Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Love Seeing Them Mature

Look at this handsome guy! My Chintada's photo updated yesterday! I love that you can really see how much he matures from photo to photo. Plus, I think pale purple might be his color.

You can click on the picture to make it much larger.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Midwest Winter: What They Don't Tell You

This post is not related to sponsoring children, or children in any way, for that matter. But, I planned it up and liked it and couldn't think of anywhere else to post it.

The other day, I got a letter from one of my pen pals, who happens to live in California (the warm part). She said something along the lines of "The winter here is getting bad because I had to wear a jacket outside and sweatpants to bed." I wanted to send her back a howler (happy potter fans?). Don't worry, I'm not really mad at her, I just came to realize that people that have lived in warmer climates their entire lives really don't know what winter is like. They picture winter as pretty snow, romantic fires, and hot chocolate. Sure, winter includes those things, but it turns out, life actually goes on during winter and there are several things we have to put up with that aren't exactly mentioned in the "Dream Winter Scenario".

1. Wind Chill

I wouldn't be a proper Midwesterner if I didn't mention wind chill. It is literally the bane of people's existence around here. We call the wind chill the "feels like" temperature. This is the temperature that your skin feels when it goes outside. It can be pretty ridiculous. For instance, I woke up this morning to this:

Oh, but look, the sun is out! That makes it so much better, right? Keep in mind, they don't cancel school around here until is gets to be around -25 wind chill. 

2. Car Parts

Did you know that parts of your car may actually not work in the extreme cold? Going out to your car, starting it up, and driving away sounds like one of the easiest jobs ever. However, in the cold, it's not that simple, on occasion. For example, when it's -18 degrees windchill, your engine has to run for a little while to work properly. I think I use half of my gas in the winter just letting my car run in the parking lot. On top of that, windshield washer fluid is only guaranteed to work until a certain temperature. For your information, -18 degrees is too cold. Lastly, do you remember, a long time ago, to high school chemistry class, when you learned that warm air moves into the area with cold air? Well, that happens with your tires too...

3. Ice Scraper

If, by some miracle, you get your car started and ready to go in the morning, chances are, you'll have to scrape the windows. This is basically an every morning thing. Some mornings are easier than others, depending on how heavy the frost was, but your ice scraper is pretty much your best friend in the winter. Don't waste time on the $1 ones. Spring for the one with the long hand and the snow brush.

4. Snow is Ugly! 

I know, I know, I'm popping the winter dream bubble. But, I live in a city. Snow is only pretty while it's falling. Then, people start driving around and it gets disgusting. This is what snow really looks like most of the winter: 

5. Black Ice

Such a fun part of winter! Black ice is a term for when a very thin layer of ice forms on the roads. It's so thin that it's basically impossible for drivers to see. However, it is just thick enough to prevent your car tires from gripping the road, causing your car to slide in pretty much any direction it feels like. If you've never experienced sliding sideways through a stop sign, then you probably don't live in the Midwest. 

6. Road Damage

Thankfully, I live in a city with an excellent snow removal team. That is one thing that I don't mind paying taxes for! The snow plow drivers in my town, after a snow storm, get out onto the roads around 2 a.m, so the roads are basically clear when it's time for everyone to commute to work. The snow plows use pounds and pounds and pounds of rock salt to melt ice and snow off the roads. Rock salt is amazing! However, the combination of the rock salt and the heavy plows, destroy the roads. The roads in the winter become riddled with pot holes. That's why you hear that joke "The Midwest has two seasons: Winter and Construction." 

7. Filthy Cars! 

Rock salt not only destroys roads, it makes your car filthy! You can pretty much expect your car to look awful from the day the first snow falls until the day it's warm enough to get a car wash. Usually, from about November to March, your car looks like this: 

8. Winter Road Conditions

Luckily, the great state of Illinois, and I'm sure other states in the Midwest, have a winter road conditions map. This becomes something people check often. It tells you exactly what to expect when it comes to driving somewhere. When the map is green, you don't have to leave early to go to work, as there is no snow and ice to worry about. 

Hooray! The roads where I live are clear! 

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little winter rant. It's all in good fun. It's off to work for me! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter Blues Made Better

Today, under the threat of yet another snowstorm, I am officially fed up with winter. We've had ice, snow, freezing rain, and too many below zero days to count and I'm sick of it. We will most likely get another three or so inches of snow tonight, for me to scrape off my car in the morning. Blech!

But, my grouchy mood was elevated a bit when I found two letters in my mailbox. Letters and love from two sweet kids.

I'll first share my letter from Sadiya. She is 10 years old and lives in India. She wrote this letter on November 21st, 2014.


Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I received your letter. I like to read your letters. Thank you very much for your photos. I received them. My studies are going well. My best subject is Hindi. This month my project provided me a school sweater. Christmas season is going to come. In our project, Christmas dance program practice is going on. I will participate in dance program. Pray for my family members. I also pray for your family. Thank you. 

Your Loving Sadiya


I also got a letter from Derrick. It sure hasn't taken him long to get chatty in his letters. 

Derrick is 12 years old and lives in Uganda. He wrote this letter on January 12th, 2015. 


Dear Kayla, 

I greet you in the name of Christ our Lord. I hope this letter will find you well. I am doing well now. We have holidays until early February. I am happy for the letter you wrote to me. I was happy to learn what is done in your area when a child loses a tooth. In our area when a child loses one of their teeth, he is told to put it where a rat will come and take it and put money in its place. The child keeps checking until he finds money and is very happy. 

How was your Christmas season? I had mine with my family members and on that day we went out as a family to watch some presenters. 

At my project I am in the football club. I am also in the hair dressing class where I am learning how to cut and trim hair. My teacher at the project taught us how to keep our bodies clean and about life skills to help us make good choices in life. 

My bible verse to share with you is Psalms 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." 

I thank you for being my friend and please keep on praying for me to be successful in my studies and to stay healthy. May God bless you for all your support and love. Happy new year. 



Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend Letters

Good ol' President's Day. A mail holiday. Booo... Haha. But, I do also have a day off from work, so I figured I may as well post the three letters that I received on Saturday.

First up, I got a letter from Kwizera Yves. He lives in Rwanda and is 9 years old. This letter was written on November 17th, 2014.


Dear Kayla, 

Beloved parent, I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. How are you doing? For me, I am well an my family is also well and they love you very much. At school, this previous term, I managed to obtain 78% marks and next year I will be joining Primary Five. My favorite subject in class is English. In Rwanda now, it is raining in plenty and due to this, our kitchen has collapsed so pray with us as to get another kitchen. Thank you and God bless you. I an my family thank you for the letter you recently sent to us. I send you greetings from my family too. I would like to thank you for the verses you sent me. We are now in holidays and God bless you. 

Yours Lovingly, 


After that letter, I received two letters from East India, one from each of my kids there. I'll share Nandini's first. 

Nandini is 9 years old. She wrote this letter on December 10th, 2014. 


Dear Kayla, 

Greetings to you in the sweet name of our our Lord Jesus. I am fine here. Thank you very much for your regular love, prayer, and support. I have given the half yearly exam. Please pray that a good result with come. Thank you very much for contacting me through letters. I am positioned in grade 3. I like to study more. I like to play the game hide and seek. I like to make pictures. My favorite bible verse is, "I am the way, truth, and life." Please pray for my bright future. 

Your Loving Child, 


Now, the letter from Chintada. Chintada is 18 years old. He wrote this letter on December 17th, 2014. 


Dear Kayla, 

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I and my family are doing well by the great God. I hope and pray that everything will be going well with you. 

We will have a pre-Christmas program at the project, so we are preparing a new dance, songs, suits, and bible verse. We are decorating the stage colorfully. Do you prepare for this program? 

We had a competition at the project. I participated and learned many more things from this competition. It was very nice for me. (I wonder what kind of competition it was). 

Now, the weather is very cold here. What is the weather feeling like in you area? 

Please pray for me and my family. I am praying for you every day. 

Thanks. In Christ's Love,


Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's Xhuliano's Turn!

Yesterday, I shared my two letters from Florenc and today, it is time to share the two letters that I received from Xhuliano.

Xhuliano is 14 years old and lives in Albania. His letters were not dated, but I think I am posting them in the correct order.


Dear friend, 

I received your letter and it pleased me so much to hear from you. Here in my country it is too cold. 

In December, we celebrate the new year with fireworks. As a traditional food, we have turkey and baklava. On November 28-29 it was the Independence Day. We celebrated this day with the Albanians of Albania and the Albanians of Kosovo. And you? How do you celebrate the Christmas and the New Year? With who do you celebrate them? I celebrate them with my family. Here in my country it is too cold. What about there where you live? How is the weather there? I wish you good luck. 



Hi my friend Kayla, 

How have you been? These days I am taking the holidays of the New Year. I will celebrate the New Year with my family. And you? How are you going to celebrate them? 

I hope you enjoyed Kristin's wedding. I liked your photos a lot. They look really nice. 

I wish to you and your family "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year." My birthday is on December 28th and I will celebrate it at my uncle's house. 

I'm ending this letter with so much love. 



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two Lovely Letters from Florenc

Today I received two letters each, from both of my Albanian young men. It is always so exciting to see that WV orange in my mailbox.

