Friday, October 20, 2017

From the Field Friday: Philippines

I knew that I received a lot of these country director letters back when I started posting them in June, but I guess I didn't realize how long this series would last. And we aren't done yet! This will continue until the end of November. Thanks for hanging in with me!

Today we hear from the country director of the projects in the Philippines. I currently have three kids in the Philippines: Nikko, Jhonrex, and Rebecca.


Dear Kayla,

I am Noel Pabiona and I have been the country director of Compassion in the Philippines for 12 years now. I am a proud father of two boys. My boys constantly remind me to be a patient and responsible father, which in turn reminds of my Heavenly Father's love and amazing patience for me. 

Noel Pabiona

Compassion has worked in the Philippines for more than 44 years. Today, we have about 345 child development centers, reaching out to around 81,000 children across the islands. This seems to be a large number, but it is small compared to our country's total population of 102 million, with 12 million people still living in extreme poverty. My vision is to reach out to even more children. 

An Urban Slum in the Philippines

Thanks to sponsors like you, thousands of Filipino children now know God, live responsible lives, and have hope for the future. Your faithful support and care for Jhonrex, Rebecca, and Nikko has eternal impact. Thank you. 

Our country is made up of 7,100 islands and this is a challenge for traveling. Yet, whenever I can, I visit our centers to meet as many children as possible. I have personally talked with many of the sponsored children and their families and have seen how sponsorship truly works. Several teens have told me that, if not for their sponsorship, they would most probably be like many of the unsponsored teenagers in their community - unschooled, drug dependent, or pregnant, and without hope. Our teens have hope, study hard, contribute to society, and respect their parents. They are on their way to escaping poverty and becoming responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. 

Teens Playing Basketball at Their Project

Although public education is free, not all Filipino families send their children to school. A handful of impoverished families would rather have their children work so they can earn even a little for their families, even if it means working in harmful conditions such as scavenging, quarrying, and fishing. Other parents simply do not care to encourage their children to study or do well in life. 

In 2017, my focus is on giving child the chance to be a disciple in the way of our Savior. This, I believe, is what makes Compassion stand out. Not only do we give children hope, but we also give them eternal hope in Jesus. Not only do we equip them for life, but we also challenge them to give back and touch the lives of others. 

Children Praying at Their Project

Our church partners are doing a remarkable job in ministering to the children. Most of our staff and volunteers serve the children beyond what is required in Compassion's program. The need and vulnerability of the children compel them to do so. They reach out to the families and communities, and often initiate community development centers to support the local government. In most cases, our churches are more equipped, reliable, and successful in their initiatives than the local government is. 

A Girl Outside Her Rural Home

Finally, I would like to let you know that each letter a sponsor sends to a child is not just a piece of paper. It is a reminder that the children are important, that they matter because they are loved. I have not met a child who didn't value letters from the sponsor. They keep the letters in special boxes and most read them over and over. Children who don't receive letters wonder why not. I encourage you to write to your children as much as you can. 

Boy Writing a Letter to His Sponsor 

With God's grace, let us continue to work, pray, and hope together. Thank you again for your love and the hope you give to Jhonrex, Rebecca, and Nikko. 

In Jesus,
Noel Pabiona


Just Several Lovely Letters

As the title suggests, I will be sharing several letters today. Let's get started....

with a letter from my daughter Faith. Love this girl so much.

Faith is 11 years old and lives in Kenya. Her letter is dated September 9th, 2017.


Hello Kayla! 

It's my hope that you are fine. I'm fine too. God has taken care of me and all my other family members. I received the letters you sent to me and I'm so thankful for your remembrance. I am going to answer the questions you have asked me. 

I like wearing dresses mostly, red and white in color. Today for lunch, I ate rice, cabbage, and meat. My home is made of bricks and concrete and it has 3 rooms. In the compound of our project, there are flowers, trees, and many buildings. There are offices and classrooms. If I had a free hour I would go to the field to play. I like playing football very much. I last attended a party in May this year. My best friend is Monanie and we go to school together. I would advise other people to be obedient and love one another. 

I will be in primary school for the next two years. In Kenya, students go to secondary school at the age of 13 or 14. We experienced some drought in our place, but we thank God for he has kept us. In our country, the general elections were conducted, but due to some issues, the presidential election is to be repeated on October 17th. Just pray for us. Otherwise, thanks so much and have a nice time. 

