Saturday, 27 September 2014

35 Questions to Ask Your Sponsored Child about Their Friends & Family

I've heard some sponsors say they don't write, because they aren't sure what to write about.  I've compiled some question list that might be helpful to you.  These were posted on my old blog, and I am reposting them here.  The third of these lists is 35 Questions to Ask Your Sponsored Child about Friends & Family. Feel free to use them in your letters, and to answer the questions for your children about yourself. 

Some of these questions will be appropriate only for older, or younger children or certain cultures, but I thought it might help some who are stuck with things to talk about.

To Read 55 Questions to Ask Your Sponsored Child About School, Click Here
To Read 73 Random Questions to Ask Your Sponsored Child, Click Here 
To Read 70 Questions to Ask Your Sponsored Child about Culture, Community & Country, Click Here

1. Who is your best friend?
2. How many siblings do you have?
3. How old are your siblings?
4. When are your sibling’s birthdates?
5. Do your siblings have sponsors?
6. Do you share a bedroom with any other family members?
7. Why do you like your best friend?
8. Are you close to any extended family?
9. How can I pray for your family?
10. Will you draw me a picture of your family? (Or send a photo)
11. What family traditions do you have?
12. What is your favourite family activity?
13. How do you help your family?
14. What are your parents’ jobs?
15. Which family member is closest to you in age?
16. Do you get along well with your family?
17. What activities do you enjoy doing with your friends?
18. Do your friends also have sponsors?
19. How old were you when you met your best friend?
20. Does your best friend go to the same school as you?
21. Do your friends have the same religious beliefs as you?
22. How often do you see your extended family?
23. Which relative do you resemble the most?
24. Which relative is your personality the most like?
25. What members of your extended family do you see the most?
26. What is your role in your family?
27. Do you spend more time with your family, or with your friends?
28. Who makes you laugh the most?
29. Do you and your siblings share your chores, or do you each have your own?
30.Do you do the same types of chores as your friends?
31. does the cooking in your family?
32. Do you have any friends or family members with the same birthday as you?
33. Do you go on family vacations?
34. How can I pray for your family?
35. How can I pray for your friends?

Click here to sponsor a child through Compassion Canada for $41/month or
Click here to sponsor a child through Compassion USA for $38/month

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Back to School

I'm a little bit late writing this Compassion Blogger assignment on the topic of Back to School, but to be fair, the schools where I live were a little late starting this year too due to a strike, and today is the first full day of school this year, so I figure the timing is rather appropriate.

The school strike here started before the kids were out of school for the summer a few months ago, ending classes abruptly and the children did not receive report cards for the year.  I'm not going to focus on the strike itself, nor get into the politics of it, but I will say that the one thing that upset people the most was the fact that children province-wide were not in class receiving the education that they had a right to.

And yet, in so many countries, an education is not a right, but a privilege.  Children living in many of the countries where Compassion works are only able to attend school if their parents are rich enough/  For some facts about the percentage of children who cannot attend school around the world, click here.

Compassion helps these kids get an education by supplying them with things such as school supplies and primary tuition fees where needed.  Many Compassion projects also help with school uniforms and the children all receive tutoring at their projects to help them get good grades, which increases their chances of furthering their education past the primary school level, something that is not common in many countries.  Getting a good education is vital to those living in poverty, as it helps them to find good jobs and finally break the ties of poverty once and for all. 

 Click here to sponsor a child through Compassion Canada for $41/month or
Click here to sponsor a child through Compassion USA for $38/month

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Showered with Love

Today I received a letter from 9-year-old Maryuri, who lives in Colombia. She writes awesome letters but the one I got today made me feel like I was showered with so much love. I simply need to share it.

But before I let you read the letter here is a little information. Yeider is Maryuri's younger cousin. In a lot of letters she mentioned him. She was obviously worried about him, she kept telling me how he didn't pay much attention in school and used to get into trouble with the teachers. I started sending him little messages through Maryuri, encouraging him, telling him that I pray for him and his studies.
Earlier this year I received the news that Yeider and his mother moved to Venezuela, which also meant I couldn't continue to send him messages the way I used to. So the news I received in this letter made me really happy.

"Dear sponsor Svenja,
greetings: Hi beautiful sponsor. I greet you with great love and I send you a kiss and a big hug. I wish that you and your family are fine.

I live with my mother, my grandma Maria, my aunt Leidy, my cousins Liset and Charit, my cousin Brayan and Yeider.
I have one brother but I don't live with him because he lives in another city with my father and his mother.

My mother works washing dishes in a restaurant and she also cleans that place.

The activities that I do with my family are going to the park to have an ice cream and sometimes we go to the river and have fun playing with my cousins. What I like the most about my family is that they are very close and affectionated. We also share and enjoy the time we have with the rest of the family.
I am very happy to write to you. I got the silhouette of your hand and I will send you mine. You asked me how Yeider is doing. I tell you that Yeider has improved his grades just a little.

