New Photos of Maria and Rikelme

I’ve had quite a few photo updates (and new correspondents… but that will come later) while I was on my posting hiatus getting adjusted to my new job. I get so excited to get updated photos of the kids and see how they’re growing!!

First is Maria, my longest sponsored child and my only World Vision child. Here is her new photo:


And a look at all of her photos as she’s grown! (click to see them larger)

And Rikelme is looking even more grown up in his new photo:


Here are all his photos to compare! (click to see them larger)

Letter from Maria

I hadn’t heard from my Maria in Mexico for awhile, so it was great to hear from her! I wonder if some of the letters were delayed, since she mentioned me “remembering” her again 😦


Maria is 7 and lives in Mexico.

“Alisa, thank you very much for remembering me again. I am very happy. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am a very enthusiastic, studious and kind girl. I hope I do not lose that because there are many difficult situations that I had experienced as the economic situation. I will be asking God not to be so difficult. I may one day become someone important in life, as every child dreams. I just entered to second grade on August 21st of this year, but everything is very exciting or at least always have to be positive. My parents love my brother and me. I know that they will always do everything for us. My grandmother is a little sick, but I thank God for having her still with us. I went on holiday for at least two days at my cousin’s home that is located 1 hour from here and my sister and I had a good time with my cousin. I would like to know more about you and I hope you will write to me soon. My cousin helped me. With much affection, Maria”

Even more letters from Maria!

I just got 3 more letters in the mail from my dear Maria, all on the same day. Talk about exciting! I just love seeing those orange and white envelopes in the mailbox that came all the way from Mexico.


Maria is 6 and lives in Mexico.

Letter 1:

Hi, Alisa! We celebrate Mother’s Day here too. I gave my mommy a big hug and some kisses. Give a hug and some kisses to your mommy for me. I am happy because my uncle has a girlfriend now, and he will get married soon. I pray to God that you will find your significant other someday. Someone that takes care of you and supports you. Well, I bid you farewell.

This made me laugh out loud! I do hope so too 😉 Someday…

Letter 2:

Hi, dear Alisa! How are you doing? I have been doing well. I hope that you received the picture that I sent you last time. In that picture, I was wearing a Huipil with a pineapple. I got your letter today. I saw the pictures that you sent me. I love dogs too. I do not have pigs anymore; I used to have a pig. Let me tell you that they are very expensive to buy and that is wy my dad has not bought any more pigs. However, my uncle game me two dogs, the older one’s name is Negro (black) and the puppy’s name is Canela (cinnamon), she is my brother’s dog. I bid you farewell, hoping that I will get more letters from you. May God keep you safe.

I contacted World Vision about the picture, but still haven’t received a response. I will try again. I really hope that it wasn’t lost. And I had told her about a field trip I had taken with my students to a pig farm, which is what she was responding to in this letter. I’m sure pigs are expensive! 🙂

Letter 3:

Hi, Alisa! How are you doing? I am very excited because I will go back to school soon. I hope that I can send you photos of my friends and I because there is not anybody here who can take some pictures, since we do not have a camera nor a cellphone. We do not have internet either. My little town is highly marginalized, by I am very proud to be from here. We have the things that we need, thank God. I hope that I will meet you in person someday. God bless and protect you as well as your entire family.

I’ve never been told in her letters if it’s her mother or father writing for her, but I’m quite sure it’s either one of them. With World Vision, it seems to be the parents that help write the letters for children who are younger. I feel like I know her family with all of the details and candidness I hear about them. I feel honored that they’ve opened their lives to me and feel so happy that Maria has such a loving family!

Letters from Maria

I have had a whole collection of letters from Maria, lately, sometimes 2 at a time! I know I mention a lot in this blog that I have a special connection with Maria, but all of her letters really do help with that.


Maria is 6 and lives in Mexico.

First letter (This one came with a flower attached!):

Hi Alisa! How are you? I am fine. I hope that you are fine, too. I had to go to another town this week. We had a dance contest and we will have the dance contest here next week for May 10th (Mother’s Day in Mexico). The flowers are blossoming here in my town, and year after year, the gardenias blossom, and they do so this month. I am sending you a gardenia. I bid you farewell. May Our Lord, God, keep you safe forever.


Second letter:

Hi Alisa. I did get your letter. I hope that your grandmother will get better so she can go back to her house. Say Hi to her for me, and tell her that I hope that she will get better soon. My grandma is sick too. She is not in the hospital because my family cannot afford it. She stays at her home, and all of my aunts, uncles, and my mom look after her. They do teach me songs in school, but we have but had classes for 2 weeks because our teachers went to the teachers’ protest against the education reform that the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is doing. I want to go back to class. I bid you farewell. May Our Father, God, keep you safe.

