Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday’s This & That

Outside of my window…. the sky is overcast but the birds are all singing a cheerful song of spring.  I love being able to have the windows open so that the chorus of birdsongs coming from the woods surrounding our house can be the music that starts my morning.  The trees are really starting to bud, which makes me smile.

Around the house…. my girls are playing upstairs and boy are they noisy!  Lots of giggling and squealing going on!

The week’s failures…. My mood has been off all week.  I have been quick to frustration and easily stressed.  My energy levels have been low, which I thought was due to having both of my girlies struggle with sleep issues this week.   Last night, as I was laying in bed, I was thinking about the fact that I fell off the “work-out and eat right” wagon about two weeks ago.  I fell off and then I think I may have been run over by it as well.  I thought about how, when I was working out diligently, my husband mentioned my extra-upbeat attitude on more than one occasion.

To turn this failure into a positive, this morning I woke up and hopped back on the wagon.  I finished my turbo Jam workout before eight and can already feel the benefit of endorphins rushing through my body.  I need to remember this lessons.  Exercise really improves my mood!

Plans for the rest of the week…. I am preparing for a baby shower for a friend on Saturday and my Compassion Sunday at my church the following day. As I have said before, organization is not a natural strong point of mine, so this is a good time to practice making lists and working efficiently to get things done. 

Our church is fairly small and we have so many families sponsoring through Compassion International already. I will be taking 12 child packets with me on Sunday and I pray that we can find sponsors for some of those children! Would you join me in praying that the hearts of the members of Heart Cry Christian Fellowship would be open to hear the message I present?  (And also pray that I don’t fall on my face when I walk up to the podium or fumble my words when I speak?)

Now, time to get on with my day!  I hope you have a wonderful day and finish what you set out to do with this day the Lord has given you!

Be blessed, friends!

~Michelle

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

 

I took a moment to walk our property and soak in some solitude in between thunderstorms yesterday. Ahhhh….

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~Michelle

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dancin’ in the Streets

Ok, ok…  We live in the country, so it is more like dancin’ in the road.

I love Mondays. On Mondays, I can usually count on finding at least one cream colored envelope in our mailbox.  Some Mondays are so marvelous that I am blessed to find THREE! Woohoo!

Time to bust a move and break out in a Happy Dance at the mailbox! Yeah, I wonder what my neighbors think.

The first letter I opened was our second letter from Kazihizina in Rwanda. This is our girlie with the saddest face in her bio photo. I was told that she went years without receiving a letter from her sponsor.

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Kazihizina Vestine is greeting you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. How are you all doing? Vestine is fine and she has got no problem. (That is good to hear!) Her family is fine too and they send you all lots of greetings. Vestine is doing good in school and she started her lessons of year 2011. She would like you all to continue praying for her so that she can pass well in her studies.  What season is it in your country? What relationship is between Jason and Michelle? (Jay laughed at this question!) Here in Rwanda we’re now in the dry season but it shines sometimes. May God bless you all richly.”

Now, we have been calling her Kazihizina since we were assigned as her correspondents in November, but perhaps she is mainly called Vestine.

Next, I opened up a letter from our Precious in Ghana. We also received a letter from her last week! I will share some excerpts from both letters.

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Precious says that on Sundays she bath and goes to church at the Wesley Methodist Church to worship God. She do sing, pray, read Bible and give offering. She also says that she do like the local gospel being played in Ghana. She also says that she likes music so much.

Precious says that she likes the pictures that you send her and she would like you to give her your pictures snapped at church.

Precious says they sing and dance at the children service called Sunday School.

Precious says that she received some gifts from Melva through Emmanuella. (Melva sponsored one of the Precious Connection girls and sent along a gift for Precious in one of the letters she sent to her sponsored child, Emmanuella.)

She says that she wants to pray for you and your entire family to develop more love and compassion for needy children. She says that she wants you to tell her more about your friend Melva. She says send her greetings to Melva.”

The last letter I opened yesterday was from our handsome little Rodrigo in Bolivia.

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Over the last year, Rodrigo’s letters have become so sweet, interesting and full of love.

