Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saying Goodbye

The sands in the hourglass of 2013 are slipping away. In so many ways, I am relieved to see this year pass.

It has been a difficult year for our family in so many ways. Really, the troubles seemed to start in the fall of 2012, but they kept on coming throughout 2013.

We faced battles of every kind ~ deep, personal attacks that seemed unrelenting at times.

I have tried to keep swimming through financial issues, personal and emotional hurdles, trials in my marriage, business woes and grieving over the path one of our loved ones is taking.

Losing the chance at a much anticipated trip to Uganda with the Compassion Bloggers was a blow that rattled me much more than I would have thought possible. Yes, the reasons for not being able to take the trip come with the unexpected blessing of a new baby on the way, still my heart shattered and my mind questioned the timing of it all.

In processing that loss, it seems I have lost my words and a bit of the driving passion to blog for the organization that means so much to me. Every time I sit down and try to speak on this little platform on the web, my heart breaks and tears well up for what is apparently not meant to be. At least, not right now.

It is bittersweet to try to come to terms that my feet will not be standing on the red clay of Africa anytime soon and, we will instead be welcoming a baby boy with a fitting name ~ Clay.

Lastly, as the door starts to swing closed on this year, we were given the news that my mother will be undertaking a journey of her own. Her journey will be a battle against that insidious C-word. Cancer.

Of course, your prayers are appreciated.

Looking back at 2013, there are blessings and bright spots sprinkled throughout the pages of days. I hope, as we turn to a fresh blank page in 2014, that the blessings and bright spots will outshine the burdens and trials.

Thank you to those who have stuck around despite my absence here on the blog and who have prayed for our family this year.

Today, I say goodbye to 2013. May 2014 be a better year for all of us!

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Monday, November 18, 2013

I am a Compassion Grandma!

On Friday I received word that our beloved Kwagala Deborah in Uganda gave birth to a baby boy. The tears came when we were told that she named her precious baby after the heroes in her life.

The name she chose is Michelle Jason Grace.

My husband and I are still processing the fact that, across the ocean, there is a sweet baby named after the two of us. What a profound statement!

Our beautiful daughter and grandson could use your prayers, though. Before the birth, Kwagala Deborah was diagnosed with both malaria and anemia. It is only because of the financial gift that was collected on her behalf before departing the program, that she was able to receive treatment.

Also, her family situation is very difficult and she does not have much support.

Lastly, she was given some questionable breastfeeding advice that may threaten her success in nursing her baby.

All of these situations need fervent prayer.

It is very hard for us to be so far from our lovely daughter and the sporadic communication also poses issues. My husband and I wish there were some way we could bring Kwagala Deborah and baby Jason here to the US and give them the love and support they need. But for now, we give our requests to God and pray that He care for our loved ones so far away.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Mail Call Monday!

I have all of the intentions to get back to blogging regularly, but things seem to get in the way! I do have a Mail Call to share today, though!

Last week, we received a letter from Rodrigo in Bolivia.

Rodrigo writes often and he is such a sweet young man. He thanked us, as usual, for the letters we have sent him and for the drawings we have sent as well. Rodrigo tell us that he has three dogs and one cat and they are lovely and nice. “One of my dogs gives you the paw.”

Rodrigo tells us he is trying hard in school and is doing well. He tells us about a parade he was a part of in August to celebrate the anniversary of Bolivia. Rodrigo played the snare drum and marched with his school marching band. I wish we could have seen that!

His letters are always signed With Love and his love is apparent in his letters. He is such a special boy!

We were also blessed to receive an updated photo of Precious in Ghana which brought tears to my eyes.

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What a treat to see a smile on her face and hos much she has grown! I cannot help but reflect on the scared and shy reflection in her first photo and how we have seen a progression of confidence as the updates have come.

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Isn’t that quite a change?

I have also received a different kind of Happy Mail in our mailbox this past week.

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Cloth diapers!

