Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Word: 2015

For the past three years, I've been part of the One Word movement. That is, instead of making a list of resolutions that you'll never keep for the new year, you choose one word to follow. One word to focus on for 365 days. The plan is that by the end of the year, you will have learned something about that one word.

Also for the past three years, I've connected my one word with a pair of shoes. Every Christmas, it is a tradition that I receive a new pair of Chuck Taylors. I use these shoes as a reminder of my one word. Every time I wear these shoes (so, everyday), I am reminded of the word I chose. In the past, I've had:

Cranberry shoes for Patience

Red shoes for Trust

Purple shoes for Breathe

Unfortunately, my word for 2014, Breathe, was not a very big success. 

I'm going to be honest with you, there weren't too many moments in 2014 that I would count as a success. It's been a really tough year. 

Early in the year, my cat, that I had for 18 years, died. 

I was in the mechanic to repair something on my car every month of the year. It cost me a TON of money. I'm talking, I completely emptied my bank account, including the savings, I borrowed over $1,000 from my mom (which I haven't been able to pay back), and I took out and completely maxed out a credit card from my bank. 

I worked as many hours as I possibly could (usually more than 50 hours a week) and I still couldn't make ends meet to pay off credit card debt, pay back my family, pay all my bills, and still get everyday expenses in check. This, sadly, resulted in cancelled sponsorships, to to try to get a little bit more breathing room. Yes, it has helped a little bit, but with the Christmas season upon us, I've been absolutely broke. When most people say they're broke, they don't really mean it. They mean it in a "I can't go out to dinner at that restaurant today because I have to buy this instead" or "I don't really want to go see that movie, so I'm going to say I'm broke." 

This year, I have experienced "broke" for real. Moments when I have to pay $10 to put gas in my car so I can get to work, as opposed to buying food. Moments when I use my weekly paycheck to pay bills and the money is completely gone the very same day that I was paid. Moments when I have been in tears, sitting on my couch, praying that my bank account doesn't go into the negative, because the bank charging me a $40 overdraft fee is going to literally ruin the month. 

Then, to top it all off, a couple days before Thanksgiving, somebody breaks into my apartment and steals my laptop, the only thing of value that I owned. 

It's really been rather hopeless

So, for 2015, my word needs to be HOPE. 

I'm not sure exactly what that is going to entail, but I know that my soul needs hope. I need to know that things get better. 

I need to know that fighting the temptation to simply cancel all of my sponsored children was for a reason. I truly believe that I am supposed to put my money into the sponsoring of these children, even in such difficult times. 

I need know the hope of a better life, that even if I continue to struggle, that there is a God is loves me very much. That someday, I will get to spend eternity in heaven, where there will be no more fears, no more tears, and no more struggle. 

I am going to continue to pray for hope, for God to show me his plan, as he sees fits. 

Hope is coming, I can feel it. These shoes are going to walk me into hope: 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Letters to My Kids: October, November, December 2014

It seems that I have gotten a little behind on sharing my letter writing with you. I have been keeping up with my writing, but I have not been keeping up with my blogging about those letters.

So, I will share with you the letters that sent to my kiddos each month. I sent one each month to all of my kids, plus every single one of my children have gotten a handwritten response letter to letters that they have sent me during the last three months, as well. Some of the kids even have gotten two. All of the letters that I share today, were sent by email to all of kids, both Compassion and World Vision. However, Compassion has fun templates, so I will share with you a screenshot of the letters. I will just share the front page, to give you an idea of the topic.

In October, I wrote to my kids about my best friend's wedding. I was in the wedding, as a bridesmaid, so I shared that with them. I wrote about some of the things that happened during the wedding and about some of the details of the reception afterward. Of course, I attached photos of the beautiful day, as well.

In November, the boy that I nanny for turned 3 years old. He had a party at Chuckie Cheese for his family and family friends. I told them about how Chuckie Cheese is an arcade and how we ate pizza and played many games. 

This month, there was a giant Christmas concert at my church. My church hosted and invited three other churches from the community, to come and sing, dance, and worship together. It was a great event and I thought the kids would have a great time hearing about it! 

