Letter from the Country Director of El Salvador

This week, I’m sharing the Country Director letter from El Salvador. This is where Lucia lives.

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“Dear Alisa, My name is Guillermo Muñoz. God has blessed me since 2004, when I became the country director of this wonderful ministry. Everything we do helps the most marginalized, the most forgotten, and the most underestimated by our society: children in poverty.

Thank you for joining us in our fight against poverty and hopelessness. Your love, support and faithfulness to Lucia make an eternal difference. I know sponsorship works. Compassion began working in El Salvador in 1977. We work with about 250 church partners, serving more than 60,000 children. Poverty hurts so deeply, and in the child development centers, children receive encouragement, vision, healthy food, medical treatment, vocational training, protection, and the love of God.

El Salvador has gone through decades of militarism and civil war. Now, in the post-war period, more than 45 percent of the population lives in poverty. More than 20 percent of children under five suffer stunted growth. Our country has a low-quality public education system and low attendance due to violence. Also, more than 95 percent of the population lives in territory at risk from floods, mudslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tropical storms. Finally, our children live in one of the most violent countries in the world.

Poverty tells our children there is no hope, no opportunity to have an education. They become targets of the gangs and never learn their identity in Christ. Amid these struggles, we find the local church that has the vision, passion, heart and unlimited love that only come from God. Our vision is to continue giving children the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God created them to be. We provide programs focused on preventing children’s involvement in violence, helping them discover their potential skills and talents, and opening opportunities for academic reinforcement workshops and nonformal education.

One example of transformational impact is one of our pastors, who is so passionate and willing to work with the gangs. He just sits with them, sharing a meal, showing the love of Jesus, and telling them there is hope no matter who you are. Many gang members have surrendered their lives to Jesus, and they send their children to the Compassion center. Now this new generation will not be the same, because they have hope! They are building an eternal relationship with God.

Talking about relationship, the connection children have with their sponsors through letters is so valuable, because they feel loved, appreciated and encouraged. I consider the loneliness of a 13-year-old boy who doesn’t have siblings; his mom passed away, and his dad is in prison. His sponsors (a married couple) made him feel like family despite the long distance between them. Their kind, loving words in letters encourage and bring him hope. This boy wants to be a civil engineer because his life was changed through letters from his sponsors.

We believe in a better future where children can overcome poverty. We plant seeds of hope in each of them, and you are part of this through your constant care for Lucia. I want to express my deep gratitude for all the support we get from you. You give Lucia the love of God. Thank you!

Please pray with us: Heavenly Father, give us wisdom, strength and enough love to reach out and support children who suffer a lack of opportunities imposed by poverty. We pray for those threatened by violence. We pray for a strong and committed church that upholds the cause of children, and we pray for our sponsors, who lovingly join the mission of releasing children from poverty in the precious name of Jesus.

Sincerely, Guillermo Muñoz”

Letter and Picture from Lucia!

I was thrilled to get a letter recently from Lucia, and a very sweet one that filled a page of stationery at that! But the best part was definitely a surprise photo attached! Typically, only a gift of $60+ gets a photo, although sometimes centers will send them for gifts of less. The gift that the photo was for was $20, so I wasn’t expecting a photo, but it was a wonderful surprise!

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Lucia is 21 and lives in El Salvador.

“Dear Alisa, Lucia greets you with affection and hopes that you are enjoying perfect health with your loved ones. On this letter Lucia wants to tell you how she has fun. At home she likes to color, run, do the cleaning, cooking, listen to worship songs, and make handcrafts to decorate the house. If she gets bored she likes to sleep on a hammock and swing. When she is outside she likes to write and go for walks. She likes to tell jokes with her friends. She would like to know: have you ever felt bored? What do you do in that case? She thanks you for the letter and the picture; she says that she is fine. On the computer she likes to draw and write and she thanks you for the blessing that you sent. She bought milk, cereal, beans, sugar, rice, soup, cookies, and salt. It was a great blessing for her and her family. Also she loves you and asks you to help her pray so she can learn more in her studies. She says goodbye wishing you lots of blessings.”

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This bubbly, lovely young lady has been a huge blessing to me so far. I know my sponsorship of her will only be for one more year, but I’m so blessed that God brought her into my life. And I’m so thankful that she has such a wonderful Compassion center that takes care of her and her mother and where she has friends and can learn and have fun!

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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 Lucia, and a letter!

For some time, I had been wanting to sponsor an older child (really, young adult) because I know it’s harder for them to get sponsors, and how much the encouragement of regular letters means to them especially at an older age. I browsed the oldest waiting children daily for awhile, looking for one that God was calling me to, being patient for Him to show me the right one. For an even longer time, I had been wanting to sponsor a child with Down Syndrome. I have worked with many children with Downs in my career in special ed and have a huge heart for them. When I saw Lucia, I didn’t even need to think twice, I just acted and clicked “sponsor this child”. This beautiful 20 year old young lady from El Salvador was clearly God’s answer to me.

 

(Lucia’s most current photo is on the right, and you can click on them to see them larger.)

Lucia lives with just her mom, and in her years of sponsorship, she has received one birthday gift and not one letter.

The lack of letters simultaneously broke my heart but also reassured me that God was calling me to this sweet girl, because that letter count was about to change.

After sending her two letters, I received my first letter from Lucia, and all of this happened in a period of about 3 weeks!

The letter was written using the All About Me template. Lucia’s favorite game is soccer and she has 2 sisters, although I don’t think they are living in the home with her, so maybe they are older and moved out. She likes to cook, eat chicken, and the color pink. The letter says: “Dear Alisa, Lucia is happy for sending this letter. She wants to be a chef because she likes to cook. Her favorite Bible story is Noah’s Ark and she enjoys to attend the center because she likes the computer. She asks your prayers for her mother and job. With love, Lucia”

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