Monday, July 30, 2012

Mail Call Monday!

Several Mondays each month, Compassion International sponsors link up to share the news from their sponsored children around the world

Today I was blessed to find one of those larger cream colored envelopes waiting for me in the mailbox.  Knowing that those sometimes contain pictures, I could hardly wait to tear into it and see which child had written to us.

Happily, I saw a staple at the top of the letter before I slid the paper out of the envelope. My hunch was right – a photo!

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A few months back, I had asked some fellow advocates if anyone was planning to travel to any of the countries where our Compassion kids live. I learned that a friend was headed to Bolivia within a few weeks and he would be happy to take a small package on our behalf.

My girls and I went shopping and bought a soccer ball, hand pump, harmonica, toy cars, markers, pens and pencils, a calculator and also some candy.

I see that Rodrigo wasted no time in digging into the lollypops!

In his letter, Rodrigo thanks us over and over for the gifts. He ends his letter with:

Well, I have to go but I want you to know that you are always in my heart. With love, Rodrigo”

I can just imagine our sweet boy playing with his toy cars and kicking his new soccer ball around with his friends.  I also hope that he isn’t driving his poor mother crazy with the harmonica.

All in all, a very happy Mail Call Monday!

So what about you?  Have you received any letters from your Compassion children lately? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section or by joining our Mail Call link-up below!

Also, if you join in on the Mail Call, please be sure to tell your readers that you’re linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday and link back to this post! You’re free to grab the Mail Call image at the top of this post as well!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sharing an Answered Prayer

Summer is barreling by faster than a speeding locomotive, which means that posts here on Blogging from the Boonies have slowed down tremendously.

I did want to quickly share a little about the answered prayers we received this past weekend.

I have talked a little about it in the past, but we have been estranged and alienated from my 14 year old step-daughter for some time. While she was with us for more than half of the time for most of her life, in recent years, things have broken down between her mother and our family.  The result is that we have seen her just a handful of time in the last 2 years.

To say that it has been hard would be an understatement. Agonizing, heart-breaking torture is more like it.  We’ve tried hard to “give it to God” and rely on His timing, but a lot of times it was easier said than done.

But, our God is faithful. He hears our cries, He knows our struggles.

This weekend was an answer to prayer.  We were able to have an entire weekend with the girl we’ve missed so badly.

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It brought healing to our hearts to be able to have time together as a family.  I felt of the icy resentment melting away and the burden being lifted from our shoulders.

I don’t know what the future will hold, but for now I am ok with that. I am remembering that He has this whole situation in His hand.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Big News: Compassion Mobile Experience!

I first heard about the Compassion Mobile Experience in April of this year.  I just recently saw that this new travelling display is now up and running!

“Experience the reality of children living in poverty at Change the Story, Compassion's new, interactive traveling display. The sights, sounds and smells of a poor, developing-world community will come alive as you journey with a child from hardship to hope. Space is limited – make your reservation to attend this eye-opening, life-changing display now.”

This amazing new display will bring the sights, sounds and smells of poverty to various cities around the United States. Housed within two interlocking tractor trailers, participants will be able to walk through a realistic representation of a poverty-stricken area.

“Change the Story will bring you as close to another country and culture as you can get without a passport. This interactive, immersive display allows you to step into the life of a child who has suffered under the crippling weight of poverty.

But the journey does not end there.

In the span of less than 30 minutes, you will travel with that child from hardship to hope. And in the midst of hope, you will see that child's story transformed through the support of Compassion and the child's life-giving relationship with a sponsor.”

As of right now, Compassion’s new mobile experience is scheduled to travel to over a dozen destinations in the coming months.  Click here to see a map and schedule! It is a bit of a hike, but I hope to make the trek to Buffalo in September!

On Youtube, I found a few videos showing people sharing their thoughts after going through the new display.

 

 

 

 

I think that this new travelling display will be a wonderful tool to expose people to the issues of poverty and the hope that is brought by sponsorship through Compassion International.   I am excited to learn more about it and see it for myself in a few months!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Compassion-Inspired Lesson Plans

Did you know that the Compassion website has a page with several interesting lesson plans?  While they are geared towards homeschooling families, I think they would be a wonderful  learning experience for any family or group! I think they would be great for Sunday School lessons, too.

According to Compassion:

“These lessons help children learn about countries where Compassion helps children in poverty. They also provide a wealth of creative activities that lead to spiritual growth!”

Here are the five lessons plans currently available on the Compassion site.

Lesson One: Spiritual Emphasis: Evangelism

Lesson Two: Spiritual Emphasis: Stewardship

Lesson Three: Spiritual Emphasis: Giving

Lesson Four: Spiritual Emphasis: Prayer

Lesson Five: Spiritual Emphasis: Helping Others in Need

Also, I’d like to share the Quest for Compassion website.  Quest for Compassion is an interactive game of sorts.