Good bye! 


Now a letter from another one of my preteens, my wonderful boy Daniel, who is from Colombia. Who wrote this letter on August 18th, 2017. 


Hello Dear Sponsor, 

I am glad to say hello to you and I hope you're doing fine. I want to tell you about my friends. They are Jesus, Santiago, Buitrago, Sofia, and Camila, but my best friend is Jesus and I met him at school. What I like the most about him is the fact that he is friendly, responsible, and intelligent. I like to have friends because they always help me, they are friendly, they play with me, and they don't disappoint me. I want to give thanks to you for your letters and your sponsorship because it is a great help to me and my family. I want to tell you that I am doing well in school. I ask you to pray for God to continue to help me. I would like to ask you: Do you have many friends? Do you like to have friends? The Bible says, "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity." I say goodbye for now with lots of hugs and kisses. 

Juan Daniel


Next, a fantastic letter from Acram. He sent a template about his home and also answered all of the questions that I have asked him in letters. I tell you, sending lists of questions is the way to go! 

Acram is 6 years old and lives in Tanzania. He wrote this letter on September 23rd, 2017. 


1. I get water from: The tap
2. I get food from: Our farm 
3. My house is made of: Concrete blocks 
4. My house has a cement floor. 
5. My house an iron sheet roof. 
6. In my house I do have electricity 

Acram is so thankful for your letter again. He is very happy. He likes to wears pants, shorts, and t-shirts. Today he ate spiced rice together with the other children at his Compassion center. He lives in a house with three bedrooms and a sitting room. There is also a place for keeping animals outside that is made of wood from trees. Their goats stay there. He uses his extra time to look after his goats. At home, he lives with his two aunts Sanifa and Saufa, his grandfather Hashimu, and his cousins Nansi and Nickson. Acram laughs a lot when watching cartoons. He has a problem with his nose that makes it hard for him to breathe. The last time he attended a celebration was in July. His best friend is Rama. He would like to advise children to study hard. Tanzania last saw a sun eclipse in September 2016, but Acram did not see it because it was far from where he lives. Acram lives in the Kilimanjaro region. 


I have another template letter to share with you now. This time, from Bryan, who shared with me some of his favorite things. 

Bryan is 8 years old and lives in Nicaragua. His letter is dated September 9th, 2017. 


1. My favorite sport is: Soccer 
2. My favorite activity is: Reading 
3. My favorite animal is: Dog 
4. My best friend is: My mom 
5. My favorite cartoon character is: Spiderman 

Hello dear sponsor Kayla, 

God bless you. I am the teacher of Bryan. The boy expresses that he goes to the park to play ball with other children and enjoys visiting with his parents. He says he feels happy sending you this letter. He says goodbye with a hug and kiss. 


I think I'll end this post with this letter from Brian. The post opens and closes with letters from Kenya. Brian is 16 years old. His letter is dated September 16th, 2017. 


Dear Kayla, 

I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ, hoping you are fine together with your family. My family and I are fine and God has been our protector. I am happy to write you a letter again. I received the letters that you wrote for me. I read the letters and they were very inspiring and I am happy to know more about your country. I am working hard in school, where I expect to have good grades by the end of the year. Before I wind up, I have a memory verse to share. It comes from the book of Psalm 125:1, which says, "Those who trust in the Lord they are like Mount Zion, which can not be shaken, but endures forever." Thank you for your support. May God bless you. 

Good bye.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October Manna Mail Call!

Even though I just received letters from all of my Manna boys last month, I have heard from them again! Last month's letters were in response to letters/folders from sponsors. This month, they were written by our kids on designated letter writing days.

These letters are from the five Manna boys I had before sponsoring my new boys.  I got some pretty great artwork, as well!

Let's get the ball rolling with a letter from Jarlen. I have been referring to him as Jarlin this whole time, but he wrote his name as Jarlin twice in this letter, so I think his named was written down wrong when he was registered. Guess it's time to make that change in my mind.

Jarlin is 11 years olds. His letter is dated August 27th, 2017.


Dear Kayla, 

Hello, my name is Jarlen. I like soccer and my favorite food is pizza. I like to participate in choreography at church. I like to lead in church and I am grateful to God and you for the help that we receive. 


