Monday, April 29, 2013

Mail Call Monday!

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

 

Last week’s series ran from Monday through Friday, so I didn’t publish a Mail Call post.  I have been so excited to find some Happy Mail in our mailbox recently, so I have plenty to share today!

We received our first letter from Uwera Noella in Rwanda! She was assigned as a correspondent child in December, so we have been eagerly waiting to learn more about her!

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In the introductory letter, Noella told us some of the basics, including the names of her family members and things like her favorite subjects and foods. We also learned that Noella hopes to become a medical doctor, which is a high aspiration! We will do all that we can to encourage her in this dream!

In the letter, Noella asks, “I wish to know when you will come to visit us here in Rwanda.” That is a question that I try to answer very delicately.  I know of more than one sponsor who responded to something like this by saying that they would love to come visit but cannot, and the child read it to mean that they actually would be visiting.

Noella’s prayer for us is that we will have peace and blessings from God and, due to some things we’re going through, this really meant a lot to me.  Also, her favorite Bible verse was listed as Matthew 7:7 which is a verse that was very important in my journey to seeking God.

We received two letters from Mkapa in Tanzania this week.

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He thanked us for a financial birthday gift and also his Christmas gift and shares that he was able to buy some new pants and shorts. He also said, “Thanks for all of the letters and photos you send to me. I’ve enjoyed them a lot. May God bless you for your remembrance of me.”

Then, at the end of one of the letters was a closing that knocked the breath out of me. On a personal level, our family has had some difficulties lately and I had just received the news that our monthly income would be cut drastically.  I had been in a panic for over a week and have been praying for the Lord to show us some wisdom on the situation.

That wisdom came in the form of some words that travelled halfway across the world, penned by a sweet young man living in a hut on the plains of Tanzania.

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I was quite literally stunned the first time I read this, thinking I must have misread. Reading it a second and third time, I could not get over the thoughts that this message was a direct hit.

I have printed the image above and have it placed on my refrigerator. when worry starts to sweep over me, I remind myself to read the words Mkapa sent to us and it really has helped me tremendously. I thank the Lord for the encouragement it has brought.

We also received our first letter from Meenadevi in India. My girls think that this beautiful girl looks like some sort of princess.

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I had been eager to hear from Meenadevi since she was assigned to us as a correspondent in December. I had no idea what a sweet and thoughtful lady she would turn out to be!

The letter was written in English and filled the front and back of the sheet of paper. Here is an excerpt:

“I am excited to read your three loving letters with many beautiful photos on them. How are you Jason Uncle, Michelle Aunty sisters Luna and Kaya? Aunty, I thank you very much for your love on me. I am so happy to write this letter to you. Aunty and Uncle, I am so happy to know more about your family, your interests and pets. Aunty, yourself and Uncle, sisters Kaya and Luna are very cute in the photos.....Your pet dog Scruffy is beautiful in the photo. aunty, I wish to play in the snowflakes upon seeing the snowfall in the photos. We do not receive such snowfall in our area. Aunty and Uncle, I wish to share all about me to you through letters. I read all of the things that you shared about Jesus and your family. Aunty, I am so happy that you call me as a special child.... In some houses here, they decorate houses and trees with lights, hangings, bells stars, etc. Some stars hanging at homes seem to have come down from the sky....I pray for you all daily.”

In the letter, she also shared some personal details about her family, her home and her prayer requests. The letter was just filled with details and affection.

A first for our nearly four years of being involved with Compassion, Meenadevi also attached something extra to her letter.

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Yes, she sent us a package of stickers!

I thought that was just so sweet, that she would think to send us something with her letter to us.  I have read her letter many times since it arrived and I am blessed by the excitement and love that Meenadevi shared with her words. I happened to think of it last night and looked in my email folders to find the email Compassion sent with a little of Meenadevi’s history.

“Meenadevi has had only one sponsor and has not received any letters since 2007.”

I can only imagine how sad it must be to go years and years without receiving a response to her letters. I think she was probably very excited when our first letter was given to her and then more letters followed in the weeks after. I don’t know the reason why Meenadevi’s sponsors stopped writing and I wonder if they know that they are missing out on a relationship with a young lady with sweet words and love to share.

