Sunday, October 30, 2016

I'm Back!

What a week it's been! I returned home from my Honduras trip early this morning, and have been trying to catch up on rest today. I missed Monday Mail Call last week, and, fair warning, will probably miss it this week as well- a lot of letters came while I was away, and I've got a lot of stuff to do around here during my day off tomorrow! October Compassion Joys will probably be a bit late, too. But over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing about each day of the trip, letting you in on the amazing stories from each day, and posting photos of the beautiful Honduran children we met along the way (including the most beautiful ones, whom I happen to sponsor!) Stay tuned and please be patient as I try to gather my thoughts and put my brain back together after a long, impactful week!!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sweet Greetings from just about everywhere!

It's time once again for  Mail Call Monday!


Estha's letter was about the weather. Her country has two seasons. Apparently they do rainy, dry, rainy, dry! She says it's cold right now, but that's her favorite. She asked about my favorite meal, and requested we pray for her family's "evolution.":)


We hadn't heard from Barry in FOREVER! So it was awesome to get a letter from him! He said that he and his family are doing well and that they pray for us. He said "I am happy to know that God is doing wonderful things in your life," and he said he hopes that God continues giving us peace and joy. And he drew all these lovely things!


We got two letters from Amisha this week! It was SO exciting and a big relief to learn that she received the gifts Shelley carried for us back in February. She said "aunty I got some gifts you send me, 1 set clip, girls toys, Minnie Mouse, 'shaper' and purse. I like it all!" I think they were working through the backlog of letters because at the same time, she got our Valentines and Thanksgiving cards. :) I'm so glad she liked everything and that it arrived safely at her project. She also learned about the manners and hygiene lessons that Kajal has covered recently ("daily bath, brushing my teeth twice daily, wearing dress neatly and clip the nails once a week.") She also said they were having cold rain, but they did have sunlight, and she enjoys learning about all the things I share in my letters, like "gorilla lifestyle," horse races, and the fruits of the spirit. She shared she was worried about the baby gorilla at our zoo, named Kindi, and that she is very pretty! She also shared that her closest city had a flower festival this summer, and she didn't see it but she read about it in the newspaper. She made a nice drawing of her project! 


Merlyn said she always enjoys my stories, and that she is glad we always pray for her and her mom. She asked that we pray for her mom to have strength to go to work. She shared her ideas about peace ("you should love other people and not fight with them") and said that she recently received some gifts at the project. She got new school supplies, a uniform, and an umbrella for school, and with her birthday gift she got rice, a pair of shoes, lemon squares, Millo bars, and milk! I told her it's always nice to get both practical and fun things for your birthday. :) 


We sure are hearing from our Philippine kids more frequently! Edmundo said he's happy he gets so many letters now, and he likes seeing pictures of my friends. He really enjoyed Hannah's lesson about God in the trees. He also said recently he had to go to the hospital for a high fever! He was there for a few days but he is better now. He asked that we pray for his mom and dad. 


It was almost time for an inquiry for Yekersew, so it was great to hear from him! He said "I am fine, except for missing you!" How sweet! He said he recently moved up to 2nd grade, and he asked if we have rivers and plants in our country. :) He asked if I want to visit Ethiopia someday, too. 


We are now getting the letters that Patricia wrote this summer! She is such a sweetheart. She said she's loving her summer vacation and they are doing a  lot of fun activities. She said she liked the photo that I sent of a blanket I made recently, and "making blankets is a good idea." She asked for more photos of baby Kindi and said she is praying for her to grow up strong! 


Brenda didn't have a lot to say in her letter, just that she is enjoying going to the project, she likes to go to church, and she likes to eat candy. :) The form portion of her letter said she likes the parables of Jesus and she learns the most about God from her teachers. 


