Seven Steps to Sending Your Letter Step 4: Snails Bring Extra Goodies!

In each of our letters of love thus far, we have shared extra goodies that can be sent according to Compassion’s mailing guidelines. In this, our fourth step to sending your letter, let us expand on ways to choose and purchase these extra gifts.

 

Choosing based on Theme

 

You may have noticed as you browsed our letters of love that each letter is based on a particular theme for the corresponding month. I have created an electronic document detailing each month’s letter theme, and listing each child’s name with the extra goodies being sent. Items may range based on each particular child’s age, interests, and so forth, but this allows for organization and future recollection of what has and has not been sent. This also helps when reading and replying to a child’s letter, as they respond to and thank us for specific topics or extra-included items. Moreover, my wallet thanks me for the strategic planning, as I can usually make one bulk purchase annually from each retailer. Thanks to the advice gleaned from other wonderful Compassion sponsors, we have found several specific online retailers to be very beneficial in our goodie search.

Please note: No affiliate links or official endorsements are being provided. These are simply our own personal experiences.

 

ChristianBook.com

 

This site has a variety of themed coloring books, stickers, bookmarks, postcards, bilingual English-Spanish flashcards and card games, printer paper, and much more. Items are very reasonably priced, with most items in my wish list ranging from $1.50-$7.50. Many items come in sets, allowing for sharing among children’s letters. Shipping, packaging, and delivery have always been exceptional.

 

Dover Publications

 

The most popular section of Dover’s site for us has been their Little Activity Books. These small and inexpensive books are fastened together with staples, making it easy to separate and distribute pages among children’s letters. Books come in a variety of themes, in such forms as stickers, bookmarks, paper dolls, and coloring pages. As with ChristianBook.com, shipping, packaging, and delivery of our Dover orders have always been exceptional.

 

Oriental Trading

 

Oriental Trading has been a great source for stickers and make-your-own sticker scenes, bookmarks, and more. Caution: Make sure that any non-paper attachments such as ribbons are removed prior to sending, in order to comply with Compassion’s mailing guidelines. If we recommend any items for which attachment removal is necessary, we will note this in the corresponding post whenever possible. One thing that we love about Oriental Trading is that for prices ranging from $4.00-$10.00, we can get anywhere from 12-48 items in a set, depending on the item(s) being purchased. This allows for not only easy distribution among sponsored children, but also saving extras for future use.

 

Rose Publishing

 

As one resource for answering the frequently asked question of what to send to older sponsored teens, Rose Publishing’s pamphlets on a variety of Biblical and Christian topics are worth considering. Please be aware of cultural appropriateness, and know that all titles are in English with some available in Spanish as well. While pamphlets are inexpensive at just $3.99 each, a neat feature of this site is their free weekly emails for downloadable E-Charts, providing samplings of some of the pamphlets. Discount emails are also sent, allowing bulk purchases for minimal cost. While we have downloaded and sent some of the free E-Charts, we have yet to purchase anything in hard copy from Rose Publishing. We would appreciate any feedback from those who have done so.

 

Choosing based on your child

 

As you correspond with your sponsored child(ren), you will learn their hobbies, favorite school subjects, favorite sports, and so forth. Additionally, some items you choose may be based on gender or age. It is possible to send specific goodies to a child based on a combination of your letter theme and that child’s personal interests. Here is a post by a fellow Compassion blogger with a document containing numerous links of interest to aid you in your goodie search.

 

Organizing your goodies

 

At the moment, all of our extra goodies fit in one storage bin, with a smaller box inside to hold smaller items such as the Dover Little Activity books, bookmarks, and stickers. I have labeled the Dover Little Activity books in Braille by attaching an index card with the title to the inside of the cover, as the covers will not be sent. I am known to use small zip lock bags or envelopes for goodie sets, and a Brailed index card is attached to or inserted in the envelope or bag for reference. Until our collection grows too large, I also have extra photo and printer paper, and labeling and mailing supplies stored inside our Compassion bin.

Let us not get too ahead of ourselves. We will discuss labels, photos, and printers next Saturday in the fifth step to sending your letter.

