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Monday, September 1, 2014

Xhuliano Has Electricity! And More!

On Saturday, I received two letters from Xhuliano. One of the letters was responding to the money that you all helped me fundraise for his family. I sent his family the $165 that were raised. Not only was he able to get the electricity turned back on, but he used the rest of the money to buy groceries for his family. Here is the photo that World Vision sent to me of Xhuliano with the groceries. I love all the Coca Cola in the cart. It's one of my favorite drinks too.


My wonderful dear friend, 

My family and I were very happy to hear that you sent us a gift and we are happy to have got such a wonderful friend as you are. We thank you very much and wish you good luck in your life. I am very happy writing you this letter. 

I often think about you, just as you think about me. I am thankful to God for listening to my prayer and making my wish come true to have such a wonderful friend like you. And I hope that this friendship will last forever between us. 

Thank you from my heart, my friend. All my thoughts I have expressed to you and all my wishes, you have made them true and made me always happy and I hope I will be happy everyay. 

My wonderful friend, I pray to God for you and your family. May God make all your wishes come true. Hugs with much love and joy. 

Xhuliano

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I also received another letter from Xhuliano. When I found out that boys in Albania often drop out of school after 9th grade, I wrote both my older boys there a letter about how important a full education is. I am relieved to get this letter from Xhuliano. 

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Hello, my dear friend, 

I am very happy to be writing to you. I think just the same way you do and I hope that things will be good for you and your family. 

I am very lucky to have the possibility to have a wonderful friend like you. I hope that we will be forever friends. 

I am doing well at school. I am studying hard in order to achieve good results, but it sometimes hard, especially when I have exams. I agree with you when you say that I should finish high school, because a good education will make me a better person in my life and for my family. Yes, my family is fine and we all are thankful to you. 

My friend, may God fulfill your wishes. I love you very much. I hope that God will soon make your thoughts come to life. You, my friend, will always be in my heart. I will never forget what you have given me and the love you show towards me through your letters. 

With Love,
Xhuliano

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Updates Galore!

Some of these new photos, I have already shared, but I wanted to share them again in collage form. Some of these updates will be new information for you. Enjoy!

I welcomed a new correspondent child to my family this week:


This is Chintada. He's from India. He's 15 in the first photo and 17 in the second. 




Yesterday, I received a new photo of Sagar, from India: 


In these photos, he's 9, 10, and 11, respectively. 




Today, I received a new photo from Florenc, in Albania: 


You can see him grow from age 12 to age 15. The top right is the newest photo. 



Here are two more collages, including photos that you've already seen: 


Xhuliano is 11 in the first photo, 12 in the middle two, and 13 in his newest photo.




Lastly, you can watch Abu age from 6 years old to 12 years old. The top right photo is his newest photo. 




Friday, August 29, 2014

Reach for the Stars!

The school year has begun. In my city, the schools opened up on August 18th. While I do not have children of my own, I work with children in a formal setting. I lead, teach, encourage, and comfort children on a weekly basis, every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. At my church, I lead the programs for the children that are Birth-Age 5. Every summer about this time, I get the love on the crowd of kids who will be off to kindergarten for the first time.

I listened to worries from soon-to-be kindergartners as they wondered what their teacher would be like, if they would make any friends, if they would be able to learn to read, if they would still have time to play, and if riding the bus by themselves would be scary.

The following week, I tried to follow those same ramblings of those same children as they excitedly rambled details of their first week at school. Their new friends, their new desk, the cool colorful carpet they get to listen to stories on, the big playground outside, music class, gym class, snack time, and their silly teachers that love them so much.

In my job, I love squeezing the little babies, I love watching toddlers grasp language for the first time, I love hearing kids thoughts on Jesus, but it is these moments, watching kids go from scared of something to completely confident that I love the most. New kindergartners are so sure of themselves, so inspired, ready to take on the world.

We teach our kids that they can be anything they want to be. We tell them to dream big and reach for the stars. Kids dream to be teachers, doctors, football players, bakers, race car drivers, and mermaids. And we encourage that.


Sadly, there are kids in our world who don't have these dreams. Sure, they may have had them at one point. "Mom, I want to be a doctor when I grow up." Instead of being able to tell their children, "Sure, you can do that, reach for the stars!" these parents have to tell their children, "Oh honey, you have to go to school for that and _______ (we can't afford school, we can't afford school supplies, we need you to work, we need you to take care of your siblings, etc). I know this is a heartbreaking situation for the child and the family. Nobody who cares for children wants to shoot down their dreams. But all too often, that's reality.

"Worldwide, nearly 80% of primary school-aged children attend school. In least developed countries, the figure is around 66%"

That means, that 20%-34% of the world's children do not attend school. 