I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Doris' first letter. We heard that some were on the way after inquiring at six months after receiving her as a correspondent. And we received two in the same day! She is very friendly and inquisitive. She said she loves reading all our letters, she liked reading the story of Fanny Crosby and especially enjoyed the song (I sent a screenshot of the sheet music for Blessed Assurance!) She was preparing to start studying records management She said that soon they would have a youth seminar, and she asked a lot of questions about gorillas. She repeated some of my facts about them, and asked things like how long they live, what else they like to eat, if mountain gorillas eat differently than lowland gorillas, and how long gorillas are pregnant! 


Zalifina said they've had events like birthdays, weddings, and christenings in her family, but she didn't share who had what and when! :) She said she was thankful we sponsored her family (which makes me think that her enrollment in the program is having a really big impact on the family as a whole) and she begged- literally- for us to pray for her, and asked if we want her to pray for us, too. She said she shares peace by encouraging others and making them brave by telling them that God loves them. 


Christine answered the questions that I wrote about sponsorship! Inspired by a discussion online this summer, I asked the kids why sponsors should write letters, and what they should know about sponsoring a child. Christine is the only one who as responded thus far. She said "my friend, it is very important to have a sponsor. Most children who are sponsored come from poor families. Some do not go to school, do not have clothes, and even food to eat. But through sponsorship, we are able to get all the above. Some do not have parents, so when you get a sponsor, he or she becomes like our parents and a friend. Lastly, it's through letters that I come to know how you are doing, so it is very important for a sponsor to write to a child. Since we are far away, it's through this and pictures that we communicate." She closed with this lovely drawing of a flower! 


Kaue's letter was about holidays. His favorite is Easter, but he likes New Years too. And on holidays, he likes to "hang out." :) He drew a picture of a party at his project! 


Steph and I hadn't heard from Maribel since February, so it was wonderful to log on and find a letter from her on our joint account! I found it two days after it was processed, since apparently I wasn't set up to receive emails on that joint account. Not too bad! She was apparently aware of the slowdown the Bolivia office was experiencing because she said she was sorry that we weren't getting her letters (but it's getting better!) And she assured us that she was receiving our letters! She said she attends the student center every day and she doesn't skip it, and she asked about our weather. She also said "you're very special to me and I want you to know that I love you very much." She made this adorable drawing for us! 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Project Letter: ID-231

Here's a letter from Ecel's center in Indonesia! All the photos come from Compassion's website.

I am pastor Stenly K. I am the lead pastor of the protestant church (ID-231) where we are ministering to Ecel. I want to sincerely thank you for your kind heart to support Ecel and this ministry. Your support and that of all the other sponsors has helped us to run the program and helped over 300 of the neediest children at the center. Without you, we wouldn't be able to do this.

There are many activities that the children do at the center. All of their activities are based on the holistic development curriculum from Compassion. The program is centered on the four holistic areas of development, including the spiritual, physical, intellectual, and socio-emotional areas. Our curriculum is very good, for it allows the children to study in a fun way whether it is indoor activities or outdoor activities. We also care for the children's physical health. We give them nutritious food that is needed for them to grow.

The center's mission is to raise up a generation of young Christians blessing our community. Currently, we are compiling a program to help the children's families to earn some money. It is a kind of income generating program. We raise pigs nearby the area where the center is located. Pork meat is very competitive in business. There is quite a lot of space with waters and unused pens. So this is a good place to be done. The progress is quite good. Through this program, we are positive that we can help the children's families to add more income to support the families so that the children can focus on studying.

From our deepest heart, we are thankful to you and pray that God will bless you. In these difficult days, we really appreciate your contribution and support of Ecel. You have changed his life from a very bad situation into a better one. Before, the children at the center had no health care and could not go to school. They could not play or interact with other children their age. They did not attend church and did not know Jesus. Now all of that has changed. Because of this, it is a joy to see the enthusiasm of the children and the families. May Jesus bless you abundantly!

If you are interested in sponsoring a young man in Indonesia, please consider Nando! Coincidentally, Nando attends the same project as our guy Prayer! :) You can read more about him here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sweet Greetings from Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Brazil, India, Uganda, and Ghana

It's technically a bit late to be Mail Call Monday, but with my work schedule, Tuesday sometimes works a bit better. :) Here's a little about the letters we've received this week.