How was the wedding of Paul?

I tell you that Yeider and his mother are back in my grandmother's house. He send you a greeting.

I am glad to hear that you are going to cook the arepas. They are delicious.

I received the picture that you sent me. Your son is beautiful.

I want to thank you for the birthday card and all those beautiful presents that you sent me.
When is your birthday?

I wish with my heart that God blesses you a lot and that you always do well.
I want to give you Psalm 28:7.

With love, Maryuri"

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Share of Birthday-Letter Ideas

In the past two months I had another bunch of Birthday letters to get ready. My birthday kids in the next few months are Jenny, Lamayian (turning 16), Sawadogo (turning 12) and Darcy (turning 8). 

Today I want to share what I sent to them. 
Doing the birthday letters for Darcy, Jenny and Lamayian seemed to be hard at first, because they had to be send off quickly after I received them as a sponsor/correspondence children. So, I hadn't received a letter from all of them. 
But I'm quite happy with the outcomes. 

The photo below shows my birthday gift for Jenny. 
I decided to send her a Birthday Book. I added birthday greetings from friends of mine to it, Bible verses, a game of Pairs, coloring pages and a Birthday crown.

Most importantly I added a lot of encouraging words for her. I had the feeling that's what she needed the most. 
For the blue cover of the book I used a folder, for the pages in the book I used simple colourful paper. I put all the pages together with small bits of cord, not too much to make sure that it will go through but enough to give Jenny the chance to open the book no problem.

The next photo shows the birthday gifts for Lamayian and Darcy.
Lamayian was the hardest one to choose a gift for. He is the first boy his age I have received as a correspondence and I had no idea what to send him. At the end I decided to send him a self made tic-tac-toe. For the board I choose green cardboard and for the meeples I used thinner paper in two different shades of blue. I cut out small stripes and added stickers to them to make them more "interesting".

I have sent the same game to one of my other boys and he told me that he loved it and that he took it to school to play it with his friends. So I hope, even though he is older, Lamayian will enjoy it too.

For Darcy, I decided to put together a birthday book as well.
Her book is a lot smaller than the one I did for Jenny, but I trusted my feelings here. I sent her paper flowers, a very thin activity book with coloring pages, a connect-the-dots-game, and a sticker page which she can decorate with zoo-related stickers. For her book I cut a cardboard folder into two pieces and put them together with a short piece of cord again. To store away the gifts I used small gift bags and glued them to the pages - making sure to change their position in each to make the book thinner. I sealed the bags with stickers and wrote on the pages what was inside the bags.

The last birthday gift I made in the past weeks, was for Sawadogo. He told me in one of his letters that he loves to play with his friends and after reading the blog entries from Hannah about the sidewalk games (Sidewalk Games - Hannah's Blog) from around the world, my mind was made up quickly.

I would send off another "book", but this time with sidewalk games from around the world.
First I started to search for various sidewalk games myself, but at the end Hannah was so kind as to send me the games she uses for her monthly game-letters. Funnily enough, one of the games I knew.   I loved to play it when I was Sawadogo's age, I used to play it endlessly at home and during recess. Of course I pointed that one out to him in the birthday card.\

Again I chose a folder for the cover, and normal paper for the pages and cord to hold it all together. 

Spending some time on Pinterest and the fact that my kids regularly tell me how much they like the photos and postcards I send them, caused me to come up with an idea for the next birthdays.

There are so many beautiful photos online which I want to share with my kids, but because there are so many, I know there isn't really the chance to send them all unless I send a letter per day. 
So I went through all my letters which I have received from my kids, searching for a hint of what kind of things they like best. 

Once I finished my list I searched on Pinterest for photos and put them together in a collage - one for each child. I saved the collages in 30x20cm sizes and will laminate them before I send them off for their birthdays.

Below you find a few of those collages.

And here is a photo of the first birthday package with one of the photo collages ready to be send of. Very special to me is the "F", the "C" and the line benath "Feliz Cumpleanos" of the birthday letter - because Finn helped me decorating it.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tell Your Young Sponsor Child About Yourself (Form Letters Included)

 A while ago I wrote an entry about the form letters I came up with for my youngest Compassion child Teje.

I split the rest of my form letters up into groups - "Things To Tell About Myself", "The Seasons" and "A Differnt Kind of Form Letters".

Today I want share all form letters related to "Things To Tell About Myself".

For the Best Friend-form letters I made three different versions when I started to share them in this blog, so everyone can use the "right" one. To all three forms I added small colouring pictures.

The form letters below I kept pretty close to the ones we receive from our youngsters, only not as colourful to give everyone the chance to print it on the paper you like and that fits the child you want to send it to the best. 

I'd love to read what you think of them, and if you have ideas for more form letters let me know. I'd gladly like to make them - but at the moment I'm running out of ideas ;-)

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Writing - A Pleasure And Yet So Hard At Times

We all have those days when we seem to have no time for writing to our sponsored kids. Most of those times come unexpectedly - suddenly something happens that turns life upside down and we struggle with making time or with finding the energy to write something.

