Introducing a New Correspondent

I have a beautiful new correspondent child, but not through Compassion. Like I had talked about smaller organizations when I shared about The Bridge of Hope, I also discovered another smaller organization: Revive a Rural African Child. This Christian organization is run voluntarily by one man with a huge heart for the children of Uganda. Eddy runs Revive a Rural African Child, and he cares for the children and has started the Visionary Learning Center, a place for children to study and learn that is run by teachers and volunteers. They are in the process of building a library. What is different about RRAC is that there is no sponsoring of children; only penpals. I was definitely intrigued how this worked.

You can sign up to be a penpal to a maximum of two children, and you send the letters directly to Uganda. You can also send packages. Since you aren’t sponsoring the child financially, only corresponding, you should be committed to writing regularly before signing up. While there is no monthly sponsorship commitment, there is obviously a cost for Eddy to send out mail to us, as well as to pick up each package at the post office that he receives, so there is a way to donate. But there is no set amount, and you can give what you have to give when you have extra to give if you want to; there is no requirement or obligation. Now, keep in mind that if you are used to corresponding with children through an organization like Compassion, RRAC is obviously different, because it’s run by one person and not hundreds. Eddy is very busy with the children, as he should be. He is fantastic, though, at providing updates on the work he is doing, and posts photos and videos with explanations several times a day! As a new supporter of this ministry, I love getting to learn about all the wonderful things they are doing and learning! Just look at the Facebook page to see some examples!

If you would like to be a penpal or find out more, there is a Facebook group to join: Revive a Rural African Child Penpals, that is separate from the main page. Some lovely ladies volunteer their time to help run the group and match penpals and children. They just posted a very informative FAQ post, that explains a lot!

After learning all of this, I decided to sign up to be a penpal. I figured I’d start with one child for now, and then add another in the future. Since there isn’t anything to go by but a list of names/gender/ages, I trusted that God would lead me to the right name. My new penpal is Nusura, and she is 6 years old. My heart melted when Eddy sent me this picture!

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I just love this photo with this beautiful smiling girl holding this sweet note! I can’t wait to get to know her better!

I sent her a letter as quickly as I could, although I’m sure it will take some time to arrive in Uganda. Eddy lets us know and takes pictures when he receives anything. Nervous about sending a package on my own, I thought I’d try sending one through Amazon Global. It took quite awhile to find something that would actually ship to Uganda- many things don’t, even in Amazon Global- a fact that you don’t find out until you’re partway through checkout. But finally I was able to send something through. It’s one of my favorite kids books ever “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes”. My students loooove Pete the Cat, so I figured she would too. It’s just something small, but it’s a start to see how it goes through. And I was able to send a gift message with it.

I spotted Nusura in a picture posted to the Facebook page recently of some of the kids receiving school supplies. Look at that smile!

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Letter from Alex’s Pastor

I received this letter earlier in the summer from the pastor of Alex’s center. It’s a lovely letter!

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Alex attends HA266

“Dear Alisa, My name is Ostiné Emile, I am the pastor of the Wesleyan church of Mango. We minister your child at the Child Development Center here. I pray that God is gracious and compassionate for you because of your sponsorship of Alex. Thanks to sponsors’ help many children in the community are accessible to school, hospital, and to God’s word.

Mango is located in the 1st rural section of Anse-á-Galets. It consists of about 1000 people. We do not have access to clean water, latrines, hospital, and roads. We have to walk a long way before finding some clean water. So, the poverty is ravaging that community. We cannot grow our gardens due to a lack of rain. It did not rain for ten months. We lost all our crops.

Without the church in the community, the situation would be worse. The church meets many problems like digging a cistern in order to save water during the drought season. Thanks to the presence of Compassion in the community, the poor condition of the parents is alleviated and many children can read, write, go to hospital and they can hear God’s Word. Also, we create jobs for some people in the community in order to meet their family’s needs. I congratulate every sponsor for this precious ministry for valuing the children. We love the children and we appreciate them. I advise them to become responsible.

I want you to know that the letters and photos mean a lot in the relationship between the sponsored children and their sponsors. It permits them to share piece of information about their family, their country, and their culture. Also, the letters allow the sponsors to inform about the children’s promotion at school, church, club, and in their family. It is very important for the children to know they are loved by receiving letters. I hope you know how valuable your words are and that you will write to Alex regularly.

We have a good staff that consists of teachers and instructors to teach the children Bible verses and stories about Jesus and Moses’ lives. My goal is to have an evangelical church that can transform the community and to make the children become valuable citizens, good Christian leaders, and to reinforce our partnership with Compassion. The children of the center are so different and privileged compared to those who are not part of it because they are transformed.

I cannot stop thanking sponsors for their supports towards the children in the world throughout Compassion International. Through this way they help the churches go further. At church, we are praying for you a lot so that God can bless you much more and give you good health. Please, pray for the children so that God can make a way for them and do efficient work in their lives and that they can always remain in Jesus.

