Bringing Gifts to my Sponsored Children

I leave for Honduras tomorrow!!

Long before I was ready to pack for this trip, the thought of it just stressed me out. I can tell you now, actually having been going through it, that the act of packing is no less stressful. It’s funny to me now that I was worried about packing all of the gifts for one child and for centers when I went to Guatemala. This time I had to pack gifts for 13 children, plus small family gifts for each of their families!

I did have a blast shopping for all of them, though. There are some things that are consistent for every child. Each one is getting two shirts, a bathing suit, and a stuffed animal (I figure any age loves a stuffed animal to hug, right?) I went through and assembled each bag, took pictures of its contents, and then disassembled everything to pack it as tight as possible. The pictures will help me to reassemble everything when I get to Honduras! Here is what I packed for each child, starting with the boys:

Brayan, age 5:

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a purple shirt (his favorite color), a striped shirt, a pair of swimming trunks, a toy train, a blue superhero cape, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a stuffed goat, a fidget spinner, and a paw print bag (these are the same ones my students got at our school picnic, which I figure the kids will get a kick out of)

Diego, age 6:

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a dinosaur shirt (he’s a dinosaur fan), a Chicago Bears shirt, swimming trunks, a large toy car, a blue superhero cape, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a stuffed dinosaur that makes noise, a fidget spinner, and a paw print bag

Yeyson, age 9:

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a blue shirt (his favorite color), a Rainforest Cafe from Downtown Disney shirt, swimming trunks, a stuffed dog, a harmonica, an Angry Birds kite, a fidget spinner, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a paw print bag

Junior, age 10:

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a Rainforest Cafe from Downtown Disney shirt, a future rocket scientist shirt, swimming trunks, dominoes, a harmonica, a stuffed horse, a fidget spinner, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a paw print bag

Cristian, age 12:

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a Rainforest Cafe from Downtown Disney shirt, an Old Navy shirt, swimming trunks, a stuffed dog, glow in the dark stars with removable putty, a bag of marbles, a fidget spinner, a Jesus loves me bracelet, dominoes, and a paw print bag

And now onto the girls… Angie, age 3 (and the youngest of all my children):

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a pink bathing suit, a kitten shirt, a yellow floral shirt, a stuffed cow, a mermaid doll, two ponies, a reversible sequin bracelet, a Shimmer and Shine doll with a locket keychain, and a summer tote bag

Greysi, age 3:

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a pink bathing suit, a red and white striped shirt, a rainbow shirt, a stuffed deer, a Shimmer and Shine doll and locket keychain, two ponies and hair accessories, a barbie, a reversible sequin bracelet, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a summer tote bag

Valery, will be 4 by the time I meet her:

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A stars bathing suit, a blue and white daisy shirt, a planets and sun shirt, a stuffed rainbow tiger, a reversible sequin bracelet, a barbie, a Shimmer and Shine doll and locket keychain, a mermaid doll and some little fish friends (when she mentioned in her latest letter that the animal she wanted to see in person was a mermaid, I had to find something related to give her), a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a paisley tote bag

Helen, age 8:

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a rainbow bathing suit, a Frozen shirt, a chambray and lace shirt, a stuffed pegasus, a Minion journal with a lock and keys and extra stickers (more on the back, too) and a pen (I loved these sets from Walmart!), a turquoise choker, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a barbie, a flamingo tote bag

Jenny, age 8:

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a pink bathing suit, a white tribal shirt, an Olaf Frozen shirt, a stuffed horse (she has a real horse at home), a Frozen journal with a lock and keys and a pen and extra stickers, a turquoise choker, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a barbie, and a flamingo tote bag

Ludvi, age 10 (as of yesterday!):

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a tropical bathing suit, a chambray and lace shirt, a blue floral shirt, a journal set of 3 notebooks of different sizes, a turquoise choker, a set of 5 rolls of washi tape, a barbie, a stuffed unicorn, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a pink striped purse

Heidy, age 12:

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a mermaid bathing suit, a black shirt with an attached necklace, a tribal fringe shirt, a stuffed dog, a brown choker, a set of 5 rolls of washi tape, a set of 3 pouches/cosmetic bags of different sizes, a journal set of 3 notebooks of different sizes, a Jesus loves me bracelet, embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets with instructions, a black Old Navy purse

Maria, age 13 (my oldest Manna child):

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a pink tie-dye bathing suit, a polka dot chambray shirt, a coral draped tank top, a pineapple “pura vida” journal, a set of 3 pouches/cosmetic bags of different sizes, a stuffed penguin, a brown choker, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a set of 5 rolls of washi tape, a thirty-one bag (really excited about that find)

Then there were the family gifts, which I needed 12 of, because Yeyson and Greysi are the same family, so they only need one family gift between them. I’m giving each family a set of 4 plastic cups, a bamboo wooden spoon or spatula, and a dish towel.