“The purpose of Quest for Compassion is to educate your children about global poverty and help them develop a heart for the poor around the world. When children understand poverty, they grow into compassionate adults.”

While school may be out for summer, it is a great time to take on some educational activities as a family!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Walking In Water

As I shared previously, today was the day set for our Walking For Water event.  Our homeschool group planned to raise funds and awareness for Compassion International’s Water of Life initiative.

The plan for today was to meet up in town at 4:00 and then walk a half mile to the local creek, collect buckets of water and bring them back to our table to run through the filter.

We’ve had an exceptionally dry season and the weather forecast looked clear, but when I started driving to town I took note of some dark clouds in the distance. Just a little before 4:00, the sprinkles started.  By the time 4:00 rolled around, it was pouring.

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Then, for good measure, it started to thunder!

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We took shelter under the awning of an empty store and wondered if we should wait it out, call it off, or what.

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After a few minutes, it became clear that this would not be some quickly passing rainstorm. We had planned to walk for water, not walk in water. So, we decided not to make the mile walk, but instead collected rain and water from the roof.

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Some of the kids were daring enough to try the water. (I assured them that the filter cleans out the contaminants.)

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On the way home, I was a bit disappointed that things did not work out as I had planned. I wanted to have more time to talk to the kids and get them thinking about how those living in poverty deal with their water issues.  I wanted us all to get a feel for what it is like to carry water for a distance and think of those who do that on a daily basis. But, while I was disappointed, I was also so thankful for each of the families that took the time to participate in the fundraising.

When I got home, we counted up the checks and cash that had been brought to the event. I was blown away.

You know, when the idea to do a Water of Life event first crossed my mind, I thought we might shoot for raising enough money to buy three water filters.  As I was setting up the FirstGiving website, I decided to shoot for a bigger goal: $550 which is enough for ten water filters.

By the time I added up all of the online donations and those given in person today, I was just amazed.

Working together, our group was able to raise $1,445 (so far) which is enough for twenty-six water filters.

That is 26,000,000 gallons of clean water that will be provided!!!

Amazing.

So, while our actual event got rained out, it is clear that it was not “a washout”.

Many thanks to everyone who supported us with prayers, publicity or donations! Thank you to the families who spread the word about this event and raised funds! Because of your efforts, twenty-six families will soon be given their new water filters! Praise the Lord!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday’s This & That

Around the house…  We just got home from Summer Rec and visiting my husband at his jobsite. I’m taking a little break before tackling the chores and clutter that are waiting for me. I put Vivaldi on the internet radio because it brings a sense of peace to my soul. 

Outside of the window… the sun is shining through a bit of humid haze. We’ve had only a tiny amount of rain in the last month, so the grass is starting to turn brown. I can hear some blue jay squawking in the distance.

In the kitchen… crumbs and various cups and silverware sit on the counter waiting for me. I may have to make myself a smoothie before start battle with the mess.

I’ve been reading… some books by Beverly Lewis based on the Amish culture of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I don’t read a lot of fiction anymore, but a friend gave me a few books and I have enjoyed their simple storylines.

I’m looking forward to… our Walking for Water event tomorrow! (You can read more about our event here!) Our initial goal was to raise enough for ten Water of Life filters, but we’ve already collected enough for seventeen.  Maybe the Lord is going to help us double our goal! If you would like to donate a little for our fundraiser, you can see our secure online donation page here.

A few pictures from this week:

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ways to Follow BFTB!

Every Summer, the posts here at Blogging from the Boonies slow down a bit. Our family becomes busy with various activities throughout the week.

Even so, you may want to follow BFTB, one way or another.

Even on days that I don’t put up a blog post, I check in on the Blogging From the Boonies Facebook community. Feel free to join in the conversation or ask a question on that page! Click the blue FB button on the left to be taken to my page!

I’m not on Twitter very much, but you can still follow me and catch those few random tweets.

The envelope button in the middle with deliver my latest blog posts to your email inbox.

The orange button is the BFTB RSS feed.

Lastly, you can follow through Blogger.

Personally, I use Google Reader to subscribe to and follow my favorite blogs. That way, I don’t miss out on posts.  (Unless, of course, I don’t check it for a few days and come to find hundreds of blog posts waiting for me.  Sometimes I have to mark all as read so I don’t get overwhelmed!)

One way or another, be sure to follow BFTB! Our community is growing every day!



Monday, July 9, 2012

Mail Call Monday!

Several Mondays each month, Compassion International sponsors link up to share the news from their sponsored children around the world.