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 25: Make sure you’re not alone

Child sponsorship can seem like a lonely calling at times. You have such a joy, love, and passion for this ministry, and while you share about your sponsored children with everyone you know, it can be difficult to find someone who truly understands. You wish there was at least one other person who is excited when a letter from your sponsored child arrives in your mailbox, or when a surprise photo is included in that envelope. You wish you had a friend who joins you in praying for your sponsored child’s prayer requests and is there when difficult news arrives. You want a friend who will eagerly listen as you share about the extra goodies you’re sending with your letters this month, or when you show off the gifts you’re sending with a friend traveling to your sponsored child’s country. Your family and friends try to be patient and bear with your incessant chatter about letters, gifts, photos, and the dollar store deals, but you know they do not share your passion for this ministry. As you shrink back in your little corner, you wonder if there is such a friend who truly understands.

 

Good news: There is more than one such friend, and they truly understand!

 

 

What is OurCompassion?

 

OurCompassion is an online community of like-minded friends from all around the world who have a shared passion and love for children living in poverty. It is a safe place to connect and learn more about the ministry of Compassion International, child sponsorship, and your sponsored child. Being part of OurCompassion for a few years now, Andy and I can tell you that the blessings we have found via this community are innumerable.

 

Blessings of OurCompassion

 

• You can learn more about the ministry of Compassion International and ask questions in a safe and welcoming environment

• If you are a child sponsor with Compassion, there is a private forum dedicated to the sponsor community

• There is a private forum not open to unregistered users where you can post prayer requests and praise reports, whether related to child sponsorship or not

• There is a forum to exchange ideas for sending letters and gifts to your sponsored child

• You can connect with sponsors who have sponsored children in the same country or Compassion church partner as you

• You may have the opportunity to send gifts with sponsors visiting your sponsored child’s country. We have had this blessed opportunity extended to us twice!

• If you travel to visit your sponsored child, you may be able to get to know others traveling on the same trip! We found a new friend going to the Dominican Republic with us this coming April!

• You can learn about other cultures, both by being involved with Compassion, and from your new friends all around the world!

 

Child sponsorship can seem like a lonely calling at times, but it does not have to be this way. Since we have joined OurCompassion, Andy and I have noticed a growing passion for the ministry of sponsorship. It is through this community of like-minded friends where we learned about the importance of writing letters. We have received creative ideas and bookmarked enough websites to browse for too many days. We have prayed, laughed, and cried together. These people are our family, united by hearts in love with children around the world. We want to extend a warm welcome to you as you join us on OurCompassion.

 

Are you part of the OurCompassion family?

 

If so, we want to hear from you! What blessings have you found while being part of OurCompassion? How has this community helped you in your ministry to children living in poverty? Please leave your feedback in the comments, and tell us why you love OurCompassion.

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 24: Sponsorship Part II: Correspond with a child living in poverty

Yesterday, we shared how you can release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name through financial sponsorship with Compassion International. As we have written here many times before, child sponsorship is much more than the $38.00 sent to Compassion International each month. While that financial gift is very much appreciated, letters and the relationship built between the sponsor and child makes an eternal impact on all involved. Go here to learn about the importance of letters and how you can build a beautiful letter-writing relationship with your sponsored child.

Today, we want to share with you another way beyond financial sponsorship in which you can bless a child and be blessed in return. My husband Andy and I can attest to how life changing what we are about to share has been for us and many sponsors and children around the world.

 

Questions to ask yourself

 

• Do you love to write?

• Can you commit to write letters on a consistent basis?

• Do you want to minister to a child who needs to know the love of Christ?

• Do you want to spread God’s love around the globe through a tangible act of compassion?

• Are you interested in learning more about another culture?

• Do you want to instill a spirit of giving and Christ-like compassion in your children before they leave home?

• Would you like to build a relationship with a child prior to making a substantial financial commitment to the ministry?

• Are you struggling financially, but wishing you could do something significant for the kingdom of God?

 

If you answered “Yes”, then correspondence sponsorship may be for you!

