A Week of Bittersweet Goodbyes

 

 

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

This is not the first time we have loved and lost, but that still does not lessen the ache. Just two weeks ago, I wrote our Compassion International children’s long-awaited update letters. Her letter was the last to be sent…

This week though, as I obsessively counted our children on the Compassion website, something was not right. I counted again… We were missing someone. Out of all of them, why did it have to be her?

I fought back tears and sudden breath-taking panic as I spit out the heart-wrenching words no sponsor wants to repeat as if they were grains of sand stuck helplessly in my mouth. “Um, we’re missing someone… She’s gone…” Andy knew exactly who, without me even mentioning her name, because my husband is just like that. He also knows me enough to know that I would not handle the ensuing phone call well, so without questions he picked up the phone.

Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, our precious Kate is no longer part of Compassion International’s program. We welcomed Kate into our Compassion family after watching the above video in May of 2009. After five beautiful years, her frequent and affectionate letters and words of love will be dearly missed.

 

That was Monday…

On Wednesday, after some tears and moments of raw vulnerability, we received an unexpected phone call…

 

In April of 2012, I needed a reason to continue teaching voice lessons beyond myself. Naturally, my reason came through an addition to our ever-growing Compassion family. His name is Miguel.

 

I came home from running errands this past Wednesday to Andy saying, “I received a call from Compassion today…”

Miguel was not supposed to graduate from Compassion’s program until 2016, but he apparently has the motivation I have lacked this past semester. While I counted down the days until my Christmas break began on December 12, Miguel completed two years of college in just one-year’s time! Therefore, he will be graduating in 2015—a year earlier than expected!

Thank you precious son for giving your sponsor mom and dad a few months of forewarning, and please know that we are so very proud of you!

 

As I shared with a friend recently, this is kind of like being a foster parent. While many are afraid to be attached to their foster children, anyone who has ever loved one of these precious ones will tell you that attachment is what they so desperately need. Child sponsorship is similar, in that it is easy and equally important to become attached, no matter how long God places these children in our path. For us, I can say that the blessings far outweigh the losses, and we truly reap the benefits maybe more than we even know. So, while this has been a week of bittersweet goodbyes and goodbyes-to-come, we rest in the knowledge that every word written, tear shed, prayer lifted, and penny spent is more than worth the price. We have loved and we have lost, and we plan to continue doing so as long as the Lord allows.

 

In honor of our precious Kate and Miguel, would you prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these Sunday’s special children?

Mail call Monday: Highlights from El Salvador, India, and the Philippines!

We received three letters from some of our Compassion International children in February, and we’d love to share highlights with you!

 

Highlights from Tatiana

 

It seems to us that El Salvador may be sending letters every two months as per the new letter writing guidelines, because we’re seeing a bit of a pattern here while also taking in to account time for transit. Tatiana wrote this letter on November 19 of 2012, and it looks like she is replying to a letter we wrote in August. She begins this letter by telling us that she and her family are doing well and she prays the same for us. She thanks us for the letter to which she is replying and says in answer to our question that to celebrate her birthday in July, she went to church to thank God and invited some friends to her home to eat cake. She shares a bit about the Compassion project where she attends, and that her favorite things to do while there are playing and writing letters to us! Tatiana also tells us that some of the benefits she receives through Compassion are medical checkups, birthday celebrations, and letters from us. Does anyone else notice a pattern here? 😉 She closes her letter by asking for prayer that God would take care of her family and signs her name “with love”.
As always, we love receiving letters from this sweet girl, and her love and personality jumps off the page every time!

