Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Letter Stats!

This is one of my favorite blog posts to write every year, besides my Christmas name posts and my One Word post (which is coming soon). I love looking back at the past year and seeing how many letters I've gotten. I've definitely been blessed when it comes to letters this year!

Sadly, it appears that the children that wrote me 3 letters or 3 this year are the kids I've had the longest. I'm not sure what is causing the slowdown with these kids. The country of India, especially, has had a huge slowdown in letters, for me.

My best letter writer award is a tie! The award goes to Florenc and Xhuliano, who I sponsor through World Vision. They both wrote me 8 letters each.

My winner from Compassion is Jhon, who wrote me 7 letters, which is more than the "required" 6 letters that Compassion says sponsors will receive each year. 

I received 6 letters each from Celeste, Sagitaria, Kwizera, Elias, Alexander, Lina, Emanuel, Caleb, Daniel, and Ernest. 

Khushi, Wendjy, Fongwin, Nikko, Taye, Allison, Nandini, Jhonrex, and Jose each wrote me 5 letters. 

I received 4 letters each from Eric, Kalpesh, Enatenesh, Brenda, Maria, Chintada, Lazarus, Swapna, Derrick, Abbas, Faith, Mulwa, Rujikorn, and Nahomy. 

I received only 3 letters from Sadiya, Sandesh and Emanise. 

Sagar, Solomon, Brian, Carolin, Jairo, and Enmanuel each wrote me 2 letters. 

Lastly, I received just one lonely letter each from Abu, Sevenson, and Rodrigo. 

For those curious, here's a monthly breakdown: 

January: 12
February: 18
March: 28
April: 6
May: 21
June: 12
July: 20
August: 20
September: 16
October: 18
November: 19
December: 18 

In total, that's 208 letters received in 2015! Whoo hoo! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Step Into My World: Rural Ghana

My 2nd to last post of this kind, for 2015. My last one will be posted in just a few days, so I can get it in before the end of the year.

Today, let's travel to rural Ghana, where I have one child:


Ernest lives in the city of Cape Coast, which is located in the very far south of the country. 

Here, weather is typically tropical all year round. The climate has periods of rain and periods of drought. During these periods of drought, people must travel long distances in order to find water. Water typically comes from dirty water sources, like ponds or rivers. The job of collecting water is often given to the children of the family. 

Homes in rural Ghana are usually made of a combination of mud, wood, and iron sheets and usually have 1-3 rooms, depending on how much time, energy, and money the family puts into building their home. 

In Ghana, primary school and junior secondary school are required by the government and are tuition-free. However, communities in the rural areas sometimes don't have any schools at all. In the communities that do have schools; children have to travel long distances to arrive at school and the schools usually do not have adequate supplies to teach the numerous students that are in each classroom. On top of all of these difficulties, many families in rural communities have a belief that education is neither important or necessary. Older children and teens are often expected to work outside of the home to earn money for the family. Compassion is working extremely hard to change these attitudes about education, by getting children enrolled in safe, quality schools. Children are also provided with extra tutoring and homework support at their project. 

Adults in this area typically work one of three jobs. They are either farmers, vendors, or fisherman. During long periods of drought, when crops aren't growing, families take to one of the other jobs to earn money for their children. 

Due to those periods of drought, food insecurity runs rampant in the rural communities. When crops aren't growing, vendors have nothing to sell. The rural communities are often situated very far away from the nearest city, the nearest food source, and travel is difficult. Large families often share a small amount of food and often don't get enough nutrition. 

Compassion makes sure to provide a nutritious meal to their enrolled children on every project day. In Ghana, communal eating is a very important part of the culture. Large dishes of food are shared between several children. Compassion makes sure to keep cultural integrity intact at the projects, where they can. 

On top of all of basic survival aspects of life, Compassion also works to provide children with various skills that could help them in the future, through the use of classes. Some of these classes teach sewing, jewelry making, dance, woodworking, and lesson in musical instruments. 

Of course, the most important, underlying message that Compassion teaches is that each and every child was created by and is loved by God. Children are taught to read and understand from the bible and they are taught how to pray for themselves, their families, their schools, their community, and their culture. 

