Letter of love for March: Family and childhood

Spring is desperately trying to poke its nervous head through the mounds of snow here and there, as we prepare to move from our home state of Michigan to the state of Virginia. We move in just two weeks, and I have become quite reflective as of late. Other than one year spent in Indiana, I have lived in Michigan my entire life. Along with reflecting on leaving my home state, I have also been anxiously anticipating the spring-like weather awaiting us in Virginia. I cannot wait to do my first happy dance of the year the moment my feet touch down on earth not hidden by snow. If you cannot tell, this winter has clung to us way too long.

 

What do you think of when you think of spring? Do you, like me, think of new life? If so, then you will enjoy this month’s letter of love, as we share about our family and childhood with our sponsored children.

 

Possible Topics to include:

 

• Share about the beginning of spring and how it reminds you of new life

• Share any special story surrounding your birth

• Introduce your family (parents, siblings, grandparents, ETC)

• Share your childhood hobbies

• Share about pets you had as a child

• Share favorite childhood memories of family activities, annual vacations, ETC

• Share childhood dreams and aspirations (what you wanted to be when you grew up)

• Share any difficult circumstances you faced as a child that you are comfortable sharing and how God brought you through them

• Share about people who were important role models in your life growing up

• Share about school (favorite and least favorite subjects, favorite teachers and why, ETC)

• Share about childhood friends and activities you did together. Are you still in contact?

• Share how childhood is an important time in development and encourage your sponsored child to enjoy this time of growth

• Let your sponsored child know you are praying for him/her to grow in Christ (be specific)

 

Possible Questions to ask:

 

  1. Can you tell me about your family (ask specifically about information not already given)
  2.  What do you like to do for fun?
  3.  Do you have any pets?
  4.  What do you want to be when you grow up?
  5.  Can you share about a time when God used you to minister to someone (think of 1 Timothy 4:12)
  6.  What is your favorite/least favorite school subject?
  7.  Can you share about your best friends?
  8.  Can you tell me about an adult who has influenced you in a positive way and how?

 

Scriptures to share

 

Psalm 71:5-6

Psalm 71:16-18

Psalm 139:14-16

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Isaiah 40:30-31

1 Timothy 4:12

 

Extra Goodies to send:

 

• A baby photo of you

• Photos of you growing up (maybe in a homemade photo album or collage)

• Photos from childhood vacations, special celebrations or milestones, ETC

• A homemade family photo album (label with names, relationship, birthday, hobbies, ETC)

 

You’re Turn

 

Have you shared your family and childhood with your sponsored children? If so, what did you share? Did you send anything extra or unique with your letter? What responses did you receive? Writing a letter about our family and childhood reminds us how we are not that different from our sponsored child, and it can bring us closer together too.

Letter of love for February: Valentine’s Day and sharing God’s love

Last month, we began a series entitled “Letters of Love”. Each month, we will share a topic or theme that you are welcome to use and share as you write letters to your sponsored children.

For our February letter of love, we are going to write about…
you guessed it…
Love!

 

Introduction and the sacrifice of love

 

Here in the United States, February 14 is celebrated as Valentine’s Day. To begin this letter, we shared about how this holiday is celebrated through giving cards and gifts to those people we love. We then reminded our sponsored children that while giving gifts is a kind way to show our love, there are other ways in which we can show love as well. We shared how Jesus is the best example of love for us all to follow. Using John 15:13-14, 17, we reminded our children of Christ’s loving sacrifice and shared how we should sacrifice time and our own desires to show love to others.

 

Guidelines for love

 

Using 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, we gave the Biblical guidelines for love and shared each of our strengths and weaknesses according to this passage of Scripture.

 

Questions to include in your letter

 

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses according to what you read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8?
  2. Can you share with us someone who has sacrificed to show love to you?
  3. Can you think of a specific way that you can show God’s love to someone today and tell us about how you did this?

 

Prayer request to include:

 

  1. Will you please pray that God would help me to be more (insert weakness according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)?

 

Closure

 

Close your letter by encouraging your sponsored child to show God’s love to others according to Scripture, and let them know you are praying for them as they experience and show God’s love each day.

