Friday, July 15, 2016

Reflections on volunteering with Compassion at Hillsong Conference 2016

Disclaimer: You are about to read a bunch of amazing stories relating to Compassion International. I am a sponsor and a volunteer advocate. I am not a paid employee or staff member. This is my perspective on the week and all views, opinions and insights expressed here are my own. I am not writing these stories, nor do I sponsor, travel or promote Compassion in order to get noticed, earn bonuses or brownie points. There is no ulterior motive, apart from:
- Seeing children released from poverty in Jesus’ name 
- Challenging, encouraging and inspiring people who have been given much to help those who don’t, through my own personal example.

I have just returned from one of the most amazing, impacting weeks of my life.

As well as being a sponsor, I have been an Advocate for Compassion International since 2007. Advocates undergo extra training in terms of the way Compassion works in order to better inform and engage people about the work Compassion does. They can also help at events and sign up new sponsors.

Apart from speaking at a few Compassion Sundays, I had never worked at an event. I didn’t really consider it ‘my thing.’ My main platform is the classrooms I have found myself in over the last few years as a primary school teacher. Sharing about my Compassion kids with students, parents and other teachers has been a joy and produced much fruit.

Earlier this year I began a relationship with a beautiful woman. We are currently doing the ‘long distance thing,’ as I am in Melbourne and she is in Sydney, having just finished up at the Hillsong Leadership College. Hillsong Church have a great relationship with Compassion and we have a strong presence at the Hillsong Conference which happens in Sydney every July.

As a way of seeing Sharon, who was working in the kids program at the conference, I came up with an ingenious plan: I would volunteer to help out at the Compassion Marquee for the week and get to spend some time with her. Everybody wins!

The conference started on Tuesday night and I drove up from Melbourne on the Monday, a nice 10-hour trek. Based on previous years, the target number was for 700 kids to be sponsored. Little did we know what was in store.

Honestly, during this week I was way out of my comfort zone. Engaging with strangers is not one of my favourite things to do. I was also surrounded by Compassion staff and employees from HQ, so from my end there was an element of trying to impress and making sure I was doing everything right. Even as a ten-year sponsor and experienced Compassion traveller, I was swamped by thoughts of “You’re just an advocate,” “Do I really belong here?” and “Do I have what it takes?” This was not caused by anything the staff members and employees said or did, but just from my own insecurities.

I want to share some stories from this amazing week:

The Impact of Sponsorship Causes Tears
I was scheduled on the main marquee on the opening afternoon, and I nervously and excitedly awaited the crowds. The first person I encountered was a young woman and she uttered those sweet words that every advocate loves to hear: “I want to sponsor a child.” No prompting, encouraging or persuading needed, as God had already done that in her heart.

She said it was something she had wanted to do for a while and perused the two big walls of children who were waiting for a sponsor. Some people have a definite preference in terms of country, gender or age of the child but this woman didn’t. She ended up picking a teenage girl from Brazil and then something amazing happened. When she was holding the child sponsor form in her hand, something unseen clicked in her mind and heart, and the sheer impact of what she was about to do caused her to cry. Through sponsorship, she had become a symbol of Life and Hope to this girl in Brazil. I was able to share a couple of my experiences in Brazil to let her know just what a positive impact she would be making.

There is so much need in the world, and when we decide to trust God and realise that we can make a difference to that ONE, but also that the love we show through sponsorship often has a flow-on effect to their families and communities, it is often too much for our hearts to bear.

The Ugandan Pastor
During the conference sessions there were far fewer people walking around outside, so things were quiet in the Compassion marquee. On the Tuesday night an African man was hanging around out the front with his hands in his pockets, looking in tentatively. I was the only one around, so I approached him and started a conversation. He started asking questions about how Compassion worked and I answered them to the best of my ability. After his curiosity was satisfied he started telling me about himself.

He was a Pastor from Uganda visiting for the conference, and his church ran a ministry for 185 children similar to what Compassion does, without the sponsorship element. I asked if he had considered contacting Compassion about partnering with them. He said he had, but Compassion has a policy of only having a certain number of Projects in a given land area, and there were already other Projects in his community. He also commented that his neighbour was the former country director of Compassion Uganda and that he did not trust World Vision but Compassion was doing some amazing things in his country.

He left after about 20 minutes and we wished each other all the best. I realised this was another example of stepping outside my comfort zone and it’s amazing the things you find out about people if you just have a chat.

