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Friday, September 22, 2017

From the Field Friday: Kenya

I have shared many of these letters over the past few months and I still have tons to send, but something about today's letter really struck me. In all letters, we are forced to see some of the worst things in our world; lack of clean water, abuse, gangs recruiting children, lack of education, etc. Then we get to see how Compassion is tackling these issues head on. I guess it has taken me three months to realize it, but it is Satan who is spreading so much hate and lies in these developing nations and their poorest communities. Compassion is standing against Satan and taking on these lies. They are changing these countries, from the inside out, through the children. The children are carrying God into and through their countries. Change is happening!

Today we hear from the man heading up the program in Kenya.

I have a whole slew of children in Kenya; Baraka, Brian, Lemayian, Faith, Hillary, Mulwa, Muuo, and Tumbu.









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Dear Kayla, 

My name is Joel Macharia, country director of Compassion International in Kenya. Compassion has been in Kenya since 1980. We partner with about 375 local churches, serving 108,000 babies, children, and youth. 


Joel Macharia with some Compassion Children


Thank you for your support and care for your sponsored children. Though sponsors' support, children attend school, learn to make good health choices, receive medical attention, find a safe place to play, build healthy relationships, gain essential life skills, discover and build their talents, and encounter the life-transforming message of the Bible. Compassion children receive learning materials, desks, school uniforms, and remedial tutoring. At child development centers in their communities, they find caring adults who encourage, support, and guide them. We invest to provide access to safe drinking water, sanitation, solar lighting, and treated bed nets, among other initiatives. 


Teenagers Studying at Their Compassion Project 


Children are often at risk of emotional, physical, and other forms of abuse or neglect, including early marriages. We work to prevent and deal with abuse through training and establishing robust processes. 


Terrible Living Conditions Often Lead to Abuse Situations


About 70 percent of our children live in rural communities that largely depend on small-scale subsistence farming and keeping animals, about 30 percent live in urban slums. In rural areas, families struggle to find enough food and water when rains fail. In impoverished urban areas, people live with poor or nonexistent sanitation, bad housing, high unemployment, predatory pricing, and violent. Often families are dysfunctional, and many people are too absorbed in their own struggles to notice or care for others. Public schools tend to have fewer teachers than needed, inadequate learning materials, inadequate or poorly maintained infrastructure, and high teacher absenteeism. 


An Urban Slum in Kenya


We continue to work at changing families' mindset from victims to thinking like empowered Christians. Discipleship is at the heart of forming this worldview. We want people to envision a better future and take the necessary action to overcome the odds and hold them. 


Children Sing Worship Songs in Their Compassion Classroom


Recently, we encountered a single mom who had lost both hands in a past abusive marriage. She and her child were in great distress. When the child was registered in the center, she was malnourished and sick. She received needed nutrition and medical support and now shows remarkable improvement. The mom was connected to a local women's group, where she has received needed support, including free legal services. 

Our church partners are an important center of community life. They run discipleship programs for different group and teach people how to improve their economic prospects. Some churches run their own school, health clinics, and vocational training. We empower church leaders to collaborate to address issues affecting their communities. 


Children Learn in Project-Run School


When a child gets a sponsor, it is a very special cause for celebration. It deeply affirms the child as unique and valued. Children long to connect with the sponsor to express gratitude and build the relationship. Receiving a letter, photo, or car from the sponsor encourages them and reinforces their feeling of being loved. While it's delightful to receive sponsor letters, some don't get them, and they wonder why. We encourage them to keep communicating, but they find it hard when the sponsor is quiet. Please write your children as often as possible. 


A Child Reads a Letter from Her Sponsor 


Thank you again for your friendship and support for your sponsored children. We say in Africa that it takes a village to raise a child. Our child-raising village is incomplete without you. Please pray that all our children will live to fulfill their God-given potential. 

Warm Regards and Every Blessing,
Joel Macharia

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Monday, September 18, 2017

New Photo + Two Letters

After not hearing from Ernest, so far, this entire year, I have struck gold!

Fist of all, I received a new photo of him!