 

There are many children who are financially sponsored, but they do not receive any letters from their financial sponsor. The reasons for the lack of letters could be numerous—the child is among a number of children sponsored by a business, corporation, or as part of an individual’s last will and testament; the financial sponsor lacks time or interest to write; health or other concerns may be preventing the sponsor from writing, ETC. In such cases, a financial sponsor is welcome to request that a correspondence sponsor be assigned to write to his or her sponsored child in their place.

 

A few frequently asked questions about correspondence sponsorship

 

“How do I become a correspondence sponsor?”

 

If you are in the United States, call Compassion International’s Global Ministry Center at (800) 336-7676.

If you live outside the United States, go here to locate and contact Compassion’s global partner nearest you. When you contact the Compassion International office in your country, you can ask for more information about becoming a child correspondent.

 

“Can I choose the child with whom I correspond?”

 

While you are not able to choose the exact child with whom you correspond, you can request a specific gender, region of the world or country, age, ETC. Please know however, that such requests may not be able to be filled depending on the current children needing correspondent sponsors at the time of your request. Furthermore, such specific requests may delay the process of you receiving a correspondent child, again depending on the current children needing correspondent sponsors at the time of your request.

 

“Does my correspondent-sponsored child know I am not his or her financial sponsor?”

 

It is our understanding that the child usually does not know that the correspondence sponsor is writing on their financial sponsor’s behalf, and instead they believe they have received a new sponsor. Moreover, it is also our understanding that this is in no way meant to be dishonest or deceitful, but instead to avoid any confusion on the part of the child and his or her family. When we write our first letter to a new correspondent-sponsored child, Andy and I simply say how blessed we are to be his or her new friend without mentioning anything about “sponsorship”.

 

“Does my correspondent-sponsored child receive the same benefits as a financially-sponsored child?”

 

Yes, your correspondent-sponsored child receives the same benefits through Compassion, because they are in fact financially sponsored. The only financial difference between sponsorship types is that you are not the one providing the funds for these benefits.

 

“Can I visit my correspondent-sponsored child?”

 

Yes, as with a financially sponsored child, you are encouraged and invited to visit your correspondent-sponsored child. Please contact the trips and visits department of the Compassion International office nearest you to learn more about this life changing opportunity. You will be glad you prayerfully considered meeting your sponsored child face-to-face!

 

“What happens if my correspondent-sponsored child’s financial sponsor discontinues the sponsorship?”

 

If financial sponsorship is discontinued, you will be asked if you would like to financially sponsor that child and continue nurturing the relationship. If you are unable to financially sponsor your correspondent child, then he or she will be placed among the children awaiting sponsors. If in the future you are able to financially sponsor that child, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Compassion office and ask them to see if that child is still available for financial sponsorship. The best way to request this information is to have that child’s number available when you contact Compassion. This number is on the letters you receive, and it begins with a 2-letter country code.

 

For more answers to frequently asked questions about the correspondent sponsorship program, please read this post on Compassion International’s official blog.

 

Are you a correspondence sponsor?

 

If so, please share your experience in the comments. Why should someone become a correspondence sponsor? How has this changed your life? Has this opened your eyes to another culture or poverty around the world? What frequently asked questions have we missed here that are not covered in the aforementioned blog post? Please feel free to ask them in the comments as well!

 

31 Days of Compassion

Seven steps to sending your letter step 2: Writing your letter online

In our first post of this series entitled, “Seven Steps to Sending your letter”, we discussed the schedule we personally use for writing and sending letters to our Compassion children and shared resources with topics you can write about. This is the second post in which we answer the question, “How do I write my sponsored child?” More accurately, we discuss writing our sponsored children via Compassion’s online letter writing system. Andy and I tend to use the online letter writing system for shorter reply letters, monthly update letters, and quick notes of encouragement that may be specific to one child.

 

“One Word”

 

Some of you may know of “One Word”, and you may even participate in this wonderful movement. While I had read about this for a few years, 2013 is the first year I’ll be participating. If you have never heard of “One Word”, check out these posts from Compassion International’s blog to see how lives are being changed by the simple act of choosing just one word to focus on for the year.