Third letter:

Hi, Alisa! How are you? I hope that well. I am not very well, because my grandpa passed away, he is in heaven with Our Heavenly Father now. My mom and my dad took me to the field yesterday, to sow maize. It is very hot here. I will graduate from preschool soon and I will start going to elementary school. I am very nervous and excited about that. I hope that I will meet you in person someday, Alisa, or online, even though I do not have a computer nor Wi-Fi. See you soon, Alisa. May the Lord keep you safe and protect you. I have attached my photo. Text from the photo: A token of my kindergarten graduation.

Sadly, there was no photo included. I’ve contacted World Vision and I’m really hoping they have a copy they can send to me. I don’t know if they scan everything like Compassion does, but I can only hope.

Fourth letter:

Hi, Alisa! I hope that you are well. I got 3 letters from you today. I have been lucky enough to see some rainbows.They are quite beautiful and have many colors. It is very hot here, we have had temperatures of up to 120 degrees F. I like the hot weather. My mom takes me to the river almost every day. See you soon.

Fifth letter:

Hi, Alisa! We had our school year’s closing ceremony last week, and I graduated from kindergarten. I will be in elementary school now. I will no longer be the flag carrier in my school’s color guard. I will have to study hard so I can be a teacher as you are. I have been feeling very tired lately, and lazy, but it will go away. I pray to God so He will help me in school. I hope that I can meet you in person someday. See you soon. Good luck.

Whew, that was a lot of letters! I am blessed by this special girl. And I would give anything to be able to meet her too. But with WV not offering group tours like CI, I don’t see myself traveling through Mexico on my own, unfortunately, for safety reasons. I love her to pieces, though!

Photo Updates Part 1

I haven’t posted in awhile for a good reason, I got a new job that I really like, and the way it all came about, I know God’s hand was in it. I still get to be teaching preschoolers, which I love, but instead of having students with special needs, like I’m used to, I’ll have students who are determined “at risk”. It’s a different challenge and I’m looking forward to it! School starts Monday, so I’ve been crazy busy. But there have been a lot of things going on lately related to my sponsored kids, so I’m going to start with those that have had photo updates.

First up is my sweet Maria. I’m the closest to Maria out of all of my kids, because she sends lots of letters in return to the lots that I send. I sponsor Maria through World Vision, so letter writing goes a lot faster than how Compassion currently is. I just adore this girl. And  I love the smile! Maria is 6 and is from Mexico.


Next is my adorable Elvis. His first picture was the cutest, and I couldn’t imagine how his next picture could compare. But it is so perfect. A smile, a thumbs up, and a wave. I just need to get to Bolivia and give him a big squeeze already! Elvis is 5.



Mail Call Monday

Letters have been very slow lately, and I’m still waiting for my letter from Angeles which has been in translation for about 2 months now, but at least I got 2 in the past 2 weeks. One is a pastor letter, but it has to be my favorite pastor letter yet. The other is from Maria, who I hadn’t heard from in some time, compared to what is usual from her.


From Maria, age 6, in Mexico



Hi Alisa! How have you been? I am fine here. I have been doing well in school. I am learning lots of new things. I have to do a presentation tomorrow in school, and it is going to be about the typical food that we eat here in my community. I am also getting ready to start going to elementary school, since I will graduate from preschool this July. I hope that everything is going well over there. God, Our Lord, has never left me by myself because He loves you, me and everybody. Have a good afternoon. I bid you farewell. Love, Maria

Love all the flowers at the bottom!


