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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Letter and Family Photo from Tsegereda!

I was so happy to receive a second letter from Tsegereda, as it had been 5 months since her first, and the best part was definitely the beautiful photo of her with her siblings! It’s such a cool glimpse into her life, and she looks adorable with the dress!

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Tsegereda is 3 and lives in Ethiopia

The letter uses the My Typical Week template. In the morning, she typically eats her breakfast, cleans up, and puts on her school uniform. In the afternoon, she typically changes out of her uniform and plays with her friends. She goes to school Monday to Friday and to the project on Saturday. In the evening, she typically does her homework and sleeps. Tsegereda’s favorite day of the week is Saturday, because she can go to the project, play with friends, and watch tv. The letter says “Pray for God to help me and my family. I have received the birthday gift that you sent me and bought clothes and shoes. I have sent you a picture of me, my brother, and my sister on my birthday.”

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Letter from Elaina with a Photo!

This photo of beautiful Elaina with her radiating smile makes me so happy! This girl has always been a ray of sunshine.

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Elaina is 8 and lives in the Dominican Republic

“Hello! Blessings! How are you? I’m fine, thanks God. I hope you’re fine. How is your family? My family is fine, thanks God. Thank you for the gift you sent me. They bought me some shoes, flip flops, sneakers, underwear, and clothes. I liked everything a lot. Please pray for me, I will be praying for you and your family.”

Letter from Finka and a Photo Update

Out of all of my Compassion children, my experience with Finka in Indonesia has been the only one that has been abnormally inconsistent. I don’t blame her in the least, or even her center, because I know they are busy doing great work with the children there. I’m just glad that I know that this is abnormal thanks to the many other children I have that have always been consistent, and I’m very grateful to the Compassion staff here in the US who are always willing to help out.

First, after getting my introduction letter from Finka and then not hearing anything for over 6 months, an inquiry had to be sent. I received two letter from her not far apart from each other after that, but all 3 letters had different handwriting. I’m still not sure if someone else was writing or why since there was never any explanation on the letters. The third one indicated that there should have been a photo attached for a gift that I sent, but since there wasn’t one, another inquiry had to be sent. Now I received my fourth letter. It’s very sweet and loving, and it seems like it was written by her, and there were photos attached, but they were just of the items purchased. I thought it was odd, because all of my other gift photos had the child in them, and sure enough it is Compassion policy for the child or a family member to be in the photo, so yet another inquiry was just sent.

I don’t mind, and I’m happy to support her. My sponsorship of her is not about me- it’s about her, so as long as she’s receiving the support, I’m happy. And this latest letter is a great reminder of that. Additionally, last week I received a photo update of Finka! It gives me peace of mind that she is still active at the center and receiving that support by seeing the new photo of her.

She’s now 16 and becoming a very beautiful young lady!

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She has the exact same smile in her newest and her first photos! 🙂

“Greetings in the love of our Lord, it’s nice to meet you, Alisa. I’m grateful to God for only by His amazing grace that I’m in good health and free to move. I can also go to school and do my daily routine, all according to God’s guidance. Thank you for the letter as well as the gift that I already received, Alisa. The gift was well spent on school equipment, bag, shoes, and clothes. I would like to thank you for the birthday wishes. I already received all the letters that you sent me. It was indeed part of the Christmas tradition to decorate a Christmas tree. However, it was only done at church and the houses of families who could afford to buy a Christmas tree. As for me, we don’t have a Christmas tree at home. I saw the picture of the Christmas tree that you sent, it was a big and beautiful tree. I am so grateful to have a family who loves me. God has blessed me with such an amazing parent like you, Alisa. Even though I don’t have a mother and father anymore, but God has granted me a caring family. I go to Vocational High School and I’m in the first year. I will have the grade promotion exams soon, I chose the Agriculture Program. I’d kindly ask you to support me with your prayers, please pray that God will grant me spiritual intelligence so I could learn to be a better person. Goodbye for now. May Lord Jesus bless you. Best Wishes”

Here is the photo of what she bought:

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Finka is still listed as above average in school, and I’m proud of her for doing well in high school and choosing her area of study. To hear her call me a parent melts my heart. Both of her parents have passed away. She used to love with her grandmother and now she lives with her aunt and uncle.

Photos of Nicholas and Shadia Receiving their Gifts

The weekend after I sent the donations for Nicholas and Shadia, for which I got receipts and found that Joy keeps very meticulous records, I received lots of pictures of them receiving their gifts! I was almost in tears to see the joy of this family, who has so little and who has been through so much, receiving simple things but things that are so needed. I was glad for the opportunity to send money instead of a package, as I didn’t have to worry about high international shipping fees and I knew I could trust Joy to purchase the right sizes and items for them. She promised me lots of pictures to make me feel like I was there with them, and she certainly did send lots!

Here are just some of them with items they received:

Joy told me how happy the children and their mother were. Along with toys for the kids, they also got clothing, shoes, and underwear. And the family got food, which was very needed. Seeing the beautiful smiles on their faces made my heart so full. I now love and care so very much about this family on the other side of the world that I very likely will never meet. But we are connected through prayer, though letters, and through God.