Monday, May 31, 2010

Sending Goodies to Compassion International Sponsor Children

I’ve had a few recent emails asking about the types of items we can send to our Compassion International sponsor children. The Compassion website gives these specifications:
Because of strict mailing and customs regulations in the various countries where Compassion works, we cannot send our field offices items that exceed 8-1/2" x 11" and 1/4" thick.
ITEMS THAT CAN BE SENT
Band-Aids
Baseball and football cards
Bookmarks
Calendars, smaller than 8-1/2" x 11"
Coloring books
Construction paper
Greeting cards
Laminated flowers and leaves
Magazines, less than 1/4" thick
Origami
Pages from coloring books
Paper dolls
Photos of you and your family
Scrapbook paper
Scripture cards
Small books within our guidelines
Small posters
Stamps
Stickers
Watercolor paint books (without paintbrushes
Here is a list of some of the things we’ve sent to our sponsored children:
~stickers
~lots of photos and photo collages (also scanned in the child bio pictures and sent copies, many families don't have photos of their own children)
~postcards
~soccer sports cards
~paperback blank journals from Dollar Store (must be thin, flexible and bound with staples.)
~printed off world maps with stars over where we live and our Compassion child lives
~thin softcover books (Dollar General has many Bible Themed ones. Keep in mind that Compassion will not translate a whole book. For Bible stories, I just write the verses covered in the front cover.)
~character band-aids
~coloring sheets and activity pages like mazes found online and printed
~collages made from pictures from nature magazines
~how to draw tutorials found online and printed
~many of the small Dover Publications activity books and paper doll books (they're mostly just $1.50 each and fantastic quality)
~business cards from Vistaprint with Bible verses on them
~gift bags (with neat holographic designs) for the children to store their letters and items from me


Oriental Trading has a wide variety of neat things you can send to your sponsored child. These colorful boxes fold flat and can be decorated and personalized with permanent markers and stickers. They also carry many Christian crafts and items that fit within the mailing guidelines.
I have also heard that the children really enjoy the greeting cards with music that plays when you open them. They also make a version that allows you to record a short greetings. Imagine how happy your child would be to hear your voice!
Keep in mind that you do not have to mail in a small business sized envelope! We always send our packages in larger manilla envelopes. This gives you a bit more freedom in choosing fun gifts to send! Also, remember that every item you send should be clearly labeled with the child's name and number as well as your sponsor number.
Mail them to the usual address:
Compassion Intl./ Child Correspondence Dept. / Colorado Springs CO 80997
I don’t think we’ve ever sent a letter to any of our sponsored children without at least one little “extra” to go with it. Sometimes we will also send along extra coloring sheets for the siblings of our Compassion kids.
If you have any great ideas for things to send, please leave a comment and share!

You can find a post with more ideas here!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Writing to our Compassion International Children

One of the things I love best about our involvement with Compassion International is the ability to be able to correspond with the children we sponsor.  We are able to send letters of love and encouragement along with extra goodies, and bring some joy to these children.  One of the things that Compassion staff tries to encourage is frequent and faithful letter writing.  There are many children in the program who never or rarely hear from their sponsors and most are devastated about this. 

Our family is dedicated to sending each of our 6 children at least two letters via snail mail every month.  I also email our children when we get a letter from them, to answer any questions they may have. Every other week, I sit down with the binder of letters that have been sent to us, some stationary and devote an hour or so to writing letters and making bundles to send our kids.  Generally, each child receives a personalized letter from us.  I may also print off a Word document with some recent pictures of our family with captions.  I gather up some coloring sheets or stickers or other flat goodies to send.  Each item gets labeled with our sponsor number, as well as the child’s name and number.  Here is a photo of our most recent group of letters right before I slipped everything in a large manilla envelope and mailed it to the Compassion center in Colorado.

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I use a paperclip to keep the items for each child separate.  For our newest child, Bertille in Burkina Faso, I ordered a photo collage from Walgreens.com with pictures of our family.  Our other Compassion sponsor children have already gotten something similar.

Writing frequently helps to encourage a relationship between us and the child.  We don’t hear from some of our children very often, some Compassion projects just have a Letter Writing day 4 times a year.  But some of the projects write back as often as they hear from us, so we still receive a fair amount of letters.  It is important to realize, as much as WE love to receive letters from our children, we aren’t doing this for US.  The focus should be about the children, and ministering and encouraging them as much as possible.  It is easy to find myself feeling closer to Precious from Ghana, when we get 2 or 3 letters from her a  month.  I know, though, that our role is just as important to Yishak in Ethiopia, even though we hear from him a few times a year and his letters are short and lack much detail. So, we write to them all faithfully and pray that our letters bring them joy and a sense that we love them.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oh, What a Wonderful Evening!