That is my roundabout way of announcing that the Lord is blessing us with a baby, coming at the end of March! We were not expecting this blessing and it does impact my ability to join the Compassion Bloggers in Uganda at the end of January, but we trust is His plan. We know that this little one will bring joy to our household and that I will be able to join in a bloggers trip as soon as I am able!

I hope that your mail has been happy and that you have heard from your sponsored children recently!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Long Overdue Mail Call

You know how life is…  Ups and downs, unexpected turns – we have been through all of these in the last few months and this little blog has been neglected.

While I have managed to keep up with monthly letters to our Compassion family online using the letter writing tool on the Compassion website, I have a stack of letters waiting for a handwritten reply and some goodies.

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I haven’t sent a collection of handwritten letters in to the Compassion headquarters since late June or early July, I believe. Now that life seems to be settling down a bit and we are back to the schedule and routine of the homeschool year, those reply letters are going to get moved to the top of the priority list.

Now, it would take quite a while to go through all of these letters and share highlights, so I’ll just be picking and choosing some of my favorite tidbits here today.

I always love getting pictures in the mail, so I was very happy to receive this picture of our Yishak in Ethiopia, with his family on his birthday.

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As is common with many children in Ethiopia, I do not hear from our Yishak very often and the letters we do receive are often short. However, each year, we are blessed with a family picture that comes about five to six months after Yishak’s birthday. He has such a good looking family and it has been nice to see how everyone is growing!

The letter that came with this picture was one of the most lively and engaging we have received in the past four years. We learned that Yishak is doing very well in school and has moved on to 10th grade. He thanks us for all of our letters and tells us he is always thinking of us in his prayers. That brought a smile to my face!

We heard from the bubbly and enthusiastic Meenadevi in India.

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Prior to being assigned as our correspondent child in December, Meenadevi had had one sponsor through her time in Compassion and had last received a letter in 2007.  In this letter, her excitement over receiving love and encouragement is unmistakable. Her thankfulness and love seems to pour off of the paper.

“I am so excited to receive your loving, Uncle and Aunty. I am excited to know about you and your family and read the interesting news in your letters… Aunty, please convey all of my love and prayers to all in my correspondents home. I am happy to learn about Luna and Kaya.”

She goes on to share many little details about her life, interests and family. She replies to many things we have shared in our letters to her, recalling specific details and sharing compliments all the while.

I am so thankful that her financial sponsor agreed to let Compassion connect Meenadevi with a correspondent and I feel so blessed that we are the lucky ones!  Our sweet girl signs her letter with, “Your Love is Ever Remembered”.

As usual, the letters from our Kenyan Alice and Ncheshia came on the same day.

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Both children mentioned the teacher’s strike and asked for prayer for the resolution. It is clear how much they both value education and how important it is to them. Ncheshia asks, “Please pray for God to intervene so that they call call off the strikes as I am much affected academically.”  Alice shares, “Please pray that we go back to school soon, Before the strike we had done exams and I was position number one with 327 marks and I am very proud.”

We also learned about a Fun Day they had at Alice’s school where the children were given rides on horses and camels. My own little horse lovers thought that was wonderful!

Other tidbits from some of our recent letters:

Rodrigo in Bolivia: “We have finished our trimester at school and I am calm but it doesn’t mean that I will stop doing my bit in my studies. As you may know, I dream of being a police officer, so I have to be worthy and not give up.”

Uwera in Rwanda: “I hope that you are doing good and I request more photos and I will be so happy. The pictures of your children make me so happy.”

Kazihizina in Rwanda: “Thank you for all of the letters you send to me. I am so happy to know about your news. If you have got any problems, you please tell me.”

Elin in El Salvador: “I learn about God at the project. I accepted Christ into my heart in 2007. I am so excited to write to you.”

As I go through the stack of letters again and read the sweet words, my inspiration is rekindled to sit down and spend some time working on personal hand written replies to these beautiful children. They are truly blessings in our lives!

Have you received any letters from your Compassion children recently? Are you working on letters, either online or hand written? Leave a comment and tell me about them!