My word for 2013 is “faith”. While this stretches way beyond our sponsorship and advocacy through Compassion, Andy and I are believing for some very specific things within the context of our involvement with Compassion as well. There are things Andy and I are praying and believing God for in the lives of some of our Compassion children, we believe that our advocacy will expand this year, and we also believe that we will be in the Dominican Republic in November.

 

Bonus topic: Share your one word for 2013 with
your sponsored children!

 

If you are participating in “One Word” for 2013, why not tell your Compassion children about it? You can share your word for 2013 and how the Lord revealed this word to you. You can share Scriptures that remind you of this word and ways in which you want to grow closer to Christ in 2013. Ask your children, “If God gave you one word to live by for 2013, what would that one word be?” Another great question you can ask is, “How would you like to grow closer to the Lord in 2013?” You could even ask your children to share a Scripture that reminds them of the word the Lord would give them. Remember to ask your children to pray for you as you grow closer to Jesus through your word for the year, and be sure to tell them you are praying for them as well.

 

Before logging into the online letter writing system

 

A letter such as this is short enough to be written via Compassion’s online letter writing system. Before I ever log on to Compassion.com, I write out the letter using my Word processing program. Although I could simply write the letter online, I find it very slow and difficult with my screen reading software, because the site saves a draft frequently. This is not Compassion’s fault, as other sites work the same way. Additionally, writing out the letter on my computer first saves me time and the fear of losing my letter in cyberspace. Compassion’s website gives you a time limit of 60 minutes to write your letter before you need to log in again. While your letter should be saved as a draft, technology can be imperfect and unforgiving. For me personally, I know I’m most likely to run over the 60 minute time limit as I work to word my letter just right, look up the perfect Scriptures, read and reread my letter, ETC. I also know there is a character limit on Compassion’s website, so I tend to check my character limit as I write my letter with my word processor. Depending on the awesome template I choose to use on Compassion’s website, I can fit around 2000 characters in our online letters.

 

Logging into the online letter writing system

 

Once I have written and perfected the base letter we will send to all of our children, I go to www.compassion.com and click on “My Account”. I then click on “Write my child” and am asked to log in. If you have not yet created an online account on Compassion International’s website, simply fill out the “Create an account” page to do so. Once I am logged into our online Compassion.com account after clicking on “Write my child”, I am taken to a page where I can compose a letter, view drafts of letters I have not yet finished, see letters I’ve written online, see when we wrote each child an online letter, and view a bit of basic information about each child including their birthday, age, gender, and country.

 

Choosing a child to write to and choosing the letter template

 

Now, I can choose which child I want to write to. In this case, I plan to write to all of our children, so I will simply go down the list and start with Toface, as she is the first child I see on the site. After I have selected the child I want to write to, I am taken to a screen where I can select from a variety of wonderful templates. Compassion recommends templates for each child, but there is also a tab called “more templates” that I can choose from as well. Once I select my desired template, I click “Confirm template selection” and I’m taken to the screen where I can input the text of my letter.

 

Inserting the letter text

 

Since I have already written my letter using my word processor, all I have to do is select all of the text from my document and hit copy. I can then paste it into the textbox in Compassion’s online letter writing system. Once the text has been entered, I can review it to make sure the entire letter fits in the space provided. I am able to see a progress indicator at the end of the letter, and this indicator tells me that I have used 97% of the provided space with this particular letter.

Once the letter text is entered, I go past the progress indicator to hit a button that is *conveniently labeled* as, “Button button”. While this button could use a more useful label in my opinion, common sense would tell me this is the button I want to click. I should point out here that for those of you who are sighted; this button may indeed have a more informative label.

 

Adding photos

 

After I hit the “button button” as my screen reader calls it, I am taken to a screen where I can add up to 3 photos to my online letter. I have never done this step, as this requires cropping images and making sure they are aligned correctly. This requires sighted assistance for those of us who are blind, so Andy and I choose to send photos as part of our snail mail packages instead. So, I will hit “continue” to be taken to the next screen where I can preview and/or print a copy of my letter.