Then I received two letters from him. From past experiences, Ernest's letters aren't what you would call "amazing", but I will continue hoping that he will start writing on his own someday and then I will start to hear more details. His tutors at the project seem to basically write the same letter over and over again, which I can honestly understand, since they are helping hundreds of children write letters on any given letter writing day. 

His drawings are always great, though! 

Ernest is 11 years old and lives in Ghana. This first letter is dated July 8th, 2017. 

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Dear Kayla, 

Ernest thanks you for your sponsorship and letters. In school, he has learnt about hygiene. He wants you to pray for him, that God will give him protection. He prays for you that God will make you strong. He shares Ezekiel 20:15, "Do not steal." 



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This second letter is dated September 8th, 2017. 

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Dear Kayla, 

Ernest says may God bless you for your support and prayers. He says he has been promoted to the next class. He says he and his family are doing well. He says pray to God to grant him wisdom. He says may God richly bless you. He shares Matthew 6:11, "Gives us today our daily bread." 


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Friday, September 15, 2017

From the Field Friday: Indonesia

Several weeks ago, we heard the letter from the same country as we will hear today. However, due to Indonesia being SO widespread with SO many islands, it has been split in half, in Indonesia and East Indonesia.

Today, we'll hear from the country director of Indonesia.

I currently have one sweet girl from Indonesia; Airin.


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Dear Kayla, 

I am Sarah Jeanin Rahardja, Compassion Indonesia country director. This is my 15th year working with Compassion. Compassion Indonesia started its ministry in 1984. Today, we minister to almost 70,000 children, nearly 800 mothers and babies in the survival program, and 87 LDP students through more than 315 church partners. 


Sarah Jeanin Rahardja


Thank you for your commitment, love, and contribution to Airin. You have changed everything for your child. Sponsors' financial support not only provides school tuition, healthy meals, and medical intervention, but it gives the children confidence, since they know they are loved, known, and protected. 


A Poor Urban Neighborhood in Indonesia


In Indonesia, 13.8 million children live below the poverty line. Children who live in rural eastern Indonesia have more disadvantages in access to clean water, schools, and health care. However, children in western Indonesia have their own disadvantages due to the concentration of population. In Indonesia, increasing numbers of parents must work outside their village or even out of the country. Only 10 percent of children see both their parents daily, and 20 percent do not see either of their parents. 


A Boy in His Home 


One of our focuses for the coming year is youth development, which will provide programs and opportunities for youth to be disciples, develop their leadership, and develop their interests and talents to become self-sufficient. We are also expanding our ministry to more extreme-poverty areas. This year, we will expand into Alor Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, and North Sumatra. 


Children Enjoy a Meal at Their Project


Last year, we implemented Qavah, a method to empower church partner. We help church partners to identify their resources instead of identifying their needs. The process has a significant result when church partners start to access resources around them and mobilize their communities to respond to their own needs. Church partners have been able to mobilize communities to build toilets or bridges and clean the streets. We used a similar process with youth, and they came up with some great ideas and programs; empowering youth also helped the church partners maintain youth participation at the child development centers. In one center, the youth developed a program to pick up the younger children and serve them during the activities at the center. 


A Market in Urban Indonesia


Children value their relationship wit their sponsors. They not only appreciate the financial support, but especially the sponsor letters. Some children study harder because of encouragement from their sponsors in letters. Some children feel valuable because their sponsors say they pray for them and love them and some children meet Christ through sponsor letters. Through letters, children feel the love and attention that some of them cannot get from their parents, who are too busy to meet their needs. Please write as often as you can. 


Children Writing Letters to Their Sponsors


These achievements in children's lives could not happen without sponsors' supports and commitment. You play an important role. Through the relationship between sponsor and child, two different people from different countries, different languages, and different cultures can know each other and see the kingdom of God in wider perspective. The sponsor-child relationship is not limited by program, but it is a lifelong relationship. I am thankful to be your co-worker in this most effective ministry is bring children to rise from poverty and to know Jesus. 


A Happy, Healthy, Sponsored Boy Outside His Home


I humbly ask you to pray that we can have the courage and commitment to do our best; also pray for the process of expanding our ministry to more impoverished areas in Indonesia. 