 

Extra goodies to send with your letter

 

Sweet Valentine Sticker Paper Doll (for girls)

Father’s Love Letter (Free download available in many languages and written from God to his child)

Dare to Love: 1 Corinthians 13 downloadable chart (for older teens)

Glitter Heart Stickers (12 sheets per pack, send extras for child to share)

Valentine from God Lenticular bookmarks (remove ribbon and send extras for child to share)

• Coloring pages, dot-to-dots, hidden pictures, mazes, origami, ETC (keep in mind language barriers and any questionable content)

 

Uganda

Uganda…

We first really learned about this beautiful country in Africa after connecting with a pastor who is serving in the capital of Kampala.

Uganda…

In honor of our new pastor friend, this is where we chose one of our first correspondence children through Compassion International.

Uganda…

This is where the Compassion bloggers were five years ago, and where they are again this week celebrating five years of blogging that changes lives. I mean, it really changes lives. These bloggers are:

Learning lessons about writing and life

Writing about a boy and his best friend

Sharing what Grace really looks like

Sharing how we can help to end slavery and

Reaching around the world through the World Wide Web to encourage sponsors like you and me

 

Wait, you are not a sponsor yet?

 

No worries. You can join us in releasing Uganda’s children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Be sure to follow and support the bloggers as they finish their week in Uganda and beyond.

Letter of Love for January: All about [your state]

As child sponsors, we each know how important it is to write to and build a relationship with our sponsored children. However, the ink of creativity can run dry and the letter writing dries up right along with it. At least one Saturday a month in 2014, we will share a letter writing topic that we have used in the past or plan to use in the future. Many if not all of our sponsored children attend the child development centers for activities on Saturdays, so we thought this would be a helpful way to be praying for our children while we put these letters and packages together. So, let’s begin writing our letters of love!

 

All about (your state)

 

We live in the state of Michigan in the Midwest part of the United States. On January 26, 1837, Michigan became a state. We thought our children would love to learn about Michigan. We have not yet sent this letter along, but it will go out very soon.

 

Topics included in the letter:

 

• Basic overview of state geography (including the great lakes and upper and lower peninsulas)

• Climate

• Lighthouses (very important and historic Michigan landmark)

• Common trees, plants, vegetables, and fruits grown in Michigan

• Famous celebrations (fruit festivals)

• Popular sports and outdoor recreational activities

• Symbols important to Michigan (state flag, flower, tree, and animal)

 

Possible Questions to include:

 

  1. Is your country divided into states similar to the United States?
  2. What plants, trees, and animals are near your home?
  3. What activities do people near you enjoy?
  4. Are there any rivers or other important landmarks near your home?
  5. Are there any symbols important to you and the people around you?

 

Goodies to include:

 

• Pictures of state symbols

• Map of the United States with Michigan highlighted

• State postcards

• State coloring pages found here.

 

Your turn

 

Have you or will you write a letter about your state to your sponsored children? What did or will you share? Any specific questions or goodie ideas you would like to share with your fellow readers and us? Please feel free to share and use or adapt this letter idea as you see fit. We would be especially interested in how our international friends living outside the United States use this idea. Thanks for writing with us, and please join us again in February as we write another letter of love!

Finally! Announcing the winners of the “Third World Symphony” CD giveaway!

Back in October as part of our 31 days of compassion, we invited you to enter for a chance to win two copies of “Third World Symphony” from Shaun Groves—one for you and one for a friend. Now that our college final exams for the fall semester have passed and Christmas break has come in all its restful glory, we are finally able to announce the long-awaited winners! Thank you for your patience.

 

The winners are: Linda T (and her friend Michelle)!

 

Linda, if you will email us at: compassioncalling1 [at] gmail [dot] com with your address, we will get these CD’s mailed out to you as soon as possible!

Thanks again for your patience, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

We are looking forward to 2014 and what the Lord will do through this blog and the ministry of Compassion International. Thanks for helping us to make 2013 such a memorable year! Be sure to join us next year for some exciting series, and maybe even another contest or two!

Sunday’s Special Children for 11/03/2013

 

 

You may have noticed a new page on our blog in the past week. There are many children who are waiting for someone to step up and share the love of Christ with them through sponsorship. Each Sunday as we begin the week in praise to the Lord for all he has given us, we want to take a moment and introduce a few of these special young people to you. Please pray for each of the below children throughout this week, and if the Lord leads you to sponsor one of them, then do not hesitate to do so. You can release your sponsored child from poverty in Jesus’ name! Through your prayers and letters of love and encouragement, your sponsored child will know that he can rise above the circumstances surrounding him. She will know that God’s love is greater than the lies of poverty that are whispered in her ears and heart every day. Thank you for praying and speaking up on behalf of a child living in poverty.

