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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Another Pair of Manna Boys (And a Round of Manna Letters)

It is such a blessing to be able to write this post today. I am so thankful for how things have happened over the last couple of days.

Two days ago, I was talking to a friend about how I was buying backpacks for my new sponsored Manna boy. My friend knows that I sponsor kids, but through Compassion. I have talked to her before about my Compassion kids and she knows that I can send them paper letters or emails, but she has never heard me mention backpacks before. She asked me what I was talking about.

So, I told her a brief overview of what Manna 4 Lempira was. I told her that Manna is a sponsorship program in rural Honduras that focuses on feeding children, making sure they have school shoes & supplies, and teaches them about Jesus. I told her that this organization is able to do all of this for just $15 a month! I also told her that sponsors get to write letters and send goodies to their children every two months and, at the end of each year, sends a backpack full of school supplies, clothing, and small toys to each child, for Christmas.

To top it off, Manna 4 Lempira has recently been running something special, due to kind sponsors that want to sponsor children, but not write letters. This special is that for $15 a month, a sponsor can choose a child to sponsor, as well as choose a child to correspond with. Basically, a two-for-one deal, but that sounds a little odd to say about children, I think.

Well, my friend was very impressed! She recently got a new job and wanted to do something good with her money. My friend is not a Christian, but is definitely interested in helping children eat and succeed in school. She knows that I am a Christian and love to write to sponsored kids. She decide to sponsor one of the children through Manna 4 Lempira (as well as a correspondent) and let me be in charge of writing letters to them!

I showed her photos of the children that were waiting for a sponsor and she chose precious Anthony, who is only 2 years old.



After choosing him, she decided to let me choose the boy that we would have as a correspondent child. I was so excited to be able to choose that I didn't stop smiling the whole day! 

I chose 7 year old Brayan. I love his smile! 



So, in the span of less than a month, I now have four Manna 4 Lempira boys to write to and love on! As well as pack backpacks for (my friend will help me with Anthony and Brayan's backpacks) at the end of the year. 

I am so happy! 

Manna 4 Lempira typically asks sponsors to write letters on the 5th day of every odd month (January, March, May, etc), but I have been told that they will occasionally change up the schedule when opportunity dictates. Usually, sponsors can only send items made out of paper, but will sometimes have special occasions. 

One of those special occasions arrived! 

Instead of letters being due in March, the due date was pushed up to February 15th, due to a courier that is traveling to Honduras. This courier agreed to take mail if the mailing was small. Each child can receive a greeting card with small, flat items inside. 

I sent each of my boys a card with stickers, toy airplanes, and candy. Even though these will be received in March, I chose to write about Valentine's Day, connecting it to how we are able to love others because Jesus first loved us. I told each of my boys that because Jesus loves me very much, I am lead to love them. Of course, I told them that Jesus loves them very much too! 

Another perk of being in this program, for me, is that I can write in Spanish. No, sponsors are not required to write in Spanish, as there are translators working hard to translate each letter, but if sponsors are confident in their Spanish skills (I am fairly confident. I have to look up some tenses every now and then because I am terrible with grammar) they can write and ask to receive letters in Spanish. It's so fun to be able to use my Spanish skills with my Manna boys. 

Here is what I am sending to my boys this time around: 



Ivan's Gifts 



Noel's Gifts 



Anthony and Brayan's Gifts 




Like I said, what a blessing to have these new boys! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Letter Stats: 2016

I usually try to do this post at the end of a year, and not at the beginning of the next year, but I just haven't been able to find the time to sit down and calculate the letters I've been receiving. Better late than never, right?

With Compassion, the magic number (we've all heard it) is 6. If you are a sponsor that writes regularly, your children are supposed to write back every 2 months. That's 6 times a year. While that is the magic number, we all know that that number is rarely hit. I did have a few children this year that met, and even exceed, that number.

Just like in past years, I find that most of my children are in the 3-4 letter range. With the new letter system that was rolled out in April, I did find some delay in letters, but most countries seem to catch up in just a few months. Other countries, like Haiti, seemed to find a hard time getting those letters sent out.

Most (but not all) of the children that you see wrote just 1-2 letters, are kids that I have had for less than a year, so statistically wise, they shouldn't be counted in my year stats, but I can't just leave them out, haha. I also have many children that I haven't heard from at all yet. These are my newest kids and I can't wait to start hearing from them!

