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”

Letter from Angeles

Before I get to the letter, I have been getting some updated profiles of Manna for Lempira kiddos. Each year, we get updated profiles on them. It’s fun to see what changed, of course their sizes, sometimes their favorite colors, school subjects, career choice, and favorite activities. My favorite update so far, though? Junior went from wanting to be a mason when he grows up to wanting to be a teacher! Not that there’s anything wrong with being a mason, but I’m hoping this means that he will stay in school and complete it, which will give him so many more opportunities and a better salary and a more stable career in the future. I’m proud of him that he’s setting his sights higher, and I hope it continues. After having my oldest Manna child decide to not continue school and therefore have to leave the program, I’m encouraging all of my children in this round of letters to stay in school and invest in themselves.

I realized that I never shared this letter that I received from Angeles earlier in the summer, which is the first letter I’ve received from her since her home was destroyed from the floods. The drawing breaks my heart. 😦 In good news, though, this is the first letter she wrote completely on her own, and she did a great job and her handwriting is awesome! I sent a family gift right after I heard the news that their home was destroyed, and I’m anxiously awaiting a letter about what they purchased with the gift. I want to know if I need to send more and what their needs still are.

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Angeles is 8 and lives in Peru.

The letter used the My House template. I’m not sure if it’s describing her house before the flooding or where she has been staying with relatives nearby. It says the house is made of straw mats, she gets water from a faucet, it has no floor other than the ground, it has a tile roof, and they have light from power. The letter says “Dear sponsor Alisa, I greet you in the name of the Lord. I tell you that I am fine. Answering to your questions, my advice would be to behave well and not to go out alone. I would tell them to be good children, practice the values, and learn the language and the dances of my country like Marinera. Thank you for your very beautiful letters. Goodbye, I send you hugs and kisses. I love you so much. Your photos are very beautiful. Bye. Angeles”

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Letter from Elaina

I received a letter last week from my Elaina, and it’s the first letter she’s written herself- always an exciting milestone! My dilemma with Elaina, is that sometimes, like in this one, her letters spell her name as Eliana. It’s common for kids to switch up spellings, especially the ones in Latin America, I’ve noticed, but this would change the pronunciation as well, so I want to make sure I’m getting it right. I’ve had Compassion sometimes list kids as going by a name that they don’t go by, so I’m wondering if there might have been a typo when they entered her name?

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Elaina is 7 and lives in the Dominican Republic

The letter uses the What I Like Best Template, but she left this side blank and didn’t fill it out 😉 I knew right away that she used marker, though, because you can see the marker coming through on the front! The letter says “Dear Alisa, Receive blessings! How are you? I’m well, thanks God. I want to tell you that I’m anxious and happy for the outing from the center to the Zoo. It has been of great happiness. I ask you to pray for me and my family. I will be praying for you. With love, Eliana”

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Another Letter from Rikelme!

I’m editing this post to add that WordPress just informed me that this is my 100th post on Letters with Love- hooray! 🙂

I received this letter just one week after the last one! His financial sponsor must have sent him a gift in May for his birthday, which is great. And I’ll happily take another letter!

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Rikelme is 14 and lives in Brazil.

“Dear godmother may God’s grace be with you, it is with a big hug I write this letter to thank you with all my heart for the nice letter and the gift you sent. I was very happy, may God reward you for all your love to me. I am in vacation and I will play a lot with my cousins and friends and fly kites and play ball in my vacation. It will be very nice and fun. What do you plan to do in vacation? See you next letter, may God give you good health, peace, love and more of God. Kisses, Rikelme”

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Another kite drawing- that’s two in a row! 🙂

Introducing Yeyson and Greysi!

Last week, I added two new Manna 4 Lempira children to my family. I had been praying over all of the children that needed sponsors. Suddenly, one night I felt a pull on my heart that hadn’t been there before for Yeyson and Greysi, siblings. I said an extra prayer for them and went to bed. As I was trying to fall asleep, they weighed heavily on me, and I began to think about sponsorship. But, with it being so close to the time of the year we send backpacks full of school supplies and gifts for our sponsored kids, and already having 6 kids to purchase and send items for, I really wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to add on 2 more. That night, I had a dream about Yeyson and Greysi, and I was their sponsor. The dream was very vivid and impactful, and I woke up with a clear meaning from it on my heart. Sponsor them, and everything else will work out.

I knew how happy they’d be to receive their backpacks full of gifts. Why wait over a month, if I knew I wanted to sponsor them anyway and deny them that? Making things easier on myself is definitely not a good enough answer.

So that morning, I requested to sponsor these sweet siblings from El Tablon. They have a single, unemployed mother. Even though I’ve never sponsored siblings together in the past, it makes so much sense that I can give encouragement to all three of them as a family unit.

Yeyson is 8, and his favorite subject is Drawing. His favorite color is blue and his favorite activity is playing soccer. When he grows up, he wants to be a teacher (I have a special place in my heart, of course, for all children who do).

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Greysi just turned 3 this week. She’ll start school in February. Her favorite color is pink and her favorite activity is playing with dolls. She also has one of the cutest smiles I have ever seen. I love how hard she is smiling, but she’s still peeking through with one eye open!

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I’ve loved getting to shop for them along with my other Manna kids. It’s all working out! Because without a doubt, I knew I was meant to sponsor these two.