I always enjoy hearing from Florenc, but at the same time, his letters are typically heartbreaking, as well. He and his family really do go through a lot of struggle, especially with his mother's failing health. I really feel for Florenc, who is deeply affected by it all.

Florenc is 15 years old. This first letter was written on December 4th, 2014.


Greetings my dear friend, 

I was very happy to receive two letters from you on the same day. I opened them and read them two times. Then I showed them to my parents who were very happy to hear from you. I know that my parents make the best efforts to give me the possibility to finish high school, so I'm very thankful to them. I'm doing my best to learn English at school. In this way, I'll be able to find a better job in the future and help my family. As for me, I'm in good health, but one day when I came home from school, I found my mother sick and I was really worried to see my mother laying in bed. My brother was there, staying near her, while my father had gone to call the doctor. So before the doctor came I did some chores and cleaned the house. My mom was very please and she asked me not to worry because she was going to be fine. The doctor came and gave her some injections and left. 

The weather is changing here and is getting colder. We have had some rainy days and some sunny days. I'm closing this letter with the best regards from me and my family. 

Lots of love from,


This next, short, letter was written on December 22nd, 2014. 


My dear friend Kayla,

I was very happy to receive your letter and I was even happier when I opened and read it. After reading it, I showed it to my parents. After they read it they told me to write a letter back to you at once. 

I was glad to hear about G's birthday and my family and I wish him "Happy Birthday" and a long life! 

G's photo where he was eating his birthday cake was very nice. 

I'll write again soon, my friend. 

Lots of love,


Monday, February 9, 2015

Great Info from my Colombian Boys

My two sweet Colombian boys, Caleb and Daniel, both attend the same project. Caleb writes on the form templates still and Daniel does not. However, they both are directed to write on the same basic topics, to start before they are allowed to write their own message.

This time, they shared what they like to do in their free time, a future goal, their favorite animals, and a pet they would like to have. I loved learning these things about my boys!

First up, Caleb's letter. He is 7 years old. He wrote this letter on December 2nd, 2014.


Dear Sponsor Kayla, 

Cordial greetings to you from your friend. 

In my free time: I hang out with my family and my best friends

Someday I would like to: Speak and write English

My favorite animals are: the tiger, the horse, and the puma

I would like to have a dog as a pet. I would name it Motas. 

I am doing very well, thanks to God. I feel very happy for having you as my sponsor. I want you to know that we are currently on school holidays. What I like the most about my school is learning mathematics. I also want you to know that they bought a delicious cake and a beautiful present for my birthday. When is your birthday? I want to tell you that we will go to a farm located in Guayabetal to visit my dear family. My family sends their regards to you and my mom says that she prays a lot for you. We dedicate the following bible verse to you: Isaiah 58:11. 

Jonatan Caleb 


Next up, a letter from Daniel. All of my sponsored kiddos are intelligent and have their own set of talents. However, I call Daniel my genius boy. He's currently in 3rd grade and is performing above average. He writes BRILLIANT letters. He describes himself eloquently and seems to love everything about learning. In this letter, I learned that his father is a musician and that really explains a lot to me. Children that are exposed to music have great starts in life. 


Dear Kayla, 

My dear sponsor, I say hi to you affectionately. I am doing very well and I feel very happy for having you has my sponsor, thanks to God. I share my spare time with my family. I would like to learn how to pilot and airplane one day. My favorite animals are parrots, elephants, eagles, and birds. I would like to have a pet parrot and its name would be Rayo. I want to express my gratitude to you because you always want to know how I am doing at school. I feel very happy because I will go to fourth grade in elementary school next year. We are taking the following subjects at school: Spanish, mathematics, IT, natural science, social studies, art, religion, as well as English. The subject I like most is mathematics. I want to tell you that the church I am currently attending is organizing a musical project and the children will be able to learn how to play musical instruments, such as the guitar, the violin, the flute, the drums, the tambourine, and "El Charrasco". The best thing is that my father is going to teach the children attending this course. I would like to learn how to play the violin and the drums. Please pray a lot for this course to be completed. My family sends a lot of hugs and kisses to you. I would like to dedicate a precious bible verse to you, Psalm 27:1, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, whom shall I fear?" Do you have a prayer request for me? I will pray for you. 

Juan Daniel

For those that are curious: El Charrasco


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Letters to my Kids: January 2015

Last month, I was short on topics to write about. I decided writing and complaining about winter probably wasn't a great idea, haha. So, I decided to just send a list of questions to my kids. I've done this in the past and gotten some great answers back. It seems that open-ended questions like this really allow the children to think critically and share their personalities with me. I can't wait to see the responses come flowing in.