Monday, 31 March 2014

Four Letters in a Week

I know there are sponsors who received more letters in a week, but for me four letters in a week is a new record. But most importantly the letters couldn't have come at a better timing. My past week was rather stressful - work-wise and emotionally - so each of these letters was a wonderful little haven for me.

I'm gonna share all four letters in this entry, so beware it will be a longer post.

The first letter I received was from Floridalma. She lives with her parents Guatemala and loves listening to music and playing basketball. At 17 years, Floridalma is my oldest correspondence child, who I was assigned to me in September 2013. This letter from her was the first one I've received from her, so you can only imagine how special this letter was to me.

Dear Sponsor Svenja.

I greet you hoping that the Holy Spirit is blessing you in a great way in all your activities.

I thank you for the birthday present that you sent me during 2013 consisting of 198.75 and it was a great help.

May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you in what you do every day.

How have you been?

What do you do?

We already started classes. I started going to school in January 6th and I am studying at San Jose private school in Quetzaltenango city year I am studying in high school what is the civilization the medicine and nursery.

I take one hour to get to school. I leave my house at 6:10 in the morning so I can take the bus of 6.15 so I can get to the city at 6:40am and then I have to walk so I can get to school at seven o'clock.

I have a great time in the school but it is difficult to adapt because it is different because it is not the same as junior high school and I don't have my old friends, everything is new for me.

The teachers are very strict and they also gave us a lot of homework and we had to read a lot. My favorite class of art is technical orientation because they are teaching us how to put injections and taking calls and many interesting things. I am not going to my older school because it didn't have the career that I wanted to take. I ask you to pray for my family and me so I can do great in everything.

I say goodbye hoping that God blesses you in your daily activities.

May God bless you. I love you. In the drawing: bus stop and bookstore.

The 2nd letter I received was from Maryuri, who I have introduced in a former blog. She surely is the writer of my kids. Her letter was 5 pages long - four she used for writing and the 5th for a drawing.

Dear Svenja,

Kind regards to you and your family from the bottom of my heart.

May God bless your lives!

My last medical check up was June 12th 2013.

I usually have one medical checkup in a year.

The following people went to the medical checkup with me: my grandmother and my cousin Liseth.

At my medical checkup the doctor said that I need to gain some pounds.

At my medical checkup I learned that I should have more fruit and vegetables.

At the CDC I am taught how to take good care of my body by taking a shower every day and washing my hands before having meals and after using the toilet.

My medical expenses are paid by the CDC makes me a yearly checkup which is under their responsibility. But in case I get ill my social security system from the government pays that.

I want to let you know that I wish I could thank you for the support that you give me, also because I got a nice Christmas present that I received at my CDC.

The money that you sent me was to a lovely blouse to my mother and some clothes to me.

I got your letters recently and you asked me about my birthday cake, let me tell you that it was yummy and it had lots of chocolate pieces on it and grapes and strawberries.

I was really happy that day with my family.

Did you have the chance to find the cheese arepa's recipe? I hope you had the opportunity to taste it.

I also want you to know that I play with a ball when I am with my cousins, also to pretend to be a teacher and hide and seek. We also watch tv.

In your letter you asked me if I had any macaws, (note: I didn't ask that there must have gotten some mix up with the translation), I really do not have any. It is against the law having any at home as they are facing extinction!

I want you to know that Yeider will repeat preschool again this year. But my aunt is going to move to Venezuela our neighbor country so Yeider will study there. His teacher is going to be mad at him because his bad behavior and because he does not write down his homework.

I love very much your photo and the guinea pigs. We have them in Colombia, but bunnies are most popular.

I want to wish you and your family a happy New Year!

You asked me about our traditions in the New Year's day. Well, let me tell you that people use to go out to see the Christmas lights in the city and being together with the family. There were lots of fireworks this year in spite my country's law forbid its use, in order to prevent children getting burned.

You told me about in your letter about a concert you would have. How did you do in it?

Thank you very much for the Christmas calender. I have never seen one of them in my country. Christmas is loveliest season of the year for me as well.

We sing carols with our neighbors from our street and we also decorate the Christmas green tree that it is growing in our front door.

I am happy to write to you and I want to give you this verse: Isaiah 60:1 (Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.)

With great love, Maryuri.

I am fond of you!

Thank you very much for the drawing book and the picture that you sent me and decorated to me.

The first drawing shows herself, her cousins Liseth and Yeider. The three of them are really close and Maryuri mentions them in every single letter.

The drawing book she refers to in the last line was my Christmas Gift for her. She mentioned many times in previous letters that she loves to draw, that she would like to take a painting course some day, that she wants to learn much about drawing.... You get the picture I guess. So it only seemed natural to me to make her a how-to-draw-book.

