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 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. 

Photo Friday: New Photos of my Manna Betania and Quelacasque Children

15 days until I arrive in Honduras with Manna 4 Lempira! It’s exciting how close it is! I leave tomorrow for another trip, and then when I get back I get to start packing to go see these awesome kids. I hope everything fits!

Heidy, 12, was my first sponsored Manna child, so she’s very special to me. In the over 2 years that I’ve sponsored her, I’ve watched her grow and blossom into a more confident young lady. She still has the kindest heart. In both of these pictures, which were taken on separate days, she is wearing a dress I sent her.

Junior, 10, has never stopped smiling in the 2 years I’ve “known” him. He is such a joyful personality and I can’t wait to see it in person! He is looking so much more grown up in these latest photos.

Diego, 6, is the one out of all of my Manna children that I’ve seen the least photos of and gotten the least letters from. I’m hoping getting to meet him and his family in person will strengthen their attendance at church and the program. I didn’t receive a photo of him this time.

Jenny, 8, is my only Quelacasque child. I won’t be there for the church visit and fun day for Quelacasque, unfortunately, but thankfully she still will get to join along on one of the other fun days so that we still get to meet each other. I haven’t sponsored her for very long, yet, but sometimes she looks like she bears a burden. I’m so happy to see her big smile here!

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Photo Friday: New Photos of Heidy, Junior, and Diego!

The next new Manna 4 Lempira photos I’m sharing are of my children who attend the Mi Betania feeding center in rural Honduras.

First is Junior, who I’ve had as a correspondent for over a  year and a half, and I have never seen this boy without a smile. He is just amazing!

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I was blessed with some extra photos of my 9 year old Junior. I love getting to see him open his backpack! Two of the other boys in his very large family happen to be sponsored by the family who runs the Manna program. I didn’t know this until after I chose him, and it has often meant extra photos, which I happily treasure!

Next is beautiful Heidy, my first Manna child. This newly 12 year old girl has my heart.

Her confidence in that smile and pose mean the world to me. Last year, the barbie doll was definitely her favorite of the things I sent her. This year I picked out an Anna from Frozen barbie, because I know she is an Anna fan!

And then there’s Diego, a more recently sponsored child and one I actually have the fewest pictures of. I was so eager to see new pictures of him, and these certainly did not disappoint!

Diego is 5 and so stinkin’ cute. I hope he loves the soccer ball. He had been waiting a long time for a sponsor when I chose him, so to see him with my letter and the backpack I sent him makes me very happy. Plus he’s wearing yellow and a dinosaur! Clearly we’re meant to be connected! 🙂

 

Letter from Heidy

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Heidy is 11 and lives in the Mi Betania community of Lempira, Honduras.

“Hello Alisa! How are you? I tell you that I have a rabbit. Here it is raining. Next year I will be in 5th grade. Which is your favorite animal? I like all that you have sent me. Many thanks, godmother. Each day I pray for you. Will you pray for my family and for my studies and for my dear church. Thank you for the beautiful letters that you have sent me. Many thanks I give to God for having a sponsor like you and also for my parents and for my teachers at school and church. This program is a blessing for the church. Many thanks for all. With love, Heidy. Blessings.”

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Photos, Letters, and a Video from Heidy!

I have received several more letters from Heidy and lots more photos of her since my last update on her. Heidy is the first child I sponsored with Manna 4 Lempira, and I’m extremely fond of her. She has 9 siblings. Having only 1 sibling myself, that’s hard to imagine even here in America, let alone in Honduras living in poverty! She has a quiet, sweet spirit and a beautiful heart. And knowing that she likely doesn’t get a lot of individual attention, I love being able to shower her with love through my letters.

From October 2016

 

From December 2016

From April 2017

From July 2017

First letter: “Dear Alisa, Hello! How are you and your family? My family and I are well. I am very happy that you are my sponsor. I tell you that in the school, I enjoy spending time with my friends. I also like to spend time with my family. Also, I go to church every Sunday because I learn more of God and His word. Also, I tell you that February 2 of next year is my birthday. I hope to pass it well. It is a pleasure to see you and your family in the photo. Your cat, Emma, is very pretty. You and your family are very special for me. With much love, Heidy”

Second letter: “Dear Alisa, Thank you for what you have sent me. How are you and your family? I hope that you are very well. Thank you for all that you sent me; special things I can enjoy. Thanks to God that we can send these letters. Dear Alisa, I know what you sent me, but I send you letters with love for you, sponsor. Thank you for making the effort to send me what you sent me. Have a Merry Christmas with your family.”

Third letter: “Dear Sponsor, How are you? I hope you and your family are well. My family and I are well. Alisa, thank you very much for the backpack and everything. I tell you that we begin classes February 13. I am using the backpack that you sent me. Thank you for the doll of Barbie. I really love it. May God give you a life full of health every moment and every hour. Many, many thanks. Blessings and thank you!”

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I’m so glad she loved her barbie so much. I realize how much it probably means to her to have one of her own. Knowing how much she loved it and that she’s an Anna from Frozen fan, clearly an Anna barbie is in her future for her next backpack! 🙂

Then the best surprise came Monday morning, when videos of some of the sponsored children were posted on the Manna 4 Lempira page. I was excited to look, wondering if one of my children would be in one, but enjoying watching them all even if they weren’t. Then I saw Heidy. And I got to hear her voice for the first time. And the best part? I’ve seen the biggest smiles from her in this video than I’ve ever seen in the over 14 months I’ve been sponsoring her! It’s always a treat when I see a smile break through in her photos, because they’re not always there. I get it and I know she’s happy from her letters. And when there is one, it’s usually tiny. But in this video, these are big, toothy smiles! She is so adorable, and I couldn’t stop watching it again and again. It meant the world to me that my Heidy was featured. Especially on a morning that I was in a lot of pain and very tired, thanks to the rain and not getting any sleep the night before.

Here are the video and a couple screenshots. I love this girl so much!!

(click on the photos to see them larger)