Next, a letter from Anthony and his mother. Anthony is 3 years old. His letter is not dated. 


My Dear Sponsor, 

How are you? I hope that you and your family are well. I liked the photo album that you sent to my son Anthony. I really really really liked the letter. I hope our friendship is never lost. I love you very much. 

With Love,


Now a letter from Brayan. He wrote part of the letter by himself and I can tell he worked so hard on it. His handwriting is so cute. The rest of the letter was written by an adult, but I don't know who it was. 

Brayan is 8 years old. His letter was written on August 20th, 2017. 


My Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

I tell you that I am in 2nd grade at school. I love being with my classmates at school. My favorite subject is math. I am very good with my elders and I listen to my parents when they ask me to listen. I would love to meet you very soon. I pray to God for it. I thank God for you being my sponsor. I love you very much. 



This next letter is from Noel He has been in Kindergarten this year and is clearly learning well. He drew me a wonderful picture and wrote all of the words himself! 

Noel is 5 years old and his letter is dated August 27th, 2017 .


Dear Kayla, 

Hello sister. I hope you are well, along with your family. I thank God I am well. I am in a preparatory school. My dad has me at a private school. I am very happy for that. 


To end, my sweet, oldest boy wrote me two letters. I love that writing one just wasn't enough! He drew me some fun cartoons and an amazing drawing of an eagle too! 

Ivan is 14 years old and presumably wrote both of his letters on August 27th, 2017. 

Side note: As awesome as that video would be, I am NOT going to send him my phone number. 


Dear Kayla, 

Hey! How are you? I'm happy to send another letter to my sponsor. I would like some day to meet you. We can meet if God wants. I'm in an organization from the church called Castillo del Rey. I thought you were coming when the other sponsors were coming. I saw your family in the photo. Your family is awesome. You are so pretty. Can you send me your phone number so I can send a video from Castillo del Rey dancing. I will pray for you, if you have any problems. On September 10th we celebrate the Children's Day. Thank you for all. God bless you. Bye. 


Dear Kayla, 

God bless you. How are you? How is your family? I think good. I am glad to write you. Thank you for choosing me. I feel happy. I wish you a successful spirit. I am an adolescent of 14 years old. I go to a Sunday school and I go to a church called Emanuel God's Assembly. I study in a Christian school called Abundant Life Christian School. I'm in 8th grade. My father, with much effort, has me there. I don't know if would continue in that institution. One hobby that I love is football. I play football when I have free time. I have two brothers. I am so glad with God. Because of him there are programs that help assist children. We need God's attention every day! I say bye to you. Thank you for sponsoring me. I wish you blessings. Amen. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

February 14th, 2005

Valentine's Day, right?

That date has a special meaning for many people. For me, Valentine's Day is extra special. 

In February 2004, a friend brought me to church with her, because she knew that I liked taking care of kids and asked if I wanted to start volunteering in child care with her. I accepted, because it gave me a reason to get out of my house on a Sunday, if I am being honest. The next year of my life would be very interesting: 

I experienced Christians for the first time. I heard Bible stories for the first time that many children hear in elementary school. I had Christian adults showing interest in my life, even though I was a teen with quite a few issues. I made  friends with people who prayed for me and with me.  I joined the high school choir, singing songs that I hardly knew the meaning behind. 

In February 2005, I attended a winter camp with my church. It was over a 3-day weekend and included many fun activities: sledding, ice skating, broomball, snowball fights, hot chocolate, card games that turned aggressive (lol). It also included a daily session with a worship band and a particularly moving speaker. God chose that speaker to move my heart on a particular day. 

That day was February 14th, 2005. A day that is recognized around the world as a day of love. On that day, I experienced the best love there is and I accepted Christ as my savior. 

Want to know what else happened that day? A baby was born in rural Honduras. That baby was named Carlos. That baby is now 12 years old and is a part of the Manna 4 Lempira project. 

Carlos recently lost his sponsor and while I was not intending on sponsoring any more children, I could just not pass him up with that birthdate. I don't think it is a coincidence that I chose to look through the photo album of children waiting for sponsors at that time. 

This sponsorship was God-ordained I believe. 

Welcome to the family, Carlos! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

From the Field Friday: Peru

We've made it to the letter "P" in the alphabet with our country director letters. Up today, Peru and the great woman who runs the program there.