 

November is National Adoption month! Will you sponsor an orphaned child today?

 

Here in the United States, November is known as National Adoption month. You may already know that children who have been orphaned are not just located here in the United States, but you may not be called to adopt. By sponsoring a child who has lost one or both parents, you can show them that they will never lose the love of their father in Heaven. The orphan crisis is global, but as children of God, we can each do something to make a difference. Will you speak up on behalf of an orphaned child today?

 

Thasidu

 

6-year-old Thasidu lives in Sri Lanka with his father and sister, and there are 3 other children in the family. Thasidu is in kindergarten. Like many little boys his age, Thasidu enjoys playing with cars, hide-and-seek, and running. As of November 3, this precious child has been waiting 428 days for someone to release him from poverty in Jesus’ name. Will you sponsor Thasidu today?

 

Jhon

 

Jhon lives with his father and 2 other siblings in Colombia. He is seven years old and in kindergarten, and one of his favorite activities is soccer. Jhon and his family live in an area with higher risk of child abuse and exploitation. I am sure he would appreciate a woman who would step in as his Godmother to help in his spiritual nurturing and development. Will you or someone you know end this sweet boy’s 428-day wait for a sponsor?

 

Rose

 

This sweet little girl attends the same Compassion child development center as our Miguel in the Philippines. Rose is four years old and lives with her parents and three siblings. She cares for animals, and she is in preschool. Will you help this beautiful rose to blossom and grow to her fullest God-given potential? Through your love and nourishment, this sweet little flower could radiate God’s beauty amidst her surrounding circumstances.

 

Lorenz

 

5-year-old Lorenz also attends our Miguel’s Compassion child development center in the Philippines, and he lives with his parents and one other sibling. Lorenz is in kindergarten and enjoys reading and playing with cars. Lorenz has asthma, but he is receiving  regular medical treatment. Will you help to ensure this precious child can continue to receive the love and care he so desperately needs?

 

Melanie

 

5-year-old Melanie lives in Ecuador with her parents and one sibling. Despite the fact that she is visually impaired, this sweet little girl is exceling in kindergarten. Will you let Melanie know that with God all things are possible? Will you be the one to tell her that she can continue to reach her dreams no matter the circumstances that surround her?

 

Hector

 

Hector is seven years old and lives with his grandparents and four siblings in Mexico. Hector has partial hearing loss and is struggling in school. Will you pray for and encourage him? Will you let him know that he can trust in Christ and reach his dreams despite his circumstances? Will you tell Hector he is special in the eyes of God?

 

Ruhama

 

Ruhama is six and lives in Ethiopia with her foster parents and one sibling. She is in kindergarten and enjoys running and playing volleyball. Will you please end Ruhama’s long wait for a sponsor? As of October 27, she has been waiting 244 days for someone to step in the gap for her. Will that someone be you?

 

Jackson

 

18-year-old Jackson lives in Tanzania with his uncle, aunt, and three siblings. This young man is excelling in his college studies. As he enters adulthood, he could use a mentor to walk beside him and encourage him with prayers and letters of love. Will you let Jackson know he is not forgotten today?

 

Alexander

 

Alexander lives in the Dominican Republic. In fact, this 14-year-old young man attends the same Compassion child development center as our sponsored son Vladimir. Alexander lives with his parents and three siblings, and he enjoys riding a bike, listening to music, and playing group games. I would not be surprised if Alexander and Vladimir may know one another. We would love to tell Vladimir that you sponsored Alexander!

 

Gabriela

 

11-year-old Gabriela lives in El Salvador, and she attends the same Compassion child development center as our precious Tatiana. Gabriela lives with her mother and two siblings, and she enjoys art and playing with dolls. Gabriela and Tatiana may very well be friends, and they may even enjoy drawing together as well. As of October 27, Gabriela has been waiting 250 long days for a sponsor. Will you release this precious girl from poverty in Jesus’ name? We would love to write a letter to Tatiana and tell her that you changed Gabriela’s life forever!

 

 

Seven Steps to Sending Your Letter Step 3: The Basics of Being a Snail

A while back, we began a series of seven steps to sending a letter to your Compassion International sponsored child. Each Saturday in November, we will continue and finish this series in anticipation of a 2014 full of monthly themed letter writing topics you are welcome to use and share. If you are in need of letter writing topics before January, read step one of this series for some ideas and to learn about the letter-writing schedule we use. Continue to step two to find a detailed walk-through of Compassion’s online letter writing tool with a bonus topic included!