I pray that God give you more blessing. I love you so much! Thanks!

In Christ, Ostiné Emile”

First Letter from Ingrid!

I was so excited to receive my first letter from Ingrid, less than 3 weeks after I sponsored her!! It used to take 4-6 months for a first letter, which would have been written before they knew who we were, and now I got one in under 3 weeks with her knowing my name! I’m still amazed at how fast the electronic scanning/writing on both ends has made communication.

I sponsored Ingrid after visiting her center and falling in love with it, knowing in my heart that I had to support it and sponsor a child there. The story of visiting Ingrid’s center and how I sponsored her can be found here.

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Ingrid Madaí is 6 and lives in Guatemala

The letter used the “Getting to Know Me Better” template. She is an only child, and it lists the names of her parents. She has brown eyes, and she asks for prayers for “her dad and his job and her house”. The letter says “Madaí greets you. She is so happy that you are her sponsor. She prays a lot for you. Madaí says May God protect, bless, and give you health. Madaí wants to ask you a question: what fruit do you like to eat? What is your favorite food? Madaí says goodbye. Written by Caty, tutor”

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Her question and drawing are adorable!

Letter from Mugisha’s Pastor

Earlier in the summer, I received a letter from the pastor of Mugisha’s center. I know that he lives in an area that is very much in need, so it was great to learn more about what the center is doing to help this community!

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Mugisha attends UG709

“Dear Alisa, I am Herbert Mujabwami, pastor of St. Andrew’s Cathedral Seseme in Muhabura Diocese, southwestern Uganda. We minister to Mugisha Isaac at the Seseme Child Development Center.

We are very grateful to you for the support that you continuously give to Mugisha. May our good Lord keep blessing you.

Our community has fertile soils but is densely populated, thus we have limited land for cultivation. It also has many cases of alcoholism and sexual immorality, which causes a high rate of HIV/AIDS infections. The church has a big responsibility of ministering to this community so that its members will receive Jesus as their personal savior.

The biggest challenge is that the children find it hard to get money for school, food, and sometimes even shelter. Being in town, many men go early in the morning to look for work and return late in the evening, so it is difficult to get them involved in our ministry.

The vision for the church and center is to equip all the people to extend the love of God to others and transform the community.

The center has demonstrated practical love to the children. We have supported children by providing medical treatment, hygiene training, education, social training, economic skills development, and spiritual discipleship. many children now have the skills to earn a living in the future. Others serve in the church in many ways, such as preaching the word of God. We have a formerly sponsored child who completed studies and is now working at one of our development centers and another one who is now working at the bank. We have several children who have graduated and attending colleges to study agriculture and nursing.

The church ministers to the community by reaching out to the elderly, helping in solving family conflicts, and giving pre-marital counseling. The church also teaches the youth and adults about self-reliance and good health practices. God is doing a lot of transformation in our community through this ministry.

Approximately 85% of our sponsored children’s families attend our church, 10% attend other churches, and about 5% are still struggling with faith and do not attend any church yet.

The relationship between children and sponsors is very important. The children, especially those who are orphans, feel the love of a parent when they receive a letter from their sponsors. They feel they have someone who cares for them and supports them. Thus, they have no fear about the future. Unfortunately, some children do not receive letters and they feel discouraged. So, we encourage all sponsors to please write to these little ones, as every word of love brings them great excitement.

We request that you pray for the children in the program and that all sponsors will keep supporting them. Pray also that parents will practice what they are taught, especially in doing work to complement the support Compassion is giving. Pray for our staff at all levels to remain committed to the program and that everyone in our community will maintain good health.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share with you through this letter. We thank you again for your generous support of Mugisha and for helping our ministry flourish. May the Lord bless you, keep you, and shine upon you.

Sincerely, Herbert Mujabwami”

Letter from Lucia’s Pastor

I recently received a letter from the pastor of Lucia’s center. It’s shorter than most, but still a great letter and full of love that he has for these kids. I always enjoy pastor letters as extra insight!

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Lucia attends ES781.

“Dear Alisa, My name is José Miguel Serrano. I am the pastor of Tabernáculo Bíblico Bautista Sinaí las Conchitas Church in La Libertad, El Salvador. I minister to Lucia at the accompanying Child Development Center.

I am thankful to God with all my heart for your sponsorship of Lucia and that you her happy.

Right now our community faces many problems such as poverty and violence. These two problems affect our children. Our church is working through the Center to reach the children and their families.

Our vision as church and Center is to help our children and young people to study in college and train them to be good men and women for our community. The Center has been a great tool to make our children’s families come to church and seek Jesus’ love. Right now our church has a Bible school on Sundays and we also have other beautiful ministries in the community.

The young people and the children from our Center really value the support that their sponsors provide. They get so excited when they receive a sponsor letter. The correspondence from sponsors is very important for children, they keep every letter they receive and place it in a special place. They save all letters they have received and become part of their valuable belongings. Every day they ask to the coordinator if they have received a letter. It is something very important for them.