Dear sponsors Jason and Michelle, Greetings with a lot of love. I received the letters and the pictures that you sent me.  I love them very much. It was like seeing you in person! I like to read your letters and know more from you.  I am glad that Kaya has a puppy.  I have a cat named Amello and my dog’s name is Rambo. They are very playful.  I go to the school and I am very well.  I learn many things.  My teachers are very good and patient. We are 32 children in my classroom. My school is big. There are little kids and the ones that are going to graduate. We pray for your life. May God bless you.  I say goodbye with a lot of affection and gratitude.  I’m looking forward to your next letter a lot. With love, Rodrigo”

Awww, what a cute letter! 

What really stood out to me with these letters is how much the children love the photos we send. I think of how excited we are to receive a photo of one of our children in the mail and it is clear that our pictures are just as treasured by our children.

So, my message to my readers today is to be faithful in sending photos to your sponsored children. We usually order our photos from Walgreens.com and they have them printed up and ready to pick up in 15 minutes or so.  They will also ship them to you if you don’t live near a store.

I am also looking forward to receiving the photo book that I ordered from HotPrints. I think that a free photo book that just costs $2.99 to ship is a great deal and I love that they are softcover and thin enough to send to our kids!

Have you sent photos to your sponsored children lately? Were you able to do a Happy Dance at your mailbox recently?  Tell us about it!

~Michelle

Monday, April 25, 2011

They Love Their Chothers

It was raining as we left for church yesterday, so we didn’t get to take the usual Easter picture in front of our forsythia bush.

HPIM3917 I know I am biased, but I think Luna and Kaya are so cute!  You can see how much they love each other.

It has been a tough week for my girls.  They have really been missing their big sister more than ever and have had a hard time processing their grief in the whole situation. Kaya has also had some drama with friends and some sleep issues.  Saturday was an extremely emotional day for Kaya and while I was standing firm that Easter isn’t about spending money on fancy clothes or trinkets for Easter basket…  I caved. I took Kaya on a Mommy-daughter mission to find her a special dress.  As a girl after Mom’s own heart, she found a great deal and picked out a dress and pair of shoes for just $20. After wiping many tears this week, it was nice to see her smiling and feeling special and pretty.

Please, just keep all three of my girls in your prayers, if you could.

~Michelle

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Sunday Praise

 

I hope that you all have an amazing day!

~Michelle

Saturday, April 23, 2011

More Goodies for Your Compassion Kids!

A few weeks ago, my awesome Mother-in-law handed me a big box of goodies from Oriental Trading Company to send to our Compassion International children! While Compassion sends all items through customs as “documents” and we have some mailing restrictions, if you are creative you can send a lot of great items along to your children.
Here are Compassion’s mailing guidelines:
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 need to be paper or cardstock, we cannot send plastic, foam, metal etc.
So, I snapped a picture of just a few of the items that my Mother-in-law brought us.
HPIM3892 Items pictured are: Color Your Own Child of God Crosses, Noah’s Ark Sticker Scenes, Cupcake Boxes with Crosses, Continents and Animals Make a Sticker Scenes, Cross Fuzzy Pictures, Wreath of Jesus’ Life, Cross Gift Bags, He Lives Bags, Magic Scratch Postcards and Cross Bookmarks.
Items from Oriental Trading Company come in packs of twelve, most times. If you don’t have local sponsor friends to split the packs, you can always send extras to your Compassion Child and ask them to share with their family members or other children in the project. Remember, you do not have to send your letters in a business sized envelope! We always send our Compassion packages in big manila envelopes!

If you’re looking for any other ideas for goodies to send to your sponsored child, check out my Most Popular Posts to the right!
I hope you all have a great Resurrection Sunday!
~Michelle

Friday, April 22, 2011

More HeART for Compassion

I can’t even express how blessed I was to be able to call in financial gifts for three of  our Compassion International children yesterday thanks to people who sent gifts in trade for my watercolors. I kept thinking of how I nearly talked myself out of the idea once it came to mind and wondering how many other Spirit-led notions I had managed to squelch with self-doubt.

I have learned some great lessons in all of this. First of all, don’t be so quick to shoot down ideas. While I think of myself as an optimist, I also have a tendency to jump to an “I cant” or “we shouldn’t” mindset when it comes to new things.