 

As we have said in the previous posts of this series, please remember that we are located in the United States and International Compassion offices may have different rules and guidelines to follow. Please also keep in mind that everything we suggest here, while it works for our Compassion family and current situation, may not work for your Compassion family or situation. We are not official Compassion International employees, but we do all we can to ensure that our information is accurate to the best of our knowledge.

 

Today, let’s begin our discussion of sending snail mail packages!

 

While writing a letter online is certainly convenient and fun, the ability to send letters in the mail and include extra paper gifts is just as exciting for the sponsor as it is for the sponsored child—I promise! You know you are a child sponsor when you go to the store and do a happy dance while trying not to scream in sheer delight at finding that perfect paper gift for $1.00 or less! You may even purchase more than necessary and laugh at yourself a year or more later when that item is still well stocked! Warning: This can get dangerously addictive, so please do not blame me! ;)

 

Compassion has mailing guidelines we need to follow

 

As you review the above guidelines, keep in mind the following additional tips that may aid you in your package-sending process.

 

Tip: Make sure your and your sponsored child’s numbers are on everything you send

 

We will discuss an efficient way to label the items you mail in a future installment of this series, but for now, here is what you need to know. To ensure timely processing and accurate delivery, your sponsor number and your sponsored child’s number should be clearly written on every item sent in your package, including the letter itself. If you are unsure of how to obtain these numbers, view your online account or contact Compassion’s global ministry center at: (800) 336-7676.

 

Tip: Clearing up confusion about size restrictions

 

As mentioned above, Compassion has a list of items we can and cannot send, and there are size limits on the items being included in our packages. While there is some confusion as to whether the entire package or each individual item must meet the size restrictions, we have been told by Compassion staff in response to multiple inquiries that each item in the package can be no more than ¼” thick and with dimensions no larger than 8 1/2′” x 11”. The mailing envelope in which you send your items can be larger, but we will discuss mailing itself in a future post of the series later this month.

 

Tip: How to send books and booklets while still meeting guidelines

 

As noted in the above link, we are no longer able to send books and booklets. This is due to the increased possibility of these items being stolen while in transit to our child, because the books and/or booklets are worth monetary value. In order to send books and booklets, de-bind the book or booklet and send a few pages at a time. Additionally, you can remove the cover if it is a small booklet and staple the pages together if not already otherwise attached. Please note: Books should be in a language your child can read, as letters and cards are the only items translated as far as we understand.

 

Tip: Ask before sending to avoid mailing delay and possible extra cost for Compassion

 

If you are unsure if a particular item will go through according to Compassion’s mailing guidelines, please ask before sending it as part of your letter package. Sending items you are unsure about may delay an entire shipment of sponsor letters in the child’s country for months, and Compassion may incur additional costs associated with working to get the letters to the sponsored children.

 

Do you have any tips or questions about Compassion’s mailing guidelines?

 

Please feel free to ask your questions or share your tips in the comments. If we are unable to answer any questions, we will be sure to find the answer or point you in the right direction. If you have tips or questions regarding other aspects of sending letters to our sponsored children, please keep them in mind for the corresponding post in the series or comment on a previously appropriate post. This will help us to stay organized and provide the most effective series possible for you and your fellow readers.

 

What’s next in the series?

 

Please join us next Saturday for step four of this series! We will discuss theming, outlining, and scheduling letters. We will also share cost-effective tips for choosing extra paper gifts, and organizing them for easy access.

Day 31: What’s next?

As it rains and the wind blows outside this morning, I cannot help but think of how beautiful this month has been. Not only have we had unseasonably warm fall weather here in Michigan for the greater part of October, but this month-long series on spreading God’s love locally and globally through compassion has been especially beautiful. We have been challenged, and our hearts are filled. We do not want this spirit of compassion to end, and we pray you want it to continue as well.

 

So, what’s next?

 

Today, your challenge is simple yet life changing. Will you join us in seeking the Lord for what he would have you do in response to 31 days of compassion? Might he be calling you to minister in your local community? Are you being led to share the ministry of Compassion International with your sphere of influence? You can fast and/or pray, whatever you are most comfortable doing. No matter how you approach this final challenge, we pray it is not the final step in your journey of showing compassion. On the contrary, we pray this is just the beginning of a beautiful, courageous, and bold walk of faith that we each take to spread God’s love locally and around the globe.

