-641

Here's a letter from Emmanuel T.'s project in Rwanda! All the photos come from Compassion's website. 

I am Nsabimana S., the pastor of (RW-641) in Kanazi and also (the project) where we minister to Emmanuel. I am glad to write to you to thank you for your support and your sponsorship of Emmanuel. Through your kind support and that of the other sponsors, we are able to serve the little ones and release them from poverty in Jesus' name.

The people in our community are very poor. They suffer much from lack of food and water, unemployment, no education, no opportunity, and they are still recovering from the 1994 genocide. There are many widows and orphans. The children are affected most by this. Because of this situation, we are grateful to have the center to develop the children holistically in the Compassion International program. We serve them in the spiritual, physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional areas.

There is a very big difference between children who are sponsored at the center and those who are not. They have a better life. They receive medical care and are given school materials and school fees. They are learning to behave better and have respect. They are taught the word of God and some have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. We are glad some of our children have developed their talents and some young girls and boys know how to dance Kinyarwanda dance and how to play musical instruments. This will help us to maintain Rwandan culture. In addition to helping the children, our church has formed cooperatives to help people to join hands together to help themselves develop. Their mindset has changed positively because members do meet together and exchange ideas. We are helping the entire community, beginning with the program at the center.

The children are always so excited to receive letters from their sponsors. The letter correspondence between the sponsors and the children is a very important part of the development program, and is also very important to their self-esteem. They feel loved and cared for and encouraged in their studies, at the center and at church. They are especially delighted to receive photos. For this reason, please send Emmanuel letters.

To conclude, I would wish to extend my sincere appreciation for your kindness and support you have given to Emmanuel. May God bless you so much for the good work you are rendering.

If you are interested in sponsoring a young man in Rwanda, please consider Modeste. He is 19 years old and lives with his mom and two siblings. He is doing well in vocational school and enjoys listening to music and singing in the choir! Read more about Modeste here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sweet Greetings from Nicaragua, Ecuador, Tanzania, Peru, Bolivia, Kenya, and the Philippines!

Happy Mail Call Monday!

A few letters came through email this week. And a few more showed up in my mailbox, which is progress! The letters that were mailed were delivered digitally about four weeks ago, so I'm guessing that all the letters before then won't be showing up in print version- hopefully the rest of the ones after that will. But it is progress, and that's good.

The first letter we received was our first letter from Hankel in Nicaragua!

When Hankel's letter arrived, we had him as a correspondent for less than 2 months. That's a pretty great turnaround. We learned that Hankel lives in a city, and he sleeps in a bed and gets water from a faucet. He gets his food from a store and his home is made of wood and cement. He lives with his mom, his sister, and cousins! In the rest of his letter, Hankel said that his house is very small but it makes him happy. He even has a little yard to play in! He is getting good marks in school and he has a cat named Princess. He asked about our pets and asked us to pray for him because he has been sick with a cough.

The next letter was from Erick in Ecuador!

Erick's letter was about his hobbies and pets. He said his favorite hobby is "playing a lot" and he likes to play with his brother. He also has a dog named Centavito, and he wanted us to know that he had a toothache but he is doing better now. He said thank you for writing to him and for being his godparents! :)

We got our first letter from Teresia in Tanzania!

Teresia said thank you for sending her letters, and that they were "good and lovely." She asked that we pray for her studies, and shared Proverbs 3:8 with us, which was an interesting choice. She wrote it out as "it will bring health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones." Teresia's letter was written on April 30, so she may not have received many letters from us by then- but her letter arrived about five weeks after she wrote it, which is awesome!!

Our next letter was from Milder in Peru!

It's great to finally be hearing from Milder after waiting many months for his first letter. It also seems like Peru is getting on track with the new system, as we are used to receiving letters from our PE kids every two months. Milder's last letter was almost exactly two months ago! And it was written on May 13, so it took less than a month to be processed. :) Milder's letter was pretty awesome, because it was a form letter about Peruvian culture. I learned a lot- even if I knew about the options Milder selected, I learned about some new stuff from the ones he didn't pick! Milder said in his region they eat ceviche, trout, and rice with chicken. They drink lemonade and fruit juices. For clothes, they wear tennis shoes, hats, trousers or skirts, and ponchos (Milder is wearing typical western wear in his new photo!) And the preferred music in his region is Andean music and "North Coast dance." In the free writing space, Milder's tutor Luz wrote quite a bit. He received eight letters from us, and thought they were lovely. He has never been to a zoo but hopes to visit one someday. He is doing well in school and enjoys eating bananas and tangerines. He also said he loves coffee! It's neat how so many of the kids have responded to a throw-away comment about what I like to eat for breakfast. :) He said he is praying for my dad, and that he lives with his brother Denis and his great grandma! And he said goodbye with a hug. He shared this cute little drawing!