Compassion in rural Ghana asks its sponsors to pray for the following things: 

- Pray for job opportunities in rural communities to reduce rural-to-urban drift. 

- Pray for caregivers to take advantage of all the trainings that are organized by the churches and Compassion Ghana to make their lives better. 

- Pray for more complementary interventions proposals to be funded. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Alexander's Photo Update: 2015

Alexander has certainly grown taller! It's nice to see him with his curly hair grown out a bit, as well.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Step Into My World: Northern Haiti

The light at the end of the tunnel is here! This is the 3rd to last Step Into My World post of the year. I've enjoyed posting these, but with the busy-ness of the Christmas season this month, combined with my work schedule, it's been hard to keep up with a proper schedule. But, I will have the remaining regions posted by the end of the year. More than anything, I want to have these photos and this information posted on my blog, because I'm sure Compassion will update the information in another year or so and I'll want to have the current information saved.

Anyway, enough incessant chatter, let's get to it.

Today, we learn more about Northern Haiti. I have one "child" who lives in this area:


Wendjy lives in the Northern city of Cap-Haitian. You can see it marked in red on the map. 

Out of the entire country, Northern Haiti has some of the most beautiful landscapes. Green fields, towering mountains, and sparkling blue rivers as far as the eye can see, in the rural areas. God sure did some wonderful work here. 

However, for those living in poverty, these beautiful landscapes are always a difficult terrain. The mountains make it impossible to travel, the rivers (which are a source of drinking water) are polluted, and the region experiences heavy rainfall for several months out of the year. Because cities and villages are situated in the valleys, extreme flooding is not unusual. These floods allow trash to pile up on shores, near people's homes. 

Homes here are either made of concrete blocks, as seen above or they are made out of tin sheets. Obviously, the concrete house are much more sturdy and ideal, as far as living conditions go. 

Schools in Northern Haiti typically don't have playgrounds or play areas for their students and after school, children are prone to wander the streets. Thankfully, Compassion provides their registered children with a safe place to play with their friends, away from the dangers of the streets. 

Compassion churches have also used additional funds, donated by sponsors, to build wells and water pumps, full of fresh, clean water for the children and the families in the community to use. This helps prevent water-borne diseases from spreading and making children sick. 

Of course, Compassion also teaches the children of Haiti about the bible and about God, who loves them very much. Children are taught memory verses and bible stories that relate to their lives. Through relationships with God, children are taught that they have value and are important in the world. 

Compassion Northern Haiti has the following prayer request for their children: 

- Pray that children will be able to make a difference in their communities through the teachings provided on hygiene and sanitation through the Child Sponsorship program. 

- Pray for the children in the Northern region, because many people in this area believe in and practice voodoo. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Allison's Updated Photo: 2015

Check out my smiley girl! Its so great to see this change in her photos!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Another 6 Letters! Another Long Post!

I have been receiving so many letters lately! As soon as I answer one, another two letters come rolling in. I'm not complaining, I swear. It's a wonderful "problem" to have. However, I now have a large pile of letters I can't seem to catch up on responding to. For example, I'm mailing off 6 response letters in the morning and I still have 17 letters to answer. Whew!

I have another 6 letters to share with you today. Get ready...Go!

First up, a letter from Faith. She's just recently begun writing her own letters, without a template. I think she's doing a great job!

Faith is 9 years old and lives in Kenya. Her letter is dated October 3rd, 2015.


Dear Kayla,

How are you, my sponsor? I am fine together with my grandmother and the other children in our family. What about you and your family members? I am still abiding in the Ten Commandments that God gave us. I am very happy since I got your letter and I really appreciated the remembrance. I say let the almighty God crown you with a lot of blessings and keep remembering me. I love you, my sponsor. My elder sisters and brothers are preparing shambas (a cultivated plot of land) for planting since we are waiting for the rain. I wish to pay a visit to your home one day. I really want to learn more about the word. In fact, I finally read Philippians. God will bless you. 



Next, a big jump in age. I really need some more little ones in my family. :) A letter from Celeste. 

Celeste is 13 years old and lives in Honduras. Her letter is dated October 20th, 2015. 