Second, I have really enjoyed spending a little of my time creating and painting.  In high school, I took as many art classes as I could.  While I never considered myself a great artist, I really loved the process. It has been really nice to connect with that part of myself again.  I still don’t consider myself to be a great artist, but I am usually my own worst critic.

I do have three paintings up for grabs today. They are approximately 8” X 10” and are done on watercolor paper.  I will send one to anyone who wants to send me a monetary gift of $15 or more, 100% of which will be forwarded to one of our Compassion kids as a gift. (Paypal is the preferred payment, but checks are also welcomed.)

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I will be away from the computer for much of the day, so if you are interested in any of these, you might want to call dibs in the comment section.  Paypal can go to tiedyebutterfly at hotmail dot com and should be sent as a gift to avoid fees being taken out.

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday!

~Michelle

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Little Hands, Deep Pockets, Big Hearts

“Pennies make dollars!”

The saying sticks in my head, even though it has been at least twenty years since I stood in the little candy store in my hometown.  The woman behind the counter, who would patiently count out Swedish Fish and Tootsie Rolls, was notorious for telling us, “Pennies make dollars!”

So, as I read the blog written by my friend JD which opened my eyes to the plight of children being held as slaves on Lake Volta in Ghana, the saying popped into my head once again.

While, I initially was thinking about scrounging change around our home, the idea came to me to see if our homeschooling community would like to pitch in.

Last week, during the Social Studies class I lead for our homeschool co-op, I explained the situation in Ghana to the children.  They listened intently and asked questions.  Some of the children thought that slavery was a thing of the past and were surprised to hear that it is also a present-day problem. I told the children about Mr. George Achibra and how he is working so hard to rescue children from their long days of being forced to fish and bail out old boats. When I asked the children if any of them would be interested in collecting spare change to help this cause, they were all very enthusiastic.

Throughout the week, my own daughters were vigilant in looking for change on top of the dryer, under car seats and underneath the couch.

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On Tuesday, we brought the jar to our co-op and it was so sweet to see the children proudly plunk their fistfuls of change into the collection.

I was so touched to hear from the children who excitedly told me where they were able to find change.  Many of the children went right to their own piggy banks to get more change and some even took dollars from their wallets to help.

HPIM3871 And, pennies sure did make dollars!  So far, a little over $40 has been collected for the Village of Life School!

I thought this was so sweet.

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Mr. Achibra,

I love that you are trying to help the kids.

Love, Maggie”

We will continue to collect change through April and then we’ll send it on to help fund the building of the new school.

Maybe you could start a change for Change drive and pitch in too! Your pennies will add up and help the children of Lake Volta!

~Michelle

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Have a Winner!!

The winner of the Compassion International tee is….

 

Megan!!

Congratulations, Megan!  Email me with your address and I will get your shirt out to you this week!

I want to thank you all for the feedback on the watercolor paintings!  They are flying off of Facebook as fast as I have posted them, which I can only thank the Lord for. I am in awe.  I’ve been asked about special orders and so on so I wanted to mention a few things.

I am not going to take special or advanced orders at this time.  I am painting as I have time and as I am inspired and I worry that taking advanced or special orders would  be too much to take on at this time. (I have a lot on my plate with planning of a baby shower and administrative details for our homeschool co-op among other things.) 

On Friday, I will post a few paintings here before putting them on FB, to give some of my readers a chance to grab a painting if they wish.

I am just so blessed that this idea has taken off and I plan to keep painting, as I can, until the demand for my artwork dies off.  I am excited to hear how our Compassion children and their families are able to use this gift money!

Thank you!

~Michelle

Monday, April 18, 2011

HeART for Compassion

As I shared yesterday, the idea came to me after doodling around with watercolors, to create some art and see if I could raise funds for financial gifts for a few of our Compassion International children.

This weekend, I spent a couple of hours creating. While it was good for my soul, the nagging voice of doubt and self criticism was whispering in my ear. “No one will want these paintings. What a silly idea!”

This morning, I wrestled with my slowly dying laptop to upload the pictures of a couple of watercolors. Still, the nagging… “Why are you wasting your time? This will never work.”

Finally, I got the pictures up and decided to put them up on Facebook before I got to offering them on my blog.