However, I am so thankful for the opportunity to step in and correspond. It really is a blessing!

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

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Wrapping Up with a Link-Up!

Today concludes my first week-long series here at Blogging from the Boonies. I have enjoyed putting these posts together and I hope that some of you are finding the tips and links helpful!

There are so many things we can do to foster compassion in our children. Helping your child be a part of something bigger then themselves can nurture their hearts and encourage them to look for opportunities to help and be involved!

Today, I want to have a Link-Up where you can share your blog posts on the topic of Getting Children Involved in the Compassion International Experience.

Do you have any inspiration to share? If so, please link up! (Be sure to link to the specific blog post on this topic, and not just to your blog. This will make it easier for people to find your post in the future!)




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Winter’s Walk–A Guest Post!

This week’s series has been about ways you can help your child get involved in the Compassion experience. Today’s post shows that, sometimes, children can have a heart to do something without any nudging from their parents.

Today I am thrilled to share a guest post about an inspirational little girl with a big idea. My friend Kit, whom I have met through the blog-world and OurCompassion, wrote this post and I hope that it touches you like it has touched me!
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Parenting is always an adventure. If it’s not navigating mountains of laundry or cleaning what is that off the wall, it’s getting to know our kids’ unique personalities and helping them through issues-of-the-heart.

A couple years ago, we rented the movie “Soul Surfer” to watch as a family. It proved to be a perfect example of highlighting the differences between our children. We knew our son would love it because he likes fish and sharks and all things “ocean” (despite having always lived in land-locked areas). But what would his two younger sisters think?

We soon had our answer when at the end of the movie, our sensitive daughter Sarah Winter observed that when Bethany went to help people in Thailand after the tsunami, she learned that even though she lost an arm, she still had so much. She could be thankful, and help others.

Our other more adrenaline-driven daughter simply said, “Take me surfing.”
Thus began a grand adventure in our family, as one daughter decided she’d like to help a child also, and the other daughter began amassing a collection of swimming-pool kick boards because they do not sell real surfboards in Wyoming.

Around that same time I was surprised to win a drawing because I never win anything, and we received a children’s book about child sponsorship called, “African Heartbeat” by Barb Christing, put out by World Vision. We had already been sponsoring a few children through Compassion International for a couple years. After watching her parents sponsor children, seeing Bethany Hamilton’s story through the movie, and reading this children’s book, Sarah Winter came up with a crazy birthday wish and our lives haven’t been the same since:

She asked us if she could sponsor a child for her sixth birthday.

Seeing as we already sponsored a few children, I offered one of them to be “hers” to write to and pray for. But she said no, she insisted we should help “one more child.” I told her I couldn’t afford to sponsor more kids, but she would not let up. We began to discuss the idea of her raising the money herself.

But how would a barely-six-year-old come up with that kind of money? Were we crazy to agree to such a thing? Maybe we were. But maybe that’s just where God wants us to be!

Just prior to turning six, I helped my daughter get onto the Compassion website and look for a child her age. She initially wanted to help a child in Thailand, like Bethany had. But at that time there were no children on the website from that area. I suppose that was meant to be, because Sarah Winter chose a little girl in Indonesia instead, and it’s been love ever since. I can’t imagine anything else now.

 

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For her sixth birthday, our daughter told her friends not to bring presents to her party. Instead, she shared the photo of her new sponsored child and asked if they would bring a small donation for her instead. Between that birthday party and friends/family being so encouraging of our little girl’s kind heart, almost a year’s worth of sponsorship funds were raised!

These two girls of the same age but living a world apart, began to write back and forth to one another. Lovely drawings have been exchanged. And faithful prayers have been said every night. It was definitely a risk, a leap of faith, to allow our young child to sponsor another child on her own. But it is plain to see that Sarah Winter is serious, committed, determined, and faithful in this endeavor.
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So far, this is a risk worth taking. I’d even say it would’ve been a greater risk to her heart to have denied her this.

 

We’ve all grown and been blessed by saying yes.

 

Our daughter has been a sponsor for eighteen months now. When the birthday party money was used up, a cousin helped us make and sell necklaces to earn some more money. Now it is time once again to raise some more.

