Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Flashback

Last summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to fly to Colorado and visit Compassion International’s Global Ministry Center. I’ve has many new readers join the Blogging From The Boonies community since then and so, on this Flashback Friday, I’d love to share the links to the posts that came from that trip.

Colorado Trip - Part One

Colorado Trip - Part Two

Colorado Trip - Part Three

Colorado Trip - Part Four

Colorado Trip - Part Five

Colorado Casserole (A Bunch of Leftovers!)

To my new readers and those who have been reading for a while, I want you to know that your comments and messages are such a blessing to me.  If you haven’t before, please consider leaving a comment to to say hello!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Snow Day Project

Yes, snow day.

Last week it was so warm that we had windows open and the sprinkler out. But, here is the scene we woke up to this morning.

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My girls were hoping for a chance to sled, they had only been out two or three times all season. However, this was a wet and heavy snow, too sticky for sledding.  Not to mention, branches were breaking from the weight and it wasn’t safe for them to be outside.

Really, it was a perfect sort of day to sit beside the woodstove and play board games. Unfortunately, the game and puzzle closet had slowly turned into a scary avalanche waiting to happen. Boxes were teetering here and crammed in there, making it a challenge to get anything out.

So, this morning I stared into the closet of danger and tried to come up with a game plan.  I pulled everything off of the shelves and started taking things out of boxes.

For Luna’s collection of boxed 24 and 36 piece puzzles, I put each puzzle into a quart sized ziplock bag.  I cut the picture out of the top of the box and slipped that in as well. Those baggies went into a basket and what once took up about four or five cubic feet now takes only one.

Then, I did the same basic thing with board games.  I had no idea how much wasted space was being taken with all of those boxes!  For each game, I put the pieces and instructions into a gallon sized ziplock bag. A few of the boards that folded into quarters fit in the gallon bags with the pieces.  The boards that just folded in half were labeled.

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Here you can see all of the contents of a dozen various board games. When we want to play something, we just need to grab the right baggie and board and we are good to go!

All of the card games were put into a shoebox on the top shelf.

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This is the almost finished product! Before I went to work, there was no more room to be found on these shelves! Now, we even have room for more games! A couple of the games and bigger floor puzzles stayed in their boxes for various reasons.  Next, I just need to bring myself to face the facts that my “baby” is a big girl and pull out the chunky puzzles on the top shelf. :sniff:

Now, the closet is so organized and easy to navigate!  I bet you can’t guess what my girls are doing right now!

Yes, they’re playing board games!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Praise

I’m sharing a few videos with you today….

We love Ukulele Mandi, who inspired our Kaya to start playing the uke. She is so sweet!

We stumbled upon this clip while watching Youtube. Another super-sweet song!

Here is our Luna singing All this Time by Britt Nicole.

Watching children sing praises to the Lord always brings tears to my eyes.

Today, on Compassion Sunday, I am thinking of all of the children that will be shared at churches during presentations. I am praying for those presenting and for those listening to the messages. I pray that those who feel a tug on their hearts are obedient to God’s prompting.

On this day, many Compassion International children will be sponsored.  Will you join me in praying?

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday’s Children – Have Mercy

 

“He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker:

but he that honors him has mercy on the poor.”

Proverbs 14:31

At least once a week I visit the Compassion International website and look through the children available for sponsorship.  I take some time to look at their faces and pray over the children. I tend to do searches for orphans or those children that have been waiting longest because my heart is heavy for those little ones. Recently Compassion also added options to search by name or specific project, such as my beloved GH220.

Today, in my searching, I found two young ladies named Mercy. I thought of how we are called to show mercy to the poor and I wanted to share these two girls with you.

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Eleven year old Mercy from Kenya lives with her mother, who is employed as a farmer.  Mercy enjoys playing ball and hide and seek.

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Six year old Mercy from Uganda is an orphan who lives with her brother. It is not uncommon for young children to become the head of their households if the parents leave the family or die. I don’t know how old Mercy’s caretaker brother is, but I do know that Mercy could really use a sponsor who will be there to support her.

