Thursday, 30 October 2014

Letter Prompts for My Kids and Myself

Haven't all of us wondered why some of our sponsor and correspondence kids answer our questions and some don't? Haven't we all thought about how we could change that?

I sure wondered about that.

Among my Compassion kids there are wonderful letter writers, who answer all my questions and tell a lot themselves. Others seem to have trouble with the writing.

But I can't change their writing, I can only change my letters. So I searched online for inspirations - how could I involve my Compassion kids into writing? How could I challenge them to respond to my letters without overwhelming them - especially the youngest ones?

Below are some of the ideas I have already used for my letters - and some of the reactions from my kids.

Hand Prints

One of the ideas that stood out to me the most and works for all ages was sending handprints of your own hand to your kids and ask them to do the same. It's such a simple idea when you think about it, but without Yvonne and her blog (Thanks for sharing your idea Yvonne!), I doubt I would have thought about it:

And let me tell you, receiving the silhouettes of your kids hands is an incredible feeling. If you haven't done this so far, I can only recommend it.  

Here's a photo of the first two I received in return. 

                           Family Photos/Family Drawings

The second task I set for my kids works for all ages as well. This time I copied a question Teresa had asked her kids. 

We all love photo updates and especially extra photos from our kids, right? But have you ever asked for a photo of the family in your letter? 

Teresa did, and received one in return that seemed to be the only photo of the family they had. She scanned it and made a copy of the photo to send it back to the family. 

So I decided not to ask for family photos only. I asked for a drawing or a photo whatever the kids preferred.
I have only done this very recently, but yesterday I received a first letter with "an answer" to this task. 

On the photos below you see Maryuri (9-years old) - one of her alone, and on the collage together with her cousins.  Seems like they had a blast during their "photoshooting" and I just love my sweet little girl so relaxed and with a huge smile. In her offical Compassion photos she looks always very serious. 

I know that not all answers to the photo-drawing-task will look like this, but I bet they will all be just as wonderful in their own ways. 

Further I came up with a few challenges - not only for my kids but for me as well. Because how else would I get them to do the things I ask them to, if I don't set an example? 

 A Good Deed

The first one was inspired by a random woman at a shop, who let me go first in a line - because the line was very long (it was just before Christmas) and I had my son with me who was only 1 year and 9 months old back then. She sure made my day and I wanted to make someone elses day a little bit better.

But how much do we actually do for strangers to make their day a little bit better?

I used the thought to ask my kids to do the same. But instead to ask them to do something for a stranger I decided it would be easier for them to do something for a child at the project (the younger ones) or a stranger or someone they only knew by sight (the older ones apparently) to make their day a little bit better. After all I wanted them to succed in the task. 

I also told them, that I would do the same and in a month I would send them another letter, telling what I had done for a stranger. 

I ended up making me a list with my kids' names (13 at the time) and enough space to scrible down what I had done for a stranger in 'their name'. To make it even harder for me, I decided that holding a door open and equivalent things wouldn't count as my "good deed" - because for me those things should be normal for all of us. 

Honestly, it has been hard to make the day for 13 strangers a bit better, especially in only a month. At first it had been easy, possibilities presented themselves, and I had loads of ideas, but as the weeks went by it got harder. But in the end I did manage it.

One of the things, I did in the name of one of my kids, was helping a young woman unpack her trolley on the checkout. Just when it was her time to unload the items on the belt her mobile rang and she went to answer it. The stress she felt was visible, so I simply turned around and helped her unload the trolley. The expression on her face was priceless - in seconds it turned from alarm, to wonder and then to relief. 

But here are now a few comments from my kids, referring to this task:

Citlali (11years old/ME)
"I want to tell Spencer that I like what he wrote and to have faith in God so he can write better."

Pyrah (14 years old/PH)
"I received your letter and your little challenge to me."
So far she didn't tell me what she did, but I doubt she will forget about it. 

Maryuri (9 years old/CO)
"The day I got your letter, my tutor was telling me about the Good Samaritan, and she told me that we should treat people the way we want to be treated. I don't know what to do for others but I'm helping my classmates when they ask me for help."

Floridalma (17years old/GU)
"About what you told me, it got me thinkning about what I do and how I act with the rest of the people that I don't know and I promise I will meet the challenge that you set for me and I hope I do great. When I write to you again, I will tell you how it was. I hope that you do well in the challenge at the same time." 

The Envelopes

Another prompt I gave my kids, were colorful envelopes. 

The reason I came up with the idea was the knowledge that there are so many kids in the projects who are waiting for letter - endlessly with no luck. 