Our next letter was from Christina in Tanzania! 

Christina's letter was a form letter about the weather. She didn't say much, but I think she's still getting used to receiving letters from me rather than my mom. When she wrote her letter, Christina said the weather was rainy and cold, and in rainy weather she likes to visit her grandma. And she said thanks for our sponsorship. 

Next was a letter from William in Bolivia! 

William said that his family is doing very well, and he is enjoying his time at university. He is especially enjoying learning about drawing and design. And he said he reads his Bible "the most" to learn about his creator! William also replied to my coffee comment and said that he enjoys coffee, and his family also likes tea and mate (which I know is a favorite of Hannah's!) He said that he enjoys playing outside with his university friends, but he misses his friends from secondary school. He said thank you very much for the letters, saying he especially loved the photos, and said he hopes the Lord blesses us greatly. He asked that we pray that he won't have economic difficulties. And he wrote out Jeremiah 1:8! 

We also heard from Motempa in Kenya! 

Motempa's letter was pretty short, but it's nice that she took the time to write. She said she is doing well together with her family, and thanks to the rain, the crops and livestock are doing well and the land looks beautiful. She said thanks for writing to her and always praying for her, and that she is praying that God blesses us. 

Finally, we got a letter from Merlyn in the Philippines! 

Oh, my sweet Merlyn. I adore her. The same day we got a letter from her, she got a photo update (which you can see above!) I love the fact that Merlyn calls us big brother Brandon and big sister Jessi. :) She opened her letter saying "Hello! A happy day!" She said that her eyes are not bothering her anymore and she was grateful for our prayers. She also said that she loved receiving our photos and her mom said she was going to save her money to get them laminated. What a precious woman. She also asked what keeps Brandon busy, and if our cousin had her baby yet (she did this week, and I just got finished writing a letter sharing about the new baby!) She also shared that her mom is a fish vendor, and asked us to pray that she won't get sick. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Outgoing Mail: Service

It's been a while since I've done an Outgoing Mail post! Rest assured that I have been writing to my kiddos, but because of the website changes and the fact that I have so many faces on my account, I'm not writing quite as often (about twice a month) as it takes longer to get all the letters sent out. This month, I wrote to my kids about a really amazing service project my church participated in!

As a bit of background, my church partners with a ministry called Lifeline and a church in Ocotillo, Honduras. Every year, we send a couple of teams to bring supplies and do some construction projects to the church family there (one year we brought an ultrasound machine, for example, and this year I think we did a water filter.) There are usually two teams that go on short term trips and one team that's down there for about three weeks. Many people at my church also sponsor children through Lifeline, and I love it when we show video and photos of the times when church members get to meet their sponsor kids. It's so sweet! Our involvement with Honduras and Lifeline was actually what got me to request a correspondent in Honduras in the first place, and that's how Eduardo came to join our family.

Recently, our pastor shared that we were going to participate in a church-wide service project. We would be packing meals for Honduras, to be distributed by Lifeline. They operate feeding centers (much like the one our dear Zoila attends) throughout central America and the Caribbean, and we would be packing some of these meals to be shared with our Honduran brothers and sisters. Our goal was to pack 100,000 meals! Each bag we packed contained six meals, and the bags were filled with dried vegetables, vitamin powder, soy, and rice. When I say everyone participated in this project, I mean it! We came in to the sanctuary on the morning of the project and several rows of seats had been removed, replaced with tables (or left empty so people could stand on the other side.) After an introduction and an instructional video, we started packing. My friend Emily brought her mom to help out, too! We donned our hairnets and I held the bags as Emily, her mom, and Brandon's cousin Kayla scooped everything into the plastic bag. I then passed the bag to Brandon, who shook it down and passed it to his mom and aunt Ann, who weighed it. If it was a little under the ideal weight, Brandon added a spoonful of rice. If it was over, he scooped some out. The bag then traveled further down the line to the people who sealed the bags, and then the folks on the end stacked them on a grid made of masking tape. When all the spots on the grid were filled, those bags were packed up. I think that they held 24 or 26 bags in each box. The congregation packed meals and boxes during both services, both on the floor of the sanctuary and up in the balcony. Childcare was only provided for the very youngest kids (babies and toddlers) and people with mobility issues or the elderly had a special room set up so they could pack meals while sitting down (and let me tell you, the following week when they showed a video they put together of that morning, seeing the fragile old ladies wearing hairnets and scooping rice into little bags, wearing their church made me cry!) I'm happy to report that our church packed something like 100,140 meals that day. If one fewer box of bags had been packed, we wouldn't have made our goal. It was a beautiful experience, and one that I was very excited to share with our kids.