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So, imagine my surprise when all three paintings were snapped up within 5 minutes of posting them to my Facebook. I’m not going to lie… I cried. (Yeah, I am an emotional sap!)

Some day, I might learn to plug my ears to the nagging voice of doubt and self-criticism and just go as the Sprit leads. Some day.

Needless to say, I plan to spend some more time this week painting my beloved Acacia trees of Africa. I am so blessed to be able to raise funds for gifts for our sweet children around the world.

Please, don’t forget to enter the drawing for the Compassion shirt! I’ll be pulling a name tomorrow!

~Michelle

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Praise

Watching this video this morning, I find myself sort of missing the dreadlocks Jay had for the first eight years of our relationship. The first few times I heard this song on the radio, I thought it was David Crowder!

I also wanted to mention that the watercolor I posted yesterday is still available! I was able to press the warpiness out of the paper with an iron and then placing the painting in a big book. I’d happily take $10 in Paypal which would include First Class shipping! Any takers? ((Sold!!))

Lastly, I wanted to show this video I first saw a couple of weeks ago.

Just to warn you, I needed a fist full of tissues to make it through this one. The despair of poverty brings more problems into the home than just the lack of things and money.

~Michelle

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Snapshots

Last week, I logged into my Compassion International account to see if there was an updated photo of Johan. CI will update the child’s photo every other year and his Child Information page says that his information was last updated in April 2009. I didn’t find a new photo of Johan, but I was surprised to see a new photo of Alice From Kenya!

Here is our first photo of her, taken when she was nine.

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And here is her new photo, at age eleven!

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Wow, has she grown!! (I edited her profile photo on the Picnik website, so I could send her a fancier version of her picture to her.) I miss that big smile she had in her first photo, but she is really growing up and so beautiful!

Last night, I was working through some emotions surrounding the 13th birthday of my step-daughter that is coming up tomorrow. I decided to get out the watercolors and create to get my mind focused on something else.

My love of Africa was what inspired me to paint a sunset and some Acacia trees.

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An idea came to me and who knows if it will pan out, but I hope to paint a couple of these every week and offer them up for sale in order to provide financial gifts for our Compassion kids. 100% of the money donated for these watercolors will go as gifts to our children and I will let the buyers decide what they want to offer. Really, any offer will be accepted. (Seriously. Try me!) I’m no professional! Feel free to email me at mjw4compassion at gmail dot com if you’d like the prototype above, which measures about 7.5” X 10.5”. Paypal is the preferred method of payment.

Also, don’t forget to enter the drawing for the Compassion shirt!

~Michelle

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Mystery of the Blue Square

Chances are, you’ve noticed the blue square that has been popping up on Compassion materials in the last year or so. I know that I have pondered the meaning behind it on several occasions.

Well, this weekend, the mystery was solved!

“For Compassion, The Corner is a powerful depiction of Leviticus 23:22 and a continual reminder to always “leave a corner.” It reminds us of who we are and what we do as advocates for children in poverty.”

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien.  I am the Lord your God.”

I also have a giveaway for my faithful readers today! 

Last Friday, there was a merchandise table set up and I picked up this shirt in a size Medium.

On Saturday, I found a different Compassion tee in a women’s fitted style and I brought that home, too. On Sunday, I washed and dried both tees and *then* realized that I really don’t wear tees like the blue one above.

So, I would like to give it away. (It was unworn by me, just washed and dried!)  Realizing that a size Medium tee isn’t going to fit everyone, I also have a copy of Unshaken: Rising from the Ruins of Haiti’s Hotel Montana by Dan Wooley to give away if the drawing winner doesn’t want the tee.

How to enter:

  1. Link to my blog on your Facebook, Twitter or blog.  Come back and leave a comment telling me that you did so. Worth ONE entry.
  2. Post a FB status, a tweet or a blog post to encourage others to write to their sponsored child.  Come back and leave a comment telling me that you did so. Worth TWO entries.
  3. Post this  link on Facebook, Twitter or your blog to spread awareness for the plight of child slaves on Lake Volta and the effort to rescue them. Come back and leave a comment telling me that you did so. Worth TWO entries.
  4. Plan a Sponsor Get-Together for some time in the coming months. You could invite sponsors to gather to write letters, to make crafts to send to sponsored children, to raise funds or to pray for Compassion International and the children. Come back and leave a comment telling me a little about your plan.  Worth FIVE entries!