Mary Amoah

We got a quick letter from Mary Amoah in Ghana. We've had Mary for a little over six months, and only recently got her first letter. This one was written at the beginning of September. Mary shared a bit about what she's learning at the project, including information about flowers, and the definitions of privilege and responsibility! She prayed that we would be blessed by God and asked that we pray for her and her parents to have a long life. 


I was really surprised to get another letter from Caleb, since we heard from him pretty recently! And Caleb also got a surprise photo update at the end of the month, too. Caleb had a LOT to say in his letter. His last two letters shared a lot more than he has in the past few years. I learned that Caleb's dad is a pastor and a mechanic, and that his mom is "just a peasant." Caleb said that a few years ago, his dad traveled to Asia to learn more about the Bible, and on that trip he visited the zoo and saw lots of animals and birds he'd never even heard of before. Most recently he traveled to Kampala. He also said that they had a party at the project in July, and it was a lot of fun. He said he enjoyed getting photos with my letters, and that they "caused him to become very interested" in my mom's dog, whom he apparently really likes. He also said that he received the book about famous horses that I sent to him before the letter writing changes earlier this year, and he really liked the stories, which helped him with his English! And even though he's just 15, he asked us to pray that he will get into university. :)


It was so nice to receive a letter from Kajal this week. It had been so long since we heard from any of our Indian kids. Her letter was a form letter about what they're doing at the project, which revolves around manners and hygiene right now. Her helper said that she's learned about treating everyone with dignity and respect, and learned how to trim and clean her nails. In the main part of the letter, her helper said she is really happy and loves getting our letters. She's been playing a local game (which they said is called khorkho, but I can't find anything about it online- guess I need to do more research!) She received our Valentine card and thought it was pretty, and her family doesn't drink coffee- they drink tea with breakfast. And she said that she took her annual exams and asked that we pray for her to do better next time. 


What a treat to get another letter from our dear Mary! One came on the first day of the month, and one on the last. :) At the end of August, she was preparing for exams. She said she reads my letters every day and that she is glad we have a close relationship even though we are far apart. And she asked that we pray for her family!


Rose shared that she really enjoys getting all our letters and that she learns a lot from them. She also wrote a bit about her house. Her house is made of mud, and it has a thatched roof. She usually gets her water from a borehole and washes her clothes in a basin. They do not have electricity. Rose said her house has two rooms and she sleeps with three of her grandparents and her aunt. Her parents do not live with her. I think they have a lot of kids and this is one of those situations where some of the older ones have to go live with relatives. She also shared that they had a lovely Easter holiday, and that her aunt goes to church with her.


We also heard from Bijay in India this week, and it had been a while since he had written, too. Bijay is so sweet. He said that he and his parents are doing really well and that they pray for us. Bijay's letter was written back in the spring, and I think it was probably just missed in the backlog of letters. He wrote about Easter and some informational days that his project had, such as Water Day and TB Day. He wanted to know if we have a TB day and how we celebrate Easter. And it was great to know that lots of parents came to these informational days at the project! He also shared about India's heat wave this summer and said that a lot of people were having trouble with heatstroke and other medical issues. And he asked that we pray for his studies.


We had to wait a long time for it (her last letter was written in October 2015!) but this was the longest letter we've ever received from Patricia! She filled up the whole page. She said she's doing great and the project had a camp this summer. She loved the stickers we sent and she really liked seeing a photo of my friend Jess's baby. At the time of her writing, the teachers in Patricia's city were on strike, but she is starting high school next year, and that's great! She also said that she likes to draw in her free time ("that's the talent that God gave me") and she likes playing volleyball and "browsing social networks" with her friends. It's good to know that Patricia has some internet access. She also wanted to tell us happy belated anniversary, and to tell Brandon she said hi. Her family drinks coffee every day, and she thinks that our little cousins are really cute and lovely. :) And she requested that I write a letter about giraffes. She also said that she was baptized when she was 12! And she made this adorable drawing.