Dear Kayla, 

I am happy to be able to write to you and wish that you are fine with all your family. Thank you for the stickers and for the science letter, but let me tell you, it was a little bit difficult. I went to visit my father with my friends and we went out and conversed and ate together. I am fine and so my siblings and my grandmother. At the project, we the Plan For Tomorrow and we fill it out every year. My goals for this year are to pass my school with good grades. I like your bible verse because it talks about prayer, faith, and power. My family is fine. I congratulate you for the labor you do by writing to other children. That is for the goodness and love that God has placed in your. I will pray for the children you sponsor. I would like to know in what part of Honduras does Khushi live. She must be very smart. As her if she goes to any church. My dad is going good on his job. Vicky and Mario are in good health. It sounds fun how you enjoy camp and divide the children by age. Here we do it as a whole group for 3 days. We do not have Vacation Bible School, but we study the bible one day every week. Though, I like the way you do it too. In September, we celebrated Family Week. There were concerts, chats, and campaigns. 



Next up, a letter from Kalpesh. He is one of my very first correspondent children (nearly 4 years ago now!) However, I don't hear from him as often as I'd like. I only hear from him about every 4 months or so. His letter also take a VERY long time to get to me. He lives in a remote village and mail is extremely love. 

Kalpesh is 13 years old and lives in India. His letter is dated July 23rd, 2015 (5 months ago!). 


Dearest Kayla, 

Greeting you in the matchless of Jesus, from me and my family. Once again, I am very happy to write a letter to you. Thanks to the Lord, I have this precious opportunity to share with you. I received your letters. I'm very glad to see the photos and hear the story of the purple sheep, the sequoia trees, and also see your funny faces. I really like those pictures and both stories. 

I really like the purple sheep story. Sometimes, my schoolmates tease me and I feel sad, but now hearing the story of the purple sheep from your country, I feel proud of myself. God creates us all. We are all special and important. I really thank you for such a beautiful story that you shared with me. I really enjoyed the story of the sequoia trees. I learnt that sequoia trees are connected together and help each protect each other from bad situations, just like Jesus Christ protects us when our life is difficult. I also really liked to hear about Broomball. 

Here, we are safe and sound, through the grace of the Lord and through our prayers. We hope and pray that you are also doing well. My school and studying are going on well. Once again, thank you so much for doing everything for me and my family. May God bless you and your family and God give you good health. 

With Love,


Now, ANOTHER letter from Jose. I've received three letters from him now, in just a matter of weeks. The funny thing is, all of his letters were apparently written on the same day. I am beginning to wonder if mail is received in chunks at his project. In that case, he would be receiving several of my letters on the same day. In that case, I wonder if his project requires him to answer each letter. Poor guy. He's going to be a writing fool! 

Jose is 17 years old and lives in Peru. His letter is dated September 28th, 2015 (the same as all the other letters). 


Dear Sponsor Kayla,

I greet you with a big hug and a kiss, with the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ, hoping that you are in good health. Thanks for praying for me and my family. I am praying for you and your family. I want to tell you that we had a formal dinner at the student center. All the young men wore tuxedos and the girls wore their dresses. It was really nice. My parents are very well together with my siblings. We are doing well with our parents. In January and February we are going to go camping and it is going to be a lot of fun because we will meet other people from other parts of Arequipa. It will be a week in which we sing and play. We'll read our Bible have a time of reflection. How did you get to know God? I would like you to pray for me and my family. We will pray for you and your family, as well. I say goodbye with a big hug and kiss. 



Onto a letter from Taye. He's my young man of constant mystery. He's never been a real chatty letter writer, but I can usually learn a good fact or two in each letter. In this letter, I learn of his hopes for the future. He has above average performance in school, so I have confidence he will reach his goals. 

Taye is 18 years old (his photo is waaaaay overdue) and lives in Ethiopia. He wrote this letter on September 18th, 2015. 


Dear Kayla,

My dear sponsor, how are you doing? Peace and grace be with you. My family and I are are very fine. Praise the Lord. My winter vacation lasted for two months. I am attending my new year education, since September 5th. Thank you for your helpful letter. For your question, I am interested in Biology, as it is part of the science subjects. I want to become a physician. Thank you for your kindness. My family and I are praying for you, so that the Lord may help you in all aspects, as you told us you lost your job at that moment. May the Lord be with you. See you soon. 