For every entry you have, I will write your name on a piece of paper and stick it in a basket.  I will draw a name on Tuesday morning (4/19) and announce the winner on my blog!

Good luck!

~Michelle

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekend in Review (Part Two)

While Friday evening at the Compassion International Advocate’s Conference was open to everyone, Saturday was just for the Advocates. It is a day for fellowship, gaining knowledge, being creative and igniting the passion for Compassion and what it is doing.

After breakfast, we were given a devotional focusing on pursuing God with passion and purpose. The retreat was at a wonderful lakeside conference center, and it was nice to start the day with the Lord, with the warm spring sun shining on us and the sound of gentle waves as background music.

After a short break, my friend Lisa got a chance to speak about Sponsor Engagement. While it is important to find sponsors for the children in the program, it is just as important to keep those sponsors involved in the ministry. Disconnected sponsors tend to be ones that do not write to their sponsored children and are the ones that are more likely to drop the sponsorship. Out of the sponsors that cancel, 60% have not written to their children within the last year.

One great way to inspire sponsors is to reach out and host Sponsor Gatherings.  Whether you are a part of the Advocate’s Network or not, you can contact sponsors that you know and get together for letter-writing parties, prayer circles or other events. If you don’t know of any other sponsors in your area, you can check out Our Compassion and search by location.

Even in our small country church, we already have over a dozen families that are involved with Compassion.  Starting in May, I hope to have monthly get-togethers after church to work on goodies to send our children and to answer any questions people may have.  Keeping sponsors involved goes a long way to keeping them inspired and on fire for this ministry.

Next we talked about some of the great upcoming events on the calendar.  Summer festivals like Creation Fest and Kingdom Bound are big events for Compassion and it is exciting to be a part of them! My family is pumped up for Kingdom Bound this year!

We broke for lunch and had time to chit chat and get to know our table-mates.  This cause has brought together some amazing people and I truly enjoyed being able to hear their testimonies and how they’ve been impacted by Compassion.  We also have a lot of fun together and have quite a few jokesters on our team.  (You know who you are….)

After lunch, Doug West spoke about some changes in the Advocate’s Network as well as some new resources and opportunities coming up.

Here are some links that you may not know about:

  • Welcome, New Sponsor! This page is being sent to new sponsors and has a lot of great information for anyone getting started with Compassion.  I think the video is fantastic!
  • Compassion's Holistic Child Development Model  This page features information about the Child Survival Program (CSP) , the Child Development Sponsorship Program (CDSP) and the Leadership and Development Program (LDP). It also shared more about the Complementary Interventions (CIVs) that Compassion can provide such as disaster relief, the AIDS initiative, Bite Back Malaria Intervention, etc.
  • Compassion Distinctives This page explains the distinctives that set Compassion International apart from all other programs of its kind.
  • Give 12 This site is still under construction, but it features a plan to give $12 a month for 12 months to support several different funds through Compassion.

We learned that Compassion’s 2020 Vision is that by the year 2020, we will have 4 million children enrolled in the CSP, CDSP and LDP!  Will you join me in praying that we meet or surpass this goal?

After another break, we all had the chance to hear a more in-depth testimony from Jey Mbiro from Kenya.  By mid-afternoon, the weather had become so beautiful that we decided to pull our chairs outside and enjoy the sun and scenery for this session.

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I forgot to mention that our Advocate’s Team has members that range from the age of fourteen to those silver haired and young at heart.

HPIM3826 I was impressed with the creativity and passion of our youngest member, Blake. My daughter Kaya was excited to hear that you can join the Advocates Network at the age of 13!

HPIM3825 I really enjoyed hearing more of Jey’s story and being able to ask questions.  When someone ask Jay how he envisioned his life if he hadn’t been brought into Compassion as a child, his answer brought tears to my eyes. 

I would be dead.”