 

Share your story or next steps!

 

If you have a testimony of how God used this series to draw you closer to his heart, or if you want to share how God is calling you to continue walking in compassion, we would love to hear from you! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and thank you for joining us in October for our 31 days of compassion. Please stay tuned for more posts and series in the days to come!

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 30: Give a gift with blessings beyond the wrapping this Christmas!

As we wrap up the month of October and our 31 days of compassion series tomorrow, it is hard to believe that we will soon enter the holiday season. Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? Admittedly, we have not. As we each consider the gifts we will give this Christmas, have you thought of giving a gift that will bring blessings beyond the wrapping? Have you thought of giving a gift in honor of someone to help release another from poverty in Jesus’ name?

 

Give a gift this Christmas from Compassion International’s 2013 gift catalog!

 

Instead of making snowmen just to get out of your driveway, dealing with holiday traffic both on the roads and in the stores, and standing in line long enough to memorize the fruit of the Spirit, why not take a moment to bless more than one person with your Christmas giving this year? You can spread God’s love around the globe and honor someone you love with the same gift. Show compassion to someone this Christmas.

 

Possible gift ideas

 

Below are just a few of the possible gift choices you have and how you can personalize these gifts for someone on your Christmas list.

 

Mothers and infants

 

In honor of your mother, a friend who is expecting or has an infant, or someone who cares for infants through ministry or employment you can:

 

• Feed a mother and baby for a suggested donation of $14.00

• Give the gift of a newborn care package for a suggested donation of $34.00

• Provide an infant with a year of medical care for a suggested donation of $55.00

 

Healthcare

 

• In honor of your dentist, give a child dental care for a suggested gift of $20.00

• In honor of your doctor, provide treatment for illness or injury for a suggested gift of $40.00

• Partner with others to provide lifesaving surgery for a suggested donation of $100.00

 

Safe Water and Sanitation

 

• In honor of your plumber, provide a Compassion center with bathrooms for a suggested gift of $25.00

• Provide water wells for a suggested gift of $30.00

 

Education

 

• In honor of your librarian or book club, provide adult literacy for a suggested gift of $22.00

• In honor of a college student or professor, develop a future leader for a suggested gift of $40.00

• In honor of a student or teacher, provide textbooks for a suggested donation of $40.00

• Partner with others to provide students with vocational training for a suggested gift of $25.00

 

Income generation

 

• Honor someone with chickens by providing chickens to a family for a suggested gift of $42.00

• Honor a small business owner by partnering with others to help a family start a business for a suggested donation of $25.00

 

We pray that you will take this opportunity to bless and honor someone by giving a gift with blessings beyond the wrapping this Christmas season. We would love to hear how you are sharing the gifts of Compassion catalog with your family and friends, or the creative ways in which you are honoring others this year.

31 Days of Compassion

Day 29: Is your radio ready?

 

Considering how much Andy and I love music, it should be no surprise that we love the radio. Whether your radio is in your car, on your stereo at home, or like us on your iPhone, I would imagine you enjoy the radio too, or you most likely would not be reading this post. If my assumption is correct, I have a question for you. Is your radio ready? You may be wondering, “Is my radio ready? Ready for what?” Is your radio ready to spread God’s love locally and globally through compassion?

 

10 ways to make sure your radio is ready:

 

  1. Find out if your favorite radio station(s) participates in campaigns to spread God’s love locally
  2. Find out if your favorite radio station(s) is involved in helping those living in poverty around the world
  3. Find out if your favorite radio station(s) would be willing to share with listeners about Malaria or HIV/AIDS
  4. Find out if your favorite radio station(s) would do a Christmas card drive
  5. Find out if your favorite radio station(s) plays music from your chosen Compassion artist
  6. Find out if your favorite radio station(s) airs “Speak Up”
  7. Think of other ways to get your radio ready, whether from this series or beyond these 31 days.
  8. Thank them for all they do to spread God’s love locally and globally
  9. Ask if they would be willing to prayerfully consider any of the ideas mentioned above.
  10. Pray for your favorite radio station as they continue spreading God’s love to a hurting world.

 

Is your radio ready? If so, please share with us the ways your favorite radio station(s) are spreading God’s love locally and globally through compassion. If not, what will you do to make sure your radio is ready?

 

31 Days of Compassion