Your Child,


Last up, a letter from Emanuel. He wrote a long, lovely letter. 

Emanuel is 18 years old and lives in Tanzania. His letter is dated October 17th, 2015. 


Dear Kayla, 

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope that you are fine and continue well with your family. I now continue well with school and I will soon take my Form Four National exams. I believe that I will score good grades and then join Form Five. I thank you for the nice letter. I like it. You asked me about our church. In our church we have bible teachings for the children. The children also memorize the verse. We also learn songs of praise to God. I would like to tell you how we are doing at home. I thank God because my sister has a baby boy called James who is one month old. I would like to share a verse from Genesis 28:15. "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you." I would like to ask you a question. Do you like to read the bible? I wish you a long life pleasing God. 

I thank you for your nice letters that you sent me. I liked it. In your letter, you asked me about my grades. I would like to thank God because my grades have improved a lot. I hope that I will have enough scores to join Form Five. My favorite subjects are History, Kiswahili, and Geography and I expect to take them in Form Five. You told me that you are no longer working at the church. Why did you leave church work? 

I thank you for the bible verse. 



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Long Post Ahead! Six Letters to Share!

Read if you want to. No pressure. I've been receiving a ton of letters and I've just decided that I want them all in one post together. I'll post from youngest to oldest, like usual.

First, a letter from Mulwa. He wrote on the template called My Project. Mulwa is 8 years old and lives in Kenya. His letter is dated September 19th, 2015.


My project is KE-783. The number of children in my project is 300. I go to my project 1 day a week. My project is 3 km from my home. I get to my project on foot. Typical activities I do at my project are playing football. My favorite activity to do at my project is playing games. My favorite thing about my project workers is they are loving and caring. When I am at my project, I typically eat rice and stew. 

Mulwa is sending much greetings to you, Kayla. He says that he is fine and working hard in school to achieve his goals. He participates in singing to others at the project. He wishes you God's blessings to you and your family. 


Onto another letter from Ernest. He's been a pretty chatty little guy lately! He still has a tutor writing his letters for him. Ernest is 9 years old, from Ghana. His letter is dated October 29th, 2015. 


Dear Kayla, 

Ernest says he wants to thank you for all the letters, supports, and prayers. He says that he is studying hard at school and he plays soccer with his friends. He says it has been raining heavily in his community. He asks: Has it been raining in your community too? He says may God protect you from all danger. He says to pray to God to grant him wisdom in his studies. He shares John 10:30 "I and my father are one". 


This next letter is pretty special. It's another first letter from Fongwin. I've been writing to Fongwin to a few years, as a correspondent, but I just recently took him on as a sponsored child. He went for about two months without a sponsor and I'm sure, when he wrote this introduction letter, he didn't know that I would be the one continuing to write to him. Still, I enjoy getting this letter again, getting updates since his very first "first letter." He even included a lovely self-portrait with this letter. 

Fongwin is 13 years old and lives in Thailand. 


My Favorite Toy: Cards
I Live In: The North
My Favorite Fruit Is: Durian
My Favorite Food Is: Fried Rice
My Favorite Season: Winter
My Favorite Colors: Green & Brown
My Favorite Animal: Dog

Dear Sponsor, 

My name is Thawatchai. I'm glad to know you. I'm thankful to you for your sponsorship. I'm in 6th grade. I have 4 persons in my family; my father, my mother, my older brother, and me. I participate in the project activities regularly. How many people are in your family? Please pray for my studies. May God bless you always. 

Love in Christ, 


Next up, a letter from Brian. He is 14 years old and lives in Kenya. He wrote this letter on October 6th, 2015. 


Dear Kayla,

How are you? I hope you are fine, together with your family. My family is fine too. Thank you for the letter that you wrote for me. I normally go to church on Sunday and we usually praise God with singing and music. Our school is very good. It is going on well. In fact, in our school, we have new teachers who come from the United States of America and they are teaching very well. My favorite subject is CRE because it teaches about how God created the Earth in five days and on the sixth day he created human beings. My difficult subject is social studies but I still try to perform it well. I have a memory verse which I would like to share with you. It comes from the book of Philippians 4:13. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Thank you for your support and may God bless you. 