Wednesday – Here Comes The Flood
Compassion has been blessed by their partnership with Hillsong Church, and every year at conference we get to feature on the main stage in what we call our “Hands Up Moment.” A video was put together, showing the real life story of a little boy called Collins and his grandmother. Collins was left as an orphan when his mother died, and his grandmother took care of him. Only problem was, she had no permanent place to live, so they spent years drifting from place to place. Collins became registered with Compassion and through the Critical Needs program we were able to build them a house of their own. A place of safety, stability and security. True life change and transformation.

The video was shown on the first morning of conference and then child sponsorship forms were given to those whose hearts were moved to take the step of sponsorship. In the afternoon it was pretty quiet and myself and another staff member were joking every time a couple of people trickled to toward the marquee, “Here comes the flood.”

Then the afternoon session finished and our joking ceased, as there was a literal flood of people. I was engaging with someone, then all of a sudden I turned around and the place was packed! We had all hands on deck and all staff members and advocates were fully engaged with new and potential sponsors. It was incredible! By the end of the first full day we had close to 300 kids sponsored. I don’t know exactly how long the deluge lasted, but when the crowds dispersed for the evening session it took me a long time to recover and get my energy back.

Pray Big, Dream Big, Let God be Big.
One thing I love about Hillsong Conference is the teaching. It’s even better when we see a principle that is taught during conference played out in real life, in other areas. Pastor Erwin McManus from Mosaic Church in California was one of the speakers, and he talked about not limiting God and letting Him do his thing. When we pray small we limit what He can do and we will only receive small. One line that stood out was “God will often give us more than we deserve, but He will NEVER give us more than we ask for.”

With this in mind, the next morning at the Compassion marquee when we gathered to pray, a number of us had this concept on our hearts. We were convicted about revising our target figure (700) and although nothing was mentioned officially, I believe that a four-figure result was on the hearts of many of us.

A Dream Turns to Reality
At one point I was away from the marquee and on the smaller Compassion stand in the Expo, an undercover area full of little stalls from many different organizations. A friendly Samoan-Australian guy came up to me and introduced himself as Moses. He said he and his wife had one of the child forms from the Wednesday but it was in his wife’s bag and they would bring it in later. We then got chatting and he told me a bit about God’s faithfulness in his life. This led to a dream he had and the country Bolivia was mentioned. He found this strange and didn’t even know where Bolivia was. During the “Hands Up” moment on Wednesday he put his hand up to receive a child form, and the boy he received was from Bolivia. He took this as a sign from God and an opportunity to repay God’s faithfulness so, despite having four kids of his own and struggling financially, he and his wife took the leap of faith and decided to invest in this young lads life through sponsorship. Once again, a random conversation with a stranger turns into an amazing story.   

Sponsors Come in All Shapes and Sizes – The Bikies
On Thursday, a guy called Mike came into the marquee and said he was there on behalf of an Australian Christian Motorcycle group. They were wanting to sponsor an older child as a group but didn’t have any preference, so I picked out a lad from Africa who was one of our priority children (been waiting for a sponsor longer than 300 days). I can’t wait to see the look on the kids face when he gets the first photo and realises that his sponsors are a group of 34 big tough bikies! Any bullies had better watch out. Awesome! Mike also wanted to know how his group could partner with Compassion and do more in terms of advocacy, so I referred him to a staff member and they connected. Exciting times ahead. 

Little Angel – Alone No More
One thing I LOVED seeing was the number of families with children coming into the Compassion marquee and choosing a child similar in age to their own children. Each family had a variety of reasons and motivations for this but I love that having a brother or sister to write to, pray for and care for will plant the seed of generosity in that child, and there will be a flow-on effect as they get older.

On Friday, one of the first groups to enter the marquee was a mum and her three young girls. After looking around for a while they chose four-year-old Angel from the Philippines. Looking at her personal details I realised and pointed out to the family that Angel was an only child, but thanks to their decision to sponsor, she now had three sisters! That sure got the morning off to an amazing start.

God’s Timing Is Perfect – His Eye Is On The Sparrow
When you believe in God, sometimes with the way things work out it’s just too good to be coincidence. There’s a gospel hymn that says “His eye is on the sparrow,” meaning that even the things or people who are considered littlest or seemingly least important are not beyond the eyes of God.