Today’s post is being published late.  After free swim, I stopped in to the town firehall to donate some blood. Wouldn’t you know it? After I was done with my donation, I went to the snack bar and suddenly felt a sweat break out.  Then the room started to swim a bit.  I managed to squeak out a quiet, “Um, I am feeling dizzy,” and next thing I knew there were people pushing chairs out of the way and putting me on a stretcher chair.  I didn’t pass out and really felt better after a while, but what was usually a 40 minute event turned into an hour and a half.

Phew!

Better late than never, though,

Last week, we received a very brief  letter from our handsome Mkapa in Tanzania.

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The letter mentioned that our boy is doing well in school and enjoys going to the project to learn about Jesus. He asked for prayers for his studies and that he may pass his exams.  While the letter was very short, it is nice to see Mkapa’s nice handwriting and hold something that he once held.  I also liked the verse printed on the stationary.

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.”

Proverbs 25:25

Today, we found one of the larger tan envelopes in our mailbox.  Sometimes, those contain photos, so I was eager to tear into it and see.

Inside, we found a thank you card from our Bertille from Burkina Faso…. and a photo!

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With birthday money we sent, she was able to buy a new suit, new shoes and a new school bag.  We were surprised to see that our beautiful girl no longer has braided, beaded hair, but were happy to see that she is growing well and looks so healthy!

Kaya, our fashionista, thought that Bertille did a good job picking out new shoes!

So what about you?  Have you received any letters from your Compassion children lately? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section or by joining our Mail Call link-up below!

Also, if you join in on the Mail Call, please be sure to tell your readers that you’re linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday and link back to this post! You’re free to grab the Mail Call image at the top of this post as well!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Joy, Beauty and HOPE! (A Guest Post)

My name is David Chalmers, and I am a 30-year-old elementary teacher from Melbourne, Australia. I am single and childless, and yet my life revolves around other people’s children. This has, in the past, been a difficult place to be. I am an uncle to 5 and teacher to 19. I have done childcare, holiday programs, coached junior basketball, Sunday School. Most importantly, I am a Compassion sponsor to 49 precious ones from all 26 countries where Compassion works. For better or worse, God has given me a soft heart, which is continually being wrecked as I immerse myself in the lives of my Compassion kids, and live out God’s purpose for my life.

I wanted to share the on-going story of one of my kids, who has had more of an impact on me than many of the others. I started sponsoring Ana Cristina at the start of 2011. She was a captivating 10-year-old in a pretty blue dress, and she had a shy smile on her face. I would only discover the significance of this later on.

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Cristina lives in Fortaleza, Brazil, which I understand is one of the worst places in the world for child prostitution, and the related evil that comes with it. She is one of 6 children, and her mother was 13 when she gave birth to her oldest child, Cristina’s older brother. I received a letter from the pastor of Cristina’s church, giving details about the community. They are surrounded by a dried up river full of untreated sewage and effluent on one side, and a swamp on the other, which leaves them at risk of flooding when it rains. Because of this there is no industry or commerce, which means there are no jobs, which means there is high unemployment, alcoholism, violence, drugs, gambling, unstructured families... Hell on earth basically.

It was then that I looked at Cristina and wondered: “How does a person manage to smile while living in those circumstances?” I am still at a loss to answer that, but my guess would be that that person has the hope of the love of God and trusts Him to provide for their needs. At the time the letter was written there were only 13 out of 123 children at the Project who were sponsored, but they have since formed a partnership with a church in Queensland, Australia, which is great.
Part 2 of this story happened in August 2011. I received a letter saying that Cristina’s uncle had been killed, and they had moved away for a while. That was it. I prayed fervently for the next two weeks, and in mid-September woke up one morning to an email with Cristina’s name in the subject line. This is what I read:

Hi David,
My name is .... and I work for Compassion Australia.
Two weeks ago my husband and I visited our sponsor boy in Fortaleza, Brazil and also another Compassion project in the area – BR458.
Throughout the course of the day, one of the young girls at the project came up to me and shyly through the translator showed me the letter her sponsor wrote her. She said her sponsor was from Australia. I took a photo of her holding her sponsor letter.
Upon returning home and investigating further, I have discovered it was in fact your little sponsor girl Cristina!

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I attach some photos of beautiful Ana Cristina and her project and hope that you enjoy!

It was such an amazing experience to visit her project (BR458). In fact, it was one of the highlights of our four week holiday! The community that Cristina, Rocy and Jessica live in is fairly horrific. Raw sewage runs through the streets, there is no electricity and worse, houses are small and fairly ramshackle and worse, there are a lot of people that have no hope. Drugs are a huge problem in fact, one of the boys in the project has recently lost his father in a drug debt related murder.