Now I'll share a letter from Jhon. He certainly has been a wonderful writer this year. Every 2 months on the dot. Jhon is 16 years old and lives in Bolivia. His letter is dated October 20th, 2015. 


Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

I greet you with the holy peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I tell you that I am very happy to be able to write you again through this letter. I thank God for this big opportunity he gives me through your help. My family thanks you with all of their hearts. I tell you, in the student center we are doing many activities in which we learn a lot and we also have fun and the camp is getting close for us. I want to go there. I am praying to God that he gives me the opportunity to go and learn more about our God. I am looking forward and wishing you success in the work you do and I'm praying to God for your health. I say goodbye with much love and affection. I ask you to pray for my family and for my studies. 



Lastly, a letter from Wendjy. He is 20 years old and lives in Haiti. He wrote this letter on October 9th, 2015. 


Dear Kayla,

As always, it's a great joy to me to talk to you through a letter. How are all your activities going? How about your family? By God's grace, all goes well with me and my family, even though there are little difficulties. I would thank you for the letter and the photo. I am answering your questions now. I celebrated a nice Easter party this year. The day today is going well because I do all that I have to do. I would let you know that I'm done with my classical studies by now and I came to enroll myself in University, where I chose to study Superior Tourism. In the meantime, I may have the possibility to study another thing, which I desire, Gynecology. I hope God will make my dreams real. Thanks for your prayers. My God bless you. 



Monday, December 14, 2015

Step Into My World: Urban Rwanda

This posts seem to be getting later and later as the year comes to an end, don't they? Only a few weeks left now. I may or may not be posting them on Saturdays anymore, but I will certainly get them all done. It's too late to quit now. I want all of my children's regions represented.

Today, I will tell you more about the urban region in Rwanda. I have one child who lives in this area:


He lives outside the big city of Butare, which is located in the Southern portion of the country

Only 19% of people in Rwanda live in and around the big cities. 

Unfortunately, for the desperately poor, life in the urban settings is extremely difficult. Most of these families migrated to the cities from the countryside because of poor farming conditions and/or lack of water. Sadly, life in the city proved to be just as difficult. People live in slums outside of the city walls, in small shacks made of mud and wood. Here, living conditions are cramped; large families sharing 1-2 rooms and each home virtually on top of the next. 

These slum homes are owned by landowners or by the city and rent is very high for families living in poverty. 2/3 of adults in this area do not work. Those that do work only earn a few dollars a day. Sometimes, it is just enough to pay rent for the month, but not enough to provide adequate food or proper education. Other times, it isn't even enough to pay rent. Families fall into debt and are often kicked out of their home. This causes families to move from home to home often, leading to very unstable lives, especially for the children. 

Most of the adults that have jobs work as vendors, selling fruits, vegetables, clothes, furniture, etc. However, they cannot sell their goods in the market. In order to sell in the city market, vendors must own a private stall, which is too expensive for families living in poverty. Instead, these families sell on the side of the road which, as you can imagine, isn't quite as successful as selling in the market in the city center. 

Compassion is doing amazing work here (of course they are!) for the children living in poverty. One of the biggest problems in urban Rwanda is instability. Compassion strives to give the children a stable place to just be kids. To play, to learn, to enjoy life. 

Each time the children come to the project, they are split into age groups and taught an important lesson. These lessons typically revolve around the bible, music, hygiene, and health. 

After lessons, children gather together for a delicious (and nutritious) meal! 

On letter days, children with sponsors take time to write a letter to their sponsors, updating them about their lives and responding to any letters they may have received from their sponsors. 

Before time at the project ends, children and staff gather to pray. Compassion urban Rwanda has the following prayer requests: 

- Pray that micro-businesses of parents will prosper so that they can better provide for their children. 

- Pray that children will stay focused on their education and resist the temptation to drop out. 

- Pray for children's protection from the many illnesses and safety hazards in the city slums. 

- Pray that marriages and families will be strengthened and withstand pressures to break apart.