My daughter and I weren’t sure what to do as we were in need of a fresh new fundraising idea. I thought about a 10k race that I have begun walking every year with my own mother, but I thought, “Nah, 6.2 miles is too long for a seven year old to go.”

But then I thought, isn’t that exactly the point? That this sweet seven year old is going above and beyond, further than I expected or asked her to go? To train for a distance of 10k at only 7 years old would indeed show dedication and sacrifice, which is what we made clear to her that this sponsorship would take (and she has made more than clear to us that she understands)!

I presented the idea and she excitedly said yes. She will walk a 10k in her sponsored child’s honor on Memorial Day weekend, and she requests caring individuals to support her by pledging per kilometer for her efforts.


 

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We have just about a month until the race day and have been enjoying great times together as we train and prepare. This whole experience of letting a child sponsor a child has been blessing upon blessing for me—I learn from my daughter’s faithfulness in praying for this child, am humbled by her willingness to sacrifice for her, am awed in watching her faith and love for Jesus grow, and overjoyed to see even her surfing obsessed sister be affected by this sponsorship…. And now I get to spend extra time with this special soul as we go on training walks for the upcoming 10k!

If you would like to support Sarah Winter in her fundraising for her sponsored child, we are asking people to pledge $1 per kilometer ($10 total) or whatever you feel you’d like to contribute. We are able to accept donations through the link you’ll follow if you click the image below.
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Or, if you would like to donate with a check or other means, you can get in touch with us by leaving a comment below. Michelle will contact you with our personal email address.

And above all, please pray for our daughter and her sponsored child. We thank God for this blossoming relationship and the growing faith of these two young girls. Pray that God will always find a way to encourage the “faith of a child.” Thank you!

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What a sweet girl Sarah Winter is! Friends, I am hoping that we can work together a support these sweet girls. Whether it be in prayer or financial donations, we can all do something to honor this wonderful connection and the step of faith that Winter (and her parents) took when they said, “Yes!”
 
If you have any words of support for Sarah Winter, you can leave them in the comments below!  Also, if you make a donation of any amount to this fundraiser, please let me know! I will choose one of you and send out a package of colorful stationary for your Compassion correspondence!
 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Family Affair-Part 3

This week, posts at Blogging from the Boonies have been focused on ways that your children can be involved in sponsorship through Compassion International. So far, we have covered letter writing and culture study.

Today’s topic is going to touch on an activity that has sparked a lot of excitement in my own daughters. While today’s post will go a bit broader than speaking specifically to sponsorship, I think it is something worth sharing!

Fund Raising!

We have been a part of several fund raising efforts, just within our family and also as part of a larger group effort, and I have always been so amazed to see how eager and willing children are to take part!

Our daughters have raided their piggy banks to pitch in when we have sent Financial Gifts to some of our sponsored children. Their offerings have been small in sum but have been given with such cheer and love that I know the Lord has blessed and multiplied what they have shared. (When you send a child a Financial Gift through Compassion International, 100% of those funds go to the child or family to buy needed items. Read more about giving gifts like this here.)

I’ve also heard many stories about families working together to have yard sales, ridding their homes of the “extra” and sending those funds to their Compassion children.

(Click the image to see the original post!)

Compassion International has several Complementary Interventions that lend themselves easily to fundraising efforts.

In 2010, our oldest daughter was given a homeschooling assignment to write a persuasive essay. That assignment evolved into a project where she created a video presentation for Bite Back (Compassion’s Malaria Intervention) and raised $70 thanks to friends and family. You can click the link to go to the Bite Back page. They even have little kits available for anyone wanting to do a fundraiser!

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Together with our local homeschool group, we had a Walk For Water fundraiser last summer where we raised funds for Compassion’s Water of Life campaign.

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As you can read in this blog post our actual “walk” for water did not go as planned, but the Lord blessed the efforts of these sweet children and over $1,400 was raised by the group! Amazing!

We’ve also participated on Compassion International’s One Meal One Day fundraiser. These funds go towards Compassion’s Supplemental Food Intervention.

This year’s involvement on One Meal One Day was really eye opening and challenging for our 11 year old Kaya, who went above and beyond my expectations. Not only did we raise $430, but Kaya really put her heart into the experience and as you can see in this video, it really had an impact on her.

