If you sponsor a child through Compassion International, World Vision, or any other organization like that, please read this. Just 1 minute of your time. So hope it is helpful for you and your sweet sponsor child. It was totally eye opening for Chris and I. (I promise this is NOT a post about the controversy. This is a post about your sponsor child and what's important to them.)
For those that have very little time, here is the consolidated point: If you sponsor a child, write them. You have no idea how much that letter changes their life. That single piece of paper is hope to them. And most children know they are sponsored and receive all the benefits, except they have never heard or hardly hear from their sponsor. Schedule it. Do it today. Click on that instead of Facebook. It will take you 5 minutes and you will absolutely make their entire month.
I'll be totally honest that before Chris and I went on the Compassion International mission trip with our church last week were faithful sponsors (because our sponsorship automatically paid itself), but we were not at all emotionally connected or committed to our sponsor kids. We were lucky if we actually wrote them back when they wrote us a letter.
Our relationship with our child was very one sided. They hardly heard from us. We were ignorant and lazy.
On our trip I was nearly knocked over by seeing how much it means to a child when they receive a letter from their sponsor. We were able to visit two families in their homes-- one of our sponsor girls, Berenice, and a sponsor kid, Jenny, of some dear friends of ours. It was the sweetest thing that both girls, without prompting, at some point in that visit ran to their room (which was shared with all their family) and came running out with our letters and our friends letters.
I was floored. Berenice and Jenny had saved every single letter. Both girls told us that they read them all the time. Jenny keeps hers in a special box and takes them out carefully because she doesn't want them to get ruined. Berenice says she reads each letter 2 times each night before going to bed.
I wanted to sob. I did sob. I was embarrassed. I was frustrated with myself. How could I not have made 5 minutes to write our sponsor kids more often?
Then another perspective made me straight up ugly cry.
Our last night I sat next to a woman that I admire so much and watched her share as tears streamed down her face.
I had known her all of 5 days and there was a sisterhood among us that is only God. We didn't speak each other's language. We were dependent on our wonderful team members that were translators to get any real message across. But the smiles, hugs, tears, and knowing looks said so much. (It's so true that 90% of communication is non-verbal.)
This woman was a mom. This woman was married to an alcoholic. This woman leads and serves faithfully in her church. This woman was committed to her community by teaching young mothers how to take care of their children.
And her smile. Oh my word. I've never seen anything like it. There is a joy that breaks through the darkness of her days. Only Jesus can do that. Only Jesus.
I asked this mom about her daughter's sponsor and what their relationship was like. And the tears started to flow. She shared about how grateful she is for her daughter's sponsor. After several other questions I learned her daughter had never once received a letter from her sponsor. The mom wanted to be clear that they are so grateful still for the sponsor. But her daughter longs to get a letter. Her heart aches when all the other kids get their letters and her letters are never responded to.
I knew in that moment that Chris and I would be different. We would be a faithful voice in our sponsor kids lives.
Those letters go to real kids. Kids that are dealing with real life issues. And they look up to us as sponsors so much. These letters are not lost in cyberspace or in some file cabinet in an office. They go to the real hands of real little people.
Know that your words, even if it's just a few, mean everything to them. They treat those letters as we would treat a 10 carat diamond or a signed baseball from Babe Ruth. They are treasures. And we get to give that treasure to them.
Write your kiddo today. Hand written is fun, but the important thing is that it's done. So maybe start online (that's what we are doing). Go to your organizations website (click on the names if it's Compassion or World Vision), log in and click to write a letter. It will take you 5-10 minutes. And just like that you have totally made a little kid's entire month.
To ensure that you keep writing, maybe do a calendar reminder to write once a month. And keep that appointment as you would any other commitment.
If you have no clue what to write here are some ideas to help you get started:
*First, more than likely the group you sponsor through has some letter writing tips. Check those out. Compassion has some great tips (click here).
*Ask questions. Your child will love to answer your questions when they write back. This will allow you to really get to know them. Ask about their family (are their parents married? who all lives in their home?). Ask if they go to church (what church? what's their favorite part of church? do their family go too?). Ask about their friends and what they like to do with their friends. Ask about school (what's their school's name? teacher's name? favorite subjects? how do they get to school? how far is it?). Ask about their dreams (what do they want to be when they grow up? why?). Ask about their project and what all they do at it? Maybe each letter focus on a different category of questions so it's not all at once and you can get more full answers back (they typically jut have that one page to write back on).
*Tell them about your life. What ever questions you are asking, go ahead and share your answers. They will love this!
*Encourage them and speak belief over them. We learned that these kids are so focused on day to day needs and don't dream or goal set like most of us grew up with and certainly experience now. Compassion is so great and is really trying to change this by teaching them about dreaming and goal setting. Be a part of that. Speak belief over them. Encourage them in their studies to not give up and to work hard. Encourage them in self esteem. Encourage them in telling them who they are in Christ. These words will be gold to them, pure gold.
*Pray. Ask them how you can pray for them. And then wrap up the letter with a written out prayer.
*Bonus: pass along messages to their family or tutors through your letter. They show these letters to everyone. The Aunt of our sponsor girl told me she reads our letters to anyone that coms along. Feel free to ask your sponsor child about who all is apart of her life-- what her tutor's name is at the project. Or the family she lives with. Send along greetings to them in the letter as well. They will love this! And it extends your ministry beyond the child.
*Include a picture. This allows them to see you. They will LOVE the pictures. Make sure that the pictures are just faces or places or things of interest (not showing material possessions). Again, if you are focusing on a certain category, say friends, maybe include pictures of your friends. Or if it's church, include pictures of your church or things you do at church.
*If you are doing a handwritten, mail in letter: you can also send anything flat along with your letter! Maybe some stickers or a coloring sheet or a printed picture. As long as it's flat it goes to your kid!
Happy writing sweet friends!
Less than 1% of people get to actually meet their sponsor child. In knowing that it is so important to Chris and I both that you can learn and experience some of the things we were enlightened of and experienced. Over the next few weeks we will both be sharing our experiences on our Compassion International trip to El Salvador with our church family, Bayou City Fellowship. We know that not everyone can go, at least not today. So we hope to share some of the things we learned and experienced.