Just a short note to share a great resource with you if you do sponsor a child through Compassion International or any other organization.
This last Sunday, was Compassion Sunday and I shared with my congregation the testimonies of two sponsors within our congregation. The video I shared with these interviews emphasized the relationship that develops between sponsor and sponsored child. It is wonderful, inspiring thing but only when it exists.
As I spoke to people after the event, most of the concerns I heard were in regard to writing letters to a child. There were a few people who admitted that they were "a bad sponsor" because they never wrote to their child. I even had one brave person say that they chose not to sponsor a child because they knew they would never write letters.
Let me first give you an "it's okay" hug by telling you two things:
- You are NOT alone. Just as an experiment I googled: "Compassion International I'm a bad sponsor." Scan through a few of the hits and then breathe a sigh of relief, many sponsors feel that way, including me.
- You probably are not as bad as you think. When I first started sponsoring Fabiola, I only wrote her when I received letters, that was about once a year. While it is difficult to build a relationship on one letter a year, that was one letter she would not have received otherwise.
You must read Lame Sponsors of the World Unite! by the Gypsy Mama. It's funny, short and very encouraging.
Now that you feel a little less scummy, let me encourage you: letter-writing is not as hard as you think and it is SO valuable.
Start with simply writing a letter every time you receive one, everything you need is right in the envelope. It doesn't have to be a long one and it doesn't have to be incredibly deep. In fact, the simpler it is is, the easier it is to translate and to understand.
Here is my typical outline for a letter:
- Greeting: Hi, how are you, I hope you and your family are well, thank you for your letterQuestions:
- Respond to their letter: comment on activities, answer questions, encourage them if they are struggling, comment on the verse or picture they shared with you, comment on their photograph (you're getting so big, beautiful, handsome, I like your shoes, hairbows, etc)
- How was your (Christmas, Easter, birthday, & maybe new year's--stick to christian holidays)
- How did you celebrate? Did you eat special food or listen to music? Did you have a party at school? Did you get presents? What did you get?
- It is cold/hot here, how is the weather where you are? (Seriously, ask them about the weather!)
- How is school? What are you learning? What is your favorite subject? What is hard for you?
- How is your family? This is a great opportunity to ask the names of the people in their family.
- Personal favorite questions: color, subject in school, song, game, sport, food, season...these are all easy questions and give you a way to respond
- Tell about yourself!!! Talk about your family, your job, schoolwork, even your problems (keep it light!); give your child something to pray about because I guarantee that they are praying for you.
- Close it: I'm praying for you and your family, I love you, I thank God that you are in my life
I usually can only fit about half of this in before I run out of space. It may seem shallow at first but this at least gets you writing and I promise that your child will never complain that you send them shallow letters. Baby steps!
Finally, even if you are not the best sponsor now, or you're afraid to commit to writing a child and failing, please please please don't let that keep you from sponsoring them. Even if you (gulp) never write your child, your sponsorship enables your child to live a life that is filled with encouraging people even if you can't be one of them: volunteers at the Child Development Centers, pastors, and teachers.
And even if you aren't the best sponsor now that doesn't mean that you won't grow. Like I said, when I first started sponsoring Fabiola I wrote her once a year. Now I write two three sponsored children every month. I don't say that to puff myself up because I know there there are some who write to 10 or more kids! I say that to encourage you: take on the challenge, fail at it for a while, and let God teach you how to be be an encouraging, supportive, letter writing master.
I'd like you to meet, Michelle, a very encouraging blogger/Compassion Advocate that I just met.
She blogs at Blogging from the Boonies.
Michelle has eight Compassion correspondent sponsor children in addition to her sponsored child, and she writes them all at least once a month. I was blown away, she's a letter writing wizard! But don't be intimidated, remember: baby steps.
Blogging from the Boonies has a Letter Writing 101 article that I find very encouraging as well as some Letter Writing Tips. Check them out, they're very helpful.
Thanks so much, Michelle!
Compassion also has several encouraging letter-writing articles because, again, we all feel like we're bad sponsors!
- Letter Writing Ideas (this article has over 1800 comments, don't you feel better?)
- Compassion has some great tools about connecting with your child as well (did you know you can email your letters?)
Here's the video I shared this Sunday. Thanks again, Rachel and Darla!