With each of these projects we’ve taken on, we have spent time looking into the issues at hand and it has led to some eye-opening learning opportunities. As a family, we have more awareness about things that affect people around the world. We realize that people really can die from something as small as a mosquito bite. Some people in the world have no access to clean water and many have to spend hours a day walking to and from water sources. We learned that there are people who are so hungry that they resort to eating cakes of dried mud to fill their stomachs. All of these revelations lead to changes in perspective.

Thanks to Compassion’s many Complementary Interventions, there are so many ways to get involved in a family and work to raise funds for a cause that you want to support. I have been blessed to see how opportunities spark excitement and drive in children. The joy and willingness to help make a difference is such a wonderful thing to foster in young ones.

Has your family been involved in any fundraising for your Compassion children or for any of Compassion’s other funds? I would love to hear more!

Tomorrow, I am thrilled to share the story of a remarkable little girl with a BIG mission on her heart.  I know you will not want to miss this, so please stop back tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Family Affair–Part 2

This week, my posts will be focused on ways to get the family, and specifically your children involved in the sponsorship process!

Yesterday was all about writing and receiving letters and today I’ll be focusing on another facet of Compassion International sponsorship.

Culture Study!

Learning more about your sponsored child’s country and culture can be a great way to feel more connected!  Whether you homeschool or not, you can set aside a week or two to work on a Unit Study of a specific region. There are many ways to learn more about the various countries where your Compassion child may live, and I’ll list a few of them below to get you started!

When we add a new child to our Compassion Family, we generally start with a basic geography lesson. We find the country on a map and fill in a notebooking page with some facts.

I love the pages offered by Jolanthe of Homeschool Creations. Her Country Fact Sheet is a great springboard. She also has unit studies available for several Compassion-assisted countries.

We usually Google to find a coloring sheet of each country’s flag and hang those up in our display area for a time.

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Make use of your local library system and look for books of videos about the country you’re studying. Some countries do tend to have more books than others. Our family’s unit study on Tanzania yielded a huge stack of books while we didn’t find any on Burkina Faso. Sometimes, broadening your search and reading books based on the general region or specific continent will still lead to a connection and interest. My girls definitely enjoyed the many children’s books we have checked out and sometimes ask me to reorder their favorites!

Jill from Compassion Family has put a lot of time into compiling her Country Expert posts.  For most Compassion-assisted countries, she has listed many facts, books, videos and so on. This is a valuable resource that you really should check out!

YouTube can be a great asset. We’ve been able to search and find a lot of videos that show daily life in the countries where our Compassion children live.  One of my daughters is fascinated with videos showing the bustling markets in Africa and South America. We’ve also used YouTube to find music from various countries.

On Compassion International’s website, they have a page for each of the 26 countries where they currently work. Each page shares basic information and also things like Culture, Holidays, Games and Foods.  You could try out the recipe provided for your sponsored child’s country and see what your children think!

The Compassion International website also has a page with resources for children!

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Quest for Compassion is an educational interactive site geared towards children.

Compassion also offers several homeschool lessons that could easily be used for any family or Sunday School class!

By devoting some time to learn more about the area where your sponsored child lives, it foster interest and excitement in your own children.

If you have helped your children study the countries and cultures of your Compassion family, what activities have you enjoyed?  I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Making Sponsorship a Family Affair!

Taking the step of faith to sponsor a child through an organization like Compassion International can be a life changing decision. You have the opportunity to impact a child living in poverty and also their family. This is the motivation for a majority of people who make the decision to start sponsoring a child.

What often follows, though, is an impact in your own family. I’ve heard it from numerous sponsors in the last few years. Many have commented on how surprised they were to feel a nearly instant sense of love for a child they have never met. Perspectives are changed and hearts are open to something that is greater then themselves.

Getting your children involved in the sponsorship process is a wonderful way to nurture their innate sense of compassion. I do believe that most children are born with a deep-seated affinity for caring and helping. By taking steps to include children in your sponsorship journey, you can help to foster this characteristic!

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(My girls with the packet from our very first sponsored child, four years ago!)

This week, I hope to focus on ways to get your family, and specifically your children  involved in your sponsorships through Compassion International.

