Introducing Marcus!

My wait on the Compassion correspondents waiting list was looong but I knew it was in God’s time, because He had the right child for me, and that child just needed to become available. Last week, this finally happened as Marcus was added to my account!

Marcus is 14 and lives in Brazil, just like Rikelme. In fact, their project numbers are just one off from each other. Rikelme is such a sweetheart and I love Brazil since I visited there back in 2004, so I was very excited to have another Brazilian teen! His favorite school subject is math and his hobbies include bicycling, marbles, soccer, and toy cars. I’m looking forward to getting to know him!

Introducing Albia

Little Bia is my latest Compassion sponsored child. She is my first and only child from the Philippines and it was a God moment, what else can I say?

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Bia is 5 years old. I sponsored her on the day after her birthday this year. She lives in a very low income community with her parents, grandparents, and two siblings. Her parents struggle with employment. Bia attends preschool, and her hobbies include art, dolls, hide and seek, play house, toy cars, running, and walking.

Isn’t she just precious? I love that I get to watch this sweetheart grow up!

Introducing Nicholas and Shadia

I have developed such a passion for Uganda. This country and its beautiful people have definitely made its way into my heart. So when I heard of the small organization, Living Life in Abundance Ministry, run by an incredibly kind and generous woman named Joy who lives in Uganda and knows these families and their needs, I contacted her to ask for a correspondent. I told her I didn’t have any requests, and I’d be happy to have any child. She assigned me Nicholas, who is 3 years old. He and his sister live with their mother. They recently lost their father to HIV/AIDS. His first picture with his sad face and torn shirt broke my heart, but then I saw his smile, and I was happy that I could hopefully give him a little more to smile about. I sent off a letter and a couple weeks later, I sent a donation to Joy so that she could purchase gifts for him, whatever he and his family needed.

Well, when I had contacted Joy to ask for a correspondent, I had first contacted the wrong email address. Several weeks later, though, she replied to my first email asking if I still wanted a correspondent. I replied that I was assigned Nicholas, but would be happy to have another one if there were more children in need. I was thrilled to be assigned his sister, Shadia, so that I can love on this whole family even more! I quickly sent another donation so Shadia wouldn’t be left out with gifts. Shadia is 4 years old. I’m grateful God had planned this “unplanned addition” all along!

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Introducing Ramya

While I have been talking about some smaller organizations, there was one that was not new to me. I had heard about it before and know several people who sponsor through it. The Organization is called United with Hope. They work in India, which my heart still breaks for after Compassion was sadly forced to end their work in the country. United with Hope is also a Christian organization, but since they are so much smaller and just work with one community, they are able to continue operating. The person who runs the ministry is a Compassion sponsor herself. Knowing all of this, and seeing others’ pictures of beautiful Indian children, I’ve always been pulled to want to sponsor with them. But it took me awhile- over a year. Honestly, I think it’s because it was very hard to find up to date information on the websites or Facebook pages on how to sponsor or which children were available. I guess it was good that I waited, though, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have Ramya. On one of the Facebook pages, there were some children in an album listed as needed sponsors a month ago. I messaged the page to see if Ramya was still available. I got invited to a private Facebook group that is kept up to date, found out she was available, and sponsored her.

There are a couple different programs United with Hope has that you can sponsor a child (or widow) through. I sponsor Ramya through the tutoring program. It is run by the pastor of the church. Sponsorship is $10 a month and gives the children tutoring and meals 6 days a week. There is a very low literacy rate in the area and many children are unable to go to school. You can also purchase extra gifts through a store on their website to send to your child, along with sending letters and packages.

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Ramya is the younger sister of another girl who was already attending the program, and now she is old enough to attend, too. She is 6 years old. I already have TONS of photos of her! These are just a few:

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The girls having fun

Receiving a backpack and school supplies

Participating in lessons

Receiving food

Introducing a New Correspondent

I have a beautiful new correspondent child, but not through Compassion. Like I had talked about smaller organizations when I shared about The Bridge of Hope, I also discovered another smaller organization: Revive a Rural African Child. This Christian organization is run voluntarily by one man with a huge heart for the children of Uganda. Eddy runs Revive a Rural African Child, and he cares for the children and has started the Visionary Learning Center, a place for children to study and learn that is run by teachers and volunteers. They are in the process of building a library. What is different about RRAC is that there is no sponsoring of children; only penpals. I was definitely intrigued how this worked.

You can sign up to be a penpal to a maximum of two children, and you send the letters directly to Uganda. You can also send packages. Since you aren’t sponsoring the child financially, only corresponding, you should be committed to writing regularly before signing up. While there is no monthly sponsorship commitment, there is obviously a cost for Eddy to send out mail to us, as well as to pick up each package at the post office that he receives, so there is a way to donate. But there is no set amount, and you can give what you have to give when you have extra to give if you want to; there is no requirement or obligation. Now, keep in mind that if you are used to corresponding with children through an organization like Compassion, RRAC is obviously different, because it’s run by one person and not hundreds. Eddy is very busy with the children, as he should be. He is fantastic, though, at providing updates on the work he is doing, and posts photos and videos with explanations several times a day! As a new supporter of this ministry, I love getting to learn about all the wonderful things they are doing and learning! Just look at the Facebook page to see some examples!

If you would like to be a penpal or find out more, there is a Facebook group to join: Revive a Rural African Child Penpals, that is separate from the main page. Some lovely ladies volunteer their time to help run the group and match penpals and children. They just posted a very informative FAQ post, that explains a lot!