My winner this year is Emanuel. He wrote me 7 letters!



I received 6 letters each from Ernest, Jhonerx, Rujikorn, and Sadiya. 



Celeste, Daniel, Jonatan, Kalpesh, Mulwa, and Nikko each wrote me 5 letters. 


I heard from Brenda, Carlos, Carolin, Derrick, Haji, Jose, Lina, Nandini, and Solomon each 4 times. 



I received 3 letters each from Agness, Chintada, Daniel, Eric, Faith, Kwizera, Maria, and Rodrigo. 


I only heard from the following kids 2 times this year: Emanise, Ronaldo, Sandesh, Sevenson, Tamiru, Brian, and Veronika. 




Then my kiddos that wrote me 1 letter each are as follows: Becca, Bilor, Djimitri, Enmanuel, Erick, Gary, Indresh, Dagim, Jhon, Wendjy. 

I have to admit, I was quite surprised to only hear from Jhon one time this year because he was my letter writing winner, last year. Hopefully I hear from him more often in 2017. 



The by month breakdown goes like this: 

January: 10
February: 17
March: 12
April: 7
May: 4
June: 8
July: 6
August: 15 
September: 13
October: 17
November: 19
December: 17

Total: 145


The total amount of letter is significantly lower than last year, even though I have more kids than I've heard had before. I hope that whatever caused the major slowdown this year is fixed and counts will start rising again next year. 

Of course, I am grateful for every single one of those 145 letters. Blessings from wonderful kids around the world! 




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

One Word: 2017

It's that time again, the beginning of a new year, time to think about what I want to accomplish this year. And just as I have done for the past 5 years, I will choose one word to represent the coming year.

Each year, I get a new pair of Converse shoes for Christmas and I connect them with my yearly word. Every time I wear my shoes, I remember my goal for the year. It helps to, literally, wear a reminder on my feet.

Over the last four years, I have chosen the following words: 





Some years have gone better than most. Trust and hope were the most successful years. Last year, I didn't do too well, but am continuing to try to be more and more healthy this year. 

But, this year, I have bigger things on my mind. At the end of the summer, and into the fall, my life will have some big changes, if things go according to plan. I hate to be cryptic, but I am not in the position to reveal any of what these changes will be, except for the fact that I want to move into a bigger place. The first step will be moving out of my current apartment and into a new one. If I can successfully, things will begin to change drastically after that. I promise that I will tell you more as the year goes on. 

However, in order to accomplish all of these plans, I will need quite a bit of money. I earn enough money to fulfill my goals, but I have been terrible at setting money aside, to be used at another time. I'm more like the grasshopper than the ant. :) 

So, my word for 2017 is SAVE. 



The average reader may be confused with my word and the fact that I just took on new sponsorships. How can I save if I spend? 

The truth is, the bible tells us that the more we give to God's children, the more we will be rewarded. I don't want to make it sound like I am giving to charity just to be rewarded, of course. But, I believe that sponsorship children will not prevent me from completing my own goals. I remain hopeful that God will guide me through each of my goals, starting with putting money into my savings account each week. 



Feet, don't fail me now! 





Monday, January 9, 2017

Wendjy Graduates Compassion!

On January 1st, my wonderful young man in Haiti turned 22 years old and graduated from his Compassion program.

Unfortunately, I have not received a letter from Wendjy since last February, so I had no idea what he was up to. However, right after his birthday, I found him on Facebook and now we're friends! He uses an online translator and we were able to communicate quite well!

In past letters, I learned that Wendjy wanted to study medicine, with the hope of becoming an OB/GYN. When I talked to him through Facebook chat, he informed me that he was not able to afford to attend that program right now and is instead studying computer engineering.

At this point, his dream is to finish the program, get a good job, and save up money so that he can go back to school to study medicine. I find his goal so honorable! I hope that he gets to fulfill that dream. I will definitely be talking to him regularly, so I may update about him every once in a while.

Congrats to Wendjy for his success!



Sunday, January 8, 2017

First Letters of 2017!

We're one week into January and I've received three letters, so far. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I am hoping for quite a few more things month. Things are nearing the end, in the update department at Compassion, so there may be delays this month, but I would love to see my monthly numbers a bit higher this year than they were last year. Regardless of how many letters I receive, I will faithfully write to my kiddos, as always. I understand the important of my letters to my children.

