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Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday: Not Such a Celebration

Before you read the title of this entry and close out of my blog, shaking your head, I ask you to stick with me for little while.

I have been a Christian for 11 years now and I have attended a Palm Sunday service for 11 years. I thought I knew the story of Palm Sunday, about how Jesus entered into the city, riding on a donkey, and everyone cheered and welcomed him. That's the story you know too, right?

Well, as it turns out, most churches don't focus on the whole story. Sure, I've read the passage in the bible that is titled "The Triumphal Entry." I've most likely heard sermons about the whole story. But, apparently, I have never really grasped or paid attention to how the passage ends. Yesterday, Pastor Sarah, at the church I attend, focused her sermon on parts of the passage that I had never heard focused on before. Maybe it's just me, but I've always thought of Palm Sunday as this day to celebrate. But really, it's not.

To spare you having to look it up yourself, I'm going to share the entire passage with you. This is Luke 19:28-44.

"After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.'" 

Those who were sent ahead went and found it just has he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, 'Why are you untying the colt?' They replied, 'The Lord needs it'. They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on it and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glorying in the highest heaven!" 

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I will tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!"

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and will hem you in on every side. The will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you". 


The beginning of the passage certainly looks like celebration, right? Does an image like this come to your mind? 



Pastor Sarah described this scene as a bit of a mob mentality. The people were there because they heard that the Messiah was coming to their city. Some people believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but others did not, and were basically gathering to see for themselves. Pastor Sarah said, "Everyone loves a parade". However, the people that weren't sure that Jesus was the Messiah were disappointed. The prophecy that existed said that the Messiah would come into the city shining brightly and riding on a big white horse. The prophecy also stated that the Messiah will ride in on that horse and completely overthrow the government, bringing peace. This Jesus was not riding a horse, he was riding a stubborn mule. He did not ride in and save the day, he simply came in calmly. However, the people, not wanting to ruin a good parade, cheered and waved palm leaves anyway, even though they doubted that this was the true Messiah. Most people simply just did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. 

In the words of Pastor Sarah, "The people at the parade who shouted, "Hosanna!" were the same people who, five days later, yelled "Crucify Him!" 

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, after hearing these people shout praises to God, he did not react in joy. He did feel worshiped and loved. He was sad. Desperately sad. And he wept for these people, for us. He wept because these people did not recognize peace when they saw it. 



Jesus did not come to bring peace by overthrowing the government. Jesus was the peace. Jesus is the peace. 

It was the doubt of the people that lead to the death of Jesus, just five days later. The same people who shouted praises through their doubt, were the same people who condemned Jesus to die. 

Palm Sunday is not a day of celebration, not really anyway. People celebrated because they felt like they should, not because they truly believed. And that had dire consequences for our Messiah. 

Thankfully, we can learn from that mistake. We know now that Jesus is our Messiah and we have a real reason to celebrate, to wave those palm leaves, and shout "Hosanna!" to our God. In the future, when you wave those palm leaves, mean it, truly mean it, because now we know just have much damage doubt can do. 



"Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers"



***Foot note: I realize that there are probably many, many people who know about the end of this story and this post doesn't teach you anything new. You may even be shocked that a Christ follower of 11 years is so shocked by the end of this passage. But, like I said, it seems like in past years, I have completely ignored the sad part of this story and just celebrated Palm Sunday has a happy occasion. This post is simply me sharing my thoughts on the matter.****


Sunday, March 29, 2015

India has Babies!

I was looking at the Compassion website today and saw that there are now babies (really toddlers) up for sponsorship in India. Oh be still my heart. It's taking every ounce of willpower I have to not sponsor all of those little cuties. (Who needs electricity, right?)

I can't sponsor one of these babies right now, but I can do the next best thing, share about them. I chose six of these cuties (some of the youngest on the site) and made a pretty cool collage, if I do say so myself. I assigned each child a number and I will share their info that way too. If you decide to sponsor one of these cuties, let me know, so I can celebrate with you.

Side note, some of these kids are stated as being in kindergarten. Kindergarten in India is like our preschool. Kids can start attending kindergarten at age 2, if their parents wish, and continue until they are 5 years old.




1. This little guy is Kartik. He's 2 years old. His birthday is June 24th. He lives with his father and mother and is an only child. His favorite activity is walking and he attends church activities with his family. He is in kindergarten and has average performance. You can sponsor Kartik here. 

