Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sponsor an Older Child - They are Often Overlooked and Forgotten

I know that I have posted previously about the joys and advantages of sponsoring older children but I feel compelled to mention it again. Currently there are more than 4,400 children ages 10 and older that are waiting for a sponsor. Many have already waited over 6 months for sponsorship.

Through our sponsorships I have found the most significant connections to our sponsored children who are over 10 years of age. They often wait the longest for sponsorships but they are the most grateful because they have a better understanding of sponsorship and are able to communicate in greater depth.

Depending on the country the older child is from you may also receive your letters in English written by the children. Both Jojo (India) and Purity (Africa) that we sponsor write to us in English and their letters are meaningful and substantial in nature. Although young children are a blessing and are as cute as can be their ability to correspond is greatly limited vs. older children who share a great deal in their letters. Older children are also more likely to answer questions that you ask in your letters when they respond.

If you have been thinking about sponsoring a child through Compassion please consider sponsoring an older child. The Compassion site will allow you to customize your search for a child to sponsor based on the criteria you select including age, gender and country. Your encouragement and love will make all the difference!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Souleymane Yaméogo from Burkina Faso

Last but certainly not least is Souleymane Yaméogo from Burkina Faso.  Souleymane is just 7 years old.  We have sponsored him since April 2012.  I picked Souleymane to sponsor last year because he is one of 10 children.  I think if there is anyone who probably needs attention and to learn how special they are it is this little fellow.  He has shared that his favorite hero is Jesus (don't you just love that).  And he likes many of the typical things that boys his age enjoy like football and playing with his friends.  This is a new picture of Soleymane and it looks like they have stuck him in one of his siblings outfits for the picture  (not uncommon).  He also looks so sad.  I do have another picture of him that came as a thank you for a gift we sent which is a much better picture.  These poor kids must just hate having their picture taken because we are definitely not seeing any smiles when we get picture updates.  The sad faces just make you want to give them a big hug.  We actually received 8 letters from Souleymane in 2012 with the help of his project translators. 

Loubentz Papouloute from Haiti

Loubentz Papouloute lives in Haiti and he is 9 years old.  We have sponsored Loubentz since April of 2012.  His letters have been a bit sporadic in comparison to the other kids we sponsor but some sponsorships are like that.  Loubentz likes soccer, the color blue, rabbits are his favorite animal and he wrote that his favorite friend is me.  How does that not melt your heart.  He also likes maize and vegetables.  Loubentz walks to his Compassion project and it takes him about 10 minutes to get there.  I am looking forward to learning more about Loubentz as he gets a little older and starts writing more often.  Haiti is such a country in need that I think the sponsorship of children in Haiti are vital. 

Purity Jepkemoi Wangari from Kenya

Purity Jepkemoi Wangari lives in Kenya and is 14 years old.  We have sponsored Purity since June 2011.  Purity is the only sponsored child that we have that has a physical disability.  Her left leg has been crippled since birth.  Purity's letters are always in English.  I believe that she writes them herself although there is always a translators name at the bottom of the letters.  I need to ask Purity if the translator just reviews the letters or actually helps write them.  I am thinking that Purity writes her own letters in English since Jojo does and they are about the same age even though they are in different countries. 

We usually receive 3 or 4 letters from Purity each year.  Purity actually transferred from one Compassion program to another in May of 2012.  She writes that she has made many new friends and that the move was based on her father finding employment in the new town that they are living in.  Purity often writes about needing prayers for rain so that there are crops to grow and enough food for everyone.  She worries a lot about her family, school, community and country.  She is an old soul but I think her surroundings and life have forced her to worry about adult matters at an early age.

Levis York Baquedano Amador from Honduras

Levis York Baquedano Amador will be 10 years old this July.  He lives in Honduras with his parents.  Levis is our third Correspondence Sponsorship through Compassion.  Levis writes about 3 or 4 letters to us each year.  We have been writing to Levis since August 2011.  Levis writes about attending his Compassion project three days a week and that it is close to home so he walks there with his friends.  Levis likes the art that they do and also the bible stories that they share at his project.  He also often mentions that the food that he receives at his project is very tasty.  Levis likes math and says he is doing well in his studies.  He always writes that he and his family pray for us each day and he will often dedicate bible versus to us. 

Christmas Shoe Boxes Start Packing Right After Christmas

Each year as a family we participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritans Purse.  Since 1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

Right after Christmas all of the stores break out their storage containers on sale.  I usually pick up four or five shoe box sized containers in anticipation of packing them throughout the year.  I start with holiday items on sale like games, pencils and cups and then keep them in my mind as the seasons change and items go on sale.  At the end of summer I will pick up t-shirts to add.  In the fall I will pick up school supplies on sale etc.  By preparing the boxes early and keeping them where I can see them they are always on my mind.  With purchasing all items on sale I am able to pack more boxes than I would be able to if I waited until the last minute to purchase everything in November.  Heck, the boxes pictured above even have Christmas cards in them ready to be signed for the kids.  They also have small toys, washcloths, cups, pencils etc.  Also by purchasing items on sale I can get better quality items to send.

The boxes are then collected in the beginning of November.  I add $7.00 per box for shipping and our church collects them and takes them to the distribution center for processing.    And then once Christmas passes again I start the whole a process from scratch.  It's amazing how simple these boxes are to create and how fun it is to imagine the smiles on the kids faces when they receive them.