In the community, the children are taught that they were born poor, they will die poor. In the project, they learn that they are valued, that God has a purpose for their life, and that they can dream big. They go home with aspirations of becoming a doctor, or a teacher – in a community where playing cards and drinking at 11am on a Monday morning is normal practice... Then, as they change, they start to change their parent's attitudes. As a result parents are giving up drugs, trying to find work and some are even giving their life to Christ. To see and hear about this project first hand was just miraculous – God is at work! And - the project staff are amazing! The project director is also the church pastor, he attends the project 5 days a week and just does life with the kids, does pastoral care in the community, writes sermons for Sunday mornings (where the church has grown from 12 to 120!) and somehow finds the time to do large jig-saw puzzles which he then raffles off to raise money for the project and the church! His love and the love of the other staff towards the children was palpable – I was blown away!

I just felt the project was such a beacon in the community. There, the children were able to be children! They were joyful, hopeful and happy.

I was blown away by God’s grace and mercy in this situation, and He continually reminds me that as much as I love these kids, He loves them more, and has His hand on their lives.

Part 3 happened two weeks ago. I had only received one letter from Cristina in the last year, but a letter came from Cristina’s monitor, saying that the family had a tough time, and had moved away. “Not again!” I thought, and lifted her up in prayer. Not even a week later, I received another letter, this time from Cristina herself:

Dear sponsor Mr David, How are you? Thank God, now we are ok. After some bad people killed my uncle we had to move and we a bad time and I had to leave my school and I lost my school year but now everything is back to normal. When I was living with my Aunt I was studying thank God, now I am back to the Project. Thank you for the Christmas present that I could buy clothes. Thanks also for the letters and pictures. Pray for me and family to the Lord protect us. Kisses, Ana Cristina.

Part 4 of this story has not happened yet. It is 80-ish days away (and counting!!). The love that God put on my heart for Cristina inspired me to sponsor 9 more children from the same area. In January this year I acted on the desire of my heart and organised a trip to visit my Brazilian children. They are from three separate projects, so I will be visiting the projects and the houses over 3 days, then on October 1 (which is my birthday), I will be meeting my ten children, plus their siblings and guardians, and taking them to a fun park in Fortaleza.

I felt compelled to take this extra step of inviting all the guardians and siblings because I am positive God is going to do something incredible in all our lives on that day, and I get a front row seat, which is pretty cool. I don’t know where all the parents are at in their relationship with God, so I guess this is my way of sharing with them God’s extravagant love for them.

The trip is all paid for and organized, but can I ask you to pray for protection for both the kids and myself, that God might squash any barriers or obstacles that come up in the next couple of months.

God has used sponsoring children with Compassion to change my life, and give me a purpose. It is an honor and privilege to serve Him in this way. He is continually teaching me that amongst the poverty and brokenness of the world, there is joy, beauty and HOPE when we trust in God.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Mail Call!

Several Mondays each month, Compassion International sponsors link up here and share posts and comments about any happy dances they’ve had at the mailbox.

 

On Saturday, we received a letter from Rodrigo in Bolivia! Compassion 037

 

We love letters from Rodrigo because he usually shares interesting details about his life.  He almost always thanks us for letters and items we’ve sent and he is very loving and sweet.

This most recent letter from Rodrigo was a bit shorter than usual.  He tells us how it is very cold in LaPaz and how his project went to a place called Pura-Pura and went down slides.  Now, I love to Google things, so I looked up Pura-Pura and they have some steep cliffs and hills.  Being winter in Bolivia, I wonder if the word “toboganes” would be better translated as sleds instead of slides. 

Today, we received a letter from Alice in Kenya.

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I knew the letter was from her the instant I saw a flash of her familiar handwriting.  Alice writes her letters herself in English.  The first thing I saw when opening the letter was the sweet closing.

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Your kindly daughter”

That phrase, of course, brought tears to my eyes. In the rest of the letter, Alice tells us that she thanks her heavenly father for a chance to write to each other.  (I do, too!) She thanks us for our wonderful letters and the books we have sent to her. She mentioned the Jesus is Alive coloring book we sent two Easters ago.  She also tells us that she was eleventh in her class and math is her favorite.

Lastly, she thanked us for the pictures we sent of her and that she and her family were very proud. Whenever I receive a new picture of one of our children, I make copies and send them back to the child. I’ve heard that most families have no pictures of themselves or their children, so it is a rare treat.

I’m thankful for two letters in one week!  Have you received any letter from your Compassion children lately?  If so, please feel free to share in the comment section or by joining our Mail Call link-up below!

 

Also, if you join in on the Mail Call, please be sure to tell your readers that you’re linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday and link back to this post! You’re free to grab the Mail Call image at the top of this post as well!