My name is Mo, and I am a mosquito. But, I’m not just any ‘ol mosquito. I harbor a secret. If you give me just a minute, then I will tell you all about it. I should warn you that this minute will pass quickly, but the effects are life changing
You see, I, and many mosquitos like me, carry around the disease called malaria. Within the minute it will take you to read this, two children will have died from this disease. After we bite, we do not stick around to see the results of our destruction, but I am told it starts with flu-like symptoms and progresses from there. Within two days, a child can slip into a coma and die. You may be wondering why I am trusting you with my lethal secret. Well, the reason is simple; I do not want another child to die. Will you help me break this destructive habit? Will you take another minute to donate an insecticide-treated Mosquito net? Your donation of just $10.00 will provide a family with a net and education about malaria prevention. What’s more,, your donation provides treatment to children suffering from malaria, chagas disease, and dengue fever. If you promise to bite malaria, I will promise to not bite back.
Story one: Your Story
If you could write an autobiography of your life thus far, what would you title the chapters? Moreover, what story would the pages contain? Would you have a chapter entitled “childhood”, where you share about your growing up years? Would you have a chapter on “education”, where you share about graduating from high school and maybe even attending or graduating from college? Maybe you’d then write a chapter called “employment”, where you tell about landing your dream job. You may have a chapter called “marriage and family”, introducing your readers to your spouse and children. Your autobiography may even have a chapter called “Jesus”, where you share how you allowed Jesus to write the story of your life. While your story may or may not contain all of these chapters, it is as unique as its main character, and it has the power to inspire and change the stories of others as well.
Story Two: Their Story
If you could write a biography of a child living in poverty, what would you title the chapters? Moreover, what story would the pages contain? Would there be a chapter entitled “family” that shares of heartache caused by the loss of parents by death, the need to work far from home, or abandonment? Would there be a chapter on hunger that describes the child’s family’s desperate attempts to find food each day? Would there be a chapter called, “dreams”, detailing the dreams of this child and the lack of education available for him or her to reach their dreams?
What if these two above stories were intertwined and crafted in to one? Could you add a chapter called, “hope” to the story of this child living in poverty? Could you help this child to have access to education enabling them to reach their dreams? Could you help introduce this child to Jesus, so he can forever write the story of their life?
If you want to change your and their stories for eternity, here is your opportunity. Andy and I have had our stories changed by changing the stories of children in poverty. Will you join us? Will you share your story to change the story?
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9)
As I considered the Biblical account of Jesus feeding the five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two fish, two questions stuck in the forefront of my mind. First, if I were the boy in this story, would I give my bread and fish to Jesus? Second, would I be even remotely aware of the miracle about to take place because of my willingness and sacrifice? I wonder if the bread and fish were to be this boy’s lunch, and through his willingness to give what he had, the Lord was able to multiply the blessing in feeding the hungry people.
This coming Wednesday, Andy and I will be able to take part in an event that will feed hungry children in Ethiopia. By skipping one meal for one day, and donating the money we would have spent on that meal, our “five loaves and two fish” will be joined with the gifts of others as part of a modern-day miracle.
You can be a part of the “One meal One Day” challenge too. Are you willing to join us in changing the lives of these precious children in Ethiopia? Will you give Jesus your five loaves and two fish and stand in awe at what he can do?
If you are willing to join us on behalf of children in poverty, please go here to watch a short video, learn more, and donate whatever amount you are able. You can even expand the impact by sharing this opportunity with your family and friends. This coming Wednesday, we are skipping a meal so children in Ethiopia don’t have to. How about you?
“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
Andy and I regularly cook, shower, do laundry, and provide ourselves and our two cats with something to drink, without a thought as to the safety of the water we are using. We have no need to be worried about becoming ill or dying from waterborne diseases such as Typhoid or Cholera. While we are not personally affected by the lack of safe water, “roughly 12 percent of the world’s population, or 884 million people, do not have access to safe water.” Furthermore, “approximately 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This is around 5,000 deaths a day.” While we simply turn on a faucet to get access to water, for those in the developing world, this task is much more difficult. Many times, girls and women walk an average of four miles and carry around forty-four pounds on their heads to retrieve water for their families. The need to spend so much time and energy to fetch water each day coupled with illness caused by waterborne diseases does not leave room for consistent employment or education. Click here to learn more facts about how lack of safe water and proper sanitation affects those living in poverty.