Guatemala Day 8- Saying Goodbye

I woke up at 4am on our last morning in Guatemala, even though our flight wasn’t until after 10am. Apparently, there had been some news about new airport security measures for international flights, and reports were saying that passengers should get to the airport 4 (!) hours before their flight. I asked my family if they had heard any news about this in the US, but they hadn’t and couldn’t find anything. Our tour leaders decided that, to be safe and since this was all new, we’d arrive the four hours early because it was better to sit there than be rushed. It was still dark as we left our hotel for the airport, which was very close by.

At the airport, we filled out our customs forms, checked in, and made it through security all easily. We had tons of time to spare and were wondering why a big deal was made. We did a little shopping and stopped in the very tiny food court for some breakfast, where we stayed for awhile at the tables, talking. Finally we headed down to our gate. This is where the new procedures were taking place. Leading up to our gate, we entered a very long, slow moving line. Everyone’s bags were checked manually by security officers. Even though we had already been through airport security, we had to throw away our drinks and water bottles. We weren’t even allowed to have empty ones! Anyone who had a laptop or an iPad had to turn it on so they could examine it. Then, we had to be patted down. Our passports were also checked again. And any time we wanted to leave the gate, like to go to the bathroom, we had to bring our airline ticket and passport with us and be patted down again upon return. I’d never seen anything like that before!

We said most of our goodbyes at the gate here, waiting for our flight, in case there wasn’t time in Miami. Some of us had short layovers, myself included, and we were nervous about having enough time to get through everything and make it to where we needed to go with the airport being so huge. Our plane this Avianca flight was really nice- nicer than the last one. We didn’t choose our seats, and I had been assigned to an exit row. The downside was that all of our bags had to go up above, but we had a lot of leg room. Each of the seats had its own screen so with nothing to do from my bag, I settled in and watched most of Jurassic World (it took us about 30 minutes to figure out where to plug in the headphones… 😉 ).

It turns out we had nothing to worry about once we got in Miami, because Customs and baggage claim went very smoothly. An older sponsor in our group had signed up for wheelchair assistance, and she was going to be flying the same airline, American, that another sponsor and I that had short layovers were flying. Worried about getting lost, we decided to follow the man who was escorting her in her wheelchair, since we were going to the same place. Never have I seen someone go so fast while pushing a wheelchair in one hand and pulling a suitcase in the other- and he wasn’t young either! We had to power walk to keep up with him, pulling our suitcases along as fast as we could. It was actually pretty funny, but we made great time getting to our terminal!

We even had time for a short meal, where I got a salad (oh how I had missed fresh vegetables). By evening, I was back in Chicago.

While it was nice to be home again and see my family and my cat, it was hard leaving Guatemala. I left a piece of my heart in that beautiful country. I am so blessed that God led me to go on this trip. I am so fortunate that I got to see a country so few get to visit. I am so lucky to have met so many amazing Guatemalan people, who were so happy that we were there.

Throughout the week, we learned a lot of sad statistics about the country. And if that is all you heard, it’s enough to be very depressing. But for each sad statistic, there is something Compassion is doing about it. There is a light. And the light is coming from the amazing people we met working in the country office and the projects. It’s also coming from the children, who will graduate and go on to give back. Just as Compassion Guatemala’s slogan goes, “Hope in a Multi-Colored Land”, there is so much hope for this country. And that hope lies within its own people. It’s not us, as Americans, who are going to fix their problems. They know better than anyone what the needs are and how to help them, and they are already doing it! We just got to be witnesses to the incredible work they’re doing and offer them some encouragement along the way.

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Letter from Cristofer

Last night I was very excited to get a new letter from Cristofer! From the first letter I received from this boy since I became his correspondent close to a year and a half ago, he has always been eager to share all kinds of details with me, always filling in all the available space, and he is definitely one of my best letter writers. Sometimes I forget he is only 10 years old!

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Cristofer is 10 and lives in Peru

“Dear Godmother Alisa, I send you and your family my affectionate greetings. I hope you are in good health. I want to thank you for your beautiful letters, pictures, and coloring pages. I also want to thank you for teaching me about my name’s meaning and for your beautiful words. Now, I would like to answer your questions. My family and I are doing well because I know Jesus takes care of us every day. I would advise other children to serve God because I’m learning it is important to do so and be like him. I would like other children to learn more about my country and know that there are archeological regions. Our ancestors were the Incas. This month we will celebrate Independence Day, and at school we always make a presentation with traditional dishes such as Ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime), Arroz con Pato (traditional dish made of duck and rice cooked in coriander), Papa a la Huancaina (boiled potatoes topped with a cream made of Peruvian yellow chili, cheese, and milk), and Juanes (dish made of rice, meat, olives, hard-boiled egg, spices, and wrapped with macaw-flower leaves). We also have drinks made of purple corn, corn, and star fruit and dance presentations from the three regions. Hugs and kisses. I hope to receive a letter from you soon. Dear godmother, I ask you to pray for us. Love, Cristofer”

 

I loved hearing about the ways they celebrate Independence Day in the school and the traditional dishes, which sound very good! This isn’t the first time Cristofer has used Peruvian food terms in his letters, so the manual translators have their work cut out when he writes! He’s so sweet to always comment about what I send him and answer my questions, while also giving me lots of great details each time. I love my letters from this awesome boy!