To say that life in the Mathare Slum is difficult would be an understatement. Over 800,000 people, crammed like sardines into a few square miles of rusty tin houses and the thick stench of trash and sewage. Children sleep six deep on dirty, thin mats without blankets. Hunger drives children out into the streets to beg or follow their noses to the smell of cooking food. At a certain age, it becomes illegal for children to beg, so they “graduate” to stealing. At the age of nine, Jey spent time on prison for this very thing. 

Jey told us that the Compassion center was a bright spot in the heart of the slum.  While there were some other organizations working in the area, he said that Compassion was the one that stood out.  The one that all of the parents hoped their children could attend.  The stark reality is that none of Jey’s friends from the slum that weren’t a part of Compassion are alive anymore.

The difference that Compassion makes is literally the difference between life and death.

Jey shared the comfort in knowing that he would be able to have his school tuition paid for and clean uniforms and school supplies provided for him. He expressed the relief in knowing that, if he became sick, he would receive the care that he needed. He told us how much the children love the letters that their sponsors sent and how sad they are when they don’t receive those written words of encouragement.

As I shared yesterday, the first time Jey was ever told that he was loved, they were the words of his sponsor in a letter.

I couldn’t begin to touch on all of the details of Jey’s story, but what struck me at the end of the day was the realization that this is the testimony of one person from one project. It is amazing to hear a first-hand account of how Compassion literally saved and changed a life and then to think about how 1.2 million children in over 5,300 projects are all under the care of this organization.

Amazing.

We finished out the day with dinner, another question and answer session with our leaders and a challenge to take this information and passion home and take action.  As a group, we took 15 minutes to pray for many aspects of the Compassion ministry.  Then it was time for some pictures and to pack up!

Overall, the retreat was simply incredible! If you have a passion for Compassion and want to do more for the cause, I would like to encourage you to become a part of Compassion’s Advocate Network. Check out the “Becoming a Compassion Advocate” post that is in my right hand sidebar to learn more.  Please feel free to ask questions, if you have any!  I would just love to have you as a part of the team!

~Michelle

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Weekend in Review (Part One)

The last few days have been busy with homeschooling, errands, household chores and more.  This morning I finally have a span of time to sit down and post about the incredible weekend we just had! The Compassion International Advocate’s Conference was wonderful!

On Friday night, the event was open to anyone with an interest in Compassion.  There were tables set up with all sorts of Compassion materials and child packets.

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My friend, Kim, also brought an array of her Purse for a Purpose bags.  The profits from these beautiful bags goes to Compassion.

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After a delicious dinner of salad and pizza, Doug West shared information about what Compassion is doing and the plans for the future.

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Some facts that really impressed me:

  • 34,493 were registered into the Child Development Sponsorship Program in the last quarter.  That is an average of 375 per day!
  • An average of one church partner is added to the program every day!
  • 38,929 children came to Christ during the last quarter.  That is an average of 423 per day!

Compassion International is really doing some amazing work!

Next, we were able to hear the personal testimony of DJ Jey Mbiro, who grew up in the Mathare Slum in Kenya.  You may have read about this particular slum when the Compassion Bloggers traveled there in 2010 and blogged about their experiences.

(Photo is from this Brad Ruggles post which is a must-read.)

Over 800,000 people are crammed within the few square miles of tin roofed shelters. As Jey told us, rivers of sewage run between houses where people walk and children play. There is a big business of making hard alcohol down by the river. One swig of the brew will make you forget the worries of the day. Many children take to sniffing glue to escape the harsh reality of their lives.

But, in the center of the slum is an oasis. The Compassion International project, a place the provides so much for the children who have so little. The center is an island of hope in the sea of despair.

Tears sprang to my eyes when Jey told us that the first time he was ever told he was loved, it was the words that his sponsor wrote to him around the age of ten.

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Take a minute to let that sink in.

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The room full of advocates and sponsors were drawn into Jey’s testimony of how Compassion provided the education, nutrition, medical care, mentoring and, most importantly, the hope and encouragement that helped him survive and grow.

Following Jey’s presentation, we had time to fellowship and check out the tables full of materials and Compassion merchandise.  I loved talking with other sponsors and handing out lots of writing paper and envelopes while stressing the importance of the letters to our children.

Later today or tomorrow, I will be posting part two of the weekend in review. It is too much to share in one post and I am still catching up on some household duties and responsibilities.