First up, I received my very first letter from Nicol! She's just so little and cute. Her mama wrote this letter for her. The letter is written on the My Hobbies and Pets template.

Nicol is 3 years old and lives in Colombia. Her letter was written on December 2nd, 2016.

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1. Some of my hobbies are: Playing at home and playing with my cousins. 
2. I like to share my hobbies with: My mom, my dad, my siblings, and my cousins. 
3. My favorite hobby is: Playing with my dog. 
4. My pet's name is: Toby
5. As a pet, I would like to have: A dog. 

Hello, good morning with much love and gratitude for sponsoring the girl. I tell you that she is very hyperactive and she likes to play with the dog. I sometimes take her to mass and I teach her to pray and to ask for the health of her and her family. Thank you for remembering her birthday. Her family is very well and so is the girl. She sends you kisses and hugs. Proverbs 31:10. 

Claudia

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Next, a fantastic letter from Rujikorn! Each and every letter and drawing from her is like a great treasure for me. I enjoy reading them so much. 

Rujikorn is 12 years old and lives in Thailand. She wrote her letter on December 5th, 2016. 

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Dear Kayla, 

Hello. Thank you so much for sending me the letter and the picture. I have read your letter and I am happy. My family and I are fine. I hope that you and your family are doing well. During this time, it is the time to harvest rice. My parents are hired to work. Some days, they get 200 Baht, or 150 Baht (200 Baht is 5 USD). What is the season in your country? I am glad that I get to attend a summer committee competition in Lampang Province. Please pray for my friends and me in the competition. My second semester has started. I go to school Monday to Friday. I am studying in grade 6. I am going to be a teenager. Thank God for raising me to grow up very well. Please pray for my younger sister and me. My younger sister is studying in grade 3. Her study is good. She was 9th in her class. I was the 3rd in my class. My younger sister likes to study the arts and she likes to play chair ball in the evening after school. She and I like to play sports together. I attend project activities every Saturday. I learn many things. I learn to weave cloth, grow vegetables, and I learn occupational skills too. I enjoy the project activities every Saturday. I enjoy playing with my friends too. I always pray for you and your family. I hope that we will have a chance to meet each other in the future. 

Love and Regards,
Rujikorn 



It's a bit chaotic, but this is chair ball. Really, to me it looks like basketball without dribbling. The "hoops" are baskets held by people standing on chairs. 



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The final letter to share today, a letter from Derrick. In this letter, he answers several of my questions for other letters, as well as share some great information about his life.

Derrick is 14 years old and lives in Uganda. His letter is dated December 5th, 2016

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Dear Kayla, 

How are you my friend, this morning? How are you doing there? I was glad with receiving the letters you sent me. I am happy that you have the children you are taking are of, that are not yours and that they are in preschool. Thank you so much for what you are doing for those children. I am glad to know their favorite games and colors. My favorite game is football and my favorite color is red. I will make sure that at least everyday I pray for them. I will pray that G to change to a good boy at school and for C to keep being a good girl. I pray for their studies. I was glad to receive your card and I also wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year celebrations. I am happy that I am having a good time and it will be nice thinking that your holidays will also be nice. Thank you for My Father's Love Letter that you sent to me, which was really interesting. Thank you for always loving me and telling me how much God loves us. When I read the Father's Love Letter, all of the sentences and verses touched my heart, but what touched me the most was 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 and Revelation 21:3-4. Let's pray for each other. 

Derrick 

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Last Two Letters of 2016

I'm a little slow on the updating around here, but I want to be sure that I post the last two letters that I received last month. I have received three letters, so far, this month, so I will posting those tomorrow.

For now, here are the two letters I received at the end of last month:

I received a very nice letter from Kwizera Yves. My letters with him go back and forth between being generic and being full of details. I think it just depends on how Kwizera is feeling on letter writing day.

I sent Christmas letters to my kids in October, last year. Most of my kids that responded, wrote back in November, thanking me for my Christmas wishes. I will DEFINITELY be writing Christmas letters later this year. It just isn't the same to be told "Merry Christmas" in November.

Kwizera Yves is 11 years olds and lives in Rwanda. His letter was written on November 9th, 2016.