So there you have it, my letters from the last three months. What did you write about in October, November, and December? I would love to hear about your topics, and maybe get some ideas for myself! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Hello, everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas with your families! In my family, we have always celebrated everything on Christmas Eve, so for me, last night was full of fun! I worked all day with my nanny kiddos and then I headed straight to church to do some more work. Typically, I don't work at church on Christmas Eve, but I couldn't get enough people to sign up to work for the 5:00 service. As the child care director, I have to fill in any empty spots that we have. Responsibility, right? Thankfully, the other services were covered, staff wise, so I was off to see my family at 6:00.

The rest of the night was full of Christmas Eve fun, we ordered pizza for dinner (like always), we frosted cookies, we played a Christmas carols trivia game (I won!), and we opened gifts. I got a few things that I needed and a few things that I wanted, so I call that a success!

I want to share some Christmas joy with you from World Vision Sierra Leone. The Ebola crisis there is still in full swing and many people are still sick and continuing to get sick. Many heads of households have died and others continue to suffer. Due to this, many families have no income coming in and no way to buy food. World Vision responded by giving people cooking oil and food to support their families. Now that is celebrating Christmas, isn't it?!

These great photos were posted on the World Vision Sierra Leone Facebook page:

Volunteers helping to pass out the food

Many families came, lined up, and waited to receive food. 

People gathered around after receiving their oil and food

This photo came with this caption: 

75-year-old Koni Gbindi was starving for long. Now that she has gotten her food items, she can’t let her 5 litres of oil off her grip. "It’s been months without food in this village. I don’t even know what to say to World Vision. These items are hard to come by presently. So I am handling them with care."

Merry Christmas to you and your family! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Three Letter Saturday!

Every day with a letter is a good day in my book. Three letters in one day? Party!

Kwizera is usually not my most open letter writer, but seems to be making progress. This letter was very sweet.

Kwizera is 10 years and lives in Rwanda. His letter is not dated.


Dear Kayla,

My beloved parent, Kayla. I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ! I was happy to receive the letter you sent to me. You ask me about my father. My father stays with my mother. He is taking medicine and we are praying for him to be okay. (His dad has some sort of scar on his neck. I've seen it in a picture that they've sent. I'm not sure if it's from a burn, or a sickness, or what, but it seems to cause his dad daily pain.) He needs a lot of money to take to the hospital to get treatment. I study in primary 4 and I will be promoted to primary 5. I like sports. We are in the rainy season. I love you so much and I always pray for you. I thank you for the letter you sent to me and my family. We are very happy!

Kwizera Yves


Letters from Jhon are always a treat. He's a great young man. 

Jhon is 15 years old and lives in Bolivia. He wrote this letter on October 27th, 2014. 


Hello Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

I greet you with the peace of the Lord. Thank you for the letters you sent me, for the stickers and the photo too. You look beautiful. I tell you that I will finish school soon and my final exams are music and P.E. In music all my course has to dance and in P.E we have to do pyramids. The other subjects are just exams. My favorite color is red. My family and I are doing fine. I am doing well in my studies. I tell you that I will travel to visit my uncles. My favorite sport is soccer. On weekends I like to play and listen to music. In the afternoon, I go to the park. I want to share a bible verse with you. Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." I say goodbye with the peace of the Lord and hope he blesses you. 

Much Love,

I ask you to pray for me and for my family and for the other people who do not have anything to eat or a house. 


Then, I also received a letter from Emanuel. We are just getting to know each other, but he seems be quite the writer. It had been over four months since his last letter, so I was glad to hear from him again. 

Emanuel is 18 years old and lives in Tanzania. He wrote this letter on October 11th, 2014. 


Dear Kayla, 

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. My family and I are going on well. It's my hope that you are fine and healthy. Thanks for your lovely letters and stickers, which you sent to me. I was happy with it. In your letter you asked what I have learned. At the project, I learned lots of things about poverty, its insufficient in needs including food, clothes, bedding, and insufficient work and having time management. Also in another letter you asked if a child removes a tooth, what are we going to do. At our place, we normally tell them to throw the tooth on the roof and the wizard will come and eat it! Then he gives the new one as a gift. I want to ask you a question. Do you like doing exercises? Which ones? Also, I would like to pray that you have a good life. May God give you long life. 