Last night, we had an Open House for our homeschool co-op.  All of the children brought work from the school year to display and we invited family and friends.  For the first time, we also had a Talent Show.  It was so sweet to watch the kids get up and sing, play piano or flute, recite poems and read their stories.

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Nico, Kaya and Luna were especially excited to have three of their Grandmas in the audience!

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The group opened up the show by singing and signing a song.

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Then, the individual recorder groups came up for a song.

For their Talent Show act, Kaya sang Amazing Grace.

 

Then all three girls performed Britt Nicole’s The Lost Get Found. I am biased, but it was SOOOO cute!

 

After the talent show, everyone went out to look at the work the children had brought and have some refreshments.  It was a lovely evening and we gathered outside to enjoy the wonderful weather and fellowship.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Sharing April’s Highlight

Seeing as I was on a blogging hiatus in April, I never posted about the highlight of the month. We surprised the girls on Nico’s birthday and took them all to see their favorite singer, Britt Nicole!  The concert was in Jamestown, which was over 3 hours drive.  When we got in the car, we told the girls we were going to go have dinner.  About an hour and a half into the trip, Kaya asked why we didn’t just go to the restaurant in town.  lol  We finally gave Nico her birthday card with a flier for the concert inside.  The car filled with squeals of excitement!

The concert was GREAT!  We love Britt Nicole’s music and it was so fun to see her live, on stage!  After the show, we were able to meet Britt and get her autograph. 

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Britt took the time to talk to each of the girls and ask them some questions.  Kaya was grinning ear to ear.

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Nico said it was, hands down, her best birthday EVER!

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Luna, who is never quiet, was momentarily speechless.

It was a wonderful night we will never forget!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our Newest Compassion International Sponsor Child, Bertille!

A few weeks ago, Jay started work on a shed behind our house. He realized that we would lose a $65 a month bill (our storage unit) once it was completed and he mentioned taking on another sponsor child with the saved money. For over a week, we poured through the Compassion International website, trying to find “the one” amongst the over 1,500 children on the waiting list. Kaya was hoping for someone close to her age and we’d have certain children in mind, only to have them sponsored before we finalized our commitment. We knew it was all in God’s timing, and we’d find the child we were meant to minister to.

Bertille

Let me introduce Bertille from Burkina Faso, Africa! We are so glad that God led us to this sweet girl. When we received the Child Information file, we found out that Bertille’s father passed away and that her mother is seriously sick. Burkina Faso is a country where most are subsistence farmers, meaning that they have to plant, care for and harvest food if they are going to survive. We have been saying a lot of prayers for Bertille and her family. I am thankful that Compassion will provide meals while Bertille is at the child project and that our family is able to send money to help the family get food to survive. No, we’re not rich or anything close, but thankfully God has provided our family with “enough” to survive and also share some of our blessings with others. If you don’t know about Compassion International ~ please click the link to find out more!

We recently received a photo of one of our other sponsor children, Precious, with her family and the provisions they bought with a financial gift sent last November.

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We were so happy to see the whole family and know that they had some provisions. They bought rice, sugar, canned tomatoes, water and soap with our gift money. We placed this photo up on our fridge as a daily reminder that the old phrase of, “There’s nothing to eat!” couldn’t be further from the truth.

Feeling Blessed

Tomorrow, our homeschool co-op will have its annual Open House before we break for the Summer.  I have been reflecting on how blessed we are to have such a WONDERFUL local community of homeschool families.  Even outside of our co-op group, our small town has many families that meet up for activities, community service and play dates.  The old cliche is that homeschoolers are unsocialized, but I always chuckle when I hear that word tossed around.  Not only do my girls have plenty of friends, they are equally able to befriend babies and 100 year old women. :)

Here are a few pictures from recent events we’ve enjoyed!

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Once a month, we visit the seniors at the nearby Continuing Care Center to make crafts and chat. In this picture, we were making cards for our troops overseas.

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Once a week, we meet for a Story of the World history class.  A combination of book learning and hands-on craft activities, it is fun and educational.  In this picture, some of the kids are modeling Roman cuff bracelets and coin jewelry.

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Last month’s co-op field trip was to a nearby Nature Center for some hiking and a presentation on Pioneer Life.

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Weekly play-dates with friends allow time to just goof around and be kids!

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Our small frog pond is home to one friendly and super personable frog, lovingly named Titanic.  He seems to like taking rides on his unsinkable bark boat.

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Our gully is a great place to explore and cool off on a hot day!

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Last week, our homeschool co-op group took a field trip to the Erie Canal and we had a lovely boat ride and even went through some locks!

So, yes, I am feeling so blessed!  We have so many friends nearby and we have plenty of opportunities to meet up!  I am so thankful for our community!