Celestine said she and her family are doing very well and that they are praising the Lord at the project. She said they celebrated the Day of the African Child at the project, and the kids enjoy learning how the projects work to "eliminate harmful cultural practices." And she said that she prays every day for God to give me a long life. 


We got a crazy long letter from Bonifas this week- and it was written about a week before it arrived in our email!! Bonifas lives on the outskirts of the city where the field office is located, so I hope that in the future, the changes to the letter writing system mean that we will get letters from him really quickly. :) Bonifas said that he loved the letter about raccoons I sent (very recently) and that he thinks raccoons sound a lot like mice, only mice are smaller "with fat legs." He said that they don't get along with people because they destroy property and crops, and they are hard to get rid of. He also shared that his dog recently had three puppies, and they don't have names yet. In my response, I told him that I thought it would be funny if they named one of the puppies after Brandon, since I would like to have a puppy myself, and have been trying to convince him that this would be a good idea! It was fun reading about Bonifas caring for the puppies. He said "I have built a house for them and I feed them soft foods." So cute!! I wish I could see pictures! 

Emmanuel T. 

We got our first letter from Emmanuel T in Rwanda. He is really friendly and sweet. He said that they are in a sunny period and they enjoy the weather, and he wants to know all about the weather in our country, among other things. He said he wants us to send more photos of our family. He likes playing football and "singing God's songs" and wants to know what we like doing. He really asked a lot of questions and seems very curious about our lives! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Project Letter: GU-819

Here's a letter from Evelyn's project in Guatemala! All the photos come from Compassion's website.

My name is Isaias O., pastor of (GU-819) in Guatemala, which ministers to your sponsored child at the development center. Greetings in the name of Lord Jesus Christ! I hope God is abundantly blessing your life! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you do for Evelyn.

The weather in my community is cold, and people speak Quiche and Spanish. The main sources of income are pottery, tailoring, and furniture making. People reach secondary and high school. Thank God, we count on drinking water, electricity, drainages, and public transportation. The roads are of dirt, and some are paved. Our main problems are undernourishment, early pregnancies, and family disintegration.

As a church, we fight against family disagreements, difficulty to leave idolatry, and excess of paternalism. My vision for church is that every member prospers in the spiritual, moral and academic areas to overcome foresaid problems together. My vision for the center is to continue working for children to make them a light for the community and make an impact on their family.

Thanks to Compassion's program, children have shown an important change and are different from those who are not at the center. They are in good health since they have access to medical checkups. Furthermore we have fought against a high percentage of undernourishment. They are also learning Bible stories and are improving their spiritual, emotional, and cognitive areas. The center also offers technical trainings to young people so they can be productive in their communities.

In just a few months we have registered at least 115 professions of faith in Christ. Praise the Lord! I want to share with you a story of impact in our community. It is about a child that was registered in the center. He lived in poor conditions with his mother only. However, he  attended the center with much happiness and served God with much enthusiasm. The child became a young man and the time to complete the program came. Thank God, he was chosen to be part of the Leadership Development Program, and attended university. Currently he is a lawyer, and continues serving God through his career.

We have other ways of social help in our church, collecting food supplies and offerings for families in distant communities. It is important to remark that at least 50 children and their parents attend our church, and the rest attend other churches with their families.

Please know how important it is for a child to have communication with his sponsor. They can learn about those who have changed their lives, and pray for them. When children know that they have received letters, they feel happy and encouraged by the love transmitted through their words. On the contrary, children who don't receive letters feel sadness and curiosity to know about their sponsors. I hope you will always write to Evelyn.

There is much need in Guatemala, especially outside Guatemala City. That's why it is necessary to support many families that are facing economically and spiritually difficult times. Therefore, please pray for the problems that affect our community and center, for the families of the entire community, for every member of the church, for the sponsored children and families, and for the volunteer staff at the center.

If you are interested in sponsoring a girl in Guatemala, please consider little Nohemy. I am in love with her braids!! She is so precious. Nohemy has been waiting over six months for a sponsor. Read more about her here.