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fun Christmas Survey

Do you remember the days of fun surveys that people would post and tag other bloggers/social media peeps to also complete?

Well, I do! And I used to fill out as many of those as I could. I would also create a great many of them. Since it's been about a week since I last posted, I decided to create a fun Christmas survey, to share a little bit about how I celebrate/enjoy the Christmas season.

I tag all of my readers to post the same survey on their blog. If you don't feel like putting it in your blog, you could put it in my comment section. I would love to learn more about what Christmas is like for you.

1. When do you decorate your home for Christmas?  

Usually the day before or after Thanksgiving, depending on what day I have more time.

2. What are your three favorite Christmas songs? 

Sleigh Ride (Instrumental Version), Joseph's Lullaby, and Little Drummer Boy

3. What are your three favorite Christmas movies? 

Polar Express, It's a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

4. What foods do you indulge in during the Christmas season? 

Chocolate covered cherries, shortbread cookies, and candy canes.

5. Christmas Lights: White or Colored? 

Colorful lights all the way!

6. What are your go-to Christmas decorations? 

Christmas tree, nativity scene, Precious moments figurines.

7. What is the best Christmas gift you've ever received? 

When I was 7 years old, my parents bought me a tiny, orange kitten. That cat and I were best friends for 18 years. He passed away this year. I know people discourage buying pets for Christmas gifts, but I highly recommend it, if the people really want the pet and they intend to care for it.

8. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? 

When my sister and I were younger, we opened presents from family members on Christmas Eve and presents from Santa on Christmas morning. When we got older, we did everything on Christmas Eve.

9. Do you do stockings in your family? 

When I was little, we did not do stockings. When my mom remarried my step-dad, and my stepsister joined our family, they brought the tradition of stockings with them.

10. What's on your Christmas list this year? 

I asked for new shoes, Starbucks gift cards, new clothes, and a waterfall/fountain for my bedroom. I sleep with the white noise and my current one is on the fritz.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Three More Letters to Share

December sure is shaping up to be a great month for mail. Well, almost every month this year has been great for letters, let's be honest. Writing to all of these kids sure is a blessing.

Today, I received three more letters from three great kiddos.

We'll start with little Caleb. Caleb doesn't yet write for himself, but you can tell that his tutor really takes into account what Caleb wants to say. He seems to have a great personality. This letter was about his friends.

Caleb is 7 years old and lives in Colombia. This letter was written on October 10th, 2014.


Greeting: I, Caleb, send special greetings to you. This letter is written by Paola, my tutor. 

I have 4 friends at the CDC

Their names are: Daniel, Santiago, Jhonatan, and Daniel Morera. 

My friends are special because: He's able to play with them

My favorite things to do with my friends at the CDC are: Playing a lot with his classmates and drawing the handouts they give at the project. 

Jesus is my friend because: He loves him, takes care of him, and because He has protected him at all times. 

For me, the meaning of friendship is: Playing and sharing time with his classmates, as well as being kind to each other. 

Dear Miss Kayla, I write this letter to you because Caleb does not write legibly yet. The child is doing fine, thanks to God. He has seen the photos you sent him and his face was filled with so much happiness. He says that the children are having so much swimming in such a beautiful river. (I sent him photos of kids swimming in the lake at summer camp) He says that he would like to swim in a river, same as they did. He says that he has heard about camps, but for old people, not for children. About the fantastic story you told him about teeth and the tooth fairy, he says that his classmates put the lost tooth under the pillow and a mouse named Perez takes it and leaves a coin. He dedicates the following Bible verse to you: Psalms 67:1. May God bless you. 


Next up, a letter from Khushi. She must have had a lot to say in this letter because she completely skipped a greeting. She just jumped right into talking about her school. Girls got things to say!