Chistian was the first boy in my Compassion family. I have started corresponding with him in March 2013. I have received letters from him before, but they were kinda shy. He didn't share much information when he wrote, but always told me that he loves me and chose a Bible verse for each letter. In the latest letter he has really opened up and it's just so heart warming.

Dear Svenja,

May God bless you. I greet you with all my love and I hope you are in good health. I am very happy I can write to you again and know how you have been doing. I want to thank you for the support you have given me at the foundation, for the letters and for the Christmas gift you sent me, because I was able to buy a sweater. I want to tell you that I had so much fun on vacation with my friends. I ride bike and I took part in a national championship. I also had fun at the beach.

Right now, my height is 156cm, my weight 48kg and I am size 12-14. My hair is black and my eyes are black. In my family, I am the second son. My favorite colors are blue and yellow. I love to wear sports outfits. I am a kind person. My favorite cartoon TV show is “The Fairly Odd Parents” and my favorite movie is “Grown Ups2”. Who are your favorite soccer players? What is your favorite soccer team? Mine is Real Madrid.

I already came back to school and I am studying in the morning schedule. I am in 8th grade. I have done so well playing soccer and I am a forward. I want you to pray for my studies and my sport. I send you a Bible verse on 1 Peter 5:7 (Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you).

I leave you with all my love and affection. I hope I can hear about you soon.

May God bless you.

 The last letter of the four was from my youngest correspondence child - Naydali. She is only five years old, so her aunt writes the letters for her. When I read them I can't help but think what a bubbly personality my youngest must have.

Sadly in this letter they had to share some sad news with me. Naydali's grandfather died on December 24th.

Dear Svenja

This is Maresa, the aunty of Naydali, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and the Lord will send you blessings. Thank you very much for the beautiful letter to send her and she said that she likes the books and the stickers. She says they are very nice (Note: I sent her a thin sticker album and stickers for Christmas). For now she is well.

At Christmas we had a bad time because the grandfather Manuel was sick as you had said previously, he suffered from a disease in the lungs and died on December 24th.

In the project she had a very good time, made her lunch and she enjoyed singing with her friends. She said that Christmas is very beautiful because it is being held in family and because it was the time that Jesus was born.

She tells you that the atmosphere in which she was born is summer, and in addition to having been born in such a climate to she loves going to the bathe in family and enjoy the atmosphere in the summer. She asks you what time of the year you were born? What is your favorite weather? Here we are in summer and the weather is not so hot, this is a very warm climate great. She says she always prays for your family to God to give you strength to move forward despite the obstacles, for them to follow always forward.

May God bless you today and always.
Sending you hugs and kisses and she said that she loves you.

I find it amazing to see how the children progress in letter writing and I love it when you sense the letters were written enthusiastically.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Birthday Letters - A Challenge?

I love to plan birthday letters - usually. They can be easy to do, specially when the child is a frequent letter writer who provides a lot of information about their likes and dislikes.

But if I haven't heard from a kid yet or he or she doesn't write many letters it can be difficult to find things to send.

When I need inspiration for birthday letters I usually browse the web for ideas. I love to read blogs about what other sponsors send to their birthday children, so I thought I'd use this entry to share my ideas and hopefully it'll help to provide ideas to someone else looking for something to send as a birthday gift.

In the past few weeks I had to get five birthday letters ready to be sent out - some were easy; some weren't.

The first birthday letters I had to get done were the ones for Chistian (he'll turn 12 on April 1st) and Heriberto (who will turn 14 on April 27th). From both boys I had received letters before, but when I saw the note on my calender that it was time for their birthday letters I didn't have any idea what to send.

I kept thinking for days before I posted about my problem on OurCompassion. Only a few hours later I was presented with wonderful ideas (thank you to everyone who provided one):

- Jesus in the Temple story (Luke 2:41-52)
- sport playing cards/soccer cards
- sport posters

I also got the suggestion to throw them a party. How? Check out this blog:  
Paper Gifts for Estefany - Birthday Ideas
I promise you will be overwhelmed in a completely positive way with all the ideas provided.

Making the post on OC finally set my brain to work. In the end I didn't use any of those ideas, but as you can see, they are still with me for future birthdays.

I read through the boys letters, looking for any small mentions of the things that they like.

Chistian asked me in one letter to "please send me photos" and Heriberto mentioned that his favorite subject was Math - and with those statements I finally knew what I would send them.

For Chistian I collected photos from Germany - all the major cities, the important rivers, various landscapes... - and put them together in a photo book.

Heriberto will receive his very own "puzzle magazine" full of Math related riddles and games. I made sure he had a few topics to choose from and each envelope contained about five games. 

My next Birthday letter on the list was the one for Naydali. She is my youngest correspondence child and the two letters I have received so far overflow with information. Naydali loves animals (especially dogs), loves to watch animals, enjoyes listening to the singing of birds and her favorite colour is pink. In the letters (written by her aunt) it seems like Naydali is easily enthused about everything.