 

Highlights from Pankaj

 

The next letter we received was from Pankaj in India, and this may be one of the longest letters from him thus far. He greets us and tells us that he and his family and friends are well. He thanks us for our prayers and letters and specifically discusses extra goodies we sent with our Thanksgiving and New Year packages last year. Referring to goals we had for 2012, Pankaj shares his goals with us. He then mentions Andy’s college studies and my work as a voice teacher in reply to another letter and says he is praying for both. Pankaj then says he attends a government school that is about 1Km from his home, and he walks to school at 7:00 and returns home by 12:00. He asks us to pray that he better understands math. Oh, how we can relate! We loved this glimpse into his daily life, and it blesses our hearts that he chose to share it with us. He shares that at the Compassion project he not only learns stories and Bible verses, but he is able to learn English and math and spend time with his friends who are “good company and fun to be with”. He tells us rainy season is in July and August and they grow their own vegetables, because during rainy season there are landslides that prevent vehicles from bringing vegetables to their local market. Lastly, he shares about India’s upcoming Independence Day celebrations. Pankaj closes this letter by expressing his thanks to God that he can go to school and Compassion, for having good friends, and that we love him.

 

Highlights from Miguel

 

The last letter we received is from Miguel in the Philippines written on October 15, 2012. Miguel greets us and says he received four letters from us in Sept and Oct, and he shares about his birthday celebration with his family in August. He answers Andy’s question regarding what he wants to do with his college degree in information technology, and tells us about his current class project. Miguel then tells us a bit about his college’s fall break schedule and asks about ours. He tells us he is praying for our prayer requests and shares prayer requests of his own, and he closes wishing us God’s blessings until his next letter.

 

As always, we loved receiving these precious letters and sharing highlights with you. Letters such as these from our sponsored children are tangible proof of the importance of the child-sponsor relationship. We pray you can see this importance as you read these letter highlights. Have you received any letters from your sponsored children lately? If so, please tell us about them in the comments.

We are linking up with Michelle from Blogging from the Boonies for this mail call Monday post, and we encourage you to read her and others’ letters as well!

Mail Call Monday: Highlights from Asia and Africa!

We are taking a break from our series on “Seven steps to sending your letter”, as we have recently received letters from some of our Compassion International children and wanted to share highlights with you.

Highlights from Kate in the Philippines:

“You are my inspiration and my loved ones.” “I will pray that you will have more enrollees in your singing lessons, so also to Uncle Andy that he shall get more experiences in his computer work.” “Is it only in singing that you teach? Not in instruments? I also want in piano playing.”

Highlights from a lengthy letter from Miguel in the Philippines:

In this letter, Miguel shares about his youngest sister’s 12th birthday celebration. He also tells us that he attends Compassion on Thursday, and he has an annual acquaintance party at school and wants to know if we do too. He comments on pictures we sent him with one of our first letters, “Thank you for the picture that you gave to me, I will always take care of it. This is the first time that I receive a picture from my sponsor.” This comment broke our hearts and yet gave us joy that we were able to bless him with these photos! This comment shows how much our sponsored children cherish the photos we send!

In response to questions we asked, Miguel shares with Andy what computer programming language he uses and asks Andy what programming languages he uses, and he shares some of the lyrics from his favorite song.

Still responding to our questions, Miguel shares his testimony of how he came to know the Lord as his personal savior, and he shares his favorite Bible verse as well. He also thanks us for the birthday gift money we were able to send and shares what he was able to purchase with this gift. Miguel ends this letter with prayer requests and “God bless you” in all capital letters across the page.

Highlights from two letters from Pankaj in India:

In one letter, Pankaj shares that after June they had heavy rains and some in nearby villages lost loved ones, crops, animals, and belongings. Pankaj says the state government is working to help these people, and he assures us that he and his village are alright. He asks for our prayers for those who lost so much from the heavy rains. “Now rice harvest is almost ready in fields, rainy season is over and we continue our school.” He ends this letter with, “Thank you very much for sponsoring me. Lets keep praying for one another.

Yours Pankaj

PS thanks for your prayer and support we will be praying for you!”

In the second letter, Pankaj shares, “After a few weeks I will be writing my half yearly exams. We had summer break in June so I attended Bible school program and enjoyed a lot. In Sep. we had a gospel week arranged by our project teachers. They taugh us new songs, stories and about Jesus. We met two Pastors also who taught us. We had good times. I am happy that God loves me and has a plan for my life. Thank you for sponsoring me. Lots of prayers.”