Khushi is 11 years old and lives in India. This letter was written on September 16th, 2014. Letters take awhile to get to me from her, because she lives in a remote village in the Himalayan Mountains.


How my school timing is 9:00 a.m to 3:30 p.m. It's longer, but I don't mind. I like to learn stories, history, and science. I also get to play badminton and jump rope and some other ball games. We have a small, good ground at our project center. I like to be with my friends there. A few days ago, I took part in a program called "Child Leadership Training" at my project. I learnt some good things that encouraged me to be a leader. I also participated in a rally that we took through our village. I was an "Anti Alcohol" rally. We many children of our project went to different places and gave a message to the community regarding "anti alcohol". People were impressed and supported us for this work. Many families are worried because men in their families drink and make problems at home. Please pray for them. 

Friend, thank you so much for your love and support. I love you too and miss you very much. I am very happy being part of your life. I am praying for you too. You are a great blessing and are meant for me. 



Lastly, a letter from Derrick. It looks like his financial sponsor sent him a financial gift for his birthday. I am so happy when financial sponsors do this because I simply can't afford to send a birthday gift to every one of the children that I write to. 

Derrick is 11 years old and lives in Uganda. He wrote this letter on October 20th, 014. 


Dear Kayla, 

I am glad to be writing to you this letter. My morning is good and I am also doing better. We had rain yesterday and today, the morning is cold. My family is okay and we always talk about you and keep trusting God that one day we will meet you. My term three is still going on and I am busy with school work. I hope for good grades to be promoted to primary six. Keep me in your prayers. Thank you for my birthday gift. God bless you. I bought a piglet, a hen, a pair of bed sheets, and rice. I am so happy and grateful. My family family says thank you, as well. Kayla, let me end here and go ahead to my class. Bye for now. 



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lovely Info All Around

Today, I received two more letters; a first letter from Nandini and a great letter from Alexander. As usual, I will share them with you.

First up, my very first letter from Nandini. The letter was addressed to her financial sponsor, as it was written before I became her correspondent. Since it was transferred to me, looks like her letters will be addressed to me from now on. Nandini also included a lovely drawing of butterflies and flowers. It looks like she spent a lot of time on it. Actually, now that I think of it, it reminds me of a picture that Celeste would draw for me.

Nandini is 9 years old and lives in India. She wrote this letter on October 16th, 2014.


Dear (financial sponsor's name),

Greetings to you in the sweet name of our Lord Jesus. I am fine here. How are you? Thank you very much for your love, prayers, and support. We had a VBS program in our center. We learned songs, dances, and teaching about Jesus. We had a World Water Day Awareness program. We also had an awareness day about malaria disease. I am regularly going to school. I like very much the rose flowers. What flower do you like? My favorite bird is the peacock. Please pray for my bright future. 

Your Loving Child, 


Now, a letter from Alexander. I like learning more about this great, young man. He told me some great things in this letter and drew me a great picture. I think he drew me a picture of the street that his church/project is on. Just my guess. 

Alexander is 13 years old and lives in Honduras. He wrote this letter on October 13th, 2014. 


Hello Sponsor Kayla, 

I'm glad to be writing to you again. I'm always praying for you. The games that I like are the mechanic games, the Chicago Wheel, and the bumping cars, games that they take to a traditional fair. For now, I want to finish middle school and get in high school. Let me tell you that I like writing to you. I thank you for the letter that you sent me and the photograph. They are really pretty. I like playing with my friends. When I'm outside, I like playing ball and when I'm inside, I like to play with my brother. A sport that I enjoy playing is football. I want to ask you how you get along with your friends? I always ask you to pray for my studies. I say goodbye with hugs and kisses. 



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jhon's Updated Photo!

I am at the 18 month mark, or more, for several of my children and more will be added to the list over the next few months. You should be seeing a lot of posts like this in the coming months, so get excited!

On Friday, I received Jhon's new photo. His info isn't updated yet, so I don't have that to share with you, but you get to see the fun photos, watching Jhon grow up.

Jhon is from Bolivia and will turn 16 years old in February.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Gift Photo From Abu!

