Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Look at Letter Writing Day

A few days ago, I sat down to write another round of letters to  our 7 Compassion International children. My goal is to write to each of them at least twice a month.  Most months, I hit my goal, but sometimes I don’t.  At the very least, I am dedicated to writing once a month. I’ve been asked what the process looks like for our family, so I’ll explain it the best I can.

I start by choosing some decorated printer paper from my collection, which I buy at the Dollar Tree.  I get out some of the stationary that is provided by Compassion when our children write to us and copy it onto the pretty paper. (If you don’t have the stationary, you can print this or use your own paper, provided that you leave 1/2 of the paper for translation.) I print this off for each of the kids.  Then, I get out my binder where I keep all of the letters we receive.

Before I start on the first letter, I look at the photo of the child and pray for them.  I also look at their most recent letters.  Each group of letters has a common theme, but they are are also personalized for each child. Because the kids always ask about church, this most recent group of letters told some more details about our Sundays. I shared that we are still studying from the book of Romans and that we memorized Romans 8:28.  I told them what our daughters have been learning in Sunday school.  I also shared that the children like to run and play after church while the adults drink coffee and talk.  Then, I answered any questions that were asked or commented on recent info shared with us.  I save questions for last and I highlight each one with a dash or something similar.

I also printed off seven copies of one of the devotionals I recently shared, on pretty rainbow paper. I took advantage of the Walgreens deal last week and was able to get three free photo collages and also printed off a pair of photos for the other children. To our newest child’s bundle, I also added the About My Sponsor folder that Compassion provided.

Below, you can see the bundles for all of the children. Each one is kept separate with a paperclip. Every page and photo is labeled with our sponsor number along with the child’s name and number.


Before slipping them all into one big envelope, I have one last step.  I open up my Word document where I keep track of the letters that we send. Each child has a section where I keep info about letters we’ve sent.  I type something like this:

10/29/10 ~ Info about church, Romans 8:28, asked about grandmother’s health, “Sharing” Devotional, photos from Compassion event and of three girls.

I document the letters for a couple of reasons.  It helps me to remember what I write about and what I’ve sent.  It also helps me to get an idea of how long our letters take to get to our children.  When I get a reply from one of the kids that mentions something I have sent,or that answers a question, I can easily look it up and get a rough idea of how long my letter took to travel.

All told, it takes me about 2 hours to write and assemble bundles for all seven Compassion International children. I rarely do it all at once, though, because my days are busy and my hand cramps up.  Generally, I will write one letter and get up to do something before I come back to it.  I know how important those letters are to the children, so the time and effort I put into this is SO worth it. 

I hope you’re inspired to sit down and write to your sponsored child soon!

Lastly, I want to remind you of the opportunity to send Christmas Cards to unsponsored children!  You still have time to get those in the mail, but the sooner the better. Click this link to find out the details!


Jessica said...

<3ed this! And I so saved that letter form link so that I can print on my own pretty paper now! Thanks for being an inspiration!

Amy D said...

Oooh... the pretty paper is a great idea! And I have some. I seem to pick them up on clearance and never use them.

I just sent letters to my 2 children last night. I also included a print out of a world map, and marked on each where they were and where I am. In the letter I told them how many miles and kms apart we are and how Jesus is who keeps us close. <3

Love those kids.

Jessica said...

P.S. Do you have any suggestions for writing teenagers? Both of my sponsor girls are teenagers (19 and almost 16) but sometimes it feels like I'm writing back and forth with a 7 year old. Any helpful tips?

JD said...

Love this! My process is somewhat similar to yours, except I aim to write to our 9 Compassion children once a month, plus as often as I receive responses from them.

Just sent off a big package of letters on Saturday, 9 plus 2 extras.

I normally write the same general theme for all of them, plus individual responses and personalization. I include a header on each letter that has their name/number and our name/number, and we all sign each letter. We usually include stickers or coloring books, postcards, photos, paper games, etc. We use sticky labels to label the id information on everything.

It takes a few hours, but it's totally worth it.

Sydney said...

You've done it again! You've inspired me to GET BUSY!! I'm so excited about what I've gleaned from your posts and what others have posted here and at OC!!
I want to send Christmas cards to unsponsored children. I would like your advice on how to sign these greeting cards and what to jot down in them as far as a personal note goes as well as including a small gift like a sheet of stickers...

Thanks Michelle!!

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Jessica, I just give a bit more detail to my older kids. I can delve a little deeper into the Bible verses and how they've applied in my life. I know that the education of most of the teens in 3rd world countries is usually pretty comparable with that of a 7-10 year old here in the US. They just want to know about us, so I aim to share details of our lives.