Highlights from a letter from Toface in Uganda:

Toface begins this letter by sending greetings from herself, her family, and friends. She thanks us for the letters and extra things we sent for her and her siblings, and she shares about the crops of sorghum, sweet potatoes, and Irish potatoes that her family is growing. She shares a bit about the weather and asks for prayers as she is studying to be promoted to Senior 3 in school. She closes with a Scripture and Christmas and New Year greetings.

Have you received letters from your sponsored children lately? If so, feel free to share about them in the comments section! We are linking up with Michelle from Blogging from the Boonies for this Mail Call Monday, and we encourage you to check out the awesome blogs linked there!

Passing on the vision of hope

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” — Helen Keller

 

Yesterday marked the annual observance of World Sight Day, a day set aside to promote global awareness regarding Blindness and visual impairment. World Sight Day is observed on the second Thursday in October, and focuses on educating people around the world about prevention and rehabilitation of the Blind and visually impaired.

 

You may or may not know that Andy and I are both completely blind. I was born without eyesight, and Andy lost his eyesight as a young adult. Over the years, we have faced various challenges in regards to our Blindness, but none that could not be overcome. Here in the United States, we have laws to protect people with disabilities such as Blindness or visual impairment from discrimination in education and employment. We have healthcare specialists who are trained to care for people with a variety of eye conditions, and there is health education available to the general public as well. Furthermore, the government provides funding to people who are disabled and need financial assistance with daily living expenses.

 

According to the World Health Organization (2012), 285 million people in the world are visually impaired. About 90%  of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries. “Blindness is most prevalent in developing countries where malnutrition, inadequate health and education services, poor water quality and a lack of sanitation leads to a high incidence of eye disease” (Himalayan Cataract Project, 2012).

 

When Andy and I were both completing our primary and secondary education, we faced barriers that our sighted classmates did not face. However, there were special educational services in place, and we were able to receive the additional materials and instruction needed to allow us to graduate with our peers.

I can not read regular print, so I was taught from a young age how to read Braille. We use a text-to-speech screen reading program called JAWS for Windows to independently use our computer. We adapt things in our life where needed, and we have relied on individuals with special training to help us learn Braille and other technology.

 

Imagine how difficult it must be then, for a visually impaired child living in poverty, who does not have such laws or special educational services provided to them. For children living in poverty, there already exists a lack of scholastic materials, teachers, and adequate educational facilities. Many families living in poverty do not have the money to pay for school uniforms or tuition fees. I imagine it is additionally difficult to provide special educational services or materials such as Braille or large print to a child who is visually impaired.

 

Andy and I, like many other visually impaired individuals in the United States, have also received independent living and vocational rehabilitation services. These services are provided by the government to aid the visually impaired individual in independently caring for their daily needs, traveling safely, and obtaining employment or higher education. This further allows us to contribute to society by adequately and independently caring for our family and home.

For someone living in poverty that is visually impaired, it may be difficult or impossible to contribute to their family and community by performing such necessary tasks as carrying water, or buying and selling goods in the market (Himalayan Cataract Project, 2012).

 

While reading this, you may feel that there could not possibly be hope for people living in poverty who are visually impaired. Andy and I believe there is hope, and we believe that each of us can make a difference. We must be willing to catch the vision of hope and pass it on. The World Health Organization estimates that 19 million children under age 15 are visually impaired. “Of these, 12 million children are visually impaired due to refractive errors, a condition that could be easily diagnosed and corrected.” Furthermore, “Globally, 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured” (World Health Organization, 2012).

 

Donate today, to provide critical medical treatment to a visually impaired child living in poverty!

 

One way you can provide hope to a visually impaired child living in poverty is by donating to Compassion International’s medical assistance fund. This fund is part of Compassion’s Complimentary Interventions program, and provides medical treatment to the children Compassion serves around the world. For children who are visually impaired, this treatment may include eye exams, eyeglasses, surgery, or prosthetic eyes. Specific treatment depends on the country, and what resources are available.