I’ll be assembling them once I get in Honduras, and they’ll look something like this:

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I also made tags for each child’s bag, but I forgot to attach them before I packed the bags, oops! So they’re packed, along with more ribbon, to attach in Honduras:

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When you look at each of the individual pictures, it doesn’t seem like much, but when you put it all together, it really is!! This is a glimpse at what only part of my suitcase looks like:

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Yeah, yikes! Here’s hoping my bag doesn’t weigh over the weight limit… I can’t wait to give these gifts to my beloved children and most importantly spend time with them!

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Letters from Jenny

I don’t know Jenny as well as some of my other Manna kids yet, because her program at her church, Quelacasque, is the newest opened, and I’ve only sponsored her since December. But from what I can tell, she is very sweet and a little shy. Something she said her latest letter truly touched me, which I took a picture of to have saved on my phone. I was also blessed to get some photos of her from when the team visited Quelacasque on Wednesday and Thursday! Here they are:

I just love that smile in the first picture. Jenny is 8.

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And this is the walk to her community! :O

“I greet you very affectionately, wishing you success in your daily labors. i am grateful for the support that you give us. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. These are my sincere wishes.”

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“My favorite animal is the rabbit. I like them because they are soft and pretty. I also like squirrels. I would like to see an elephant in person. I have a horse at home. I love you very much. I love you with all the strength of my heart. I hope you love me the way I love you. I would like to meet you in person. I am very happy that all is going well.”

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These sentences: “I love you with all the strength of my heart. I hope you love me the way I love you.” are so touching to me from an innocent 8 year old with so much love in her heart to give. I can’t wait to meet this beautiful soul and assure her how much I love her!

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Letters from Greysi

Greysi is the younger sister of Yeyson, and you’ll notice a lot of similarities between her letters and his, in the previous post. He obviously helps her with her letters, which I think is very sweet. I love getting the opportunity to sponsor siblings. It will be fun to not only get to know them individually, but also see their interactions together!

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Greysi is 3 (and seriously adorable…)

“Hello my dear Sponsor! I wish you the maximum blessings. Thanks for the things you sent me. I am very grateful with you, thanks to God. I want to meet you very soon to introduce you to my siblings, my parents, and my friends. I hope to see you in person very soon. May God give you many years of life. I want to tell you that you fascinate me. I am very happy. TKM (te quiero mucho)- I love you very much!”

“Dear Sponsor, I hope that you are very well. I am very happy that you are very good. I hope to meet you in person or in more photos. I am very happy. I am 3 years old. My parents are Tina and Omar. I am happy to have a brother named Yeyson. I love to play with my friends and my brother. I love your name, Alisa. I like that name. Thank you! I am always going to pray for you and my family. I will write again.”

“My favorite animal is a lion. I like this animal because it is ferocious. Other animals that I like are a dog and a cat. An animal that I would like to see in person is a lion. I have a cat in my house. Thank you for all and that you will be my sponsor. I love you a lot. i am always thankful to you. I want to tell you that I am praying for you. May God bless you. I love you very much.”

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I should note that all the envelopes from Greysi and Yeyson were handmade from pieces of paper ❤

Letters from Yeyson

Yeyson is the older of my siblings at the El Tablon church with Manna 4 Lempira. It’ll only be a year next month that I’ve been sponsoring Yeyson (and his little sister Greysi), but already I have so much love for him.

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Yeyson is 9

“Hello my dear sponsor! I wish you the maximum blessings. Thanks for the things you sent me. I am very grateful to you, thanks to God. I want to meet you very soon to introduce you to my siblings, my parents, and my friends. I hope to see you in person very soon. May God give you many years of life. I want to tell you that I am very happy.”

“Dear Sponsor, Hello! How are you? I hope that you are well. Thanks for choosing me, but I hope to meet you in person or in more photos. I am very happy that you are my sponsor. I hope that you write me. I am going to have a birthday at Christmas. I have a sister and my parents. My parents are Tina and Omar. My sister is Greysi. Thanks for being good to me. I will pray for you and for my family. I have aunts and uncles. I have a grandmother. I love her very much. I dismiss you, but not forever.”