2. Labanya has been sponsored!

3. This sweetheart's name is Nisha. She is 2 years old. Her birthday is June 13th. She lives with her father and mother. She doesn't have any siblings. She helps run errands with her parents. For fun, she likes to play house and play with dolls. She is not yet attending school. You can sponsor Nisha here.

4. Anjalina has been sponsored! 

5. This handsome guy is Sidharth. He is 2 years old and will be 3 on June 6th. He lives with his parents and one sibling. He enjoys walking and attending church activities with his family. He is in kindergarten and has average performance. You can sponsor Siharth here.

6. Mr. Grumpy here is Aryan. He is 2 years old. His birthday is May 30th. He lives with his father, mother, and two siblings. For fun, Aryan likes to sing and run. He is in kindergarten and has average performance. He also attends church activities with his family. You can sponsor Aryan here. 




Saturday, March 28, 2015

Albanian Teens are Great

I heard from both of my Albanian boys yesterday. It is so great to know that there are wonderful, sensitive young men in the world. Xhuliano and Florenc are great!

Xhuliano is 14 years old.

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Dear My Friend Kayla,

I enjoyed very much that day, when I got your letter. Yes, I'm very well and my family is very well. I'm very happy that you pray for me and my family. Thank you very much. And I pray for you everyday, my friend, because you are a wonderful friend and you will be always in my heart and in my family. I felt happy that you have passed beautifully the Christmas. I celebrated the new year with my family, which is our tradition. We passed a beautiful evening together with my dad, mum, and my sisters. We lit fireworks at the changing of years. Marsela felt happy when she saw them in the sky. 

On December 28th, I celebrated my birthday. It was a special day for me and my family. Stelina filled 12 years on January 4th. Marsela has got her birthday on April 5th. They love you very much. 

I hope that you write me soon. 

Lots of Love From,
Xhuliano

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Then, I received yet another letter from Florenc. This boy is on a roll! 

Florenc is 15 years old. 

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Hello Kayla!

I'm glad that I'm writing to you. I feel good about myself when I talk to you. Thank you for giving me your support in my high school year. I do not consider myself as a very smart person, but thanks anyway. My favorite subject is World History because it talks about the past ways of living, wars, and lots of other things. On the other hand, the subjects I hate are Chemistry and Physics. My school is made up of 300 students, so it is not very big. 

I would love it if you could visit me, but as you said what I can do is hope and pray for this to happen. During my holidays on the beach, I didn't do many activities. I just enjoyed the sea as much as I could. 

I have some questions for you, though it is you who generally ask me questions. Which is favorite season? Have you ever argued with a friend? Do you like movies? What about pets and if yes, which are your favorite ones? 

I wish you all the best with your job at the church!

Write as soon as you can! 

Florenc

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Four More Letters (A Record Breaking Month!)

As of today, I have received 24 letters in March. I write to 44 kids, so it's not implausible, but that is a ton of letters for one month! And the month isn't even over yet! 24 letters in one month is certainly a new record for me and any additional letters received before the end of this month will just leave me even more amazed.

Today, I received 6 letters, but I will only share 4 of them today. I will share letters from my Albanian boys tomorrow, so you have something to look forward to.

I received another letter from Maria. Just like her last letter, she wrote in very large handwriting as a way to take up more space on the page. In reality, the letter is very short. She must have had better and more fun things awaiting her when she was finished writing her letter. Kids crack me up.

Maria is 10 years old and lives in Brazil. She wrote this letter on December 3rd, 2014.

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Dear Sponsor Kayla,

Hello! How are you? Thank God my family and I are well. I'm so glad you pray for me. I know God has a purpose for each of us. I'll keep trying hard to provide a better life for my family. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. I don't forget you. Hugs and kisses. 

Maria Eduarda

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Onto a letter from Fongwin. Fongwin is only 1 month away from the 2 year mark for a new photo. I anxiously check my account every day hoping to see a new one. Nothing yet! I imagine he looks much more grown up now. 

Fongwin is 12 years old and lives in Thailand. He wrote this letter on January 5th, 2015. 