On the Friday evening, a man approached me with a child sponsor form. He had taken it on the Wednesday, prayed about it but could not commit to sponsoring. That’s fine, it happens. So I held in my hands the picture of a four-year-old girl from Indonesia who was looking for a sponsor. Not even five minutes later, a young woman walked in on a mission. She was going to sponsor a child but had no idea where to start. She spent a couple of minutes looking at the pictures and then I had a brainwave and did a mental facepalm. I showed the lady the picture I was holding in my hand and asked “What about her?” I explained that I had received her back five minutes before and she was looking for a sponsor. The lady was visibly moved and signed up to change the little girl’s life through sponsorship. His eye is indeed on the sparrow.

“You’re a Great Salesman”
When someone signs up to sponsor, part of my job as an advocate is to talk them through the different sponsorship options. We were encouraged to talk about Compassion’s relatively new program, Critical Needs, which is an extra amount which covers emergencies and other things not covered by basic sponsorship. We were told to ‘read’ each individual in terms of whether they would be open to it. It was always an option, never a hard sell. As I was going through it with one couple they said “You make a great salesman,” and there may have been a mention of ‘upselling’ in a not-so-complimentary tone. They still sponsored the child and the remarks stung for a while, as it was never my intention to come across that way. I had a chat to a couple of staff members about the wording and language they use, and it wasn’t an issue after that. However, reflecting on it afterward I figure that if I’m going to be labelled a great salesman, doing it in the name of Compassion child sponsorship is not a bad cross to bear.

Undercover Boss (‘s Wife) Moment
A bit of humour to finish off. Compassion Australia’s CEO was often seen at the marquee during the conference, and I was introduced to his wife on the first night. A couple of nights later I saw a woman browsing the children’s pictures on the wall and I approached and asked her if I could help her or answer any questions. She looked at me, chuckled and said she was fine. A few minutes later, as I saw them walking out together, I realised that I had approached the CEO’s wife. I was just a bit embarrassed, but at least I was doing my job.

In the end, 970 children sponsored at Hillsong Conference 2016 was the official figure given. That doesn’t include the ones that trickle in through the post in the couple of weeks after the conference, so we could well reach 1000. That is 970 real stories changed, real lives transformed and real hope injected into previously hopeless futures. Plus the flow-on effect to the families and communities. It is incredible to be a part of, and I wouldn’t be doing anything else with my life.

Compassion does not use guilt, persuasion or coercion as tactics to convince people to sponsor. We connect and engage with people, present a real need and invite them to use what God has given them to respond, partner with local churches around the world and meet that need. When talking about the impact of a sponsor or the impact that letters have on the life and heart of a child, there is no melodrama or hyperbole used. I’ve been there and I’ve seen it. It is true, real and genuine.

Compassion International is God’s business and it works.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Compassion Letter Writing #1: The True Impact of Letters

I have come to the understanding that the letters we write to our sponsored kids are more important, treasured, cherished and valued than we will ever understand. Compassion sponsorship is about relationship, and the letters are the way that we get to know each other. It's not meant to be a chore. We are able to speak words of Life, Hope, Encouragement and Love into these little souls who desperately need to hear that someone loves and believes in them.

Bottom line: If sponsorship is more than a "good deed"; if you want to develop your connection and relationship with your sponsored child, you need to write regularly. Write about your family, job, hopes and dreams, send Bible verses, send pictures and photos. They love it all!

Our letters bring them joy for the present, hope for the future and make them feel loved. Here's proof:

All of us especially my parents are very happy about your letters. I am very glad that you always remember us.

I am so grateful for your letters. They have been a great blessing to my life.

I always wait for your letters anxiously and I thank God in my prayers for sending me someone like you.

She thanks you for your kind words to her and her family, you really encourage her.

She had joy to receive your letter and she has it well kept. She says that she admires your pictures.

When I see your photo or I read your letters I imagine that I am seeing you in person

I look forward to receive other letter from you, they make me very well, it is a way to have you closer to me.

Thank you for your love for me and for the letters and I keep them with love.

I get happy when I receive letters from you, and I know that you like me very much. I like to receive pictures of you, your nieces and nephews are pretty, actually all your family is pretty, I love to see all your students, they are very beautiful.

Thank you very much for all the beautiful pictures you sent me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I like when you tell me what you do with your students. I feel like you’re giving me the letter personally because I feel close to you when you write me and send me pictures of your students and you.

Every time I write to you I get courage to go on.

Thank you for the letters you have sent to me and for the time you dedicate to write to me. When I read the letters you send me I am so happy to know more about you and I know every day you enjoy lots of things with your family, students and friends and other sponsors.

