I didn't get the chance to post last week, as Brandon has been on vacation and my schedule has been a bit wonky. I'm happy to say that letters are picking back up again; some have arrived rather quickly after being written, and at least two of our kids had letters on the way this week when we were scheduled to do an inquiry for them, as it had been six months of silence. I take both of these things as good signs that the kinks in the new communication system are being worked out.
First up, we have a letter from Edmundo in the Philippines.
Edmundo's letter arrived the day before we would have been able to ask for an inquiry about him. : ) Edmundo's letter was a little short, but it was still good to hear from him! He said that his family is doing well and he's glad to know that my back is doing better. He said he knew that we were having cold weather, and his place was getting lots of rain because of El Nino. He also said I'm thankful to God because he never leaves us, and I'm so thankful because he protects you and gives you good health!" How sweet!
The same day, we got a letter from Kevin in Peru!
Kevin's letter was logged about a week before my friend Marissa went to Peru and delivered some gifts for him and our other little guy Milder. I know that another sponsor who had gifts delivered heard from one of those children within two weeks, and I believe she had an extra photo- so I'm very anxious to see the contents of Milder's next letter, which is waiting in the queue. In this letter, he thanked us for sending "beautiful" letters and said that his family greets us with the love of God. He said that he's so glad Brandon's uncle Dennis is recovering well from his liver transplant, and loved seeing the photo we sent of him and aunt Anne. He also specifically mentioned he was glad to learn about my friend Melissa- I've been trying to send letters sharing about my friends, so the kids will know more about who I spend my time with! And Kevin said he thinks Melissa is pretty! :) Kevin also said he is praying for my mom, that she will have the strength to care for my pappaw, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and has some health struggles. And finally, he said to be sure to give lots of hugs to Brandon! I always think it's extra sweet when the kids send a message specifically for him, because I send messages on behalf of our family, but Brandon doesn't actually participate in the letter writing.
Next we heard from Mjay in the Philippines!
It had also been six months since we heard from Mjay, so it was really nice to get his letter. He said he's moving on to fifth grade, and apologized that he didn't make the honor roll. I was sure to tell him in my response that we are so proud of his accomplishments, and the most important thing is that he always tries his best (and that I didn't make honor roll that many times, either!) He also thanked us for sending lots of photos with our letters, which is a bonus of being able to attach extra pages to our online letters now.
The same day, we got a quick letter from Christina in Tanzania.
Christina's letter was a form letter about her school. As I sit here and read it, I think about the fact that my little guys Bonifas and Elisha don't send form letters anymore- they still have help with writing, but they're too big for this stuff. Oh, how time flies! Christina shared that she's in nursery school, her school is 2 km from her home, and she gets there by foot. She wears a blue shirt and a navy skirt, and her best school friend is named Lilian. And her favorite activity at school is eating food! Christina also did a small drawing for us, which I like because the girl in the picture has gigantic hands.
The third letter of that day was from Herlan in Bolivia!
Herlan was my mom's correspondent for about a year and a half before we took over those responsibilities, but since there was a long gap between that time and his first letter, I'm still waiting for his letters to be as informative as they were to my mom- and for him to acknowledge the letters I sent explaining that I would be writing for her now. Herlan is a musician and loves to play guitar, and this letter simply said that he is still enjoying the guitar and the new amp his parents were able to give him for his birthday, and he is happy to serve God with his musical talents by playing in the praise band!
Next was a letter from Eyo in Burkina Faso!
Eyo is such a sweetheart. I love writing to her and getting her letters. Eyo said that her family is working hard to cultivate peanuts, and her mother recently gave birth to a baby boy. Her new little brother is named Christian. She said she's enjoying primary school, and her favorite subjects are dictation and "orthograph!" She would like to be a teacher someday. Eyo said that she was glad I asked her to pray for the "sick children" and when she read about them, she cried. I am not 100% sure which letter she's talking about, but I love the fact that she is an empathetic young lady and has a tender heart. She also shared that her father breeds goats and chickens, and that they have a dog named "la lousse." I have yet to find a translation for that, as all the pages that mention that word are in French anyway. She asked that we pray for her family and their farming, and that she hoped to get another letter soon.
We also recently heard from Amelia in Uganda!
Though we celebrated her one year sponsor-versary this year, we are still getting to know Amelia. She is very sweet but her letters are just now starting to grow beyond a few sentences. She opened with "I am happy to get this nice time to say hello to you," and asked how all our relatives and friends are doing. She said she enjoyed a recent letter talking about my mom's relatives, and she is thankful to God for providing Brandon and I with new jobs in the past year. She specifically mentioned that she would like to learn more about elephants, which is something I ask about at the end of each animal-themed letter I send out to the kids. She asked that we keep praying for her to succeed in her studies, and said "I wish you a nice stay." :)
Finally, something really awesome happened last week that I didn't get the chance to share about yet! Some of my online sponsor friends met one of our kiddos! Jennifer and Katrina from Canada were both traveling with Compassion Canada on a tour of Bolivia, and when they got their itinerary, shared it in a facebook group to which we belong. The project for our little guy Francisco was listed on there! I sent them messages along with his photo and ID number, in case they ran into him, and asked them to give him a hug for me. I got way more than that. Jennifer actually put together a bag of gifts for him, and they were able to notify the project ahead of time that they were coming, so he would be sure to be there. His mom and little sister came, too. They met with him, hugged him, prayed for him, and took lots of photos. Katrina said his mom was crying and the Compassion staff said Francisco makes some of the other kids jealous because he gets so many letters and goes around reading them to people. They also sent two videos of Francisco, in which he greeted me and said he loved me and expressed thanks for his new toys. It was so incredible! I'm sharing a couple of the photos here- the young man is Francisco's tutor, and it's so encouraging that they seem to have a close relationship, especially since Francisco's father is not a part of his life. The Compassion staff and volunteers bless our kids in so many ways! And I will never be able to properly thank Jennifer and Katrina for meeting my boy and blessing him with new toys and a little attention. When we go on these trips to visit the centers and our children, we act as ambassadors for other sponsors who may never get the chance to meet their kids. I hope that on my upcoming Honduras trip, I'll be visiting the project of one of my friends' kids. It would be so awesome to pass on this blessing (as I witnessed in Tanzania when some of our travelers met with a young man sponsored by a woman at their church!)