 

Previewing/printing and sending the letter

 

There are two tabs on this page, and they are the “front page” tab and the “back page” tab. The “front page” tab is automatically selected, and here I can see the front page of this letter. I can click the “back page” tab to view the remainder, and if need be I can always click “edit this letter” to correct any mistakes. If you are like me, you have probably already reviewed the letter while it was still in the textbox, but I tend to review it here again as an extra added percaussion. Once I have reviewed the letter, I click the link that says, “Send this letter”. I am then taken to the last screen where I confirm that I do indeed wish to send this letter by clicking “yes”. Once the next screen appears to tell me my letter was successfully submitted, I return to my document to save an offline copy of the letter.

 

Saving an offline copy of the letter

 

On my external USB thumb drive, I have a folder called “Compassion” and in this folder is another called, “Children”. This folder contains folders for all of our current Compassion children, and in each of their folders is a folder called, “Letters”. This is where I keep the letters we send and receive, and they are divided into “from” and “to” folders. The “From” and “To” folders each have year folders for the years that child has been part of our Compassion family. For instance, Toface joined our Compassion family in 2010. So, there are folders for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 in both the “from” and “to” folders. Since this online letter was written on January 3, 2013, I will name and save this file as, “Letter to Toface 01-03-2013”, and it will be saved in her “2013” folder in her “to folder”.

 

Writing additional children online

 

Once I have saved the letter I wrote to Toface, I can go back to Compassion’s website that is still open in my internet browser. The screen that is present at this point not only tells me my letter has been successfully sent, but it also gives me the option to “duplicate” the letter or to simply write another letter to the next child. I have personally learned that if I duplicate the letter, I forget to save an external copy on the computer and only end up with the online backup. Therefore, I choose to simply write another letter, and I am taken back to the screen where I choose the child I want to write to. I open another document in my word processor and paste the text of the first letter I wrote in this new document, so I can then customize it for the next child. I repeat the process explained in this post until all of our children have letters on the way.

 

Final thoughts

 

Writing our Compassion children online takes me around 2 hours total, and I find it to be a fun and easy process. I hope this post and the bonus topic help you enjoy writing your Compassion International children via the online letter writing system, and I would love your feedback as well. Do you have any questions about writing sponsored children online? Do you have a process for writing letters online that works well for you that you’d like to share? Would you like to share with us your word for 2013? We look forward to the discussion, and we hope you’ll join us for our next post in this series where we share about the basics of being a snail!

 

Seven Steps to Sending Your Letter step 1: What and When

There are two questions you may be asking in regards to writing letters to your Compassion International children. “How often should I write, and what should I write about?” These are very common questions to ask, and we have asked these questions ourselves.

This post will be the first in a series entitled, “Seven steps to sending your letter”. In this first post, we hope to answer the above questions by sharing what has worked for us and our Compassion family. Subsequent posts will cover the ways you can write your letter, Compassion’s mailing guidelines, extra goodies to include with your letters and how to choose and organize them, the technical details, putting your packages together, and shipping your packages to Compassion International’s Global Ministry Center.

As you read through this series of posts, please keep in mind that we are located in the United States, and although the system we describe here works for us and our situation, we are aware it may not work for you or your particular situation. We will also do our best to answer any questions you’d like to ask, but we do not work for Compassion International and therefore are not the final authority.

Question 1. How often should I write my Compassion International sponsored child(ren)?

This is completely up to you. Many sponsors choose to write their Compassion child(ren) once a month. Depending, we write 1-3 times a month. If we have noteworthy news, we write an update letter, usually towards the end of the month, telling our Compassion children of that month’s events and happenings in our life. This letter is normally a shorter letter and is written using Compassion’s online letter writing system, discussed in further detail in step 2. Sometimes, if a reply letter can be fit into the update letter, we will do so. Other times, we choose to send a reply letter separately in order to reply right away, make it longer than the maximum character limit on Compassion’s website, or to send extra goodies to the child we are replying to.

The other big letter or package we send each month is a themed letter or package, and this too is sent towards the end of the month. This themed letter or package is usually sent via snail mail and includes extra goodies related to the particular topic discussed in that month’s theme letter. We will admit to not being great about sending these packages on a monthly basis, but our goal is to improve in this area in 2013. It is our hope that by sharing theme ideas with you here each month, we will be held more accountable.