Whew! It took a lot of work to get this photo!

I sent Abu some gift money back in March. World Vision guarantees a photo with each financial gift and it usually doesn't take more than four months to get a photo from Sierra Leone. However, World Vision asks sponsors to wait six months before inquiring. With all of the craziness of Ebola going on in Sierra Leone, I figured it would take awhile. However, by the end of October, I still hadn't heard anything so I had WV put in an inquiry about what was going on.

On Thursday, I received an email from World Vision, containing a picture and a letter of what Abu was able to buy with the money I sent. The letter also explained why there was a delay. When I send money to Abu, the money goes through World Vision, into a local bank, where Abu's grandfather has an account. World Vision staff then escort Abu and his grandfather to the bank to pick up the money. However, for five months, Abu's grandfather was seriously ill and even ended up in the hospital. Because of this, he was not able to go to the bank. Abu's grandfather recovered and a trip to the bank was made.

Abu was able to buy a goat, a lamb, a school backpack, a duffel bag for sports, and the remaining money was used to pay off some of Abu's grandfather's hospital bill. I'd say this gift went a long way!

I also got a wonderful photo! I decided to add it with other photos I have of Abu, into a collage, so you can see this sweet boy grow and change over the years.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Five Lovely Indian Kids Waiting for a Sponsor

I have sponsored kiddos in six different projects in India. Right now, there are kids waiting for a sponsor at four of those projects. That's a lot! I absolutely love my sponsored kiddos in India. All four of these projects are doing great things for the kids and their families. Plus, I get great letters from the kids at these projects, every two months, just like clockwork. If you sponsored one of the kids, you'd find that same great joy!

First up is the lovely Raveena. She attends project IN-389, the same as my little Solomon. Solomon still writes on form letters, but his tutor always includes a long, loving message. I'm sure you get the same lovely letters from Raveena. 

Raveena is 18 years old. Her birthday is May 17th. She is in high school and has above average performance! She lives with her parents and two siblings. She enjoys reading and playing group games. 

This cutie's name is Aditya. He attends IN-866, the same project as my Sandesh. This project is located in a very large, very filthy slum. When the project first opened, many of the children were malnourished and most of the families didn't know the ages or birthdays of their children. It's a very poor, uneducated area. Compassion is doing great things here. 

Aditya is 7 years old. His birthday is May 25th. In school, he has average performance. He makes his home with his parents and one sibling. His favorite activities are playing hide and seek, running, and playing marbles. 

This tiny guy is Govind. He attends project IN-964, the same as my girl Sadiya. This project is also located in a slum. The community is very dirty and, as you can see in the background of his picture, there are often piles of bricks, rocks, and trash everywhere. Families here typically have a very hard time finding food. Compassion provides nutritious food at the project and nutrition supplements for at home. 

Govind is 5 years old. His birthday is August 7th. He is in kindergarten and doing well. He lives with his grandfather, his mother, and one sibling. He enjoys playing hide and seek and doing arts and crafts. 

Last up, is handsome Ankush. He attends project IN-967, the same project my girl Khushi attends. This project is located in a small, very poor village that is located in the Himalayan Mountains. The weather drops below freezing in the winter and most families don't have proper ways to keep warm. Compassion is a huge asset to this community. 

Ankush is 11 years old. His birthday is August 21st, He attends middle school and has average performance. He lives with his parents and two siblings. For fun, Ankush likes art, walking, and playing ball games. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Full Mailbox to Start December

Today I was happy to find four lovely letter in my mailbox. Gotta love seeing the flash of Compassion cream envelopes. I'll post the letters in age order.

First up, a letter from Solomon. He wrote on the "My Medical Checkup" form letter. Like always, a few fill in the blank questions and a spot for a message on the back.

Solomon is 8 years old and lives in India. This letter was written on September 4th, 2014.


1. My last medical check-up was done: More than 6 months back

I went for my medical check-up at: My child development facility 

I felt Afraid about going to my medical check-up

During my check-up, the doctor checked my: eyes, ears, nose, throat, & teeth. 