Please let me express my gratitude again for your commitment, love, and heart for Airin. May God bless you abundantly. 

In Jesus, 
Sarah Jeanin Rahardja

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Super Letter from Nicol!

Every once in awhile, you get those amazing letters, those letters where it is very clear that children and/or their tutors went well above and beyond the call of duty while writing letters. I call these letters Super Letters, and rightfully so. This letter today from Nicol fits that bill to a T.

At only 4 years old, the effort on this letter goes to her teacher, who helped her to write every word. Not only did they fill out the typical template letter, but it has two extra pages answering every question I think I've ever asked Nicol, over the last year. It seems they have been saving them up to answer all at once.

It's definitely a treat to learn so much about Nicol at once!

All of these lovely answers came from Colombia and were written on July 25th, 2017. The first part of the letter is the My Friends template.

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1. Some of my friends are: Jorge, Camilo, Michel, Cristian, Erika, David. 

2. My best friend is: David

3. I met my best friend at: Home 

4. When I am with my friends, I like to go to: The river & the park 

5. My favorite activity to do with my friends is: Play, ride bikes, skate. 

6. I like to have friends because: I like to spend time with them. 

Hello Dear Kayla,

The child's teacher writes to you because Nicol cannot. I let you know that Nicol and her family and her sister are fine. She says she is very glad because she learned to ride a bike. She is happy to know of her friend Tern and is praying for him and his family. We share Psalm 20:1-5. With regards to your questions: 

1. She says that going to the park makes her happy. She also loves animals and dogs. 

2. She also lets you know that when she is sad, she likes to be pampered by her mother. 

3. She says that she is afraid of the dark and lightning storms. 

4. The child says she does not play any instruments. 

5. She says she looks the most like her dad. 

6. She is sure that when she grows up, she wants to be a doctor, to give people injections. 

7. She can't write yet, but she most uses her right hand. 

8. Nicol's chores are to put away her toys and shoes. 

9. The things she likes to do the most is ride a bike, skateboard, and play with her family. 

10. Her favorite animal is a cat. 

11. Her favorite color is red. 

12. Her favorite food is grilled beef. 

She said her mom read the Bible verse you sent and she liked it very much. She thanks you for the beautiful words and she is glad to be your friend. She also likes to let you know that she likes to draw and color. 

She also says that it is nice to be a princess, a child of God. She says that the features of a princess of God are love, respect, humility, and kindness. She lets you know that at the project, they teach her about the word of God. She is happy to attend the project. She says where she lives, it is currently winter, sometimes it is sunny and sometimes it is rainy. The climate here is temperate. She thanks you for telling her about the children you take care of. They are very cute. She says next year, she is going to start school and she says she is excited to meet a lot of children. Nicol says goodbye with a big hug and send you a lot of kisses. 

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Manna 4 Lempira: Dia Del Niño

It was another eventful day in rural Honduras! On this past Sunday, September 10th, in Honduras, the country celebrated Dia Del Niño, which translates to Children's Day. How great of a holiday is that?! I wish we celebrated this holiday in the United States. From what I understand, it's just a holiday to celebrate kids, to remind them that they are amazing, and to let them have fun!

Well, the Manna 4 Lempira churches threw some pretty rocking parties to celebrate this day. There was candy bags, dancing, singing, worshiping, balloons, relay races, cake, pinatas, and just all around joy!










Sunday, September 10, 2017

Letters to My Kids: July & August 2017

As you can see, I'm a little bit behind on sharing the letters I've been writing to my kids. I'm still on the one letter per month rate, as I have been lately. I keep hoping to get back up to two letters a month again, but it hasn't happened yet. I figure one is better than none, right?

In July, life happenings were pretty slow for me, so I made up another list of questions to ask my kids. I have had great success with asking lists of questions. I really get kids to answer them and it's great! I think it helps that I also answers the questions I ask, to tell the kids more about me.




In August, I, like many other people around the country, viewed the solar eclipse. Where I live in the country, we had about 90% cover, so I wasn't able to take any great photos of it myself, but the internet is a wonderful thing! I found some pretty cool photos and even one with a Bible verse on it. It was fun to share my experience of viewing the eclipse with my kids! And photos with those viewing glasses sure were fun to take! 