 

Pass on the vision of hope to one of these children today!

 

Another way you can provide hope to a visually impaired child living in poverty is by sponsoring one of the children featured below! Your sponsorship and letters of love and encouragement will let your sponsored child know that he/she is loved and prayed for, and that even with a physical disability, he/she still has a unique ability to be greatly used in the Kingdom of God. You will be able to help your sponsored child know and realize that their visual impairment does not limit God’s ability to work in and through them. You can give one of these children, their family, and community the vision of hope! I can guarantee your own vision of hope will also become clearer than ever before.

 

*Update: Zewdneh from Ethiopia has been sponsored! Thank you for passing on the vision of hope to this precious child!

 

Meet Yahir from Mexico

 

Yahir is 5 years old, and lives in the coastal community of Ponte Duro with his mother and at least one sibling. At home, Yahir’s duties include carrying water and running errands. Playing ball games and running are his favorite activities. In kindergarten his performance is average and he also regularly attends church activities and Bible class.  Yahir’s mother is sometimes employed.  Most adults in Ponte Duro work as fishermen and earn the equivalent of $130 per month.

 

One thing Yahir’s community needs is an improved community health center, and one of the common health concerns is malnutrition. As stated at the beginning of this post, these are two causes of eye disease in developing countries.

Some of the benefits provided to Yahir via your sponsorship are: Bible classes, medical checkups, health and hygiene education, nutritious food, reading workshops, school supplies and homework supervision. In addition, your consistent letters of love and encouragement will give Yahir the confidence he needs to reach his full God-given potential.

Will you change Yahir’s life today?

 

Meet Francis from the Philippines

 

In his home, Francis helps by carrying water, gathering firewood and caring for children.  He lives on the plains of Poblacion with his parents and at least one sibling.  His father is sometimes employed and his mother maintains the home. Most adults in Poblacion are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $75 per month.

 

For fun, Francis enjoys singing, playing with marbles and art. He attends church activities and Vacation Bible School regularly and is in primary school where his performance is average.

One of the Common health problems in Francis’s community is malnutrition, and two of the community needs are affordable health care and improved sanitation. Your sponsorship allows the staff of Agape Child Development Center to provide Francis with Bible lessons, medical and dental treatment, sports, talent showcases, educational field trips, school supplies and fees and leadership development programs.

Francis will turn 9 on November 30. What a wonderful birthday present your friendship would be!

 

Meet Angel from Mexico

 

Angel is 9 years old, and he makes his home with his father and his mother. Carrying water and running errands are his household duties.  His father is sometimes employed and his mother maintains the home.  There are 4 children in the family. Soccer and playing with cars are Angel’s favorite activities. In primary school his performance is below average and he also regularly attends church activities, Bible class and Vacation Bible School.

 

Angel lives in the hillside community of Coxquihui, Veracruz, home to approximately 5,000 residents. Typical houses are constructed of cement floors, wood walls and cardboard roofs. The regional diet consists of maize. Common health problems in this area include malnutrition, diabetes and hypertension. Most adults are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $153 per month. This community needs secondary schools, employment opportunities and substance abuse rehabilitation programs.

 

Your sponsorship allows the staff of Beraca Student Center to provide Angel with Bible teaching, hygiene and health education, craft workshops, music classes and sporting events. The center staff will also provide marriage conferences and evangelism for the parents or guardians of Angel.

Will you bless this precious boy and give him the love and encouragement he so desperately needs?

 

If you choose to sponsor any of these precious boys, we would love to know about it! Please tell us about your decision to pass on the vision of hope and release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name!

Friday-turned-Monday, with a flicker of Friday hope and love

Have you ever had “one of those days”? Come on now… Don’t give me that blank stare, and just raise your hand so I’m not all alone… 😉 I’m sure we all have… Well, last Friday was beyond “one of those days” for me. Honestly, Friday was at the top of my list of days I’d like to forget and not repeat, and I promise I do not say that about many days (even if things don’t go the way I plan). I actually wondered who thought it would be funny to switch my Friday with a Monday, and I would still like to have a “discussion” with the culprit, but I digress… 😉

In the midst of my Friday-turned-Monday, I posted the following on Facebook: “You know what would make me smile today, would be getting a letter from any one of our Compassion kiddos.” Well, our precious niece in the Philippines must have known that we’ve missed her frequent letters lately. Not more than an hour after I posted my Facebook status, this precious letter arrived!