From the pastor of Luna, age 12, in Colombia


Dear Alisa, My name is Maria ****, and I am the pastor associated with the Child Development Center, ****, where Luna attends. I want to thank you in a special way for the support you give Luna, as it is a huge blessing to her and her family. I thank God for your life and pray for you to be abundantly blessed for your special heart. Today I want to tell you a bit more about this community. This is a place surrounded by arid mountains, with high temperatures that are contrasted with strong and pleasant winds that pass often through the area. This is an area mostly populated by families displaced by violence, socially marked but working hard to move forward. The program, through this wonderful partnership with Compassion, works on generating a positive impact in the lives of the benefited children and their families. I also want to tell you a bit about our pastoral work in this community. My husband and I lead the church that assists the center. One of our functions, among others, is visiting the children’s families to give them an encouraging word in the middle of their difficult life conditions. Together wit the leaders of the center, we provide a large amount of attention to the needs of the children and parents, who really need to feel loved and protected. Families usually work in informal jobs, while others take care of farms in nearby towns, so their incomes are very low. The children are exposed to spending much time by themselves, so that is why the activities at the center bless their lives in a great way by providing the children with company, education, spiritual support, nutrition, medical checkups, and medicine, among other benefits. Every passing day I can watch the improvements in the children, like how they spontaneously offer to pray to thank God for the food and how the smallest children kneel to pray to God with so much devotion, and it fills my heart with excitement and strength to carry on with this wonderful work. It is thanks to the kindness and support of sponsors that we are allowed to change the destiny of these children in a community in need of much love and prayer. It is thanks to your support that we can see hope reflected in the faces of the boys and girls of this community. I can see in them great men and women, professional physicians, lawyers, engineers, and more. They are the children that will inspire a whole generation, and this is all thanks to sponsors like you! The golden seal in this great work is that the children get to know about Jesus, accept Him as their Lord and Savior, and have a beautiful relationship with Him. Please pray for our church, the center, and for our ministry staff. They are committed to the children and teenagers to make their dreams come true, but this is not an easy task and there are new challenges to face every day. Once again I thank you for your support, and for giving me the chance to share these words with you. You are very important to us and to Luna. I only want to tell you one more thing: the importance of the sponsor-child relationship. Please write periodically to Luna. This is something very important to the children and they are always very happy to hear about their sponsor. If only you could see their faces when they read these letters! It is exciting to see their faces lighting up in happiness and their eyes shining brightly! May the Lord reward the work you do and bless you and your family. Sincerely, Maria

I just love this letter and it’s so beautifully written, maybe because it was written by a woman 😉 What a wonderful pastor and project it sounds like! I hope to be able to visit it someday.

Mail Call Monday

So last Monday I was so excited to find 2 exciting envelopes in the mailbox: one from World Vision and one from Compassion. Since I had already gotten the letters I first received online in the mail as well, I was hoping maybe it would be a new letter I hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately, it was yet another copy of Elvis’ letter that I already had. Compassion is aware of the issue and is working on it, as several other sponsors have had the same thing happen. I got my hopes up, but it’s okay, I thankfully had TWO letters from Maria in the other envelope to make up for it! I was just thinking that it had been longer than usual since I had heard from Maria. I’m very blessed to get many letters from her, because I write to her often as well. Since I started sponsoring her in November, I’ve received 8 letters now from her already, so it’s easy to say as of now I have the best relationship with her. My letter from Cristofer still says it’s in translation on Compassion’s site, and as of this morning, I also have a letter in translation from Angeles, finally! So I can’t wait to get to read both of those soon!

Maria, Age 6, Mexico


Letter 1:

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Hello, Alisa! How have you been? I spent this week with my grandma because she is very sick. That makes me sad, and that is why my dad gave me three puppies. They still drink milk, but I do not have money to buy milk for them, and so I give them coffee. Well, I bid you farewell. We are going to take my grandma to the doctor, because she has high blood pressure and her sugar level is high because she is diabetic. I hope Our Heavenly Father God will heal her. See you soon. Have a good day.

Letter 2:

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Hello! How are you? I hope you are well. This week, I hurt my foot. I stepped on a nail. I was walking; I did not realize that there was a piece of wood with a nail on the floor. I am now recovering. The people from World Vision brought me a gift today. I am happy. See you soon. May Our Heavenly Father God take care of you. Love you, Maria. I hope that I will meet you in person someday.

Oh my goodness, 3 puppies, and drinking coffee, no less! Do I mention enough how much I love this little girl though?? And do you want to know the most amazing thing? This is the second time that something in her life is paralleling something that is going on/has gone on in mine. First it was her cousins who she hadn’t seen in awhile due to an ugly custody battle, the same situation that happened to child cousins of mine years ago. Now, while her grandmother is sick, so is mine, who has been in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation this past month, a long story, but I just can’t help but be awed that this little girl in another country with different circumstances has so many similarities to my own life. God clearly led me to sponsor Maria, and I’m starting to see some of His plan revealed as to why. There’s no more amazing feeling than that!!

It worried me to hear that she stepped on a nail, but thankfully it does sound like she’s doing ok and recovering. I am praying that she has access to good medical care so that there is no infection. Poor sweetheart.

Videos of Maria


Maria had a video as well, as do all of the children through World Vision, and oh my goodness, it was definitely the reason I sponsored her. I was searching for children around the age of 5 to 6 from Mexico, because at the time that was the population of students I was working with, whose families came from Mexico, and on World Vision’s site, they show you one child at a time. I watched through the different videos, and each of them had the child standing next to or being held by their mother, while their mother talked. Then I saw Maria. She was the only one  I saw in the video by herself and did all her own talking perfectly! I just loved that! I decided to keep looking, just in case, even though I already loved her. Well, when she popped up for the 3rd time as I clicked through the different kids, I sponsored her. She also has a video on her account from when she was younger, and it is just precious. Maria is the child I’ve received the most letters from by far, and I just love this little girl so much.