Will you please join me in praying over these sweet girls?  Perhaps you can share them with your friends or family.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Matthew 5:7

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Say Hello to Our Little Friend!

My husband is currently building a cottage just a few minutes drive from our house. If the weather is nice, we like to go down to the jobsite and visit. My girls enjoy the monkey swing that hangs in a big old tree on the property as well as exploring the lakeside.

As we were leaving today, I just happened to look down and noticed what appeared to be a toy turtle right next to my foot. I pointed it out to my girls we discovered that it was a REAL turtle.

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This is little Togo.  Isn’t he (she?) adorable?

We decided to bring it home and set up a habitat so that we could take care of it and observe it for a week or two.  Then, we’ll take it back to the lake and set it free.

I must admit, Togo is ridiculously cute.  Every time I peer into the habitat, I catch myself saying, “Awwwwww….”

IMG_0040 Look how tiny!

I just love how, even on days when I don’t have much by way of planned homeschooling on our agenda, something comes along that inspired research and learning!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sending Goodies to Older Children

Many of us enjoy writing to our Compassion International children and sending some extra “goodies” along with the letters.

Some of my most popular posts are lists of various treats you can send to your children that fit within Compassion’s mailing requirements. (Because items are sent through customs as “documents”, we need to send only items that are paper or cardstock and are thin.)

Sending Goodies to Compassion International Sponsor Children

More Goodies for Your Compassion Kids

As I check my blog stats and referrals from time to time, I notice that many people land on my page by searching for items to send to older children enrolled in Compassion. I thought it might be helpful to write up a post that focuses on these older children.

Before I start listing items, I do feel that it is fine to send items that may be considered “younger” to the teens in the programs.  Things like stickers can be enjoyed by children of all ages and if the child doesn’t like the items, you can tell them they are free to pass them along to another child in the project. Photos are always enjoyed by all ages, too!

Now, here is a list of items that may be enjoyed by teens around the world. (Remember, you can send items to your child in a 9X12 manila envelope, so you are not confined to sending things that fit in a small envelope!)

-  Sports trading cards

- Blank stationary and note card sets

- World or country maps or atlas pages

- “Learn to draw” pages (These can be found online easily by searching Google.)

Dover Publications also carries some Learn To Draw books that can be found by clicking here.

- Origami paper and printed-off tutorials

- Tutorials for paper airplanes and extra blank paper

- Postcards from your area

- Sudoku puzzles

- More elaborate coloring pages (Again, Dover carries some great ones like these!)

- As you learn about the child’s interests, you can make little booklets that share more information on these topics!

As the children get closer to completing the Compassion program, they are moving towards becoming adults.  At this time, I think it is extremely important to make the most of the ministry to these young people. While it is nice to send extra goodies along, I think it starts to become even more crucial to be sure that you’re helping them gain strong spiritual footing.

For those children who can read English, devotional books may be a great item to send.  Two booklets that I really love are Our Daily Bread and Days of Praise. You can order them and have them delivered right to your house! If your child isn’t able to read English, you can always choose various devotions in these booklets and paraphrase them in your letters.

It is also my opinion that, as the children get closer to completing the program, it may be better to focus on saving up for and sending financial gifts. Money spent on buying little items and the postage to mail them can add up.  Sending financial gifts instead may help the child buy items that could be used for future studies or for income generating projects.

People also seem to get stuck on ideas for letter writing topics for these older children.  I believe that it is a perfect time to really focus on sharing what you’re learning in church, Bible study and throughout your own time in the Word. If I feel writer’s block coming on when I sit down to write to one of our teens, I pull out the notebook that I take to church and I look through my recent notes.  There are always little nuggets of wisdom that seem to jump off the pages.