I am sure it will come as no surprise. My first post this week will be on my very favorite way to make the most of the sponsorship opportunity.

Letters!

Encouraging children to connect with sponsored children through letters is a great way to make sponsorship more personal.

While we make letter writing a part of our weekly homeschool schedule, it could be a great after school or weekend activity for any family.

Toddlers can grab crayons and draw a picture to send to their far-away friend.

Preschoolers can dictate letters to an adult and, if they are able, they can trace the words as well. This is something that Luna really enjoyed doing when she was younger.

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When writing to a sponsored child, it may help to bring out that child’s picture and strike up a conversation with your own kids. Is there anything they would like to know about the sponsored child? Do they have any exciting news they would like to share?

The Our Family for His Glory blog has a nice page of stationary that is perfect for preschoolers and the younger set.

Emily from With Elephant Grace has also created a nice line of stationary templates that are perfect for children!

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Sonja from Conspiracy of Love also created some templates for letter writing which can be found here.

With older children, you can give them stationary and various writing prompts to inspire their letters.  You’ll find prompts galore in the links on my sidebar or on my various Pinterest boards.

Make sure to keep stationary and templates accessible and available for whenever inspiration strikes! Or once a month, you can pull out paper, art supplies and stickers and call the family to the table!

Some children struggle with writing and I think that sending nice drawings to sponsored children is another great way to connect.

My girls love drawing and Kaya has sent some really sweet pictures to some of our Compassion children.

This one for Yolanda in Guatemala accompanied a letter where Kaya shared how much she likes riding horses.

This drawing was inspired by a letter from Kwagala in Uganda, after she had shared her dreams of opening a salon of her own one day.

It doesn’t matter if your child prefers writing or drawing, sponsored children will surely be blessed to receive something special from their friends!

Now, when you receive a letter, be sure to call your children and read it to them with excitement!  If your sponsored child mentions something specific, like a place or a song or a type of food, take the time to look that up with your children and learn more!

When our Obwini Stephen mentioned that his favorite song was “Biriba Bitya”, I took to Youtube and was happy to find a music video!

We also found videos of a jumping game that Precious in Ghana mentioned called Ampe. Little glimpses into the culture and favorites of our children really do help us feel connected in some way!

When we have a bit of a dry spell between letters, I will sometimes pull out our binders and go through ones we have received in the past. It doesn’t take long before I have company on the couch and we are all relearning and remembering things our Compassion children have mentioned!

Do you have any suggestions for getting children involved in the letter writing aspect of sponsorship?  I would be so happy to hear your ideas! Please click on the comments below to share your tips or links to blog posts on this topic!

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Friday, April 19, 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, but 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 was about friends.

In the letters, I shared the names of some of my daughters’ closest friends and described them. I told of the places where my girls see their friends and shared the types of activities they like to do when they are together. I explained some of the games they play together and described how they sometimes like to play pretend or “make-believe” and set up imaginary houses or stores. I think that the children will enjoy hearing more specific details like these.

On their U.S. website, Compassion’s online letter writing tool has the space to upload up to three pictures onto the letter. As someone who takes a lot of pictures, I love being able to share glimpses of our lives in this way.

For this online letter, I tried something new.  I used Picasa to make two photos into one, and then inserted that into one of the spaces for a picture.

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That left two more spaces for photos!

I wrote that it is important to choose close friends wisely.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” –Proverbs 13:20

I also shared a passage from Ecclesiastes 4.

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.”

I hope our Compassion children enjoy these letters and feel like they are learning more about our family.  I also hope that sharing details and then asking questions will lead to some of our children telling us more about their friendships and pastimes!

What sort of things have you written about lately? If you have a Correspondence Connections post to share, please leave a comment with the link! If you’re not a blogger, feel free to share your recent letter topics in the comments section, too!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday’s This & That

Outside of my window… While the forecast is calling for a beautiful day, this morning has brought intense wind gusts. The branches of the trees are really dancing and swaying, but I can’t help but notice the buds scattered along the tips.  The promise of what is to come.

Around the house… One girl is singing away in the shower while a second is upstairs playing the keyboard. Besides the hum of the laptop fan and the occasional sound of wind whipping through the trees, it is the sweet sound of music that fills my ears.