Question 2. What topics should I write about?

Again, as with our answer to the first question, this is completely up to you. We will be sharing our own topic ideas throughout 2013. Until then, we would like to point you to some great resources to get your creative juices flowing.

With the many wonderful letter writing ideas given by sponsors, it’s no wonder this is the most active discussion on Compassion’s blog!

Here are 20 great questions to ask yourself about your spiritual life and your sponsored child.

Here are 20 more great questions to ask yourself about your childhood and your life today.

Check out these short and sweet sample letters you are welcome to use.

Do you need to know good topics to include and what topics to avoid?

Michelle from Blogging from the Boonies gives us 101 letter writing ideas.

Michelle has also just recently started a series entitled, “Correspondence Connections”.

Do you have letter writing topics you’d like to share? How often do you write to your sponsored child(ren)? Do you have any questions about the what and when of letter writing? We would love your feedback in the comments, and we look forward to continuing this series!

Moving Beyond “Hello”

“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!

 

To my friend with love

You stare longingly at the blank computer screen in front of you, wishing that some words would just magicly appear. You don’t know what to say to your newly sponsored child that will bless them and encourage their heart. Your mind feels as blank as that computer screen staring back at you.

 

You feel as though you know very little about this child from the profile you’ve been given . You know their hobbies, school grade and performance, a bit about their family and living situation and information about their community and country. Is that enough? Aditionally you wonder what this child would want to know about you.

 

We want to help you write your introduction letter. Below, we’ll give you some ideas of things you may want to include in your letter, along with a sample introduction letter at the end of this post.
Imagine you are meeting a new friend, and you’re going to carry on your first conversation. Instead of your friend being an adult, he/she is a child or teenager. Therefore, it is best to keep your sentences age-appropriate and remember to not include references to material posessions like your house, car, computer, ETC.

 

Introduction

 

First, you’d introduce yourself and tell your friend that you are very happy to be their new sponsor and/or friend. Then, you might share a bit about yourself including: age, birthday, state (not the city) where you live, career/school, hobbies, family (spouse, children, pets, ETC).

 

Questions

 

Now, it’s time to get to know your new friend a bit more by asking 2-3 age-appropriate questions.

Here are some questions to get your creative juices flowing:

1. What is your favorite subject in school?

2. What do you want to do for a career when you grow up/graduate from school? (Depending on the child’s age)

3. What is your favorite color?

4. What is your favorite Bible story?

5. Can you tell me more about your siblings?

 

You may even want to make one of your questions about their hobbies listed in their profile. Maybe they like soccer, baseball, basketball, art/drawing, reading, singing or playing a musical instrument. Here are some possible questions to ask about their hobbies:

1. Do you play (baseball, soccer, basketball, ETC) at Compassion with your friends?

2. What kinds of books do you like to read?

3. What kinds of pictures do you enjoy drawing?

4. What are some of your favorite songs you enjoy (singing, playing or listening to)?

 

Prayer Requests

 

After asking 2-3 questions, you can share 2-3 prayer requests you may have. Again, remember to keep these age-appropriate. I can promise you that your new sponsored child/friend will pray for your prayer requests, and I encourage you to do the same for them. You may even want to include some things you’re praying about for them like protection and safety for their family, that they will do well in their school studies and that they will know about Jesus and how much he loves them.

 

Closing

 

Close your letter by sharing a favorite Scripture, and tell your new friend how much both you and God love them. Let them know that you are very excited to build a beautiful friendship with them through letters. Some great Scriptures to include are:

Jeremiah 29:11,

John 3:16,

Proverbs 3:5-6,

1 Timothy 4:12.

 

Writing and sending your letter

 

Below is a sample introduction letter that you are more than welcome to modify and use to write to your sponsored child. You can write your sponsored child online by logging in to Compassion’s “My account section” and going to “Write my child.” You can upload up to 3 photos to attach to your letter as well, but know you will need to crop these photos to make them fit. Also, there is a 2000 character limit in the online writing form, so if your letter is longer you may choose to send it to the Compassion International headquarters in Colorado Springs via the regular postal service.
The address to send any child correspondence to Compassion International is:
Attn: Child Correspondence Dept.