Unfortunately I don't have the text of the letter available right now, but I did take screenshots of both the letter and the photo pages I created to send to the kids (now that we can attach pages to our letters, my kids are getting a lot more photos! I've shared those below. I also asked the kids if their church or project has ever done a service event to help people in their community. I'm really looking forward to seeing the responses to these letters!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Project Letter: ET-522

Here's a letter from tiny Nejat's project in Ethiopia! All the photos come from Compassion's website. 

Grace and peace be upon you. My name is Degu G. I am the elder of (PROJECT) where we are working jointly with the child development center attended by Nejat. We are so thankful for the assistance and support you are providing to Nejat. Thanks to you, she can go to school.

The community is happy of the services performed by the center and the changes prevailing in the children's lives. But there are some people who distort the mission of our center and associate it with the opposition to their religion. As a result, they alienate Bible believers from the social life.

The center has played a great role in the increase of church members. Many center children have come to Jesus. They are serving in church ministry. When compared with the community children, the center children are neat physically, active and brave at school performance, good in their behavior, and accepted by the people positively. Center children have a prayer life. They sing Bible songs. They do not associate with ideas and practices against the Word of God. They witness that Jesus is Savior; they bring their friends to church. A gift of money to the children has helped us to buy chairs for Sunday school.

Ministers serve the center children and their parents by visiting their homes, teaching the gospel, and supporting the center.

I must tell you that the sponsor-child relationship through letters is useful. When children get letters or photographs they feel very happy. They wonder when they read the story of the sponsor's family. They respond with joy when writing letters. We encourage sponsors to continue writing if they can, because letters are very important to the children.

The center is operating with the help of God, and we believe our church must support its mission. Please pray for our holistic ministry. Also, please pray that God will help us to complete and promote the kindergarten school. God bless you, and thank you for your generous support of Nejat.

If you are interested in sponsoring a tiny child in Ethiopia like Nejat, please consider Eyob! He's three years old and lives with his mom and dad. Read more about Eyob here.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Project Letter: NI-240

Here's a letter from little Hankel's project in Nicaragua! All the photos come from Compassion's website. 

Dear Jessi,
My name is Pedro S. I'm the pastor of (NI-240) which is located in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. We host (the project) where Hankel attends. I am very grateful for the support you are giving to Hankel in our community. Our center has become a blessing for both the children and the community, because people like you are willing to collaborate.

Our church is in the San Judas neighborhood. There is a high poverty rate here. One of the most common problems that directly affect our children is the neglect of irresponsible fathers. Mothers struggle alone. That is why the centers have become a huge support for these families. But our church also faces the negativity of families when they are invited to seek God. There is much resistance, but thank God there are some families who seek the Lord and attend church.

The impact that this center has had on our community has been great. It has allowed the children the opportunity to improve their lives and receive the material support they need. Our vision is that every center child will be successful, know Christ and transform for a better future. These children need the health, food, clothes and housing that every human being needs. But above all they need the Word of God to transform their lives.

Children have changed at the center. They show good behavior, personal care, self-esteem, knowledge of the Word, as well as economic improvement. These enormous changes fill us with great satisfaction and gratitude to God.

The children express that they have found kind and friendly people who have helped them to develop as individuals. In the future the children want to be different from others by implementing and demonstrating of all the lessons and skills that they learn throughout the time they are at the center. They say they are very grateful.

Only half of our children received a sponsor letter last year. This makes children sad and discouraged because all of them expect to receive a reply to the letters they send. I consider the relationship through letters between the children and the sponsors very important. They can be friends, know each other, make prayer requests, show pictures and talk about family. This creates a close relationship for everyone. Please write to Hankel as much as you can.

I thank you once again for your interest and the support given to Hankel. I ask you to pray to the Lord that parents will be more interested in the well-being of their children and give them the love and care they need.

If you are interested in sponsoring a little boy in Nicaragua, please consider handsome Miguel! He lives with his mom, dad, and one sibling, and he's doing really well in kindergarten! Read more about Miguel here.