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Dear Kayla, 

Hello! I'm glad to write a letter to you again. I'm thankful to you for stickers. Me and my family are doing well. How are you and your family doing? It is very cold here as there are fogs in the morning. So, I have to find a warm jacket. I had fun this past Christmas as there were many activities and games and gifts. How is Christmas celebrated in the United States? They must enjoy it just like me. Please pray for my studies and for my parents' health. Lastly, happy new year and may God bless you and your family always. 

Love in Christ,
Thawatchai

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I finally heard from Celeste! Before today, it had been almost 7 months since her last letter. I put in an inquiry on March 1st, which clearly wasn't received before this letter, so it looks like the inquiry wasn't needed. It seems that Celeste has just missed a few letter writing days. I am very happy to know it wasn't anything more serious and that Celeste is still attending the project. 

Celeste is 12 years old and lives in Honduras. She wrote this letter on February 20th, 2015. 

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Dear Friend and Godmother Kayla,

I thank God that you are well that you take the time to write letters to me. It is my best wish that God give you strength in your job. I have been doing well. Everything is going well with my family. I have started school and I'm in the 6th grade. At the project they gave us a school pack with notebooks, pencils, pens, colored pencils, and markers. Thank you for the pictures of the wedding. I'm glad that you are happy for your friend Kristin. I think that weddings are fun and beautiful too. It is every woman's dream to marry a good man. So long. I say goodbye with my love always. 

Celeste

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Last up, a letter from Emanuel. He also sent me a copy of his report card for the school year. I will share his classes and grades after his letter. His grades aren't fantastic, but he improved drastically from 1st term to 2nd term. I am very proud of his effort! When I post the grades, I will post his average for the whole school year. Tanzania uses the same grade letters as we do in the United States. 

Emanuel is 18 years old and lives in Tanzania. He wrote this letter on February 14th, 2015. 

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Dear Kayla, 

I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ. My family and I are fine and continue well. It's my hope that you are fine. Also, thanks for your nice letters you sent to me and I like them. I am happy to hear that you have children. (The kids I nanny for. Guess I should clarify this). In the other letter you asked me about the church choir. We celebrate Christmas together and the choir sang with joy! Thanks for the dollars you sent to me. I was very happy. I bought a shirt, rice, biscuits, and toothpaste for my birthday. I would like to give you a bible verse from Psalms 27:1. "The Lord delivers and indicates me. I fear no one." I would like to ask you a question, which games do you like to play with your children? I wish you good life, which please God and God bless you. 

Emanual

Education Progress Report Form for Tanzania Children to their Sponsors

School Year: January-December 2014

Form: 3 (Junior Year)

Subjects learned during this year at the project: 

Physical/Health: Time Management
Social: Understanding My World
Spiritual: Praise and Worship
Livelihood: Searching for Jobs 

Student's Performance in Secondary School

Mathematics - D
Civics - C
Biology - D
Geography - D
History - D
Kiswahili - C
English - C

Average for All Classes - C

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jhonrex's Updated Photo

It seems another one of my boys has turned into a young man. :)




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

India has My Heart

I have never been to India, but I know how much I love it. I am connected to 10 children/teens from India and I love them all. They all live in different regions and I love all the regions, as well. I love the rural plains, the city slums, the mountain villages, the red light districts, and the mid-size towns. I love them all. I know that I will make it to India someday, but I don't know when. It seems so impossible, but as one of my kids reminded me today, "anything is possible for God."

I received three letters from India today. I will share those with you today:

First up, a letter from Solomon. He has officially graduated from the templates and onto regular paper. He still didn't write the letter himself, though. One step at a time, maybe someday.

Solomon is 9 years old and he wrote this letter on February 1st, 2015.

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Dear Sponsor, 

Greetings to you in the mighty name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is Mrs. Umakumar, project staff, writing this letter on behalf of Solomon. He hopes you are fine there. He, he and his family are doing well. Thank you very much for your loving letter. Cricket is played with bat and ball. There will be two teams and they score and play to win with their team. Now he is in 3rd grade. Yes, he is enjoying school. Here, Christmas vacation was given for 10 days and school started again. Your picture is so good and it is so cute. You learn so much in school there. Yes, he too learns all that you learn. His favorite thing to learn is English. He saw the picture of you in the classroom. He says that the wedding couple are very cute. He hopes you all enjoyed the wedding day. We celebrate weddings with joy, decorating with balloons, colored papers, and cake. We invite our friends and neighbors. He thanks you for your bible verses. It was wonderful. It is amazing to have your photo. Birthdays are the time we step into a new year. Please pray for him. He is praying for you. 