“Holy Week is important for me because we celebrate by swimming and sharing with family. During my vacation, my family likes to go swimming. The typical Easter meal is ticucos, tamales, fish cakes. Easter traditions in my country are Lempira Day. My favorite part of Easter is singing. I dedicate this verse to you, Haggai 2:9. Thanks for all that you have done for me. I love you very much. i am always thankful to you. I want to tell you that I am praying for you. May God bless you. I love you so much! Thanks for the backpack that you sent me! May God bless you today, tomorrow, and forever.”

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Letters from Cristian

I could feel even extra love in both of these latest mailings from Cristian, both of which times he sent two letters! I love how at 12 years old, he still enjoys writing to me. Cristian is another child I’ll be meeting at the El Tablon church!

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“Hello dear Sponsor! In this letter, I tell you that I am happy to have a sponsor from the US. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas. Here in Honduras, I am well with all my family, safe and sound. From the first day that you sent me the photos, I felt happy to see all your family. I like the flowers you made. They make me happy. Also the trees. My siblings are Milton, Angie, and my mama is expecting a baby. I pray to God that it is well and living. My papa had a motorcycle accident, but thanks to God, he is okay. He didn’t get hit too hard. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

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“Dear Alisa, I am happy to write to you. I hope that you are well and happy with your family. I am well here. i hope to learn more about you through your letters. I have two siblings. My parents are Ada Luz and Jose. I like to play soccer. I love to write. My favorite color is red. I wish I had a soccer ball. God will bless you for the things that you have done for me. With a lot of love, Cristian. Happy day to you and your family!”

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This letter was written before he received his backpack, so it makes me so happy to think of him opening it to see the soccer ball he wanted! Also, isn’t this a great picture?

“I am very grateful for the help you give me and for the backpack and the supplies. I hope that you continue well with your family and children because God is the only God who protects us wherever we go. He protects my family and your family wherever we go because He is the only One who takes care of us. I love you very much, Alisa. Thanks for the gift you have given me. I am very grateful for all that you have done for me and my sister, Sofia. I love you very much, Alisa. May God bless you all the days of the year. TKM”

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“May God bless you all the days. I always think about you. Thanks for the things you sent me. I am happy because you sent me a ball. May God bless you and your family. I love you very much!”

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“Holy Week is important for me because we can enjoy it with our family. During my vacation, my families likes to go to the river and the church. I play soccer and swim with my friends. The typical Easter meal is tamalones (ticucos). Easter traditions in my country are dancing. My favorite part of Easter is to go to the river and be with my family. I dedicate this verse to you: Romans 3:23- I love you Alisa. Hello Alisa! I feel happy for the cross you sent me. I love it and I feel happy. I liked the photos that you sent me. They are very nice. In the United States the stickers are very nice. I like the drawing that you sent and I read the other things that you sent. All that you sent is very pretty. I would like to learn to make it. I love you Alisa. My mom was a girl called Lesli. The eyes are blue. With love, Cristian. This bird is a toucan.”

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Isn’t he a great artist? Cristian’s so sweet and appreciative. I know he and his brother work hard at home, so I can’t wait to see him having fun with the other kids at the fun day!

Letters from Maria

Today I’m sharing the most recent letters I’ve received from the El Tablon area, which is actually made up of 3 separate churches, through Manna 4 Lempira. It’s just 2 days now until I arrive in Honduras, and the El Tablon children are the first ones that I will get to see! Maria is my oldest Manna child at 13 and she is from the La Azomada area, which is even more poverty stricken than other areas. She is smart and determined, though, and I love her. I even got some extra photos of her this week when the team visited! Here they are:

at school and getting a medical checkup

Receiving a letter from me and writing a reply– the team member who took the photo on the right said she’s so happy I’m coming! ❤

“Dear Sponsor, I greet you with much love. Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year with all your family. May your Christmas be celebrated well. I will celebrate it well. I send a greeting to your family. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. My family is happy that I have a wonderful sponsor. May Christmas and the new year be good for you and all your family. What do you do for Christmas? It is a joy for all the family. May the new year be filled with blessings for you and your family.”

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“Hello Dear Sponsor! I greet you affectionately, hoping that you are well. I am grateful to write you this letter to tell you that I continue to bring out good grades. God bless you! I like to see the creation of God. You can feel His love and His counsel. I am going to study. I like flowers. They are beautiful. Roses are very pretty. I am very happy to return to school. I pray that you continue helping with the things you sent me. I like to look at your photo. I would love to receive more photos from you. I love you with all my soul. I have you in the palm of the hand. Although I don’t know you, I love you very much.”