Compassion International

Colorado Springs, CO 80997-0004

If you send your letter via snail mail, be sure that you label each item in your package including your letter and any photos or extra goodies you send with your sponsor number and your child’s number in order for your letter and all added extras to reach your child.

 

Sample Sponsor Introduction Letter

 

Dear (child’s first name),

We are Andy and Miranda, and we are so happy to be your new sponsors and friends! We are husband and wife, and we were married (mm/dd/yyyy.) Andy is (age) years old, and his birthday is (mm/dd). I (Miranda) am (age) years old, and my birthday is (mm/dd).

We live in the state of (place state here) in the (?) region of the United States. We do not yet have any children, but we have two cats named Black and Dusty.

 

For our work, (?).

Our hobbies are: (place hobbies here).

 

Questions for you:

1. What is your favorite Bible story?

2. Can you tell us more about your siblings?

3.

Prayer requests:

1.

2.

3.

 

(Child’s first name), we love you so very much, and we look forward to building a beautiful friendship with you! We are excitedly waiting for your first letter! God has great and marvelous plans for your life! Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jesus has a bright and wonderful future planned out just for you, and you can find your hope in him and his perfect and unconditional love.

We say goodbye for now, but please know that we love you very much and we pray for you to do well in your school studies and for God to protect your family every day.

 

Love, Andy and Miranda

 

Some good pictures to send with this letter would be a picture of Andy and me and a picture of our two cats.

We hope this will help you to write your introduction letter to your sponsored child. You do not need to wait until you receive your child’s physical profile packet or first letter to write your introduction letter. We will write many more posts about the joys of letter writing, and we’d love to answer any questions you have!

Remember, your letters to your sponsored child are one of their most treasured possessions and they read them again and again for hope and encouragement. The words you write could change your child’s life forever!

 

Meet Compassion

What do you think of when you think of the word poverty?

Dictionary.com defines poverty as “little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.” Poverty is so much more than this. Poverty is more than a lack of basic necessities.

 

 

Now that we’ve defined what poverty is, let’s talk about what we can do about it. We want to introduce you to a ministry close to our hearts, that is releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name! Compassion International was started by American evangelist Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952 as a way to help Korean War orphans, and has since grown to releasing over 1.2 million children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty in 26 countries around the world. Compassion enables the children they support to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

 

 

“Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name” is not a slogan. For Compassion, it is their God-given mission. Learn more about the ministry of Compassion International by going here.

 

There are 4 things that make Compassion’s ministry distinct.

 

Compassion is Christ-centered.

 

Jesus Christ is at the center of everything that Compassion does. God’s Word gives us multiple mandates to care for the poor, and children are very close to the heart of God.

Every child registered in Compassion’s child Development sponsorship program has the opportunity to hear the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, and each child is given the opportunity to know and build a relationship with their creator. Each child is given a Bible, and these children take home what they learn in the Compassion program about Jesus and share the love of Christ with their families.

 

 

Compassion is child-focused.

 

Compassion believes in a holistic approach to individual child development. Each child registered in Compassion’s child development sponsorship program receives regular medical checkups and access to education through tutoring, school supplies, tuition assistance or uniforms. Children are taught social skills, health and hygiene practices and vocational training. Children are also given access to nutritious food while at the Compassion project. Each child is taught about the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and given the opportunity to know and build a relationship with him. Children are also linked to a sponsor who has a one-on-one relationship with that child. As a sponsor, you have the unique opportunity to build a life-changing relationship with your sponsored child. By exchanging letters with your sponsored child, you have the ability to speak life into what otherwise may be a dark and desolate situation. You are able to plant seeds of hope in your sponsored child’s heart, and through your words of encouragement your child will know that both you and Jesus care about and love him/her very much. You may be the one person who tells your sponsored child “I love you.” As the sponsor of a Compassion child, you are the hands and feet of Jesus. For just over $1.00 a day, you can release a child from poverty!