Dina Graciela Andgrango Cabascango from Ecuador

Dina Graciela Andgrango Cabascango is one of our three correspondence sponsorships.  I have been writing to Dina as her sponsor since December 2010.  Dina lives in Ecuador and is 13 years old.  Dina writes much shorter letters than Sebin and Jojo do but she writes consistently and often mentions special activities that she has been able to participate in, that my letters are an encouragement to her and writes about studying and her participation in school often.  Dins also mentions a love for God in a lot of her letters.  It always seems that her faith is strong and that she is a pretty grounded young girl.

I often worry about girls in poverty because the cards are stacked against them in so many ways.  They are a very vulnerable population and I really like to encourage the girls that we sponsor to study hard, have self confidence and remind them of how beautiful and special they are.  I know that these are things that they may not hear depending on their circumstances but if I tell them often enough I know that I can help them see themselves for the special gifts that they are.  The more confidence they have in themselves the less likely others will be able to take advantage of them in the future.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sebin Devasia Mathew from India

Sebin Devasia Mathew is also from India but he is a traditional sponsorship for us.  Sebin is 10 and we have sponsored him since February 2009.  Just like Jojo he is also a very active letter writer topping even Jojo at 17 letters in 2012.  Sebin still writes in his native language but I am aware that Sebin is also learning English as a second language and he wrote that he will eventually be able to write to us in English once he is a little older.  I have also sent him flash cards but since he is younger I have sent cards that are age appropriate.  Sebins letters are typically a little shorter in length but his content is always sincere and I know that his family really values and supports his education.  Sometimes both Sebin and Jojo will share bible verses with me as I do with them too.  It really opens lines of communication when the kids are taught English because they get so much more out of your letters because topics are not changed or lost in translation.

One of the most humbling aspect of sponsorship is that the children almost always write that they are praying for us each day.  And that their families also pray for us daily.  Here we are in the United States with so much abundance and they bless our lives with their prayers.  We do not deserve their prayers and yet they give them out of love for the relationships we have formed through the mail.  They are amazing and we are the ones who are blessed by them!  Sebin is such a delight and when I write of any type of loss or illness he always checks in to see how things are going (like when Anthony's mom Janet was ill).  He is such a kind young boy.

Jojo M J from India

Jojo M J lives in India and will be 15 in July.  Jojo is a correspondence child who I started writing to in October 2009.  Because I only sponsor him through correspondence I am unable to send Jojo extra gifts but the sponsor who does pay his monthly sponsorship does have the ability to do that if they desire.  Compassion some times identifies children who have financial sponsors but realize that the sponsors do not communicate with the children at all.  Compassion will then ask the sponsor if they can locate a correspondence sponsor for the child and then match is made.  From the child's end they only think there is on sponsor which is the person who writes and in this case that is me. The letters to the children are vital and no child should ever have an empty mail box when letters are delivered from sponsors.  It's one of the best parts of sponsorship and I can't imagine missing out on it for even a moment.

Jojo is a prolific letter writer and all of his letters are written in English in his own hand.  This saves a lot of time in translation so his letters arrive faster than all the others we receive.  One of the huge benefits of sponsoring older children is the quality of their letters and your relationship with them because they are better at written communication than the younger children are.  Jojo has learned English as his second language and is doing a remarkable job writing to us on a very regular basis.  In 2012 alone I received 16 letters from Jojo.  Jojo is one of my favorite sponsorships.  He is always so thankful for even the quickest letters and items that I send.  I found comprehension flash cards for him in English and have been sending them from a school supply store here in Boise.  He soaks up everything he learns and is always so grateful for anything he receives.  He writes that he saves every letter that I send so he can read them again and again.  I do the same on this end too.  His financial sponsor is missing out on an amazing young man but he is such a blessing that I am thrilled that we are fortunate to be a small part of his life.  Jojo always asks about everyone in our family and even Raisin and Jay.  He is such a thoughtful young man.

The children from India that we sponsor call us Aunty and Uncle.  Growing up in Hawaii as a child I was also taught to do the same as a sign of respect.  It tickles me to have them follow the same tradition because it reminds me of my days in the islands. 

Fatoumata Sabo from Burkina Faso

Fatoumata Sabo is our youngest child sponsored.  She is currently 6 years old and lives in Burkina Faso.  Anthony actually selected Fatoumata to sponsor from packets we had left from last years Compassion Sunday.  We have only sponsored her since May 18, 2012.  Because Fatoumata is so young her letters are very short and are mostly completed by fill in the blanks.  She says when she grows up she wants to be a minister.  She has asked if any of our kids like to play with dolls.  She expresses her sincere gratitude in us selecting her to be our goddaughter and they pray that we are abundantly blessed in return.  Her favorite food is spaghetti.  We did send a small extra financial gift upon starting our sponsorship of Fatoumata and I do have another picture of her in her new clothes and shoes surrounded by crackers, milk, oil, soap, sugar, a packet of candy, bread and a small doll.  It is amazing what they can do with a special extra gift of just $20.  We usually send each child a birthday and Christmas gift (money) and then the center helps to select an appropriate gift(s) for the child.  Usually they always receive food and maybe a new outfit.  I was thrilled to see her holding her new doll.


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