I am so glad to write to you and I wish you the best in all your dreams and plans.

Thank you for loving Lucia. Blessings in Christ, Pastor Miguel Serrano”

Introducing Mariatu… and how God Brought Her to Me

I’ve been researching some smaller organizations that I’ve heard about. I have had a wonderful experience with sponsoring with Manna 4 Lempira for the past 15 months, a smaller organization, so I know how great they can be. I wanted to make sure, of course, the legitimacy of these organizations and what they provide. I wanted to see if their values called to my heart, and if God placed any desires on me to support them. One such ministry that I was called to was The Bridge of Hope. It is a Christian organization that works in 4 communities in Sierra Leone, one of the very poorest countries in the world. The average life expectancy is only 45 years old. The average adult has had less than 3 years of schooling. The Bridge is operated primarily by volunteers so that donations can go directly to helping the people of the communities. They work with local, indigenous leaders on projects that are driven by locals, instead of Westerners. Sponsored children have access to education, dental care, a feeding program with daily nutritious meals, clean water, churches and teaching about Jesus, medical clinics, the rebuilding of their community, and agriculture and animal farming projects and loans to help families and members of their community. Child sponsorship with The Bridge of Hope is $15/month.

All of this being said, I decided to sponsor a child to support the work of this ministry and do more for a child in Sierra Leone. I browsed through lots and lots of photos, looking for one that I felt called to. When I saw an 8 year old girl named Mariatu, her eyes and shy, unsure smile made me feel a connection. I sponsored her and wrote my first letter to her, which can be written online.

This week, I logged into my account, and I was surprised to see a different girl named Mariatu, with a different last name, age, birthday, child number, and photo, instead! Seeing as I had already sent a letter, and I didn’t want there to be any confusion, I sent an email to The Bridge of Hope to clear things up. I got a response less than 24 hours later, and it could only be described as God’s plan. It turns out the Mariatu I had sponsored had moved away with her family to another village. Their child advocate in Sierra Leone, who had my letter to her, had given it to another girl who was unsponsored and also named Mariatu. The advocate said she was very excited to hear she had a sponsor. I also got emails with additional photos of her, a child profile with some more information, and a video to me!

Now, I definitely couldn’t say no at this point! Not that I would have anyway. As soon as I saw this adorable little 5 year old Mariatu’s picture on my account, before I knew what was going on, I was in love. She was younger than what I was planning on, but God’s plans are greater than mine. For another little girl to be waiting with the same name was clearly no coincidence. I’m grateful I didn’t have to choose another child and that God chose this little girl for me and made it very clear and easy. And, like I said, I’m in love with her already!

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Mariatu’s favorite color is green and her favorite subject in school is number work. When she’s at home, she helps by “greeting parents and elders”, which I think is adorable. Her favorite game to play is to “play cook”, and when she grows up she wants to be a teacher. Another future teacher. This girl is clearly meant to be mine.

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The video is precious, and I love her smile at the end. Everything happens for a reason!

Letter from Finka’s Pastor

I’m eagerly awaiting my second letter from Finka, to get to know her better, but in the meantime, I did receive a letter from her pastor recently. I enjoy reading the pastor letters because it lets me learn a lot more about the child’s community and center specifically!

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Finka attends ID230 in East Indonesia

“Dear Alisa, I am Reverend Agabus Salawe, the Chairman of Harmony Church Protestant Seventh Indonesia and the Emmaus Child Development Center where we host and minister to Finka.

Most of the people in our community are very poor and uneducated. Many children cannot attend school because they have to help make a living with their parents. Poverty also results in many children who must live apart from their parents due to abandonment. The presence of Center in this area is very helpful address this challenge and to provide a holistic development for the children, releasing them from poverty in Jesus’ name.

In the over 200 children we serve at our Center, including your child, we are seeing great benefits and improvement. They have a good achievement in the school. Their health is much better and their parents see much better behavior and respect and they are polite. The spiritual life of the children is growing in a better direction and some children are able to lead worship and other services. All of this can happen because they were carried with the holistic program applied by Compassion through this sponsorship program and because of people like you.

The impact of the Center on the entire community is clear. People are increasingly concerned with the lives of children, education for children, and protection of children. People are starting to realize the importance of respecting the position of the child in their environment. Likewise, the government is beginning to teach courses on child awareness and protection. This is a very unusual thing. This is very pleasing, as we believe that the children are our future generation who will make great Christian leaders and who will change the community for the better.

The letters that the children receive from their sponsors are very important for their development and also for their self-esteem. The letters and photos make the children feel loved and motivated and diligent in the activities at the church and Center. They love to respond and share their lives and their dreams. For this reason, it is very important for you to write to Finka.

Thank you so much for supporting Finka. Please pray for the continued development and growth of all our children and the Center and the community.

May the Lord bless you abundantly. Shalom, Pastor Agabus Salawe”