I have three kids there: Jhayra, Jhojaira, and Sunrei,


Dear Kayla, 

My name is Cristina Zavala and I have been the country director of Compassion Peru since 2005. Compassion began ministering in Peru in 1984. We serve around 75,000 children through more than 250 partner churches. We want to open more opportunities this year, growing to serve more than 80,000 children. 

Cristina Zavala

My country has a rich history, beautiful places, and warm people, but also extreme poverty, broken families, and vulnerable children. Due to their living conditions and lack of economic resources, children face hard situations of abuse and neglect that erode their self-esteem and sense of belonging. The difference in a sponsored child is mainly the impact of being loved and cared for by people who value and give him or her dignity in safe environment. 

An Impoverished Home in the Peruvian Mountains

The economic situation works against families and parents, pulling them away from their children when the situation is pressing. They leave their children alone with little protection and supervision. Access to education, medicine, and potable water is still limited in the most impoverished regions of Peru. Some villages don't have medical centers, or the facilities lack staff. Other areas get water directly from rivers or contaminated water channels. Young people have no opportunity to learn marketable skills, and no dreams of progress and development. 

Children Learning Toothbrushing at Their Project 

We want to change the situation. We are working to help children improve their reading, writing, and math learning and to learn and develop healthy habits. Little ones who first arrive at the child development center often suffer from malnutrition. We are working with complementary funds to offer filtered and safe water. Together with the church partners, we talk to government institutions to improve medical care centers, and we keep on teaching Christian values and principles. We are also coordinating scholarships with private technical schools and helping young people to study a technical career such as computing, accounting, etc, or to study a major in college. 

Children Eating a Meal at Their Project

We also teach leadership courses to outstanding students. One young man who will complete the program this year faced many troubles as a sponsored child. His father is an alcoholic and his mother did not want to hear a word about. But this young man found affection, care, and shelter at the center. He had the chance to learn work skills; now he is going to school to study bakery and pastry, and he is also a leader in his church. From being immersed in poverty, he has discovered his great potential, and he now has big dreams. Another young man received a social volunteer entrepreneur honor from the United Nations for organizing teachers to give school tutoring in impoverished parts of Lima. 

Preschool Aged Children Building with Blocks

Children who enjoy a relationship with their sponsors feel the love and care of people who value them and give them dignity and the desire for a different future. Having a sponsor makes children very happy. They think sponsors are relatives who live very far away but send letters that bring them closer. Sponsors' letters have a high emotional value for children; when they get a letter, they feel they have some physical token from their sponsors. Please write your child as often as you can. 

Girls Writing Letters to Their Sponsors

Our partner churches are also ministering to their own communities by creating work opportunities and education and development programs that radically change families' inappropriate ways of living. Join us in prayer for every church partner that is working hard and doing such an amazing job. 

I want to express my gratitude to you for your continued love and support for your sponsored children. Together we can offer the valuable gift of hope to change the lives of the voiceless and suffering ones. 

Boys Playing Outside Their Project

In Jesus Christ, 
Cristian Zavala


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Teen Boys Are Wonderful Writers

I, and a group of like-minded sponsor friends, say it time and time again. If you want wonderful, detail filled, loving letters, we say Teen Boys, Teen Boys, Teen Boys. They write the best letters you could ever ask for as a sponsor.

I'm going to share several letters from teen boys today. Fabulous-ness.

We'll start today's post with a letter from Jhon. This was actually a surprising letter, because Jhon was due to graduate from Compassion. All of a sudden, his graduation date was extended by two years. I am so excited to have two more years of writing to him!

Jhon is 18 years old and from Bolivia. His letter is dated September 18th, 2017.


Hello Dear Kayla, 

I greet you with the peace of the Lord to you and your beautiful family. May God take care of you and protect you. I am thankful for the support and care God is giving me in my life. I wish to tell you that I am working part-time and postulating to UACRM with the preparation course of the admission test to university. I am giving my best effort to be able to enter and study. My wish is to support my family. I am happy that the Compassion project is full of activities. We are organizing a night of gala, where we participate with a partner and we sing. We learned the word of God and had a special dinner, where there was a variety of salad and delicious chicken. Also we are organizing a three day campaign where the entire ministry from the Compassion project will participate, where we will share the word of God to all of the parents. I say goodbye with lots of affection and love. I ask for your prayers for my studies and my family. 



