Spreading the Love

In my latest letters to my kids, I decided to do something differently, and address it to their center, rather than to just them. I write to my kids very often, and I tell them that I want them to have something to open whenever letters are delivered. I want them to feel special and loved. However, it breaks my heart to think of friends of theirs disappointed, not receiving letters of their own. I want them to know that they matter and they are loved, too. Here is the letter I sent them, with Elvis’ as an example:

Hi Elvis! For this letter, I thought I’d do something different. I was hoping you could share this letter with your friends at the center. I know not all of your friends there get letters as often as you do from me, and I want to include them in this one too.

Dear Elvis and Arca de Noe,
Hi! My name is Alisa, and I am Elvis’ sponsor. I am 26 years old, a teacher, and I live in the United States, near the big city of Chicago. I love sending Elvis letters, so I wanted to include all of you in this one. I know not all of you may get many, or any letters. I know that can be very hard sometimes. But I want to tell you that you are still very loved. You are loved by your sponsor. Your sponsor made the decision to make a difference in your life, through support and prayer. I don’t know why they don’t write more often, and I wish I did. But I do know their continued support is an act of love. They chose you, specifically, to sponsor, which I know, from when I chose to sponsor Elvis, is an act of God. God leads us as sponsors to the child we are supposed to be with, and each of you are no different. Which brings me to someone else that loves you; someone pretty important. God. God loves you very, very much. He never stops any second of any day, and He never forgets about you. When you hurt, He hurts too. And when you are happy, He is so happy with you. God created you to be special and not like anyone else. He has big plans for you, and you can do great things with your life. I know that completely. And you know what? I love you too! I love and pray for all of you at Arca de Noe along with Elvis. You have another friend here in the United States, so don’t forget that when you’re feeling lonely!

I want you to remember these 3 things, and remember them every day:
You are smart.
You are kind.
You are important.

Have a beautiful day.
Love always from your friend,
Alisa

Bags on the Way!

Since the Manna 4 Lempira staff will soon be traveling down to Honduras, we are able to send sandwich-sized bags filled with items for our sponsored kids this month. The staff will be packing these bags in their luggage to bring down, which is why the size is small. But I will say, while a sandwich bag sounds very small at first, you can fit quite a bit in it! I had lots of fun shopping for things for Heidy and Brayan’s bags, and my love of tetris came out when trying to get it all to fit!

Here’s what I fit in Heidy’s bag:

  • a personalized small decoration that I painted and decorated with her picture and name
  • a glow stick with a necklace string
  • a crystal growing kit
  • a notebook for her to write in, with a little message to her inside
  • 2 pretty pens to write with
  • a painted letter “H”
  • 4 fabric stretchy hair ties
  • a small sparkly compact
  • a toothbrush
  • a flower decoration
  • a handmade fabric bracelet

I have a sweet girl in family that I am very close to who is the same age as Heidy, so I kept her in mind when making Heidy’s bag. I wanted some things to make her feel special, things she could use, and things to brighten up her home a little bit, that were personalized. I can’t wait until she gets it!

Here’s what I fit in Brayan’s bag:

  • a personalized small decoration that I painted and decorated with his picture and name
  • a glow stick with a necklace string
  • a toothbrush
  • colorful building toys that can connect vertically or horizontally
  • a box of different colors of chalk
  • a pair of socks
  • letters to practice with that are also magnetic
  • a toy car
  • dissolvable capsules with sponge dinosaurs inside

I’m quite familiar with 3 year old boys, since I’m an early childhood teacher. Since his school performance is listed as above average and his favorite subject was numbers, I wanted things that he could use for learning and play, as well as things he could use as well. These little blocks are great and I was so glad I was able to fit them nicely in the bag, as there are so many ways to build with them to inspire his creativity. While they didn’t have small numbers like these letters, I thought the letters would still be great to work on learning them and as he gets older, start to spell with them too. And chalk is fun to be used just about anywhere!

I’m so glad I get the chance to send them these little packages of some extra goodies! I packed them carefully with love, and I’m sure they’ll be excited to get to open them. Thinking about putting a smile on their face as they open and as they get to use the contents makes me smile too!