So, from my list of Birthday letters, hers was probably the easiest one; I made her a poster of various animals. I made sure to get a wide range of animals onto the poster. And of course the background of the poster is in pink - I didn't really have a choice there.

The two last letters are for Maryuri (she turns 9 on the 2nd of July) and Nakasumba (turning 12 on June 20th). This time I decided to send them a few stickers, nail stickers, age-appropriate coloring pages and mazes.

As a little special extra I made each of them an envelope book.

This might seem to be a not very thoughtful birthday gift compared to the ones above, but I made sure that they looked far from the usual letters and small gifts I send through out the year.

For both girls I chose a paper folder and turned it into some kind of a lapbook. I cut the folders a little smaller so it would fit the restrictions for sending and added "pockets" to it so I could store away the little gifts I got for them. I used the parts I cut off before as well as an envelope to make them. Before I started adding the gifts I decorated the folders. And here this how the final results looked:

I had fun working on all those birthday gifts and I hope my kids will enjoy them just as much.

Friday, 14 March 2014

I'm a Correspondence Sponsor

I started sponsoring Citlali only a few weeks before I heard of the Compassion's correspondence program and I wanted to sign up right away. 

I love to write, I had time to write another letter on a regular basis, and I wanted to help another child one way or another, but there was no way we could pick up another financal sponsorship back then.

The idea behind this program is that financal sponsors who don't want to write or aren't able to write,  can ask Compassion to sign them up for a correspondence Sponsor. For Compassion, it's important that the children receive letters, that they get told how special they are and that someone cares for them.

So, about five weeks after I started sponsoring Citlali through Compassion Deutschland, I contacted Compassion International to sign up for the correspondence program. (I did contact Compassion Deutschland as well, but they told me that it would take months until I got a child - honestly it took two years. But that is great, because obviously there aren't many kids on the waiting list that need a correspondence sponsor.)

Only a few days after I contacted them I received an email letting me know that they had assigned Genet to me.

It was only a small photo I saw of her first (the one in the biggest heart), and to say the truth, at first she appeared older to me. But Genet was only five years old when she stepped into my life.

My little girl lives with her grandparents in the Sounthwest of Nazareth/Ethiopia. Both her parents are alive but divorced and don't live with her. Genet doesn't have any siblings. Her family duties are running errands and cleaning. Genet loves to play with dolls, enjoys group games with her friends and likes to play house.

She doesn't write her own letters yet and all of them are form letters where she (or most likely a project worker) just has to tick off the correct answer.

I once received a prayer request from Genet that stood out from the others. She asked me to pray for her to be wise and nice.

Here are a few more quotes from her letters:

"She thanked for you are willing to support her."

"I love you."

"Thank you about your letters."

"I received your letter. Thank you so much."

The more letters I wrote to Citlali and Genet, the more I realized just how much fun it is to write them. I always looked forward for my next 'letter writing day'. In late summer 2012 I asked to be put back on the waiting list to get another correspondence child.

Like the first time, I didn't ask for a specific age, gender or country, I simply had the feeling I would be matched with the right child. In October 2012 I welcomed Maryuri from Colombia to my Compassion family.

I sent her an introduction letter right away. I told her where I live, about my family and my hobbies.

More or less patiently I waited for her first letter, and when I got it, I knew instantly it was the start of a wonderful relationship.

This first letter was written with the help of a tutor and it was full of information. I learned that she wants to meet a dolphin and to play in the snow. Someday, when she's grown up, she wants to help her mother and buy a house for her. I was told that she and her mother live in a house with her aunts, uncles and cousins, that she visits the project with her cousin Liseth and that she receives help with her homework.

In the letter I was asked a lot of questions: how old I was, where I live, what I like to do and if I study. The most important question for Maryuri was if I could send her a photo;obviously she hadn't received my first letter yet.  She also made sure I knew that she wanted us to become great friends.

To the day her letters overflow with information and kind words.  She is for sure a talented letter writer.

And now I will share my favorite quotes from her letters:

"I would like to visit the city of Bogotá because my dad and little brother live there."

"When I grow up I want to be a nurse because I want to help other people."

"I thank you for your letters and support because I am happy learning that you are well."

"My mom is proud of me."

"I want to thank you for being so special with me."

"The gesture you for me of making that beautiful book about dolphins was so beautiful."  (note: I sent her the book for her birthday 2013)

"I would like you to pray that Good will give him (her cousin who has problems in school) so much intelligence so he can get good grades too."

"I'm happy to know you think of me."

Over the past two years I have slowly taken up a few more correspondence sponsorships - one at a time, when I felt the urge to ask. Today I have 11 kids - Citlali and ten correspondence children.

To introduce the other eight kids in this post as well would be too much. I will leave that for a later date. But one thing is for sure, being able to have all of them in my life is a blessing.