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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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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New Photos of Jenny!

I already posted the surprise video I got from Jenny, something I will always treasure! Now here are the photos of her receiving her backpack and a little intro from me. Jenny is my only child at the newest Manna 4 Lempira center, Quelacasque.

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Based on her photos, this sweet 8 year old always seems on the shy side. I’d love to get to meet her and give her lots of hugs and encouragement in person. Jenny lives with her mom and 8 siblings, so I’m SO happy that she was able to receive new shoes and a backpack, even including a doll! Since this center opened well after the backpack submission date, I actually didn’t pack hers, but rather some generous sponsors donated everything for all of the children of Quelacasque!

Photo Friday- video from Jenny!

The family that runs Manna 4 Lempira just spent a week in Honduras visiting the children and distributing the backpacks that we sent. Each day, photos were posted of the kids, and I’d eagerly go in to look in the hopes of getting a glimpse of my kids. But they were never in any of the pictures posted. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed as others got to see multiple pictures of their sponsored kids. I know, though, that I will get official pictures once they are posted, and I still enjoyed seeing the pictures of the other happy kids, thinking that mine must be smiling too.

But then, at a moment where I really needed it, I got a message sent from Manna 4 Lempira, and it was a video from Jenny for me! Jenny is my most recently sponsored child through Manna 4 Lempira, and she is part of the new program that just opened: Quelacasque. During this visit, these children learned they had sponsored, got little bios on us with photos, and received their first backpacks and pair of shoes. Seeing Jenny’s smile and hearing her say my name means the world to me. I’m so grateful for this gift!!

Introducing Jenny!

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Manna 4 Lempira just opened a new program this month in a community called Quelacasque. A church wanted to partner with the Manna program, and its members sponsored many of the children, but there were still quite a few available for sponsorship. When the photos and profiles of the kids were posted, I had to look. I love to learn about each kid and pray that they all find the right sponsor. I wasn’t necessarily looking to add another child. But of course, the children were so lovable. Then I thought, if there was one that moved me, and he/she was still available after a few days, I’d consider it.

A little over a year ago, I lost my grandmother that I was very close to. And a little more than a year before that, I lost my grandfather, her husband. In January, I sponsored Oxford through Compassion in honor of my grandmother. They share the same birthday and I knew she would have loved his huge smile. Since then, I’ve been looking for a child to sponsor in honor of my grandfather. Every so often I’d look through children available for sponsorship with the same birthday of him, but although the children were wonderful, I never felt that “click” moment with any of them to know that they were right child.

When looking through the Quelacasque children, I noticed that Jenny had a birthday one day after my grandfather’s. I loved her shy, sweet smile. I loved that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. But what really made the difference was when I saw she had 8 siblings and a single mother. I have a special place in my heart for children from large families, and four of my other Manna children also have many siblings. Imagine as a parent in the US living in financial stability and having 9 children. That seems hard enough, but now imagine it in poverty. I love to be able to make children from large families feel special and singled out. I love to send them things that are just for them and not hand-me-downs. And I can’t wait to do these things for Jenny.

So guess what? I didn’t end up waiting a couple days. I barely made it a couple hours after I got home from work on the first day that the children were available for sponsorship. I was happy to know that Jenny was still available and to hear the news that I was able to sponsor her gave me a feeling of peace, knowing that after many months, I finally had the child who was meant to be sponsored in honor of my grandfather. I can’t wait to share some of this story with her either.