JD, the time and effort is so little compared to the joy and encouragement those letters bring.

Sydney, for our Christmas cards, I just wrote something like, "We hope that you have a joyful Christmas with your friends and family. We're so blessed that our Messiah came to take away our sins!" I generally just wrote 2-3 sentences. One that wishes them a joyful Christmas and one that focused on the birth of Jesus.

Amy, now you have a reason to use that pretty paper! I admit, I slapped my head when I realized I just used the same paper that I used for our Autumn themed letters. I have at least 15 different kinds in the cupboard, so I like to change it up and not repeat them like that!

Jessica said...

P.P.S. Inspired by this post, I so just went on christianbook.com and ordered a few random bargain bin, less than 1.00 items to include in future letters. :)

Jill Foley said...

Michelle...you are an inspiration and I just wanted to thank you for your commitment to these kids! I've gotten some great ideas from you and I've directed many others to your blog for inspiration and ideas.

Like you, I use my Dollar Tree pretty paper to write to my kids. I don't copy the Compassion stationary onto it...I just print out a letter straight from my computer. I used to try to write by hand every other time, but with 19 to write to, it just got to be too much. Now I write a general letter to all of them, and then go through the letters I've gotten to answer or address specific questions and concerns.

And, like you, I keep track of when and what I've written.

I love your devotionals! Thanks for sharing them with us, and encouraging us to use them.

Soul Writer said...

Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. I'm planning write to my child later this week and will check out the Dollar Tree paper this afternoon!

Becky Laswell said...

I just finished writing our boy, in Nicaragua, today. Thanks for the encouragement!!

I'm curious if you remember what was in the "About My Sponsor" packet? My husband started sponsoring Jose long before we got married, and I think we may have missed that part. I'd love to know what kind of questions I might answer in general. Otherwise, I just talk about the weather and holidays - and I'm starting to run out of material. :)

Thanks again for the inspiration and directions.

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Becky, it just asked for very basic info about our family. Names and birthdates and occupations. If you look at the links on my right hand sidebar, I have many different posts about Letter Writing Ideas. You might find those helpful. :)

Jill, I am glad you like the devotionals. It was an idea that just came to me one day and I hope to write more to share with my readers!

I am blown away, I've had close to 200 visitors to my blog today, an all time high! I thank the Lord for His pull on my heart to devote a bit of time to this endeavor. I am so happy to help in any way that I can. These kids are precious gifts from God and we have the potential to make such a big difference with our words and encouragement!!

Becky R said...

Hi! You left a comment on my blog. You have inspired me to write to our sponsor children more. We sponsor 2 boys. I usually also print out mazes to send (my sponsor kids are 15 and 10.) I also add bookmarks, older kid stickers, and verses.

Jessica said...

Did you see my copy-cat post? What can I say, I'm unoriginal! :D

Jessica said...

Oh, and guess what?

After reading mine and your post, one of my readers decided to sponsor their first Compassion Child.


Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Woohoo! ::happy dance:: That is the BEST news! :D

Sue said...

Thank you for these great ideas!
I love your blog! This is a daily stop for me. =)

Ⓙaη @ ฿◎ßßƴ℘ḯη❝﹩ ℬ◎aґdẘαʟк ツ said...

My little one is not yet in school or reading. I purchased him a couple of books and a coloring book, but then read about the requirement to stay below 1/8" (which they are not). Can I send a book and a coloring book? I am a bit confused by the process. I also purchased some stickers. What do you recommend, Michelle?

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Jan, the official size requirement is less than 1/4" thick. I know that in some places it says 1/8" but I have talked to some of the training coordinators who have the inside scoop and they let me know that we just need to keep items thinner than 1/4". We can send thin books. They need to be soft-cover, flexible, etc. You need to make sure that every item you send has your sponsor #, your child's name and number. I mail everything in large manila envelopes. Hope this helps!

Ⓙaη @ ฿◎ßßƴ℘ḯη❝﹩ ℬ◎aґdẘαʟк ツ said...

Your response was everything I needed to know. Thank you, Michelle. Send the envelope off this morning.

Taj said...

I love your blog! There are so many great ideas!!

Question: I have found some nice stationery designs online and have printed them two-sided. Can I write my whole letter on one side and leave the whole other side for the translator? Or do I have to do it the way it appears on the Compassion stationery, writing my portion on the top halves of both sides and leaving the bottom halves of both sides for the translator?

I can't wait to keep reading through all of your ideas. You have completely renewed my excitement and passion about writing to my sponsor children!

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Hi Taj! It makes it a lot easier on the translators of you can make space for translation on each side. That way, the don't have to flip back and forth and you have less risk of something being left out!

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