“Dear Uncle Andy and Auntie Miranda, (Doesn’t your heart just melt at this?)

Thank you so much for the b-day card and your greetings for me. Is manok delicious?” (We’re assuming that she is referring to a Philippino chicken dish Andy and I prepared and ate here to celebrate her birthday in April, but we’ve never seen it called Manok.)

Still talking about her birthday, she says: “Thanks again that I am a blessing for you and you also a blessing for me. You are my big gift for as my special sponsor for supporting me.” (Precious Kate, we are the ones receiving the gifts that words could never express)

“I’m so sorry for your ears. Don’t you worry I will continue to pray for your immediate healing and the pain you are now suffering. I love you very much.” (I, Miranda, had a severe ear infection in both ears in July and August, and we wrote each of our Compassion children to specificly request prayer.)

“I can feel your hug and deep concern, I am overwhelmed as I pray for the job that the Lord wil give him as His plan.” (In a recent letter, Andy sent Kate strong hugs and thanked her for her continued prayers regarding his work situation.)

To answer specific questions we asked regarding what she was able to purchase with the $20.00 birthday gift we sent, Kate writes:
1. Step-in are like sandal only that the toes are not covered fully.
2. Chocolate powder are used in porage as coloring and sugar and also in cakes. (This sounds similar to our cocoa powder, and my mouth is now watering!)

“I pray for all your good health. Are there any calamities there in your place? Thanks again.

Love, Kate”

Kate also drew us a very detailed and colorful picture with birds, a house, trees, 3 children, a rainbow and a smiling sun. Her drawings are always so creative! We love this little artist who by the way is growing up so fast, as she is now 11! Kate joined our Compassion family back when she was 8 years old.

So, although my Friday turned into a Monday in many ways, a flicker of Friday hope and love arrived just in time! Isn’t that the way God works? He always does things in his perfect time, right when we need it most.

Have you heard from any of your Compassion children lately? We’d love for you to share about it in the comments!

Would you like to receive precious letters from a child like the one we’ve received from our Kate? Mark and Edwin in the Philippines are waiting for their sponsors, and their birthdays are in just a few short weeks . Will you be one to make their birthdays something to truly celebrate? Sweet Precious’s birthday is one day before Valentine’s day. Will you show her she is truly loved?

Grains of sand, raging waters and hope

I am a very independent person, and I am also a planner. What would I do if my independence was stripped away from me? What if I watched all of my well-laid plans slip through my fingers like tiny grains of sand? What would I do if all I knew as familiar was suddenly gone?
When disaster strikes, we may feel many emotions including: despair, grief, anguish, anger and hopelessness. We may lose our jobs, posessions, homes and even our loved ones. We may try desperately to grasp any sense of normalcy as our independence is stripped away from us, and our well-laid plans slip through our fingers like tiny grains of sand. If you’ve experienced any tragedy in your life, you know exactly what I am referring to.

 

According to this CNN news report, “The death toll from five days of heavy rains and floods in the Philippines jumped to 60 on Friday, disaster officials said, with the forecast calling for even more showers across the main island of Luzon… More than 2.4 million people have been affected by the weather so far, and more than 3,100 homes have been damaged.”

For those affected by the flooding and heavy rains, this situation may seem hopeless, but there is hope. You can help to give hope and restoration to these beautiful people!

By donating to Compassion International’s disaster relief and recovery fund, you can provide help to Compassion-assisted children and their families in the Philippines. You can help these families to regain their independence, and rebuild their lives on the solid rock on which they can always depend.
Thank you for giving hope and showing the love of Jesus to children and families in need!