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Saturday, September 9, 2017

More Letters with Pretty Artwork

There is just something extra special about a drawing created by the work of my sponsored children's hands. I just love them so much.

First up, a letter from Ayling, who is 11 years old and lives in Nicaragua. She always writes letters with such great details about her life. She also always asks questions, which makes replying to her letters, and carrying on a conversation, very easy.

I am really in love with this letter, especially the drawing. There are studies done among young children and they have been done all over the world. There is a common among children, regardless of gender, socio-economic status, language, or country. Children that are healthy and well-adjusted commonly draw the same thing when given free space to draw. The draw a basic house, a tree, and a sun in the sky. Children that have been displaced or come from war-torn nations don't draw these things. 

Seriously. Look it up! It's amazing. 

Her letter is dated August 7th, 2017.

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Hello Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

I am happy to be in the project, and for having you as a sponsor, and also for your letters. My family and I are doing well. I also do well at school, In the afternoons, when I do not have classes at the project, I play with my friends and cousins. I enjoy learning Bible stories and I share them with my friends. I went to Salvador Allende Park with my mother in Managua. That place has changed a lot. How is your health? How are you? I wish you the best. I always pray for God to pour his blessings on you. Please pray for me and send more pictures. I say goodbye with love, hugs, and kisses. 

Fondly,
Ayling



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As others have sent me recently, I have received a My Typical Week letter template from another one of my Kenyan cuties. This time, from Baraka. He is 8 years old.

His letter is dated August 10th, 2017.

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1. I usually wake up at: 7:00 a.m

2. In the morning, I normally: Pray 

3. The days I attend school are: Monday-Friday

4. The name of my school is: Ndungumi Primary School

5. In the afternoon, I usually: Do my homework 

6. In the evening, I normally: Help my Parents  

7. I go to the project on: Saturday 

8. I typically go to sleep at: 7:00 p.m 

9. My favorite day of the week is: Saturday because I attend the project program.

10. The day I go to church is: Sunday 

11. The name of my church is: Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA)

Baraka greets you in the name of Jesus. He says he is doing well and appreciates your letter. He thanks you for your support. He wishes you God's blessing. 


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Remember when I talked about drawings of happy children (sure you do, it just happened)? Well, here is another one. :) 

It absolutely warms my heart to see my Daniel draw such a happy drawing. He even included a rainbow! Combined with his description of life, my heart is melting. 

Daniel is 7 years old and lives in Ecuador. His letter is dated June 22nd, 2017. 

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Dear Kayla, 

The weather currently where I live is sunny. My favorite weather is rainy because it's a happy day. On my birthday, the weather usually gets hot. I want to thank you for everything you do for me. At Christmas time, the weather is usually sunny. I also want to say that life is beautiful and there is love. I love you. Please pray for me, my siblings, and my mom and dad. 

Written By,
Daniel


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To end, a wonderfully long letter from Celeste. Since I first sponsored her, she has drawn me butterflies in every letter. Even though she has grown into a young lady now, it's good to see some things stay consistent. 

Celeste is 15 years old and is from Honduras. She wrote her letter on August 10th, 2017.

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Hello Dear and Beautiful Sponsor Kayla, 

I hope you and your family are doing well. It is a pleasure that your children have finished their school year and they are on vacation. They can learn many new things. Your children look very beautiful in the photos. They are very cute. I thank God that Chloe can celebrate another year of life. I wish her to have many more years filled with blessings. I hope you have good weather for them to play. I tell you that I am in 8th grade and the educational system in my country works like this: 3 years of preschool, elementary is from 1st-9th grade, and then high school is three years, 10th-12th. After that is University. I will pray the Lord that you can move to a new and better place. I haven't had the habit of saving money yet, but I will do it when I can work. One of my goals is to have success in the school year. My older sister graduated from University and is now working. My brother is studying for a Bachelor's. Your verse is very pretty. One of the greatest surprises I have is to have all of my family gathered together. I say goodbye with many hugs and kisses, though distance, with much love. 

Celeste 


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