“I feel like my sponsored child’s letters are carbon copies, and my questions are never answered! Why?”
Let me start by assuring you that my husband Andy and I are by no stretch of the imagination considered to be experts at letter writing let alone being Compassion sponsors. Although, after being sponsors since 2004 and part of Compassion’s advocates network since 2009 we have learned a few things along the way. We’d like to share some of those tips and tricks with you.
I’ll never forget sitting in the arena watching the video about Compassion that Michael W. Smith was presenting. Andy and I had been married for about a month, and because of financial difficulties we weren’t even “supposed to” be at this Christmas concert. After the video concluded, I looked at Andy and tried to hide my hopeful anticipation as I asked him, “How much money do you have with you?” We discovered we had just enough to start a sponsorship, so off we went to the Compassion table! I wanted a girl from Mexico. Andy wanted a girl from Brazil. Andy (and God) won. 🙂 I would get my wish later. We were so excited to get to know our child Mayara, but admittedly we were equally unprepared for how our lives were about to change.
We sponsored Mayara for almost 2 years before her family removed her from Compassion’s program, because she was needed more at home. Although her letters were filled with deep love and affection, we didn’t feel like we were building much of a relationship. A very kind and patient Compassion phone representative gave us a few tips that we started using when writing to our next Compassion child — Ana from Mexico.
Tip #1: Write often.
This may be easier for some and much more difficult for others. The letters you send are so important to your sponsored child, and your words of love and encouragement could truly change that child’s life forever. We’ll be the first to admit that we did not adopt this principal right away. While sponsoring Ana from 2006 until 2011, we only wrote three to four letters per year. We’ve recently begun to write much more often to our Compassion children, and we try to write at least one letter a month.
Tip #2: Number your questions.
This was one of those golden nuggets of wisdom provided by the Compassion phone rep mentioned above, and we adopted this practice immediately. I’m happy to report that it works! Now, don’t get me wrong, not every question will be answered the first time you ask. Keep in mind that if you use tip #1 above, your child may have multiple letters to reply to. They also may not have your letters with them when writing you, because they are stored in a special place in their home. If you use this tip and after receiving multiple letters you still do not have answers, you may choose to contact Compassion and have them put in a field inquiry as to the reasoning for your unanswered questions.
Tip #3: Don’t ask too many questions at once, and sometimes don’t ask any at all.
“What? Don’t ask any questions?” Please, let me explain. First, let’s talk about not asking too many questions. When we began sponsoring one of our children, we asked him 3 questions per letter. We noticed that he would always answer the first 2 very well, but the third one would always go unanswered. After we started only asking 2 questions per letter, he has answered every one. On the other hand, we have 2 children who answer 3 questions at a time. Does this mean that one of our children doesn’t want to answer any more than 2 questions? No. Keep in mind that writing letters is not a usual form of communication in many of these countries, and sometimes more than one or two questions in one letter may be seen as interrogation when translated.
Now, let’s talk about the times where you may not want to ask questions at all. When we write longer letters full of a lot of information, or if we’ve recently sent letters that each have questions, we “try” to refrain from asking questions. This gives our children a chance to answer questions we’ve previously asked. Asking too many questions may overwhelm the child, and this may be one reason your questions go unanswered.
We hope these 3 tips will get you started in building an even more beautiful relationship with your sponsored children. Your letters will not only change their lives, but also your life as well! If you have any more tips to add to this list, please put them in the comments section below. We’d also love to answer any questions we can about child sponsorship or letter writing!