Mail Call and Outgoing Mail

Last week, I got a letter from Peru, from the pastor at Cristofer’s church! I like how the pastors’ letters give more insight into the churches and the programs offered, as well as the challenges facing the area. They all seem to have such big hearts and to be doing such great works, and I love that. In more exciting news, it looks like I will be getting a letter from Cristofer himself soon, too! I noticed today I have a new letter from him that is “in translation”, so I can’t wait until I get to see it! This new online system makes things that more exciting to know when we have letters on the way. And I may or may not stalk it in hopes of seeing that good news…  😉

Cristofer is 9 years old and from Peru. He attends PE303.

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Dear Alisa,

I am Francisco ___ ____, pastor of Nazarene Church and Santa Rosa Student Center, where your sponsored child attends, located in Chiclayo city, Lambayeque department, in the north area of Peru.

By this letter I want to extend my gratitude to God and to you for the generous help you give to Cristofer.

Our community is located in a poor area of the city and most of the residents sell many products in the streets, do survival jobs, etc. The most common problem of the families is unemployment.

In our center we have to deal with many problems that families face, such was dysfunctional families, which are damaging the integrity of our boys and girls and restraining the proper development because they are damaged in the emotional, physical, and spiritual areas.

Our vision is to reach more families for Christ because we believe that only in this way our society will improve and the lives of our boys and girls will be transformed for GOd’s glory. Every day we feel the need to share the love of Jesus with our children so they learn to trust him to solve their personal and family problems. Consequently, some of our sponsored children have been directly influenced by the Word of God and this year we will have 10 new believers. They are now taking discipleship class and will be baptized very soon.

We have medical checks twice a year; provision to buy medicines when they are needed; school reinforcement for students with low grades; and various spiritual retreats for boys and girls, teens, or families.

Although this year we didn’t have the privilege to have a sponsor visit, we are looking forward to the visits of next year. Most of our sponsored children received letters and they have answered them because we understand the importance of communication between sponsor and sponsored child. We are very happy to know the sponsors are always writing letters to our children because it is very important for children to be in touch with them by letters and they like to hear how the sponsors are. Also our children write their prayer request and interact.

We thank God for your valuable support for Cristofer from our community. We ask you to keep praying to the Lord for the children and teens of our community.

We pray that our beloved God will supply all your needs and give you good health to continue being a blessing.

Sincerely,

Francisco ___ ____

Here is a picture of his center that I got from the Compassion app!

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And after painting with kindergarteners last week, I felt inspired to pull watercolors out on my own and paint something. Since all of my kids speak Spanish, I decided to write a simple but important message in Spanish, “eres especial”, or “you are special”. Since Compassion now scans items digitally to send, I decided to scan it myself, so that I could send this same painting to all of my Compassion children this way, and still have it to send on to Maria too. I’m getting used to and enjoying the ways the new letter writing features can be used. Here is what my painting looks like after uploading it as an extra full page that my kiddos will get:

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Catch up!

It’s been a little while since my last post. Things have been a little hectic- my teaching position has changed again for the third time this year, which is quite crazy, but I’m just trying to have faith that God has a plan so that I can find a new job next year that I wouldn’t otherwise be at and that it will be a great fit.

I’m going to do a couple catch up posts from what I missed.

This is what I sent my kiddos in December. Coffee filter tie-dye hearts to get in time for Valentines Day, along with washi trees (which they got after Christmas but I don’t think they mind).


In January I sent out coffee filter snow flakes, which I had a lot of fun making! And my sweet Angeles’s birthday is in March so she got some special treats too, like this card with a tiara on her. I write emails to my kids more often, but I send something through the mail once a month. I try to plan everything 2 months ahead of when I want it to get there.


In the next post… my first letters from my loves!!

A Connection and Prayer for a Child

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I received my packet for sweet Angeles in the mail yesterday and I was so excited! I’ve already sent her a couple emails, so this isn’t my first letter, but I’m sending my first handwritten letter in the mail to her. Not a ton of goodies this time, but in a week or so I’m going to be sending a special batch of letters to each of my kiddos with some goodies, so this will be good for now, plus I designed my own stationary for the letter- hope she likes it!