I am feeling… Weighed down. Yesterday was a brutally hard day for me.

It started out with having to cancel our monthly visit at a nearby senior center. It is a ministry that I love and it is heartbreaking to see the number of attendants from our local homeschool group drop month after month. I was especially looking forward to the ministry yesterday.

The day was already destined to be hard as it was the birthday of an estranged loved one. Years of hurt have caused my heart to be scarred and the pain is a dull but constant reality. The thorn in the flesh has become a familiar presence that we’ve carried for a long time. Reminders, like that of passing birthdays, rekindle the heartache and bring so many raw emotions to the surface.

Mid-day, I decided that we simply needed to get out of the house and go for a long walk. Wandering a long path near a creek, I felt some of my burden slip away with the sound of babbling water and singing birds.

That relative sense of peace was shattered when I returned home to find a piece of mail bearing unwelcome news.

As evening came, I found myself with whirling thoughts, a clenched stomach and the clammy grip of anxiety on my heart. I shut myself in the bathroom and finally allowed myself to release it all through tears and desperate cries to God.

He has carried us through so many trials before and I know that we’ll get through this if we rely on Him.

This morning… An image scrolled by on my Facebook newsfeed.

On a morning when I woke up, eyes still puffy and headache looming, I needed this reminder. Tears threaten to fall, anxiety threatens to grip my heart, but the Lord is faithful.

In a moment of prayer and contemplation, what comes to me is this:

Our trials, our pain, our troubles seem all consuming as we go through them. But this moment is but a blink of an eye compared to our Eternity.

I need to keep my perspective in all of this. Today, I’ll try my best to breathe deep and keep my hope and faith planted firmly in the One who has rescued me so many times before.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

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Monday, April 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.

Today we were blessed with TWO cream colored envelopes in our stack of mail! Very exciting!

The first letter was from our Bertille in Burkina Faso.

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The letter was very short, but Bertille did share that she was able to buy some beautiful clothes with some gift money. I am not sure if she is referring to birthday or Christmas money, but I am happy that she was able to have some new clothes!

The second letter was from our beloved daughter, Kwagala.

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KD sent thanks to several of her co-sponsors who sent along cards a few months ago. she also shared that, with a gift, she was able to buy a handbag, bed sheets, open shoes and some sweets.

Like our Magid did last week, Kwagala also mentioned the picture we sent of Kaya and her birthday cake from church last November. 

“It was wonderful to see her in the photo carrying a little baby with a beautiful cake in front. Kaya, I think you are a good girl because you had many friends on your birthday.”

While this letter was shorter than her others had been, I am always very thrilled to hear from our very special daughter in Uganda. I am praying that the Lord will make a way for me to be able to visit her before she graduates from the Compassion program!

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

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Feature!

Admittedly, I have not been an avid blog reader over the last few months. Visiting my Google Reader feed and having over 1,000 unread posts waiting for me left me feeling overwhelmed and, usually, I would click the “Mark As Read” button and move on.

And in my blog-world absence, I have missed out on many great posts and great blogs.

Today, I want to share one blog I recently rediscovered.

With Elephant Grace is Emily’s cozy spot on the web and in her own words,

Elephant Grace is a simple blog about a twenty-something girl trying to navigate the world. My goal is to promote a lifestyle that merges the homemade & fun with the spiritual & reflective. I believe in loving life, no matter what it throws at me, & through the crafts, recipes, experiences, and sprinklings of spirituality that I share here, I hope that you grow to love life, too.”

As a Compassion International sponsor, Emily has been doing her part to help keep sponsors engaged with their children through letter writing. Of course, I just love that!

She’s created several wonderfully creative letter writing templates that she shares freely. Her newest, with an All About Me theme is perfect for younger children to use to connect with their Compassion friends!

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(Click the image to visit Emily’s post and print it out!)

Emily has created quite a few great templates and you can click here to see them!

Also, she has drawings for correspondence kits, complete with stationary and added goodies to send to your Compassion child. In fact, there is a giveaway going on right now so, what are you waiting for?