After learning all of this, I decided to sign up to be a penpal. I figured I’d start with one child for now, and then add another in the future. Since there isn’t anything to go by but a list of names/gender/ages, I trusted that God would lead me to the right name. My new penpal is Nusura, and she is 6 years old. My heart melted when Eddy sent me this picture!

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I just love this photo with this beautiful smiling girl holding this sweet note! I can’t wait to get to know her better!

I sent her a letter as quickly as I could, although I’m sure it will take some time to arrive in Uganda. Eddy lets us know and takes pictures when he receives anything. Nervous about sending a package on my own, I thought I’d try sending one through Amazon Global. It took quite awhile to find something that would actually ship to Uganda- many things don’t, even in Amazon Global- a fact that you don’t find out until you’re partway through checkout. But finally I was able to send something through. It’s one of my favorite kids books ever “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes”. My students loooove Pete the Cat, so I figured she would too. It’s just something small, but it’s a start to see how it goes through. And I was able to send a gift message with it.

I spotted Nusura in a picture posted to the Facebook page recently of some of the kids receiving school supplies. Look at that smile!

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Introducing Mariatu… and how God Brought Her to Me

I’ve been researching some smaller organizations that I’ve heard about. I have had a wonderful experience with sponsoring with Manna 4 Lempira for the past 15 months, a smaller organization, so I know how great they can be. I wanted to make sure, of course, the legitimacy of these organizations and what they provide. I wanted to see if their values called to my heart, and if God placed any desires on me to support them. One such ministry that I was called to was The Bridge of Hope. It is a Christian organization that works in 4 communities in Sierra Leone, one of the very poorest countries in the world. The average life expectancy is only 45 years old. The average adult has had less than 3 years of schooling. The Bridge is operated primarily by volunteers so that donations can go directly to helping the people of the communities. They work with local, indigenous leaders on projects that are driven by locals, instead of Westerners. Sponsored children have access to education, dental care, a feeding program with daily nutritious meals, clean water, churches and teaching about Jesus, medical clinics, the rebuilding of their community, and agriculture and animal farming projects and loans to help families and members of their community. Child sponsorship with The Bridge of Hope is $15/month.

All of this being said, I decided to sponsor a child to support the work of this ministry and do more for a child in Sierra Leone. I browsed through lots and lots of photos, looking for one that I felt called to. When I saw an 8 year old girl named Mariatu, her eyes and shy, unsure smile made me feel a connection. I sponsored her and wrote my first letter to her, which can be written online.

This week, I logged into my account, and I was surprised to see a different girl named Mariatu, with a different last name, age, birthday, child number, and photo, instead! Seeing as I had already sent a letter, and I didn’t want there to be any confusion, I sent an email to The Bridge of Hope to clear things up. I got a response less than 24 hours later, and it could only be described as God’s plan. It turns out the Mariatu I had sponsored had moved away with her family to another village. Their child advocate in Sierra Leone, who had my letter to her, had given it to another girl who was unsponsored and also named Mariatu. The advocate said she was very excited to hear she had a sponsor. I also got emails with additional photos of her, a child profile with some more information, and a video to me!

Now, I definitely couldn’t say no at this point! Not that I would have anyway. As soon as I saw this adorable little 5 year old Mariatu’s picture on my account, before I knew what was going on, I was in love. She was younger than what I was planning on, but God’s plans are greater than mine. For another little girl to be waiting with the same name was clearly no coincidence. I’m grateful I didn’t have to choose another child and that God chose this little girl for me and made it very clear and easy. And, like I said, I’m in love with her already!

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Mariatu’s favorite color is green and her favorite subject in school is number work. When she’s at home, she helps by “greeting parents and elders”, which I think is adorable. Her favorite game to play is to “play cook”, and when she grows up she wants to be a teacher. Another future teacher. This girl is clearly meant to be mine.

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The video is precious, and I love her smile at the end. Everything happens for a reason!

Introducing Yeyson and Greysi!

Last week, I added two new Manna 4 Lempira children to my family. I had been praying over all of the children that needed sponsors. Suddenly, one night I felt a pull on my heart that hadn’t been there before for Yeyson and Greysi, siblings. I said an extra prayer for them and went to bed. As I was trying to fall asleep, they weighed heavily on me, and I began to think about sponsorship. But, with it being so close to the time of the year we send backpacks full of school supplies and gifts for our sponsored kids, and already having 6 kids to purchase and send items for, I really wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to add on 2 more. That night, I had a dream about Yeyson and Greysi, and I was their sponsor. The dream was very vivid and impactful, and I woke up with a clear meaning from it on my heart. Sponsor them, and everything else will work out.

I knew how happy they’d be to receive their backpacks full of gifts. Why wait over a month, if I knew I wanted to sponsor them anyway and deny them that? Making things easier on myself is definitely not a good enough answer.

So that morning, I requested to sponsor these sweet siblings from El Tablon. They have a single, unemployed mother. Even though I’ve never sponsored siblings together in the past, it makes so much sense that I can give encouragement to all three of them as a family unit.

Yeyson is 8, and his favorite subject is Drawing. His favorite color is blue and his favorite activity is playing soccer. When he grows up, he wants to be a teacher (I have a special place in my heart, of course, for all children who do).

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Greysi just turned 3 this week. She’ll start school in February. Her favorite color is pink and her favorite activity is playing with dolls. She also has one of the cutest smiles I have ever seen. I love how hard she is smiling, but she’s still peeking through with one eye open!

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I’ve loved getting to shop for them along with my other Manna kids. It’s all working out! Because without a doubt, I knew I was meant to sponsor these two.