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While my current position in work is far from what I want to be doing or where my heart is, and I’m facing a lot of adversity and negativity day in and day out, the one thing that I don’t hate about it is the sweet little kids I work with, and some days like today I’m reminded that I am still making a difference, albeit a different one than I’m used to. The students in the classroom I work with in the morning are from families that come from Mexico, have Spanish as their first language, and are learning English, although most of them can talk to me in English by now with no problems, which is good, because my Spanish is very limited. As a bonus part time teacher in the classroom, I work with 2 students who need extra help especially, but I work with all of the students too. Having been moved to this position in the middle of the year, it took me some time to get to know all the faces, names, and personalities. One little guy I remember as one of the kids that stood out to me early on, though.

I guess you could say that if I was looking at a page of children waiting to be sponsored, he would be the one that I would be drawn to. Something about that face has such innocence, but wears such a burden on it at the same time. In the beginning of the year he barely talked, and even now he can be very quiet sometimes, but he has started talking more. And when he smiles, I can’t help but smile too. He’s been struggling a lot in math lately, as we’ve been progressing further. It’s not for lack of working hard, because I see how hard he works and tries, it just takes him longer than the majority of the class, and because he’s so quiet, he can easily slip through the cracks. I’ve taken him under my wing since I’ve started there, spending time many days kneeling by his side, guiding and encouraging. When I see the despair on his face through math, it breaks my heart. I give him extra high fives and have him “move his clip up” when he completes a hard problem or I see him giving it his all. Sometimes just a look and a smile goes a long way. I’ve seen the chance in his disposition when I do all of this.

Today as the children were working independently in math and I walked around the room checking in, I saw him with his head down on the table. I kneeled down beside him. He had shut down, at first not answering my questions at all. Completely overwhelmed at what he had to do, feeling hopeless. I patted him on the shoulder, gently, to let him know I understood. Slowly, patiently, I continued and he started to answer me, not with words, but by pointing cautiously with his pencil. I’d encourage him each time, and was so proud to see as we continued to progress with the problems, he got the answer correct each time. I made sure to give him lots of “good jobs” and smiles along the way. When we got to the end, I held my hand up and he gave me a big high five while I told him how awesome he is. “See,” I said, “you did it! You’re smart, ____. You really are smart. You know how to do all of this. You did it.” His face lit up as he beamed with pride, and I was busting in pride inside for him. If nothing else, if I can instill confidence in this little guy, if I can make him believe that he can do anything he sets his mind to, I will have done something meaningful.

I then looked at him and noticed what he was wearing today, which brings me to where this story connects. He was wearing a thin white turtle neck, just like my Elvis is in his picture. Looking slightly disheveled as well, he was also wearing navy blue pants with it.

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I realized how easily this little guy in front of me could be Elvis. And they’re only a year, maybe a year and a half, apart in age. I thought about how my prayers and dreams for Elvis have been that he believes that he can do or be whatever he wants, without feeling any limitations. I can’t be there to hug Elvis in person, or to high five him, or share a smile. But hopefully through Compassion and through my letters, I can still have that impact on him.

Linking up with

Letters and more letters

At a time in my life when each week feels like a month, it’s hard to wait in between the letters I send to my little sweethearts. If I could, I would send them an email letter almost every day, although I realize that would be too much. But after getting Elvis’ packet in the mail this week (yay!!) I sent a package letter off to him, complete with some goodies and a birthday card, as his birthday is in late January. I hope he’ll get it right in time. I’ve also sent some letters off to my sweet girls, including a package one to Maria. I’ve been reading other sponsor blogs to bide the time, and reading up on my kiddos’ countries. This next week I should be getting Angeles’ packet and hopefully it won’t feel like too long before I get my first letter from one of them.

My letters to each of my little ones this week talked about Thanksgiving. I told each of them how thankful I am for them, because they are a member of my family now. As a teacher, we have the philosophy that once a child is our student, for however long, they become one of our kids for life. Talk to any good teacher and you’ll see how passionate she or he is about her/his “kids”. They’re our own. It’s definitely the same way with child sponsorship, I’m finding. From the moment I saw each of their pictures and fell in love, and then clicked ‘confirm’ on the sponsorship, they became mine. And I can only hope I can have a positive impact on their lives, too. I want them to feel showered in love ❤

 
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