Take a hop, skip and a jump over to With Elephant Grace and check it out!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday’s This & That

Outside of my window… It appears to be another “April Showers” sort of day. Even though it is grey out there, from my vantage point I can see the birdfeeder on my back deck and some goldfinches are bringing a bit of sunny cheer.  Most of them have changed from their dull olive colored winter plumage to the brilliant yellow of spring and summer.

Around the house… I hear the crackle of the woodstove taking the chill off of the house this morning.  In the background, I hear the music to the Little Bear DVD. Our Luna started feeling poorly yesterday and the sickness continues today, so we pulled out a DVD that we’ve had for years called Feel Better, Little Bear. All three of my girls have watched this movie over the years when they weren’t feeling well. Just the sound of the music alone brings back memories of even the teenager being a tiny little thing.

Highlights of our week… Monday and Tuesday were wonderfully warm and sunny! On Monday, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and took a nice long walk in town before the girls’ dance classes.

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When we stopped to rest, I snapped a few pictures of my girlies. they’re growing up too fast!

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On Tuesday, I joined my girls during their riding lesson and enjoyed a three mile trail ride! Over the last year I have been able to shed my apprehension around horses and now I truly love being near them and even riding!

The girls’ teacher snapped this of our horses topping for a drink with her phone,

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My cool find of the week… A friend from the Blogging from the Boonies Facebook page shared a link to a really neat word cloud generator. (If you’re not a part of our Facebook community, you should be!)

Tagxedo allows you to make word clouds and customize them many ways, including various shapes!

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This word cloud features the names of all of our Compassion children that live in Africa!

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This one pulled words off of this blog! I plan to make some of these for our Compassion children that know English, featuring their names and words that describe them!

And, lastly, an update….  Last week I asked for prayer for my grand-nephew, Johnathan. I am happy to report that he is making improvements every day! I hope that his parents will be able to bring him home from the NICU soon!  Thank you to all of you who have prayed!

Now it is time to tend to my sick girlie and get the house chores started. I hope that your day is a blessed one and that you have reason to smile!

Until next time,

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Yolanda!

Today is the birthday of our beautiful Guatemalan flower, Yolanda!

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Not long after starting our first sponsorship, I found out about Compassion International’s correspondence program which allows people to volunteer to write to sponsored children whose sponsors do not wish to. Right away, I asked for two correspondence children and was assigned Yolanda in Guatemala and Rodrigo in Bolivia.

When we started our correspondence, Yolanda was just a tiny little thing.

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For over a year, we wrote back and forth to this beautiful girl. We received updated photos and saw how quickly she was growing.

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Then, at the very end of 2010, we received the news that every correspondent sponsor dreads.  Yolanda’s financial sponsor had ended the sponsorship.

As is the case when this happens, a correspondent sponsor has the opportunity to pick up the financial sponsorship, attempt to find a new sponsor or simply write a final letter and allow Compassion to find a new sponsor.

At that time, I did not think we could take on another financial sponsorship, so I posted an S.O.S. here on Blogging from the Boonies and someone took over the sponsorship and correspondence for Yolanda.

I was sad to say goodbye, but we kept Yolanda in our prayers and her picture up in our home.

Fast forward to September of last year. I received an email from a Blogging from the Boonies reader who said she saw someone familiar on Compassion’s website. When I clicked the link they shared, my jaw dropped to see beautiful Yolanda, available for sponsorship. It is still hard to fathom how, out of pages of children, someone happened to recognize our beloved girl nearly two years later.

Now, this was right after we had added a new sponsored child to our family, Magid from Ghana. My instinct was to click on that Sponsor This Child button but knowing that we weren’t in a place to add another child, I shared Yolanda’s profile on OurCompassion in the forum specifically for Prayer Children in need of sponsors.

She was sponsored incredibly fast, but I didn’t know who had added her to their family until I received another astonishing message.

A friend from OurCompassion had sponsored Yolanda and asked if we wanted to step in as correspondents.  I probably don’t have to tell you that I broke into tears the moment I read that message.

So, today as I think about our birthday girl in Guatemala, I am reflecting on the amazing story we have together. The generosity of others has allowed us to connect again which is an incredible blessing.

Feliz cumpleaƱos, lovely Yolanda!

May this coming year be a wonderful one!

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