I have the honor of having a sponsor like you; you are one of my best examples to follow because it is wonderful to read the letters you sent to me. It is as if I were close to you; When I write letters to you I get inspired because I imagine you with me. I don’t know how, but it is like magic writing these words because I do not say them, my heart says them, and with lots of love.

I am so happy because you wrote me again, even if it was long to read.

Thank you because even your so busy but you spent your time to write to her. Thank you very much because you treat C as your daughter and she said she is so happy for that and every time you mention in your letter that she is special to you.

Thanks for the beautiful letters and photos, I keep them with love and I read them from time to time. I love when you write because the verses you give to me are a blessing.

I greet you with a lot of blessings, I am happy to write to you again, your letter fill me with happiness.

I also like to get your letters. It’s nice to know that you care for me. I like your letters and pictures.

The question that you wrote to me says did you know that words can hurt or cure any people? I didn’t know, but thanks to you I know it. Thank you very much.

M was very happy to receive your letter. She was very much glad to you and God. Also that you have remember her. After receiving your letter she was full of joy. Thanks to you for your lovely letter and also she is very excited and she was very happy to see the special photos of your family and your class.

L feels very secure now, especially when she heard father’s words in your letter, you words are hopeful.

Father, L feels very happy and joy because you are diligent to send letters for her regularly.

God bless you, I’m happy for receiving a letter from you again. Your words are really beautiful, thanks for your support.

My family is well. We are better with your letter.

Thanks! You are great and I love you very much, the words that you write me are a blessing for my life and strengthen my spirit and esteem.

Thank you so much for the letter and beautiful pictures you sent me. When I read your letter, my self-esteem was strengthened, and I was able to see life in a different way. Thank you so much for giving me advice. It’s very important to me.

What a thrill to get your letters and nice pictures with your friends. Thank you for writing me and sending me the beautiful poster. I enjoyed to read them a lot.

Thank you for everything, thank you for everything, thank you for the letters and the care you have given to me and my family.

Thank you for your letter full of love. You are beautiful and your baby’s cute. I like him very much.

It’s always a joy for me to write you a letter. Your letters make me very happy. I like especially of the pictures. Our love for you is very beautiful.

Thank you very much for the letter and the picture. When I look at the picture you enclose with the letter, I see the love of God and all special people in the picture. I’m very happy.

I’m so glad to receive your picture. Your picture makes my family happy.

K is grateful for the lovely letter you sent him. He tells you that he was really happy to read it and knows how much you love and care for him. He adds that the official school class photo was really pretty and hanged it in his mothers bedroom where he will always see it and remember how much you care for him.

I am happy to read your letter. Your words are encouraging. May God bless you.

It's lovely to read your letters and it touches his heart and all he says was "Oh what a lovely sponsor that he has."

Thank you always for your words of encouragement, says your child.

B thank you for your words and encouragement shown to him all the time. He really feel at home and appreciate your support. At first child has been going to school late and nowadays he is the first person to step the school compound.

B has received all the letters you have been writing to him, but there are some few children in the project who do not receive letters quite often from their sponsors and it makes them feel sad at times.

Your letter brought me so much joy. Thank you so much for the photos and especially for the verses.

It is a delight to receive your letter. Thanks for the verses, your prayers and love. I hope that the school children are fine.

Thank you for your letters, they are a great help for me during my sad moments.

The last letter I read from you was very fantastic.

I always like reading your letters. I keep them in a very special place.

I was glad to get your letter. I’m respectful to you. When I was reading your letter I would know how much you love me. I also love you.

Thank you for all the letters because I have learned a lot.

I am happy receiving your letter, and writing this letter because sharing of events happening in his life is the way of appreciating his efforts and doing something like what you did. He enjoy watching photos of your cute nephews.

I am very happy to read your letter and look to your picture when you were a child. You are so very cute in the pictures. Your girl friends were so beautiful, when you was young your face is so glad and so nice! I thank God that you were my sponsor. Thank you for the letters you’ve given to me and the letters was really nice and thank that you included your pictures way back when you was young.

Compassion Letter Writing #2: The True Impact of a Sponsor

On the surface, what we do, and give, as Compassion sponsors may not seem like much. It may seem like a pretty simple, insignificant thing. $12 a week, the occasional letter. Doing our little bit to make the world a better place, right?

I'm here to tell you different. What I have received in nearly ten years worth of letters from my Compassion kids tells me that we can never underestimate how important we are to them. I have been repeatedly blown away by pages dripping with love and gratitude. What seems so little for us means so much to them.