Thanking You, Sincerely in Christ,,
Mrs. Umakumar

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Now, a letter from Khushi. She has always written in English and has fantastic handwriting. But, this letter is off the charts in great handwriting. I am so impressed! 

Khushi is 12 years old and this letter is dated January 30th, 2015.

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My Dear Sponsor Kayla,

Greetings! I wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful new year 2015. I hope you are doing well. I am fine here and my school is also going well. I had a very lovely Christmas and I also received my Christmas gifts through your support. I would like to thank you very much for these wonderful gifts. I received a track suit, a warm sweater, a cap, and also bowls and plates for my family. Me and my family are very happy and thankful. I am in 7th grade at school and my age is 12. All my siblings are also enjoying school. It was our 66th republic day on January 26th. We enjoyed the program in our school, though it was a rainy day. We have got a cow and calf at home. My mother takes care of the family and she also cares for our pet animals. Now we are about to start sowing paddy crop. My mother also likes to attend the parents meetings that are held every month in my project. I am very much thankful to God for the project. I have been blessed learning God's word and bible teachings. I am now looking forward to picnic and camping. Our project teachers said that they will take us for picnic and camping in about a month. I like to play and have fun with my friends at the project. I want to thank you so much for your love, support, and prayers. My dear friend, I am also praying for you and I hope we can meet some day. Anything is possible for God. Thank you again for the Christmas gifts. 

Yours, 
Khushi

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To end the post, a letter from Kalpesh. 

Kalpesh is 12 years old and wrote this letter on January 12th, 2015. 

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Dearest Kayla, 

Greetings to you in the name of our Savior Lord Jesus from me, my mom, and my siblings. Really, I am so happy to get your letters with a card,, your photograph with your friends, and beautiful stickers. Surely, I'll give the card to my friend and also tell about our friendship and show your photograph to him. Also, I'll tell them about true friendship, which I learned 2 years before in the VBS camp, which taught us Jesus is our true friend and how much Jesus loves us. Thank you so much for the lovely and encouraging letters. Say hello to your friends for us. I've recently come back from my mother and my siblings. We had a break from school, as well as from the project for some days and I went to visit them. By the Lord's grace and your prayers, we are very fine and everything is going on well. In the month of April, 16 children have birthday in my project. We didn't know about our birthdays but after joining the project, every year we are celebrating it very happily. It's only because of you. So I am really grateful to you. Every one of your letters encourages me, so once again I praise God and thanking you. I wish you a very happy new year and may God help you in your job. Take care. 

Kalpesh

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Love From Ethiopia

Last week, I received two letters from two of my Ethiopian teens, but for whatever reason, I haven't typed them up yet, so today is the day! Spoiler, the second letter came with a picture! 

First up, Taye's letter. I've been writing to him for almost two years and I haven't seemed to be able to get him to open up. He talks about school, church, and the weather. Period. But, I'm not giving up. I will keep sharing and hope that he opens up one of these days. 

Taye is 17 years old. This letter was written on December 16th, 2014. 

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Dear Kayla, 

Let the grace and peace of God be with you. How are you? I am fine and so is my family, praise God. With your monthly support in money, school fees are paid for me and I am learning in a good way. In addition, I go to church every week and attend Sunday school education. Currently, the weather is warm in my country. How is the weather in your country? Farewell. 

Taye. 

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I also received a letter from Enatenesh. It seems that her financial sponsor sent her a money gift and this letter came with a picture! Her financial sponsor sends gifts often and I've gotten some great pictures from her. They always include her whole family, which is a treat! 

Enantenesh is 18 years and her letter is dated February 22nd, 2015. 

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Dear Kayla, 

How are you and your family doing? My family and are doing fine, praise God! 

I am so grateful for your birthday money gift and I got a carrying reservoir, clothes, shoes, and school supplies. May God bless you greatly! 

I am attending my regular classes well, with all my school needs being met by you! Thank you! And I also go to my Sunday school classes. I recently learned about the story of Abraham. My favorite school subject is mathematics. 

With the family money gift we bought roof tin sheet, wood, and nails. Thank you for all! Please keep in touch. 

Good bye!


I'm not entirely sure what is being shown in this picture or why there is a running hose in the picture, but I still like to see the whole family! 

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