 

 

Learn more about the benefits your Compassion-sponsored child receives for just $38.00 per month.

 

Compassion is church-based

 

Compassion International partners with the local church in your sponsored child’s community to provide culturally relevant age-specific ministry and care for each child involved in their program. A Compassion project, student center or child development center refers to the local church in that child’s community. The Christian adults in this church care very deeply for your sponsored child, and they want to see your sponsored child succeed. The church staff and volunteers make sure your sponsored child receives individual attention and that your child hears and knows of the love of Jesus Christ.  Each church partner is carefully selected by Compassion through a strategic process. Learn more about how Compassion partners with the local church and the church partner’s role and responsibilities.

 

Compassion is committed to integrity.

 

Compassion is committed to Biblical and financial integrity in everything they do. At least 80 percent of your $38.00 per month tax-deductible donation goes directly to care for your sponsored child, and Compassion acts in true honesty and humility with each aspect of their ministry. Learn more about Compassion’s commitment to financial integrity.

 

Along with child sponsorship, Compassion International has 3 other major programs that we’d like to tell you about.

 

CSP (Child Survival Program)

 

 

• 90 percent of child deaths worldwide occur within the first year of life.

• In developing countries, one in every six infants is not immunized against tuberculosis.

• Only 55 percent of the world’s infants are fully immunized against hepatitis B.

• Only 69 percent of newborns are protected against tetanus.

• Approximately 37 percent of deaths among children under 5 — 9.7 million worldwide in 2006 — occur in the first month of life.

• Each day, about 1,000 children worldwide become infected with HIV, the vast majority of them newborns.

• Although about 33 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women receive drug therapies to prevent the transmission of HIV to their infants, only 11 percent of HIV-positive women in sub-Saharan Africa who need antiretrovirals had access.

• Nearly 15 percent of babies in developing countries are born with a low birth weight compared with only 7 percent of babies in industrialized countries.

• In Sub-Saharan Africa 55 percent of children under 5 have never been registered; worldwide nearly 50 million children each year are not registered and begin life with no identity.

• Every day 1,500 women die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth that could have been prevented. Each day 10,000 newborns die within a month of birth, and daily the same number of babies are also born dead.

• Nearly 30 percent of women worldwide give birth before age 18.

• Some 200 million women who wish to space or limit their childbearing lack access to contraception.

 

Reading these statistics above, you may be thinking that this is a hopeless situation. There is hope for these mothers and infants. Compassion’s Child Survival Program provides pregnant mothers in poverty with prenatal care, and when their baby is born these mothers are taught how to properly care for their new little one. Along with basic child care skills, these mothers are taught income-generating skills, budgeting skills and about the love of Jesus Christ. Just as with the child sponsorship program, the Child Survival Program is run by the local church.

 

 

 

LDP (Leadership Development Program)

 

After graduating from Compassion’s Child Development Sponsorship Program, some young people have the opportunity to attend college and grow in Christian leadership and discipleship through Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. These young people are overcoming their circumstances to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, social workers, teachers, pastors and more. Through the Leadership Development Program, these young people are realizing the dreams that God has placed in their hearts, and they are learning to be all that God has created them to be. They are receiving training in Christian leadership and discipleship and being mentored by a Christian in their community.

 

 

CIV (Complementary Interventions)

 

Compassion’s core programs highlighted above are wide-reaching. However, they can not possibly meet every single need associated with a child’s healthy development. This is why Compassion has created their Complementary Interventions program to assist in meeting these needs when necessary. The CIV covers:

• HIV and AIDS Initiative

• Medical Assistance

• Malaria Intervention

• Curriculum Development

• Health & Parenting Skills

• Education & School Fees

• Assistance for Highly Vulnerable Children

• Disaster Relief

• Providing Clean Water

• Income Generation

• Infrastructure Development (repairs or rebuilding of homes or Compassion church partner buildings)

 

Compassion International is making a global impact in the Kingdom of God. From before a child’s birth until university education, many children’s lives have been changed forever. These children have been released from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. These young people are now making a difference and changing their world. Will you join them? Will you join us? Will you make an eternal difference in someone’s world today?