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Mail Call Monday!

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

I have two letters to share today and the first one is from our Magid in Ghana.

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Again, I have to say how blessed I am by the letters written by most of our teens. While not all of them write detailed letters, some of them are truly creative in their expression.

Magid says, “God, who cannot be compared, richly and kindly bless you and your family and be with you all, always.”

He goes on to tell us about how he is learning the importance of helping the elderly in the community. I love how these important lessons are shared with the children in the Compassion program!

Our young man then asks a question that amazes me, “Do you have any intention of travelling outside of your country?”

Hmmm, why yes I do!

While my upcoming travel plans will take me to Uganda, in my heart I feel like I will be visiting Ghana within the next few years and hopefully I will meet Magid and also the little girl that started our Compassion journey, Precious!

In wrapping up the letter, Magid shared some lovely prayers for us and prayer requests for himself. His verse for us was Psalm 133:1.

Today we received a letter from our beautiful Guatemalan flower, Yolanda.

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As an added bonus, an updated photo of her appeared on our Compassion account this past week, too. Isn’t she just lovely?

The letter was short but chatty. Yolanda shared that she is doing great and she is happy because school started and she is in third grade. She says that she sometimes likes to help her brothers with their homework and she would like to be a teacher when she grows up.

I am always smiling and I am friendly and kind. I always do my homework.”

All wonderful things to read! I love that she has a positive image of herself!

What about you? Did you get any letters from your Compassion children recently? If so, please share in the comments section below!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday’s This & That

Outside of my window… After several rainy, humid days, we finally have some sun and a slightly cool breeze. It is refreshing to be able to have the widows open and let some cool, dry air in!

Around the house… A Group 1 Crew station in playing on the internet radio.  I needed something with a beat to help me motivate to clean around the house and get prepared for a pot luck we’re hosting tomorrow.  The hum of the dishwasher is mingling with the purr of a fan. Giggling girls are chatting on the couch. 

On my to-do list… Along with mundane tasks, I have some new, neat things to tackle like getting more info on immunizations and filling in paperwork for my Visa. Wow, just four months before I hope on a big airplane and fly over the ocean!

Speaking of that… As I read back through the posts where I was first drawn to Kwagala Deborah two years ago, I now just smile to see how plainly God was working on me and aligning something beautiful.

There are so many details in our relationship that have God’s fingerprint plainly showing. 

Right now, my beloved Ugandan daughter is going through a bit of a crisis, so I would love it if you could pray for her.  I know that winning the Compassion Bloggers trip was a blessing from the Lord to get me to Uganda “for such a time as this”.

And I am preparing and praying over the big and little details surrounding the tip. High on my list is that the “re-entry” Shaun Groves writes about is going to be very, very difficult for me. Especially coming back to the US at the height of the pre-Christmas Spend Fest. I already know my heart and that I can be cynical and judgemental. It is going to be hard to come back from a developing country and watch as Americans celebrate Christmas in the way they are known to do.

Would you pray for me and the upcoming trip? For the details and the “re-entry”?

Your prayers, support and friendship are all so appreciated.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Feature!

Today I want to feature a really wonderful program!

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According to their website, Kiva is “a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”

Through Kiva loans, you can fund or partially fund a project such as business start-up, continuing education, purchases of additional stock and more. These loans can make a BIG impact on the lives of people around the world!

Want to learn more? Click here.

Today, I have a special offer for anyone who has not yet gotten involved in Kiva loans.

If you click this link to my personal referral, you will be given a free $25 to fund a Kiva loan of your choice.

This is a no-risk opportunity for you to see what Kiva is all about and to support someone’s dreams and future! The process is quick and easy! Take a few minutes today to do a good deed and help! Come back and share which project you chose!

If you’ve partnered with Kiva in the past, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section!

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Slice of {Our} Life

A Tuesday afternoon, cooking up calabacitas for the burrito dinner…. This video comes up on my Facebook feed.