Now, I know I have many awesome people in this blog community that have ideas to share!  What kinds of things do you send to your older Compassion International children?  Please leave a comment and share with us!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits


~ Yesterday was so warm and sunny that we took the day off from our “sit-down” homeschooling and just enjoyed the outdoors. By mid-afternoon we were all so hot that I dragged out the sprinkler for a refreshing cool-down. But, this crazy April weather is keeping us on our toes and I had to start a fire in the woodstove this morning to take the chill out of the house.
~ The girls got their fill of Phys. Ed. yesterday, going round and round on the driveway on their bikes.  We also managed to get in a little bit of Science with the discovery of this.
IMG_0020  Can you guess what this is?
These blobs were found in our little pond and they contain frog eggs!  Inside of each little bubble is a tiny tadpole-to-be! Once they emerge from the eggs, we will put most of them back in our pond, but we will raise a few inside so we can observe them as they grow!
~This morning, I found a neat printable on one of my favorite sites, Homeschool Creations. I thought that the bright ABC Bible Verse cards would be a nice activity for my own girls.
After printing them off, though, I realized that these would also be a nice thing to send to our English speaking Compassion children, too. (Click the picture above to go to the post on Homeschool Creations!)
~ Yesterday, Jill from Compassion Family shared about her recent experience meeting Ben Mwangi Kinyanjui from Kenya.  Ben was sponsored through Compassion and he shared his testimony with some advocates in Washington.  Ben’s story was very similar to that of Owen, which I shared yesterday.  Click the Compassion Family button below to read Jill’s post!

Lastly for today I will share a song that I just love.  Kari Jobe has a beautiful voice and when I need a little boost in my day, I will look her up on YouTube and watch a video or two and praise along with her.

Thanks for stopping by Blogging From the Boonies! I hope that your day is blessed!
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Monday, April 16, 2012

One Fine Day

Earlier this month, I attended a local retreat for Compassion International Advocates.  I’ve been meaning to blog about the experience for over a week now.  My mind has been scattered and I worry that I won’t do the story justice, but I need to share before details fade from my memory.

I finished my advocate training in the beginning of 2010, just in time to attend my first retreat in early spring of that year.  While I enjoyed meeting others with a passion for Compassion and I learned a lot of new facts about the organization, nothing affected me like hearing the first-hand testimony of Miguel.  Miguel grew up in Bolivia and shared how his sponsorship through Compassion changed his life and also the lives of his family members.

During the retreat in the spring of 2011, we met Jey Mbiro who grew up in Kenya.  Again, it was the testimony of this young man and his journey thus far that touched me the most.

(You can read my blog posts on that retreat here and also here. )

This year, we were able to meet and hear the testimony of Owen David Githanga. 

Owen grew up near Nairobi, Kenya.  Describing the area where he lived, Owen told us that houses were sided with rusty patchwork of metal scraps. Gaps between metal sheets didn’t leave much in the way of privacy.

As is commonplace in many areas, streams of garbage and sewage were found literally just outside of front doors.

Owen shared the difficulties of his childhood. Living with his mother and brothers, there were months where there wasn’t food to be found in his home.  Owen survived by going door to door, begging for something to fill the empty feeling in his stomach.  Doors were slammed in his face, mocking insults were thrown at him. At times, he scavenged in the dump for rotten or discarded food.

We were told how Owen often didn’t wear shoes and I imagined sweet little bare feet walking through sewage and traversing the broken glass and metal scraps found in the dump.  Sore and infected feet were a common reality.

As a child, if Owen or his brothers were sick, their mother would just put the boys to bed and hope for the best.  There was no money for medical treatment.  It is a miracle that he survived childhood at all.

Owen was able to be registered at a Compassion project.

One fine day, I found out I was sponsored!”

At the age of eight, Owen received a sponsor. At the Compassion International project, he was given balanced meals and medical check-ups. We learned how happy he was to receive a pair of shoes.

But, tears sprang to my eyes when Owen told us that the best gift he received from Compassion was Jesus.

For years, the overwhelming message that was given to Owen through his circumstances and the insults of others was that we was nothing.  He was worthless. His life would never amount to anything.