Okay, so this next letter isn't actually written by a teen, but a young adult. I think it still fits in this post. :) This letter is from Ronaldo. He let me name his parrot! 

Ronaldo is 20 years old and from Colombia. He wrote this letter on August 23rd, 2017. 


Dear Kayla, 

How are you? In this moment, I have the letters you sent me in my hands. I love the guitar thing. What a beautiful work. The pictures of Gage and Chloe in the snow are exciting. Someday, I would like to go to that place and share time with you and the children. I tell you that my parrot was taken to my aunt's place, but I asked her to name it Pepe, like you suggested. As far as the video games, my favorite is PES 2017 "Soccer". I play it with my best friend Josue, who is the person I spend most of my free time with. He is my neighbor. We met when we were little. We also like going to the field to play soccer. To me, having a best friend is like having another brother. What do you think about it? Kayla, more than a sponsor, I consider you a friend and you are so special to me. Don't ever forget about it! I ask you to keep me, my family, and my friend Josue in your prayers. I promise to keep you in my prayers. 



Next up, a letter from Nikko. I can always count on him to tell me something exciting about his life and the life of his city.

Nikko is 18 years old and from the Philippines. His letter is dated August 26th, 2017.


Dear Ms. Kayla, 

Good day to you there. I hope you are having a wonderful day today. Thanks for sending me updates of the two kids you take care of. I hope they will grow to be great kids. I also read the letter about the four seasons you have there and I think it is cool to have a climate like that. I wish I could experience snow. By the way, out of the four seasons, which season do you love most? Here in the Philippines, currently we are experiencing rainy days and probably this will continue until December. I am happy I can still write to you and share something from me. These days, because it is "Fiesta" here in our place, there are a lot of activities in the city and the streets are busy with parades and merchandise booths everywhere. That would be all for now. Please pray for my family to be in good health always. I also pray for your family. Thanks again for the letters. God bless you. 



Another letter from the Philippines comes from my man Jhonrex. Sometimes, I don't think that Jhonrex is the most open and vulnerable guy, but I love when he gives me a glimpse into what is going on in his life. I love that he seems to be finding his place in leading the younger children at his project! 

Jhonrex is 17 years old. His letter is dated August 23rd, 2017. 


Dear Kayla, 

A pleasant day to you. How are you? I hope you are doing well. I am fine, very fine. Thank you for your letter. I read your message. I thank you for sharing some information about the weather in your country. There are three kinds of weather climate here in the Philippines. I am having fun assisting in the center classes, among the small children of our center. I hope that I can continue doing this consistently. I also hope we are going to have another "Youth Day" because I like joining in the contests. Please pray for my family here in the Philippines and for God's guidance upon me that I will not fall into any temptation here in our environment. Are there typhoons in your country? Thank you for everything. God bless you. 

Respectfully Yours,


I will wrap up this post with a letter from a country that is close to home, Honduras! This letter comes from Erick. I have officially been sponsoring Erick for a year now, so that is an exciting anniversary! 

Erick is 14 years old. He wrote this letter on September 28th, 2017. 


Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

I thank God for your life. I received your four letters. It was such a blessing for me. The questions you asked were very nice. Despite the difficulties, I am happy. A lot of things have happened in my life. We celebrated Lempira's Day on July 20th. We had all kinds of traditional foods: tamales, beleadas, rice milk. The next letter I read, the two kids you babysit are very nice. I saw pictures where Gage graduated from preschool. I saw his certificate and I'm very glad he got to finish preschool. I ask Gage to never give up on his studies. In the other picture, I saw Gage and Chloe with nice smiles. In another letter, I learned about your Independence Day. I never knew it was celebrated on July 4th. I can imagine how the fireworks lit up the sky. I also learned that the eagle is your national animal and it must have meaning. The stars on your flag mean the individual states and the white stripes mean the purity. Here, Independence Day is September 15th. My country turned 196 years old. I ask that you pray for my country because elections are coming up and a new president will be chosen. I say goodbye with affection, love, and a tight hug. 



Two More Photo Updates: Anju & Prity

Photo updates always bring about growth and change in my kids, but sometimes, like in the case of these two photo updates, I am just shocked by how much my kids have grown in just 18-24 months.

Anju has really turned into a teenager! 

You can really see how much Prity's face has matured. She is so cute!