None of us has the chance to write to all of those kids, to constantly provide letters to them all.
BUT I do think we all can make a little difference in a few lives and we can involve our own sponsor/correspondence kids.

So when I had a lot of time I sat down and wrote short notes on cards, added a set of stickers to it and decorated the card with the help of my son.

Along with those envelopes my kids received a letter. I told them what I put in the envelope and asked them to forward it to a friend or a sibling - whoever they think could need a little bit of cheering up.  Asking them to please let me know who they decided to give it to and why. 

I send those letters off in June and so far I have heard back about it from one of my correspondence kids - Maryuri from CO.

"I gave the yellow envelope to my friend Michell, she says she would like to have a sponsor. You are so attentive."

I'd love to hear about the prompts and tasks you gave your kids in the past.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Seasons Related Form Letters

 Here is another bunch of form letters.

I don't know what else to say about them, which I haven't said before, so have fun using them -  enjoy sending them to your kids and share with them what you like best about spring, summer, fall and winter.

The form below is completely centred around your favourite holiday. I bet your kids would love to see a photo or two of you on this special day. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Time to Think About Christmas

When I changed my calender page from August to September I saw the big red letters that told me it was time to think about what to write to my sponsor and correspondence children.

The past few years I chose Christmas Themes: the Christmas story, advent calenders, Christmas traditions from around the world...

This year I couldn't think of anything Christmas-y to send.

But there were world maps that I've wanted to send to my kids for a while now and I remembered a half finished colouring page I had sent earlier in the year. I had asked the child to do the other half so she would have something we did together. I liked the idea so much, that I wanted to do the same with all of my kids.

 Only I had no idea under which "theme" those components could go together.

A few days of thinking and, with the help of Teresa, I found the perfect Bible verse that brought it all together.

"For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong." Colossians 2:5

All of us sponsors live miles away from "our" children, but we love them dearly and we are close to them in our hearts and prayers. Our love for them doesn't know about the miles that are between us.

And that is exactly what my theme for the Christmas Letters this year is - All the Miles Between Us.

First of all I used Pizap to make Bible verse cards for all my kids. Instead of simply printing them I let developed them like "real" photos.

To the world maps I added a photo of the child and one of my family and me, encircling the countries we live in connecting them with a white line.

For each child I searched for a colouring page that fits her/his interests and age. I glued them on card stock and wrote above the coloring page things like "Citlali, we love you."  I colored parts of the picture myself, just like I had done in the birthday letters.

In my additional letter, I explained to my kids why I chose those things to send as a Christmas gift this year; that I want them to have something we did together, no matter how many miles lie between us, that the love I feel for them doesn't care about the distance and that God made us the wonderful promise to always be there for us no matter where we are in our lives.

I personally think that this is a very special topic and I hope that my kids will enjoy them too. 
I sure know though that I am really curious about their reactions.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Christmas for Unsponsored Children

Sometimes I like to go to the Compassion website and pray over some of the kids that still need sponsors.  I wish I could sponsor them all, but of course I can't.  I think about how hard it must be for those kids to watch their peers receive love and letters from a sponsor, when they never do.

However, there is a few ways to bless these young ones at Christmas time each year, even if you can't sponsor one:

1. By donating to the Christmas Gift Fund.  When you donate money to this fund, it is used to making sure that every registered child receives a Christmas gift, whether they are sponsored or not.  Sponsored kids are told that the gift comes from their sponsor, whereas unsponsored children are told that the gift comes from someone who cares about them and loves them. 

Click Here to donate through Compassion Canada or
Click Here to donate through Compassion USA

2. By sending Christmas Cards to unsponsored children.  You can send as many Christmas cards as you like in one package and they will be distributed to the children without sponsors.  You do not need to use envelopes, but it is helpful if you do.  However, it's best if you do not seal the envelopes.  It is best not to send any attachments with these cards and please keep text short.  You can use store bought cards, or make your own. 

For those in the USA, please send the cards by November 17th to:
Compassion International,
Attn. Suzanne Hall,
Colorado Springs, CO 80997

For those in Canada, cards should be received by November 15th at:
Compassion Canada
985 Adelaide Street South,
London, Ontario N6E 4A3

(I'm not sure about in the USA, but last year Canadians sent in 2611 Christmas Cards and this year they have a goal of 3000!)

3. Sponsor a child.  Imagine one of those precious unsponsored children finding out they now have a sponsor just in time for Christmas.  You can sponsor through the websites by clicking here to sponsor a child through Compassion Canada for $41/month or clicking here to sponsor a child through Compassion USA for $38/month. 

I am also advocating over the next few months for four specific precious children who you can see by clicking here.