At church and at the child development center, these lies were being knocked down one by one. He learned how much God loves him and that he can accomplish great things through Christ.

People began to see a change in Owen and he also felt this change within himself. The Compassion program did not just provide for the basic needs of food and clothing, but through their holistic child development model, it worked to instill confidence and hope for a future.

That is one reason why Compassion International is so effective at releasing children from poverty. It does not just care for the child in the moment, but it teaches these children the skills they need to become successful adults.

Seeing the fine young man Owen has become was such a blessing.  As I shared last week, we learned that Owen now sponsors four Compassion International children of his own.  Just like most of us, the decision to take on sponsorship is not something to be taken lightly.  The financial commitment takes a step of faith.

When God gives you a vision, He brings provision.”

We have to echo this sentiment, too. 

I am sure that it comes as no surprise that I asked Owen if he received many letters from his sponsors.  My heart broke to hear the reply that, in his entire time in the Child Development program, he received just one. That single letter was treasured and read over and over again. We were told how Owen would go to friends who received more letters and ask them what they were saying to their sponsors that caused them to reply.  He tried and tried to engage with his sponsor but those attempts were never answered.

The lesson here is that, even without letters from sponsors, it is clear that children can go through the Compassion program and be successful.  Even though this is true, I just can’t help but think of the missed opportunities to minister to and encourage.

Thankfully, as he entered the Leadership and Development Program (LDP) Owen was connected with a sponsor who made an effort to reach out. In fact, such a strong bond was created that Owen’s LDP sponsor was actually the best man at his recent wedding!

I walked away from the Compassion retreat with renewed passion for this organization.  The effect the program has on the children involved is real and tangible.  In so many cases, the difference between sponsored children and unsponsored ones in a poverty stricken area is literally life and death.  Plus, as the children and their families come to know about Jesus, the reach of the program affects not just this lifetime, but eternity as well.

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I was so blessed by the opportunity to meet Owen and hear his testimony.  His story will be with me for a long time to come. As we get to know our newest sponsored son, Ncheshia, whose sponsorship was inspired by Owen, the blessings will just continue to multiply.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

We Have a Winner!

I was so blessed to read the comments from the recent giveaway.  Advocating for children in poverty can be as simple as praying for them and sharing their profiles from the Compassion International website.

Now that you’ve had a taste of how easy it can be to advocate, maybe you would consider taking the step of joining Compassion’s Advocate Network. You don’t have to speak in front of rooms full of people.  You don’t have to put hours into advocacy every week.

If you would like to learn more about joining the Advocate Network, please click to read Becoming a Compassion Advocate.

Now, for the winner of the giveaway!

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Our Kaya was happy to help and she wrote down the names of the entrants.

Then, our Luna, with her newly pierced ears, picked out one slip of paper.

Our…

winner…

is…

 

 

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Congratulations, Hannah!  Please contact me through the contact form on the right or message me through the BFTB Facebook page.

Thank you to everyone who took some time this week to pray over a child and share them with friends or family. 

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Odd For a Minute

I’ve been working on a blog draft about the Compassion retreat, a little here and there. While I haven’t finished that post yet, I do need to share one blessing that came as a result of hearing the testimony of formerly sponsored Owen Githana.

After we got home from the Friday night sponsor dinner, my husband and I stayed up talking about how Owen’s story had affected us.

Discussing how Owen now sponsors four Compassion children of his own, my husband told me that he felt we really could be doing more.

We really should sponsor another child…”

Earlier that Friday, I had been looking through the list of longest waiting children on the Compassion International website.  I was saddened to see that some of the children had been waiting over a year.  While I am generally drawn to children with sad faces, feeling inspired to bring a smile to their lips, I found myself lingering over the profile of one specific young man.

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I went to the computer to bring up the profile of Ncheshia.  It wasn’t until that moment that I realized that he was eight years old and lived in Kenya. My heart did a flip, knowing that the young man who inspired us to sponsor another child was from Kenya and was eight years old when he was sponsored.