Until next time,

~Michelle

Monday, April 11, 2011

Short and Sweet

It is the Monday after the incredible Compassion International Advocate’s conference and I have many words and pictures to share with all of you.  Unfortunately, my to-do list also has LOTS of things waiting for me.  Instead of rushing through all of the things I’d like to share, I am going to just give you one little gem that I took home with me.

On Saturday, we were given a paper with quotes from formerly sponsored students now studying at Moody Bible.  The students were asked what children want to hear from their sponsors and if there was something special they remembered from their sponsors that encouraged them. While the paper was filled with great quotes, it was the words of Abbel from Haiti that jumped off of the page for me..

Abbel listed many specific things his sponsor said to encourage him and he closed with this:

“Here is a special letter that I really liked and I copy to you ~

Dear Abbel,

Thank you for writing me. You do write very neat. You must be a good student. Please keep studying and be a good student. Haiti needs some well educated young men like yourself.  I’m proud of you.

God bless you and your family.”

What I hope to impress to all of you is that, while many of us love getting elaborate with our letters to our sponsored children, it is clear that it isn’t necessary. The stickers and goodies and theme letters are all extra.

Out of all of his letters, Abbel shared a simple, seven line letter. In plain language, his sponsor shared an interest in Abbel’s life and encouraged him.

As a sponsor, you do not need to get fancy and send an envelope full of things.  Don’t get held back by the thought that you need to write many paragraphs to your sponsored child.

Just write.

Please.

If it has been over a month since the last time you wrote to your sponsored child, please take some time today to get out paper and a pen or hop over to the Compassion International website and send an emailed letter.

I am hoping to knock off many of the things on my to-do list so that I can come back and share thoughts and photos from this weekend’s conference!

Stay tuned!!

~Michelle

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Warming up for a Wonderful Weekend!

I am just filled with excitement! After months of waiting, the Northeast Regional Compassion International Advocates Retreat is right around the corner!

Last year’s conference was so incredible!  It was my first Compassion event and I learned so much.  As a newbie Advocate, I was given such a warm welcome in the group and I was put at ease immediately. (For someone who can feel somewhat shy and awkward in new situations, this was such a blessing!) We heard the testimony of a young man who grew up in Bolivia and he shared the many ways that the Compassion program helped him as a sponsored child. Miguel’s story has stuck with me in the last year and I often think of the powerful testimony he gave.

This year’s conference will be a little different. Friday evening will be open to anyone with an interest in Compassion. We’ll have fellowship and pizza and another young man speaking about his experience going through the Compassion program.

Because my passion is inspiring sponsors to write to their children, and because there will be quite a few sponsors there, I planned a little project.

I got out my stashed packs of colorful printer paper from the Dollar Tree and the Compassion envelopes that come with letters from our children. (Because I send our letters in manila envelopes,  I keep the ones Compassion sends for times such as this!)

I used a document program to make some Compassion stationary and printed off a ton of sheets. (You can find the stationary I created if you click here.)

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Then, I put together Correspondence Packs with three pieces of stationary, three envelopes and a business cards I made up with my blog address and contact information.

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I’ll put these packs on a table with display materials and a little sign that tells sponsors to help themselves.  I hope that it may encourage some people in their letter writing ministry to their children.

If you have a stash of pretty paper and some friends or family that sponsor, this might be a project you could do, too. I think that having paper and envelopes ready to go could help inspire sponsors to sit down share some love and encouragement with their Compassion child.

Saturday will be just for Advocates.  If it is anything like last year, we will learn more about Compassion, brainstorm ways to advocate for the children, network, pray laugh and cry together. I am really looking forward to this opportunity to spend time with others who share my passion and to learn more.  I’ll be sure to take some pictures and come back and blog about it next week!

I hope you have a great weekend!  What do you have planned?

~Michelle

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Compassion Family

Through my involvement with Compassion International, I have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know some amazing women.  One of those amazing women is my friend Jill, who publishes the blog called Compassion Family.

Jill created Compassion Family as a resource for families to persue the ministry of Compassion International together.  I have seen first hand how my own daughters have been able to connect with our sponsor children and have gained a different perspective as we’ve studied the countries and cultures of all of our children.