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“Holy Week is important because we have a great time going to the river to swim. For vacations my family likes to go to the beach, to the hot springs, and to the pools or the river. Typical Easter foods are fish torts, ticucos, and Chilate. Traditions of my country are swimming and going for a walk. My favorite part of the week is going swimming and walking with my aunt. ‘Seek the Lord while He can be found. Call on Him when He is near.’ I want the Lord to manifest something in my life. I tell you that I am doing well in my classes. I made good qualifications. I am very grateful to you for having sent me the backpack. May God bless you greatly. May He keep you and your family well. I love you with all my soul. I am going to always love you. I will miss you. I tell you that it will be my birthday on April 10. I am going to spend it at school. I am very happy to write you again.”

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She is such a special girl. I just love that in two different letters, she told me she loves me with all of her soul. I’m writing that back to her inside the journal I’m giving her ❤

Introducing Helen!

I thought 12 kids to pack for was a lot… but then it turned into 13. Helen has been waiting for a sponsor through Manna 4 Lempira for a few months. I remembered her from her photos even before she needed a sponsor, and loved her joyful smile. I’d been watching and praying, hoping she’d find somebody soon. I actually figured if I sponsored a 13th child, it would be during or shortly after the trip.

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But then, there was a post featuring Helen on the Manna page, and I kept thinking about her. I figured she’d be sponsored right away though. But she wasn’t, and the following day there was another post, this one with more detail, all of which described everything I adore in a child.

“Spunky Helen is a delight. She is a 100% at whatever she does. She is a hilarious mix of wild child and sweetheart, and you never know exactly what to expect. Her smile can light up a room, and giggles are never far from her lips. If you hope to sponsor a perfectly obedient child, well, Helen may not be the child for you—but if you hope to sponsor a child who is hungry to receive love and affection and then return it tenfold, Helen is your girl!”

Now, all of this was going on while I was out of the state and very distracted and busy, but I still could not stop thinking about Helen. I told myself after a certain time, if she wasn’t sponsored, I’d ask about her. I ended up waiting even an hour or two after that. The rest unfolded in only a way that could have been meant to be, and now Helen is my newest sponsored child. I’m thrilled to be visiting her and loving on her!

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I can’t wait to hear that giggle in person. And this last picture is when she was told I’d be visiting next week!

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Letters from Diego

Diego is another one of my children from the Betania church through Manna 4 Lempira. He’s 6 years old.

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“Dear Sponsor, I hope that my friend, Jesus, blesses you and guards you wherever you are. I tell you that I always pray to God that this project be a blessing to this church, Betania. Through it, we already share with a lot of children. I tell you that I am out of kindergarten. My dream is to be an engineer when I grow up. In the name of Jesus, I will achieve it. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Diego”

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This next letter came untranslated like one of Brayan’s. But since Diego wrote it himself ( ❤ ) and it’s very basic, I was able to translate it on my own! Plus it was kind of cool to actually be the one to break the seal for the first time on the envelope that he sealed.

“Hello Dear Sponsor, I am happy because God loves me, and so do you. God bless you very much and let us know how you are doing soon. Bye. I am Diego.”

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Letters from Heidy

Heidy is an amazing letter writer as well, and you can just feel the love in everything she sends. She has such a huge heart, and she was my first Manna child, so she’s very special to me. I’ve been sponsoring her for over two years now, and I’m so thrilled to be able to meet her and give her lots of hugs!

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Heidy is 12

“Dear Alisa, How did you celebrate Christmas? All went well with my family. Thanks for everything that you have sent me. I am very grateful. I hope you and your family are well. My family and I are well. I hope that you are also well. My mama is Nely, and my papa is Vincent. Blessings! I greet you and your family very affectionately. Thank you!”

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“Hello dear sponsor! How are you and your family? Thanks for all that you have sent me. I am very grateful. Have a Merry Christmas with your family. I hope that you are well and that you have a Merry Christmas with your family. I love you very much! What is your favorite color? How old are you? I tell you that I am going to 6th grade. I like bunnies. Which is your favorite animal? Thanks a lot for everything. May God illuminate your way. Thank you! I am praying for you and your family. I wish you success in your life. God bless you wherever you go. How old are you? To my loving sponsor. Heidy”IMG_1274

“Hello! How are you? I am very happy to write you. Thanks a lot for the things you have sent me. Thanks also for the supplies and everything else. We are all grateful for our sponsors. I tell you that we go back to classes on February 30. Greetings to your family. Happy 2018! I love you. Thank you sponsor. God is love. Blessings! With love, Heidy”