384 days after his first sponsor dropped the sponsorship, we clicked the “Sponsor This Child” button and ended Ncheshia’s wait.

I was feeling thankful for the Lord’s provision in our lives and for a husband who has a heart to share what he works hard to earn. As I was thinking of how blessed we were to add another Compassion child, number eleven, to our family I was also laughing to myself.

On the OurCompassion website, some of us joke about “being odd”.  OurCompassion is such a wonderful community of people who love being sponsors. In the Journals, we not only share information, but also have a lot of fun.

I thought to myself, “Oh dear, now we’re odd!”

After reading through Ncheshia’s profile and printing out his picture, I logged into Facebook.  I had some notifications waiting and also a message.

I wasn’t odd for long.

The message was from a friend I had met via social networking.  The friend told me that she didn’t feel she was able to devote enough to the letter writing ministry to her sponsored child and she asked if we would be willing to step in as correspondents.

I thought about it for all of a second and then I happily accepted.

Meet the “baby” of our family.

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Little Akimana from Rwanda just turned four this past Christmas. My girls were literally squealing with delight as soon as she turned up on our Compassion account. We are thankful to have the opportunity to write to this sweet girlie and pray for her.

(Some have asked, we think the IV port on her hand was used to treat malaria or some other sickness. Compassion tells me that her records show that she is in good health.)

So, now we have a dozen beautiful blessings around the world.  Thank you Lord for the gift of these special children in our lives!

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Ready Hands, Willing Hearts

This morning, I stumbled upon the blog of three incredible young ladies.  Reading through their posts, I was struck by their generous spirits and a willingness to follow Jesus and lift up those in need.

Alyssa, Kaitlyn and Ellen are hoping to raise funds to start sponsoring through Compassion.

Take a few minutes to watch this video. In these stories, the lives of these incredible people were saved…. by teenagers. 

I would like to ask you to stop by the Ready Hands, Willing Hearts blog.  Pray over these young ladies and their mission.  If you are so inclined, you can even use their ChipIn widget to help them start their sponsorship.

Given our experience with the co-sponsorship of beautiful Kwagala, we know that this is a possible mission.

Alyssa, Kaitlyn and Ellen, I will be keeping you in prayer.  You’re an inspiration!

Click below to visit their blog!

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Giveaway!

Well, the Compassion Advocate retreat last weekend was such a blessing!  I do hope to share more about what I learned and the testimony of Owen Githanga, who spoke on Friday and Saturday.  However, I’m currently processing some personal things that affect our family and my mind just won’t cooperate when I try to write about the retreat. (A post will be coming, though! I promise!)

In the meantime, I would like to offer up a giveaway!  As you may know, I won a contest put on by the Compassion Bloggers team and won a gift certificate to the Compassion Store. I ordered myself a couple of Compassion coffee mugs and a stack of shirts.

Up for grabs today is this beautiful tee in a size XL.

You can see the product listing here.

This is a super soft, fitted ladies tee.  I love the cut because it is a longer shirt and the v-neck is not low cut or revealing in my opinion.

How can you enter to win?  It is easy.

Go to the Compassion International website and look through the children who have been waiting six months or longer.  Choose one specific child that you will pray for over the next week.  Then, share that child with someone else. You can do this by posting their profile through social networking, blogging or email. You could even call a co-worked or family member over to your computer or smart phone and show them that way.  Continue to pray for the child over the course of the next week.

When you have chosen a child and shared their profile with someone, come back here and leave a comment.  Tell me the name and country of the child and how you shared them.

Next Friday, April 13th, I will put each entrant’s name in a jar and choose one winner!

(The fine print: This giveaway is for those with a U.S. mailing address only. Most of my readers are women, but I do have an XL chartreuse men’s cut tee with the Bite Back logo that I could send if the winner would prefer.)

Thank you for sharing the mission of Compassion! 

Good luck!

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