Jill’s blog features so many great ways to share the experience of sponsorship with your own children.

If you hop over to Compassion Family, you will find:

  • ways to pray for your sponsored child(ren)
  • posts featuring books, websites and videos that spotlight specific Compassion-assisted countries
  • memory verses
  • book reviews
  • family activities

….and SO much more!

Click the Compassion Family link and take a few minutes to read through Jill’s great blog! You will find so many ways to make your Compassion sponsorship a family affair!

~Michelle

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sowing Seeds

It seems like some sort of rite of passage.  As each of our girls has entered the realm of “formal” homeschooling around the age of 4 or 5, a Springtime ritual has been to experiment with sprouting beans. Seeing as we have been talking about having a veggie garden this year, after a five year hiatus, Luna was especially excited to learn about seeds.

A few weeks ago, I had her pick out 5 different beans from a bag of Goya bean soup mix. (Sure, we could go to the store and buy packets of seeds, but this is the way we’ve always done it! We almost always have dried beans in the cupboard.)

We talked about the conditions that a seed needs in order to germinate.  Luna was surprised that the word germinate doesn’t mean “to get sick” like she originally thought. We discussed how the seeds were just filled with potential, but they would need warmth and water and we would need patience.

Every morning, Luna would check her little seeds for any signs of change. Finally, after about 5 days, which is as good as a month if you’re a four year old, she woke to find radicles poking out of three of her beans.  Radical!  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

HPIM3781Look! They have little roots!”

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After a day of tending to and observing the three little rooted beans, we filled a pot with dirt. Each baby was tucked in gently with a nice covering of soil and then Luna watered them.

Again came time for patience.  Every morning, Luna would come down and check on her pot to see if she could see anything happening. We discussed what might be happening under the soil. Each day, we also checked the other two beans that hadn’t started a root. In the end, both turned to stinky mush and we talked about how sometimes, seeds just don’t sprout.

Days went by and Luna kept peering hopefully into her pot and watering when the dirt looked dry.

Yesterday, all of that waiting paid off.  Luna found this poking up through the top of the soil.

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This new development called for magnifying glasses and lots of inspection. I loved watching Luna, in a state of awe, point out that her little bean had grown a leaf.  She suspected that, at any moment, the plant would spring up out of the soil with an audible “boing”. We checked back several times yesterday, but it didn’t boing.

Today, even more excitement.  What looked like the above picture at bedtime last night looked like this this morning.

HPIM3801 Boing!

Throughout this experiment, Luna has been filling out a neat Sprouting Bean book from Enchanted Learning. She’s colored pictures of each of the steps and has written sentences to go along with them.  She can’t wait to see how her bean plant will grow and is filled with anticipation to see if the three other beans she planted will poke up from the soil and boing themselves upright.

In many ways, this reminds me of the way we can sow seeds when we share Compassion International with others.

Perhaps you will plant seeds by speaking for a Compassion Sunday event or by becoming a Compassion Advocate.  Maybe you’ll tell a friend or family member about Compassion. You might post a Facebook status update about how important your sponsored child is to you. Maybe you will publish a blog post or hand Compassion brochures on local bulletin boards.

You can plant seeds in so many different ways. 

Of course, these seeds will need the right conditions or they may not sprout. The seeds need to be planted in a fertile heart and carefully covered in prayer. They’ll need to be quenched with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and bathed in the warmth of rays of Sonshine.

Then, as you’ve done your job, the next part involves patience and letting God tend the cultivation.  After all, the harvest is His.

Hopefully, many of the seeds will grow into strong and sturdy relationships with sound roots. In time, those hardy seedlings will bear Fruit of friendship and faith.

Will you reach out and plant some seeds? If you are thinking of holding a Compassion Sunday or becoming a Compassion advocate, please let me know so that I can pray for you.  Do you have other ideas to share for ways that you sow seeds for Compassion International? Let us know!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Praise

About a year ago, I won a CD by the singer Yancy through a blog giveaway.  She quickly became one of my girls’ favorites.  Just a couple of days ago, we found the long-lost CD in my car’s glove-box. During our recent errands and trips to town, we’ve been crankin’ her tunes.  I especially love hearing my girls “shout out” this song from the back seat.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

~Michelle