Guys, primary school age is, generally, 5-11. Can you imagine your 5-11year old not going to school, for any reason? 

"Worldwide, only 49% of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school."

Secondary school is typically what we known as middle school and high school. These are kids aged 12-18. 51% of 12-18 year olds in our world, are not getting an education. There are several reasons for this: some drop-out because the material is too hard, some get involved in gang activity, some get pregnant and get married, some have to stay home and care for younger siblings. But, I'd be willing to guess that most children at this age are required to get a job and earn money to support their family, who already can't afford to feed their children. 

Without a quality education, these children are, essentially, doomed to repeat the past. They are stuck in the cycle of poverty. No education, no decent job, having children, can't afford to send the children to school, those children grow up to have no education and no decent job themselves. It's a slippery slope and for most families, it's the only choice. 

But, there is something to be done about this. There are many organizations that help children living poverty attend school. One of these organizations is Compassion International. When you choose to sponsor a child living in poverty, you give them the opportunity to get an education. They will be able to attend school. If they run into difficulty, Compassion offers tutoring. These children will not have to work to support their family because Compassion provides that child with the things their family may not be able to afford (school supplies, uniform, school fees, school medical physicals, etc). 

I encourage you to visit Compassion International's Website , look over the pictures, pray for the children, and find a child you would like to help get an education. You can also write them letters of encouragement, ask them about what they are learning at school, send them math or handwriting worksheets, ask them about their grades, and let them know that you're praying for them to do well at school. Sometimes, it just takes that extra boost of confidence that comes from knowing that somebody loves you and wants you to do well. 

Help a child reach for the stars! 


Monday, August 25, 2014

A Short Letter from Sadiya

I got a letter from my precious Sadiya, from India. Sometimes, I think her project workers have to force her to sit down and write a letter. Either she hates writing or she would rather be off playing with her friends. Either way, her letters are usually short and general. But hey, at least I'm hearing from her, right?

Sadiya is 10 years old. The date is hard to read, but I think this letter was written April 17th, 2014. It took a long time to get to me!

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Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Me and my family are doing well. I will pray for your work. The weather here is very hot. I am very happy to receive your letters. Our project is open now and I go there every day. My studies are going well. Through the project, I got a school bag and school dress. I am very happy to receive it. Thank you very much. Pray for me and my family. 

Yours Lovingly,
Sadiya

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Abu's Progress Report: 2014

It's always great to get a new picture and progress report of one of my World Vision kids. Not much has changed since Abu's last progress report, but it's still great to know. Plus, he's smiling in his new photo! The photo is a little blurry and dark, but you can at least see his smile. And his awesome motorcycle shirt. :)

Abu is now 12 years old.

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My Name Is: Abu-Bakarr 

My Health Is: Satisfactory 

World Vision Helped Me Receive: Sanitation, Primary Health Care, Health Education

In the Academic Year Sept. 2013-July 2014, I am in: Grade 3 (He was in grade 3 in his last progress report too. Hopefully he's in Grade 4 this year)

Benefits/Support that my Family and I Received from World Vision: Training or Learning Workshops, Educational Materials, Training on HIV/AIDS Prevention, Clean Water. 

My Best Friend's Name is: Samuala

The Animal I Like Best is: Goat

My Best Season in the Year is: Raining Season

My Favorite Sport Is: Football

At Home, I Help With: Cleaning

The Subject I Like Most is: Mathematics

My Annual Progress Report was Completed By: Myself 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Letters from Central America

I received two letters today! One from my Antonio and one from little Debora! It was great to hear from my sweet boy and such a blessing to receive a letter from Debora the day after I learned that I won't be sponsoring her anymore. I know there is also a final letter coming from her, which has apparently already left her country, but isn't in the U.S system yet. I should have it in about a month or so, as far as I can guess.

First up, the letter from Antonio. This boy has beautiful handwriting. I'm actually pretty jealous of how clear and easy-to-read it is. My handwriting can be so sloppy. Haha. In this letter, he talks a little bit about his previous sponsor, David, who I still keep in touch with. I asked David's permission, and I'm going to share with Antonio a little bit about what David is doing now. As long as Antonio wants to talk about David, I will share with him what I can.

Antonio is 10 years old and lives in Nicaragua. This letter was written June 26th, 2014.

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Hello dear sponsor Kayla,

I am very happy to know a little more about you. It's a joy for me that you chose me as your sponsor kid. Answering your questions, the kids are cute and they make a happy home and the whole family. I have met new friends at school and with the teacher I have learnt many bible stories. It is something special for me. Something that has happened lately that was exciting and sad at the same time was when I knew that David was not going to be my sponsor any longer. But God knows why things happened because now I have you and that is something very special for me. I like to play video games and soccer. Me and my family are having good health, thanks to God. You are always in my prayers. Keep me in yours. I send my greeting with love. 