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Beloved Parent, 

Warm greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. My family and I are doing well. We love you and pray for you, that God blesses you abundantly. In Rwanda, we are in the rainy season. We have completed term 3 in school and we are on holidays. I got 64% and I will go to high school next year. We have planted beans. I am glad to see the picture you sent me. I am wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year, 2017. Thank you for the letter you sent me with Christmas wishes. Thanks for the picture you sent about the birth of Jesus Christ. I am so glad with my family. 

Yves 

I looked up what the grading system looks like in Rwanda. With a 64% in his classes, Kwizera Yves has the U.S version of a C+ average. Not bad at all! 

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My very last letter of 2016 came from the lovely Brenda. She is also mentioning Christmas in her letter. It's fun to see that Christmas brings excitement all over the year. 

Brenda is 17 years old and lives in Uganda. Her letter is dated December 7th, 2016.

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Dear Kayla, 

How are you and how are your family members? Back to me, I am okay. The reason that I have written to you this letter is to thank you for the 6 letters you sent to me. I was so happy to be receiving them. They brought me joy that you still remember me. 

I was so happy after receiving the photo of my friend in Jesus Christ, Emanise and I would wish to meet Emanise together with you sometime. I ask you to inform her that I pray for her and ask her to also pray for me. 

I also thank you for the special information of celebrating your grandfather's 80th birthday. I was so surprised that, even in your nation, someone can reach this many years. Thanks be to God and I ask God to protect him for more years. I also rejoice that you saw your family members after such a long period. I enjoy seeing your family photos. 

Through the letters, I also read about God's love and through the verses you sent me I get to know that through God's love, he sent his only son Jesus to die for our sins and not to sin because sinning is bad. 

I was also happy because of your job as a nanny and the children you look after. I was also happy to hear that they started school and I ask the Lord to continue helping them in their studies. I ask the Lord to continue giving you the love of children. 

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year 2017, as you wished it to me. I liked the verse you gave to me, it was encouraging. Thank you and may God bless you! 

Brenda

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Letters to My Kids: December 2016

Last month, I wrote two letters to all of my children. My older kids (12+) also received a 3rd letter. That is quite a busy letter writing month for me!

At the beginning of the month, I felt moved to tell my older kids about one of my favorite parables: The Parable of the Dry Bones. I became a Christian when I was in high school, but didn't really do too much studying of the bible during those years. My freshman year of college, I took a class called Intro to the Bible. It was, essentially, the bible from a non-christian view, but it was fascinating! I loved hearing the history behind the bible, following maps along the route that Jesus was thought to travel, and studying various stories. It was during that class that I heard the Parable of the Dry Bones. There was something just so amazing to me about dead things coming to life. I actually got teary eyed and played it off as a big yawn, so I didn't embarrass myself in class. It is a story that I think of often.

Last month, I heard the story told again on the local Christian radio station, with a new spin on it. I was so moved that I decided to share it with some of my kids. I decided not to share it with my younger kids because the image of a pile of skeletons growing muscles and skin and forming an army is a bit of a scary image.



A few months ago, I attended a concert of my favorite worship band; Rend Collective Experiment. If you haven't heard of this band, it's a folk band from Ireland who sought to find a way to make worship a fun, dance-y, whole body experience. Their concerts are some of my favorite ways to worship. I jump up and down, sing at the top of my lungs, dance, raise my arms, and just worship. This is my second time seeing the band live. This time, it was part of a Compassion event, so before the event, during intermission, and after the event, I helped people sign up to sponsor children. While the band was performing, the other Compassion volunteers told me it was okay for me to go worship with the band. The awesome part about volunteering with Compassion at concerts, besides finding sponsors for kids, is the fact that you get to attend the concert for free. 

The last time I saw Rend Collective in concert, I wrote about it to my kids, posting photos of the band, and sharing bits and pieces of my favorite songs. This letter is literally just a list of lyric quotes that I love. I can only hope that my sponsored kiddos read a lyric or two that inspires them. 

Plus seriously, the photos are fun! There were bubbles and confetti! 



Lastly, I wrote to my kids how how I celebrated Christmas with my family. The letter was basically just a retelling of past letters, our Christmas traditions remain the same. Baking cookies, eating dinner, playing games, listening to Christmas music, and opening gifts. The main point of this letter was to send updated photos of my family members. And with Compassion's new ability to attach two extra pages of photos, I was able to send more than usual!