Dinner prep stops for a few moments as I listen and listen again.

Tears….

Truth.

Oh, Lord, how I need you!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

One Step Closer….

My heart started pounding while I read the email last August. As I read through the details of the contest Compassion International was holding, I felt like it was quite possibly made for me.

The goal of the contest was to engage bloggers to spread the word about Compassion International and also generate sponsorships. On top of that, there were lots of prizes available to those who participated.

My heart simultaneously leapt and stopped when my eyes came across the grand prize.

“The blogger who brings in the most sponsorships through their blog between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30 will get to travel with some of our top name bloggers to a country where Compassion works.”

I love seeing children sponsored and I love blogging about Compassion. I had been dreaming about travelling to see Compassion at work in their field, specifically in Africa.

All through that September, I was conflicted. I really, really wanted to win that trip. While part of me felt that the contest was actually made for me, I couldn’t really allow myself to think about to too much.  When hope flickered in my heart, I then dealt with thoughts of not being enough.

So many friends prayed for me and took on new sponsorships, in support of the children and my dream.

Then, one October morning, I opened my email to find the Compassion Blog post I had been waiting for. 

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Wow, the emotions that poured over me when I saw that image for the first time!

I relived them again today when an email I opened contained an invitation to join the Compassion Bloggers when they travel to Uganda this fall.

Uganda…..

A country where four of our beautiful Compassion International children live.

Shy little Madina, one of the babies of our Compassion family.

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Handsome Onen Patrick, the young man our church sponsored during Blog Month.

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Kind and caring Obwini Stephen, a young man co-sponsored with the help of the Blogging from the Boonies community.

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And lastly, Kwagala Deborah, the young lady who has stolen my heart and who calls me Mom. I know that we are not supposed to have favorites, but there is an extra special place in my heart for this beautiful girl.

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While the details and specifics of my trip are not set yet, I am hopeful that I’ll be able to meet at least a few of these sweet children.

Today, I am just so thankful. To my friends, family and blog readers who have supported me, you have my thanks.  I will be sure to keep you all updated as I hear more about my trip!

Thank you, Lord!

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

You Are Part of the Plan!

 

Image courtesy of the Compassion Mobile Experience Facebook page.

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(If you haven’t already, please hop over and “like” Blogging from the Boonies on Facebook!)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Correspondence Connections!

A fairly new feature at Blogging From The Boonies, these Correspondence Connections posts share some of the things we’ve written to our Compassion International children.

Many sponsors understand the importance of their letters to their sponsored children. The letter writing ministry is a crucial part of the sponsorship! But, sponsors may run out of ideas of things to write about each month.  Sometimes, hearing what other are writing about can spark new ideas!

My current plan is to write a theme letter online to all 19 of our children every month. These duplicate letters are slightly edited to be specific to each child, but share the same basic information and photos. (Handwritten letters are usually totally different and each child is sent a paper letter at least every other month.)

This month, our round of online letters will be about VBS!

Our Compassion children seem to really love letters where I share activities that my girls are participating in, especially if I have pictures to go along with it!

This week, my girls are attending VBS (Vacation Bible School) at our friends’ church for a few hours each evening. The theme is “Kingdom Chronicles” and is based on the Armor of God. The church has created a really neat castle backdrop on their stage.

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I will tell the children about the schedule of the VBS, including the lessons, songs and games.

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Even though I have written about the Armor of God before, I will go over the scripture verses again and explain more about all of the different parts.

One website I love looking through is Ministry To Children and they have great ideas to share on the topic of The Armor of God.

The Armor of God Pieces

If you’re thinking of sending out letters based on the Armor of God, maybe these other resources will help you out!

The Life in Bloom – Printable Armor of God packet (SO cute!)

Memory Cross – Armor of God Flip Cards

Oriental Trading – Armor of God Sticker Scenes

Way Cool Bible School – Armor of God coloring sheet

Melonheadz – Armor of God coloring sheet

Green Jello with Carrots – Armor of God paper doll

DLTK – Armor of God lesson

I think that our Compassion children will enjoy hearing about VBS and learning more about the Armor of God. Don’t you?