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“Holy Week is important because each Holy Week God has me alive. For vacations my family likes to go to Gracias and to the hot springs with my siblings. Typical Easter foods are chicken and rice. Traditions of my country are that my country is beautiful, and I love it. My favorite part of the fiesta is going to some event that I enjoy. God is faithful. I dedicate Ephesians 6:17 to you. I thank God every day for putting you as my sponsor. Thanks a lot. My rabbit is named Liebre. She is black. She is very nice. How old are you? Which animal do you like the most? Thanks for the backpack you sent me. Behold, I have a pretty cat. I also want to know which is the animals that you like second most. I love you. I hope that you have enjoyed Holy Week with your family. I love you.”

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Her letters are so adorable! I love that she talks about February 30th and my second favorite animal. 

Letters from Junior

Junior and Heidy, two of my kiddos from Mi Betania, another church through Manna 4 Lempira, are two that I can always count on for long letters, extra letters, and incredible sweetness. Not that I don’t get those things from the others, also, but I get it consistently every time with these two.

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Junior is 10

“This moment is wonderful to take this pen and paper in my hands to tell you that my family and I are well here in Honduras and that you re well with your dear family. I thank God for the privilege He gives me to write you another letter. It is to tell you that I finished my vacation week. Monday, the 17th of the same month, I returned to classes. I tell you that in this Holy Week, I did not swim in the river. One day I went to see my aunt, my father’s sister. One day I went to visit my mother’s sisters. I walked with my sisters and my three nephews/nieces. My favorite games are soccer, marbles, and to walk in the neighborhood. I love to see you and your students in the photo. I would rejoice for you to come visit so I can meet you so we can shake hands and I could give you my hug. My mother and I are praying for you. I pray a lot for you that God blesses you each day. May God protect on your trip to our country, Honduras. Receive this letter with much appreciation. Receive hugs and kisses through the distance. May God bless you today, tomorrow, and always.”

He didn’t know I was coming to visit when he wrote this, obviously, so to hear him say that he was already praying for my visit there is still pretty incredible for me to think of. Junior always tells me he wants me to come visit, but to hear him specifically say he’s praying for protection on my trip, which he had no clue about, shows me I’m clearly on the right path with this trip.

“I greet you with much love and affection, hoping that God keeps you well. Well, after this short greeting, I continue. I tell you that it is already almost Christmas. We make tamales, bread, and pork. We set off firecrackers on the 31st. We blow up a doll with firecrackers. I would like to know how you celebrate Christmas in your country. It is also near the time of coffee harvest where we can earn money to help our parents. We enjoy cutting coffee. I go with my brother and my father. My mother takes care of my niece. Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year! May God shower you with many blessings. With much love and affection, Junior”

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“Hello my dear sponsor! I am happy for your wonderful gift. i am grateful to God and to you for the gift you sent me. Thanks a lot! May God continue blessing the lives of you and your family. I hope that you receive this short letter. My family and I are very well. My parents, siblings, nephews, and I have been very well. I am on my vacations, but I return to classes on February 15. I am going to 5th grade. I will enjoy my backpack, my notebooks and my shoes. I tell you that I go to the field to cut coffee because we are in coffee season. Thanks to God He is giving us health and intelligence to cut gallons. We earn money to buy sweets and cookies and to take them to school. I hope to meet you, dear Alisa, so that I can put my arms around you and give you many hugs. My mama also says that she wants to meet you. I am now going to say goodbye. May God continue blessing Betania. We will receive you with open arms. These are my few words. Receive many hugs and kisses through the distance. I love you very much. I miss you.”

“My favorite animal is the elephant. I like them because they have big trunks. I also like lions, tigers, and dogs. I would like to see a lion in person. I only have a dog at home. I love you very much. I ask God to continue pouring blessing on your life and the lives of all your family. I also ask your prayers for me. I am very grateful for everything you have given me because all of it is useful. Thanks a lot! TKM (te quiero mucho)- I love you very much”

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Just yesterday I learned (as some of the team is already in Honduras and visiting the churches), that Junior experienced a bad truck accident in May and he’s still recovering. Manna 4 Lempira is such a blessing, because they’re getting him in to see a specialist next month. The doctors at the hospital think he will continue to recover. I was shocked and devastated to hear the news, but so thankful that he is alive and that it could have been so much worse. I’m so eager to go give him hugs and encouragement in whatever condition he’s in, and I can’t help but think, again, that the timing of my trip isn’t an accident.