Upcoming Conference and Letters from Maria

It’s been awhile since I said I would post the received letters. I went on vacation a couple weeks ago and was very busy with the packing and planning before that, but I guess better late than never!

I also am so excited that I’m going to the Act for Compassion Conference in 2 weeks! When I saw it shared and found out that it’s actually quite close to where I live in the Chicagoland area, I couldn’t believe it! I know it was a sign that I was meant to go, so I registered right away. I can’t wait, because I know it’ll be an amazing and powerful weekend, filled with people with the same values and passions as mine.

I’m going to share the letters I’ve received so far from Maria first. Maria is the child I sponsor through World Vision, and I have to say, I receive far more letters from her than my Compassion kiddos. Since I started sponsoring her in November, I’ve already received 6. The first 2 came a day apart, and the last 2 came together on the same day- that was such an exciting surprise! I absolutely adore how she traces her hand on each letter. I can hold my hand up to hers and pray for her. And I hope as she gets bigger, she’ll still do it and I can see her growth. It’s such a sweet, personal touch.


Letter 1:

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Translation: Hello! This is Maria. I like to paint and to play at school. I am the flag bearer of my class color guard. I will attend elementary school soon. How are you? Are you fine? I hope you continue writing to me. I say goodbye. See you soon! I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (My mother helped me write this letter.)

Letter 2:

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Translation: Hi, I got your letter. My favorite color is blue. I go to church on Sundays too. I am happy because I got your letter. I know how to write a little bit. I bid you farewell. May God keep you safe. See you soon.

Letter 3:

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Translation: Hello! This is Maria. How are you? I am fine. I am back to school now. I would love to meet you in person. I got your letter. I had a great year. I thank to God because my cousins are back to us, because their parents are separated. I pray to God to protect them and help you in your work! (My cousin, ____, helped me to write this letter).

Letter 4:

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Translation: Hello! How are you? I am fine. I went to the church or Christmas Eve. I got together with my family on December 31st, but I thought that I missed you there. I hope you are doing well. May God care of you at your home and your work! I say goodbye for now. I hope to hear from you soon. With love, Maria

Letter 5:

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Translation: Hello, I am happy because I got your letter. I keep all your letters that you have sent me. How are you? I am fine. My father’s name is ___. My mother’s name is ____. My brother is ____. The weather is cold here now. There are many trees with fruits. I live in the state of _____ close to the state of Veracruz. I hope you have a wonderful birthday! I send kisses and hugs to you. Maria

Letter 6:

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Translation: Hello, I am happy because I got your letter. I really enjoyed the sheets that you sent me. I hope you send me more sheets. The weather is colder now. I got cough and flu, but I am taking medicine. See you soon! Maria

If all of these sweet letters aren’t motivation to always keep writing and not let her down, I don’t know what is! She is the age of the kindergarteners that I work with this year, so I love that connection, and she sounds like such a little kindergartener learning to write in these letters. Whenever I see an orange and white envelope in the mail from Mexico, it’s a happy day 🙂

The Journey has Begun

Years ago, I correspondence sponsored a girl in Kenya through Compassion International. At the time, I couldn’t afford a sponsorship, but I still wanted to help. I fell in love with getting letters from a 9 year old girl on the other side of the world. I couldn’t believe they were filled with so much love for me. I hoped that I was able to show that much love in my letters. We wrote for a few years, before she left the program. As sad as I was, I was so busy with grad school at the time that I decided to wait some time before I started with another child, to be fair.

As more time passed, I kind of forgot. But recently after attending a Toby Mac concert and hearing him talk about it, the burning desire to sponsor a child was pushed back into the forefront of my heart. As a teacher I don’t make a ton of money, but by having a full-time job, I still have the ability to be a sponsor. I went on World Vision’s website. I work with young children, typically preschoolers, but right now I am working with kindergarteners, so I wanted someone around that age. Then I thought of those kindergarteners I work with in the morning, whose families are all from Mexico. I thought of all the children who are stuck in Mexico in poverty, and I started searching for children around that age in Mexico. I prayed a lot. When Maria’s picture popped up for the 3rd time as I was searching through (World Vision only shows you one child at a time), I knew that was my answer. Her face was so full of innocence. A bit unsure, but hopeful. I watched her video. Most of the other children her age stood next to their mothers in the video while they talked, but Maria sat there in a chair by herself and talked on her own while she played with her dress. I couldn’t understand all of what she was saying, but I loved this little girl for being brave enough to talk for herself.


Maria, mi amor, I love you so much already. I think about you and your family daily, not just when I’m praying for you. I can’t wait for you to get the letters I’ve sent, and I can’t wait until I get my first letter from you!