Sometimes our daughters and sons get sick, or want an unusual amount of attention.

Sometimes it's predictable - which is probably the best when it comes to writing to our sponsor/correspondence kids - because it gives us time to plan ahead.

I had all three happen plenty of times since I first started sponsoring with Compassion, and by now I have come up with a few "survival" tricks.

Write in advance

When I know I have a very busy time coming up in my life, I try to plan theme letters for my kids, preferably with a topic that is interesting for both boys and girls equally. I might even write them ahead of time so that I only have to hit "send" on the day I want to send it.

In 2012 when my son was born I used the days of maternity leave before his birth to write letters in advance (I only had one sponsor child back then, but I wanted to make sure) - in the end I had letters done for four months. After all, I had no idea how my life would be turned around by this little miracle in my life. I shared my favorite Bible verses, made a lapbook of Germany and Mexico, and wrote about my pets. I kept the topics timeless so I could send them whenever I felt like it.

Which happened to be a pretty good idea, because I was able to squeeze in a bit of writing every now and then and it took me about 8 or 9 months to send off all the pre-written letters.

Use the online tool

Much harder to plan are those times when life throws us into unexpected busy waters. I'm sure we all know that feeling when life seems to be so overwhelming that we can barely find time to sit down to write a letter.

Those are the times I keep my letters short and I will always use the online tool on the Compassion website, which is such a wonderful gift from my viewpoint. I only have to write the letter one time and I can send it to as many kids as I want too.  All I have to change are the child's personal details.
That sure saves time.

Be honest with your kids


In those letters I tell my kids that I was thinking of them, that I pray for them and that I hope they are, together with their families, in good health.
I tell them that my life is pretty busy at the moment, and that due to that fact I have to keep the letter short. It is very important for me to make sure I add that writing to them isn't a must to me but a pleasure, but that due to the circumstances I simply have to keep the letters short.


Use postcards 


Another time saving way to write to your kids is using postcards. I loved receiving postcards when I was a kid - okay who am I kidding? I still LOVE getting postcards and my sponsor and correspondence kids regularly tell me how much the love to get photos. They have beautiful pictures and the space is also very limited - so postcards are perfect.

I have sent my kids postcards this past week, because I am right in the middle of a working-marathon.  I work nearly three weeks without a complete day off (and we're only talking about two half days off in this whole time).  My work hours are up to 12 hours per day and my shifts are split into morning and evening shifts. The time I have off in the afternoon I spend with my family or I try to catch up a bit of sleep which I need to survive this crazy time.
But I was able to squeeze in a bit of writing time, spread over six afternoons.  I told my kids about the places on the front of the cards and hope that they will enjoy this little note along with the photos.

Ask your friends for help (or other sponsors)


So far this is only an idea that has popped into my mind a short while ago, and I haven't done it myself. But I sure would offer my help if someone approached me with this question, and I would also ask for help this way.

If things get really busy for us, why not ask a friend or another sponsor to write to our kids? Maybe even someone from another state/country/city. I'm not talking about long letters, again I think a postcard would do. Your friends can write about the things visable on the postcard or what you told them about the kid they write to.

I have sent postcards to some of Teresa's kids, but not because Teresa had no time to write herself but because I felt like it. The kids kept sending me greeting and asked questions about me, so I thought it would be fun to send them a card. They loved them. 

We can only imagine how special our kids feel when they find out that someone besides their sponsor would also takes the time to send them a postcard.

And if times are that busy, all we need to do is add a small note telling our sponsor kids that for a change, a friend of us has wrote them something. Our kids get a special letter and we barely have to do anything.

This last survival trick only works when you have time to do a little bit of crafting, but you are not in the mood to write a lot.

Be creative

Earlier this year I had to work much more shifts than usual and my little boy had been in need of a lot of mum-attention. I had to sit down beside him while he played, there was no chance to sit at the table and write. I needed to be by his side, most of the time even in physical contact with him, to watch him and comment on his playing. There simply was no chance to use his play time to write a letter, which I'm usually able to do.

I ended up preparing hearts for my kids. I got myself plenty of colourful paper and cut hearts out for all of them. I could do that easily on the floor, watching Finn play while he soent a good amount of time watching me cutting out the hearts.
I made two hearts out of one A4 format paper - which narrowed down the space for writing. I didn't write much on those hearts, not much personal information I mean, I didn't tell about the happenings in my life. I just said how proud I was of my kids, how much I loved them, and again that I was praying for them. 

Doing those hearts gave me the feeling of doing something special, and it fitted perfectly into the time I had.  I didn't feel the need for writing long letters.

It was a perfect solution for me back then.

I would love to read what you do when things get awfully busy in life and you don't have time to write to your kids the way you usually do. So please leave a comment and share your ideas.