Have you written to your Compassion family lately? If so, what did you write about?  Feel free to share in the comments! If you have a Correspondence Connections post to share, you can link to it in the comments as well!

Will you please make the commitment to write to your sponsored children often?

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Mail Call Monday!

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

Today was a Kenyan mail call! It seems as if Kenya may be on an every-other-month schedule when it comes to writing and I was happy to find two letters in our mailbox today!

First I opened a letter from Alice.

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She opens by thanking us for the letters and pictures we have sent to her. The specifically mentions some pictures that were “very beautiful and shining like a star.” I do wonder which ones she is referring to!

Answering some questions, Alice tells us that she goes to church every Sunday with her entire family and that they have a keyboard and guitar that they use for worship. She also says that in her daily life she uses both English and Kiswahili. I love that she answers some of our questions!

Alice goes on to tell us all about a camp she attended. She had a lot of fun with the games and was proud when her group, called The Tigers, won a competition! She also enjoyed all of the foods at camp, like rice, meat, chapati, oranges, mangoes, pawpaw and more. Sounds like a wonderful time!

In keeping with her area of expertise, Alice shared yet another Science themed drawing on the back.

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I love her writing and that she has a passion for Science! In the past she has also drawn diagrams of body organs, plant structure and more!

The other letter we received was from our handsome Ncheshia!

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He opens by saying that he thanks God for the chance to write and say “How are you?”

Ncheshia goes on to tell us how much he enjoys playing soccer and that his favorite foods are meat, milk, chapati and mangoes.

We learn that he goes to school Monday through Friday and then goes to the project on Saturday.  He enjoys learning to use the computer at his project and is good at the beadwork they are learning.

“I love God so much and I also love you but in all, God loves you more than anything.”

Awwww….

Ncheshia’s chatty letter also tells us that he has a dog named Simba which means “lion”. He tells us that he is doing well in school and likes Science. 

He tells us that he prays for our family every day. What a thought!

The letter closes with Ncheshia sharing that he would like to become a bank manager some day and that he would like to help the nation of Kenya and even help orphaned children. Such a wonderful young man!

The verse he shares with us is Psalm 121:1-2.

I really love the letters from our Kenyan children. They are so full of great information! I learn something with each and every letter! The frequency of letters really helps us to feel connected to Alice and Ncheshia, too!

What about you? Have you heard from any of your compassion children lately? I’d love to hear about your letters!

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kwagala’s Dream

From the moment I saw her face on the Compassion website, it was a matter if faith.

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My connection to Kwagala Deobrah was instant.

Asking others to join in and help fund the sponsorship was a step of faith.

As I shared in this post, I had a little internal argument before sharing the mission to sponsor her….

A week ago, almost to the hour, I sat with coffee in hand and argued with myself. Well, not so much myself, as I believe I was arguing with God.

“Post on your blog. See if you can find a group of people willing to help you out with sponsorship.”

“I don’t want to get my hopes up and get disappointed. What if a few donate and we can cover her for a few months, and then the funds run out and we can’t continue.”

“Post on your blog. Amy was able to coordinate the group-sponsorship of Agnes. You have a lot of passionate readers with big hearts.”

“But, what if NO ONE is interested? What if I look like a fool? Someone who is always asking people for something.”

“Post. On. Your. Blog.”

Back and forth I went until I decided to just try, to put it out there and see what would happen.

Well, love happened.”

It has been two years, almost to the day, since this beautiful young lady was sponsored.  Those two years have been such a blessing, as I have gotten to know more about this sweet girl in Uganda who now calls me Mom.

Kwagala Deborah’s story is hard to swallow. A father who died. A mother who walked out on three little girls. As the older sister, she stepped up at the age of eight to care for her siblings. Raking in rubbish bins for scraps of food before Compassion and a children’s home in her town stepped in to provide care.