At my medical check-up, the doctor said: I should eat more fruits and vegetables 

Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

Greetings to you in Jesus' name. I am Mrs. Umakumar, project staff, writing this letter on behalf of Solomon. He and his family members are fine, by God's grace. How are you? Thank you for sending him photos and four letters on fun paper. He felt very happy to see the pictures. In church, he learns more about Jesus through songs and memory verses. he likes singing. He is amazed to hear about your camp for kids. It is fun and a good time in camp. He is so happy to hear from you a lot of information. He hopes you enjoyed your trip. He likes ice cream too, but a different flavor than you. He likes chocolate flavor. He went to his cousin's sister's house and enjoyed playing with them. See you in the next letter. Please pray for him. He's also praying for you. 


The next letter is from Sagitaria. Usually, Sagitaria doesn't have too much to say, but she really seems to have opened up in this letter. It's great to hear more about her life. 

Sagitaria is 11 years old and lives in Indonesia. This letter is dated September 10th, 2014. 


Shalom Mama Kayla ,

How are you in the United States? I hope it's good news. My family and I in Indonesia are fine, mama. I really like to have ice cream and so do my siblings. Last week, we went sightseeing to visit a cousin's house. I'm very pleased to see my family. Mama, what's the season there? We are in the rainy season. I often get caught in the rain at school. Mama, I always pray for your family there. May you have a long life and be easy in wealth. Thank you for the letter. I got it and read it. 

May God Bless, 


Now, a letter from Sandesh. I really wish that he would write his own letter. I think he's definitely old enough. I'm not sure why he doesn't write them himself. I've asked him, but I've never gotten an answer. Maybe it's to save translation time, as the adult writing already writes in English. Who knows? 

Sandesh is 11 years old and lives in India. This letter was written on October 4th, 2014. 


Dear Kayla, 

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus. I am Priyanka Ramesh, child development facilitator, writing this letter on behalf of Sandesh. How are you and your family? He is asking about you. Sandesh and his family are doing well, by the grace of God. He is always asking about what is going on there. 

Sandesh is always praying for you, your job, and your family. Sandesh comes regularly to our project. In the last 3 months, we had our medical check-ups in the project. Sandesh was excited about the medical check-up. During his check-up, the doctor checked all his body. The doctor said that he has to maintain good hygiene. 

Nowadays, we went to Nandurbar for our annual sports meet. All project children and staff went together to play different types of sports. Sandesh participated in discus throw and running. Sandesh became very happy for that and he enjoyed it very much. We went there by bus and the whole journey there we sang songs (Jesus action songs) and told stories. All boys and girls enjoy the sports event. 

Sandesh is asking about your students. How are they? Take care of yourself. Pray for Sandesh's studies. Thank you so much for sending so much love, care, and kindness in this letter. 

On Behalf of Sandesh, 
Priyanka Ramesh 


Lastly, a long, loving letter from Brenda. She's definitely a chatty young lady. 

Brenda is 15 years old and lives in Uganda. She wrote this letter on September 12th, 2014. 


Dear Kayla, 

How are you and how are your family members? Back to me, I am okay. In our area, we are receiving both sunshine and rainfall. We are weeding Irish potatoes and planting beans. Now we are in holidays. I visited all my friends and my cousins. 

Thank you for sending me the letters because I read them all. You even sent me good bible verses. Thank you for that. 

Yes, I have a favorite song to sing in choir. I am in bible class and choir and I study in class the songs and the word of God. 

My maize harvest was a very good harvest. How is your mother? Is she alright? How is your grandmother? How is your Uncle Mike? How are your cousins Reagan and Sophia? I am greeting them all in the name of Jesus Christ. 

I am happy because of these letters you sent for me. You have very good handwriting. Continue with that spirit of loving people. I don't know about ice cream and have never eaten it, but thank you for telling me about that. Here, I share a verse from the book of Psalms. It is Psalm 70:1-4. It teaches me to believe in Jesus Christ and not fearing a single person, like you, but only fear God. 

May God Bless You,