Now that we have discussed the devastating realities faced by those without access to safe water, the question we must answer is, “what can we do?” Through Compassion’s Water of Life system which is part of the Complimentary Intervention program, more than a million gallons of pond, lake, river, or puddle water can be made safe to drink and use by removing all bacterial contaminants. Needing no replacement parts and only minimal maintenance, a Water of Life system can last a lifetime. When a family is provided with a Water of Life system, Compassion also trains the family on the use of the system and improving hygiene and sanitation.
Watch this video to see how Compassion’s Water of Life system is changing the lives of one child and her family.
This program is just part of Compassion’s mission of “releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name”. By providing a child and their family with access to the basic need of safe water through your one-time donation of $79.00, you can help Compassion to release that child from physical, educational, social-emotional, and spiritual poverty. Not only will that child’s health and educational opportunities improve, but they will learn of the living water only Jesus can provide.
“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
In honor of World Poetry Day, I wanted to share a poem I wrote back in October, when I didn’t even mean to. That’s right, I was not planning to write anything that night, but as the Lord would have it, I drafted this post 5 months in advance. Now if only I could always be this much of a planner!
October 10, 2012
As I sit in my office, and listen to the rain fall outside, my mind wanders and I begin to write.
I left my heart…
I left my heart broken
I left my heart bruised
I left my heart shattered
I left my heart torn
I left my heart wide open and bleeding love
Silent tears the only words it could pour
I left my heart in pieces at your feet,
And ever so gently, you picked it up in your hands to mend and mold
Now it’s not my heart, but yours.
So take this heart and imprint your words
that your little ones need to hear.
Take your gentle nail-scarred hands,
and wipe away their tears.
Father to the fatherless, hold them close
and drive away their fears,
When they feel forgotten and all alone,’
love them through the years.
Take this passion burning deep
to bless and love the least of these.
Thirst and hunger their silent cries
I cannot run frightened, deaf, and blind.
I must share of your body and blood
the greatest gift of sacrificial love.
The lies of poverty, they must cease
for in your name, this child shall be released!
If you have written or would like to write a poem in honor of World Poetry Day, we would love to read it. Maybe your poem is about poverty, or maybe it’s about your sponsored child. Whatever the Lord leads you to write, we pray this post and experience will bless you!
When you read the word “birthday”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a party with friends and family? Is it a birthday cake? Or, is it the gifts you receive?
Today is my birthday. I’m planning to spend the weekend with Andy and a very dear friend who I haven’t seen in 9 years. Andy has given me some gifts, and my friend and I plan to go out to lunch tomorrow as part of our fun weekend. I am blessed and excited to spend this time with people I love, and I never want to take the gifts in my life for granted.
I do have one birthday wish
When Andy asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I did give him a list of “things” that I would appreciate. However, the items on my birthday list are wants rather than needs. As I think back over my life, I am in awe of all the Lord has brought me through and the many ways in which he has blessed me. I could never imagine wondering if I will live to see my next birthday, but this is reality for many in our world today. Knowing this makes me truly grateful that I woke up today, and my needs (and many of my frivolous wants) are met.
I do not want a birthday gift for myself today, but I want a gift for Peaceman, Anna, and Rosa. These precious children share my birthday, and I want them to truly celebrate! I want them to know they are a gift from God, and he knows and loves them in a unique and special way. Will you pray for each of these children today, and if he leads you, will you sponsor them on our birthday?
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!
When we think of Valentine’s Day, some of the first things we think of are flowers, candy, special Valentine’s Day cards, and red hearts. The symbol of a red heart is not just associated with Valentine’s Day, but it is seen as a symbol of love. Have you ever wondered how you could give a Valentine’s Day gift of love that has an eternal impact for the kingdom of God? Have you considered releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name this Valentine’s Day?
Some of the children served by the ministry of Compassion International have been waiting for a long time to have a sponsor say, “I love you”. In fact, there are children who have been waiting more than six months for their special sponsor! The red heart symbolizes these children’s long wait. Will you end a child’s long wait today?
Five-year-old Jaren in Honduras has been waiting 197 days for a sponsor, and his birthday is today!
Yulianny from the Dominican Republic has been waiting for 228 days for a sponsor to change her life. Will you bless her on her birthday with a gift that will last forever?
Oumarou lives in Burkina Faso with his uncle and mother. This birthday boy has been waiting 198 days for a sponsor to say “I love you”! Will you be that special someone?
Desmond lives in Ghana and has been waiting 258 days for his special sponsor. What a precious birthday gift a new sponsor would be!
There are many other children who have been waiting for more than six months for a sponsor to share with them the love of Christ. No matter who you choose to love this Valentine’s Day, we know this will be a gift both you and they will never forget!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!