But Hope has come in a group of people willing to work together, providing money, prayers and support.

I’ve recently learned that Kwagala Deborah is no longer living at the children’s home, at age 19 she has quite possibly “aged out” of the program.  She is pursuing her dream of opening her own beauty salon.

After receiving a letter this past winter where KD shared her dream, my daughter Kaya drew this picture to send to her sister in Uganda.

As we were told by the staff at the children’s home, the biggest obstacles to Kwagala’s dream will be organization and finance. Starting a business is not easy, especially for a young lady with little in the way of resources.

So, in a step of faith, I am coming to you all with an opportunity to bless this lovely girl. Next week I hope to send a financial gift to help Kwagala in this transition time of being on her own and trying to start her salon.

If you would be able to help with this gift, please feel free to send Paypal to tiedyebutterfly@hotmail.com. If you would like to give but do not have a Paypal account, please email me at mjw4compassion at gmail dot com and I can send you a Paypal invoice which can be paid with any credit card.

And, of course, prayers are always appreciated as well! Thank you!

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Slice of {Our} Life

Not wanting to neglect the blog too much, I hope to start a new series during those times when words and posts are hard to come by.

Here is a captured moment of our day today.

I enjoyed the beach-side breeze, sitting in the shade and writing a letter to our Kwagala Deborah.

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My girls spent a long time going from swimming to sand play and I was blessed by some time to just sit.

Welcome, Summer!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Plea for Pascal

Last September, I cam across a slightly scowling young man from Uganda on the Compassion International website.

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Pascal was listed in both of the searches I do when I go to the Compassion website to pray over children. As one of the oldest on the site and also an orphan, by heart went out to this young man.

Knowing that teen boys do not easily find sponsors, I shared his profile here and there, hoping he would be chosen.

He was actually sponsored in September but his sponsorship was ended within a month or two. I had searched for him a few times, but had not found him on any Compassion sites.

This morning, though, a familiar face popped up when I went to Compassion to pray over the oldest children.

Pascal is looking for a sponsor and I would be so happy to know that he was chosen by a caring and dedicated sponsor who was willing to see him through to the completion of the program.

Is that sponsor you?

If you would like to visit Pascal’s profile, please click on his image above. If you cannot sponsor, please consider praying for him and sharing this post with others.

Thank you so much!

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Mail Call Monday!

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

This past week, we were blessed to find two Compassion letters in our mailbox!

The first was from our little Madina in Uganda.

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Madina drew a picture of a school using bright colors for the doors, windows and roof.

With the help of CDC staff, Madina thanks us for the letters and tells us that she always “admires reading them”. She says that they have interesting pictures that she enjoys.

In response to letters we sent out in March about mail in our area, Madina tells is that they do not have mail boxes near by. She doesn’t answer the questions we asked about how letters are delivered to her development center, but it is nice to see at least a reference to our letter.

Madina then commented on the letter we sent about snow activities. She says, “I am happy to hear about a skis, I have never seen it.” During the winter we sent pictures of the girls trying out some cross country skis. I do wonder what our Ugandan girlie thought about all of the snow!

The other letter we received last week was from Elin Xiomara in El Salvador.

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It must be a universal thing. I smile when I see how Elin draws tiny circles to dot her eyes.

This is our second letter from Elin who was assigned to us as a correspondent in December. When she appeared on our account, I emailed Compassion to ask how often she had received letters. I was told that the last letter she had received was in 2008 and letters before that had not come frequently at all.

So, when I read through Elin’s letters, tears came to my eyes.

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It just touches my heart – her statement that she never imagined she would see us in photographs. 

By now, she has not only seen us in photos, but also our pets, our hobbies, our friends, our church and much more.  I cannot wait to hear what she thinks of all of those pictures and letters.

I am so happy to have the chance to write to these children and share a bit of ourselves through words and pictures. It really is just such a blessing!

What about you? Have you heard from any of your compassion children lately? I’d love to hear about your letters!

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