Antonio

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The letter I got from Debora is on the My Medical Checkup form. On the back, again, her mother wrote me a lovely message. It is sad to know that this will be the last time that I read words written by this lovely woman, but I feel blessed that I was able to receive this last letter from her. 

Debora is 5 years old and lives in Honduras. This letter was written July 20th, 2014. 

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My Medical Check Up

1. I got to my medical check up: By Walking

2. Who came to my medical check up with me: My mom

3. My results in my medical check up were: 37.4 pounds, 138 cm tall, In general I am well. 

4. In my medical check up, I received: Physical Exam

Hello my beautiful friend, Kayla, 

May God bless you and keep you safe. This is Gladis writing again. We are very happy to hear about you. Debora is very happy with the letters you've sent. She says that you are very pretty and that she loves you very much. She took all the letters out that you've sent her and she was very happy because they all had pictures to color. She really likes to color. Debora has been enjoying good health. She's growing strong and healthy and is always very happy. I really enjoyed writing this letter and hearing from you. We say goodbye with many kisses and hugs, wishing you success in your life. God bless you. We love you very much. 

Gladis

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bad News Bears

Unfortunately, I don't mean the funny, adorable, inspirational baseball movie.

Lately, I have gotten two pieces of bad news from Compassion. One bit of news, I've known about for about two weeks, but I didn't know if I was going to share about. Today, I got the 2nd piece of bad news and figured it was time to write about them both.

First, I will share the news that has a potential to get better. IN-860, the project that my Sagar attends, my all-time favorite project, the project that serves families living in the Miraj Red Light District (all things you know already) is on probation. Compassion has found that the money was not being used according to Compassion's high standards and that they children were not benefiting from the money in the way that they were supposed to. Compassion worked with the leaders at the project for two months, but wasn't able to work out the problems. At that point, sponsors were contacted. This project has three months, until November, to get the problems solved. At that point, if things have not been fixed, the project will close.

This project, which is a beacon of hope in a dark, dirty, degrading community, could close. All of the beautiful children, that I have come to know, by name and face, may not have a safe place to go, a place to receive the love of Christ. Without Compassion, many of the children may end up being trafficked into the sex trade, because they won't have another option.

Sadly, also when it comes to Sagar, his updated photo is now almost 2 months overdue. Unfortunately, Compassion will not put in an inquiry about his photo because his project is on probation. I will either have to wait until November to either receive a new photo or even to simply begin asking for me. Or, if the project closes down, I will not receive one. Heartbreaking.

I have to admit, I have been mourning this quite a bit lately. I have also been praying very hard. I suppose I will have to continue praying for the next few months until Compassion makes their decision.

Will you join me in praying for this project, these children, and for sweet Sagar?


Selfishly, I do not want my contact with Sagar to end. Of course, I don't want Compassion to lower its standards and support a project that can't follow the guidelines. But, I am having a hard time imaging my life in the future without this sweet boy in it. 


Well, let's add insult to injury, shall we? 

I got a call from Compassion today. I didn't immediately recognize the number on my phone screen, but it was an 888 number, which I guessed was either from Compassion or World Vision. I knew that the phone call would not be good. A sponsorship organization typically does not call a sponsor unless there is bad news that needs immediate attention. 

I was right. 

I learned that my precious little girl, Debora, has moved out of the area with her family and will no longer be attending her project. Compassion looked into where she is moving and there is no Compassion project nearby that she could attend. My sweet girl, who is going to turn 6 years old next month, is gone from my life. 


I can only pray that she has moved to a safer neighborhood. The community that she lived in, a community that I visited and walked through, is very dangerous. Its gang activity has gotten so bad that a young child was murdered right outside of his school, for no apparent reason. I can only hope that Debora is moving to a better neighborhood. 

I find comfort in the fact that her parents are both very strong Christians. I attended church at this project and Debora's dad was front row, center, clapping and singing and dancing his heart out while the praise band played. He prayed fervently with his hands up in the air. He and his wife held their children closely with love. I know that, as long as the family can stay together, the family will be okay, under God's protection. 




I will miss seeing this sweet face on my account. I will miss finding cute things in pink and purple (her favorite colors) to send to Debora. I will miss the long, detailed, loving letters her mother wrote me. 

I was told that a final letter is on its way to me. I was told that the letter was written by a project worker, so maybe I will get some more information about why the family moved. I hope the circumstances are good, but I also know they might not be. Because she moved, I will not be able to write her a final letter. I just pray that Debora knows how much I loved her. 



With this loss, and the threat of more loss in the near future, I can't help but feel discouraged.