As you read the following sentiments, I want to make it clear that by publishing them I am not intending to show off or boast about what an amazing sponsor I am. It is incredibly humbling that they would think like this, and I thank God that He is using me in their lives. These words are how every child feels about their sponsor, I have just been blessed that my kids have expressed them to me
. I hope you get a sense of the true impact we as sponsors make, and are inspired to sponsor more or write more.

I feel very excited to write you again, and tell you that I’m proud that you be my sponsor. I loved your letters and your pictures. It’s amazing what you do for us, and I say “we” because all the children who appear in the picture are your children. Sponsor, my classmates were amazed to watch every one of those children. Thanks. I don’t know how to pay you for all what you do for us. I send you a nice drawing that I drew especially for you.

Do you know something incredible? You are a hero for J, she would like to be like you when she grows up – a great professional. She wants to work with children, and the same as you, to be mature spiritually in faith. J wants that you never get apart from Jesus. J would like to be like you because you follow Jesus Christ’s footprints.

At the project I have a very good teacher, and she said that you are an angel sent by God to me.
I agree with her, for me and for all the kids.

My family and I are happy and okay for your valuable support. You have given me the chance to succeed.

You are a blessing for me and you are an angel.
God’s glory shines like the sun in you.

I remember your nieces and nephews as if they were my own family, and I love them like my siblings because I feel that they are a part of my family now.

For M, you are a great gift that God has put in her life

You bring me joy and I like you so much.

She is also thankful to God because God give you to her as an instrument and guided her as she grow.

I am very proud of you, every day I thank God for putting you on my way and because you have been a blessing for me and my family.

I love you very much, and I’m very proud of you because you help many children like me and you make them smile each day. May God guide your path forever!

I thank you so much, because if it is not you, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I thank God for joining me together with you and be with you forever

Thank you very much for sponsoring me. It is such an honour to be sponsored by a person like you.

I want to thank you for sponsoring me. You are a blessing from God to me. I want to tell you that.

I’m happy for you because you are very important to my life.

I am glad to know that there is someone who loves me so much.

You are very intelligent, you play many musical instruments and you also know how to sing and I also liked to know that you sponsor several children at my project.

I hope you are fine and I thank God for sponsoring me because God has blessed me so much through you.

I prayed God so you would communicate with me again because you have my love and my trust. I feel proud to have you as my sponsor again.

I love you very much and I know that a lot of people love you also

I am thankful for sponsoring me. I feel so proud of you for your kindness and also for being intelligent.

Only God knows how lucky and happy I am to have you

I feel so proud to have you. God loves the happy giver and it’s great you give your students time.

C said that she was happy because of the blessings that she received from you as well as for sharing those blessings to other children.

C and my family was so thankful to God for giving you to us. I am very happy and thankful to God because you are so kind and spending your time to me. Thank you also for sharing your life to me as the instrument of God.

At home, we all think about you and you’re always in our thoughts and hearts.

You’re so blessed, you are so lucky, multi-talented kind of person. I know that all of this is a gift of God.

You are so lovely because you like helping others. Receive hugs and kisses from me and my family.

All of my siblings and I are very lucky that God never forsakes us and God always gives us His love through you. You’re lovely. I believe that God is very lovely too.

It’s good to know that you like to help people and kids and may God bless you more and more.

She thanks you for the love and tenderness you have for her. She expresses her love for you and says that she loves you very much.

for sponsoring me, and I know that all the kids are blessed by you are very happy. May God bless you.

The girl K says that she is grateful to God and you, she cares about you and she loves you.

I hope that you will be successful in serving the Lord through helping the children like me.

It is surprising to know that you support many children. Is there any child special for you? I thank God for giving you the desire to help and serve others.

I am so grateful to Mr David Chalmers, who is so kind, giving me attention and love. Please always remember me and pray for me, although we are far apart. I believe that I always be close to your heart.

I like to hear from you because you are very kind, and I know that our God will not forget of you and for that reason I encourage you to do well with respect in your job.

Hello dear sponsor, how are you doing? I am very pretty and smiley, everything has gone well here. I want to tell you that I love you very much and I thank you for all the things you have done for my family and for me.

A wants the Lord Jesus Christ to bless your life! The child says he is happy to be in touch with you and tell you that he is very proud of you and know how much God loves him. He thanks you for the support that you give him and he always prays for you and your family. He made a drawing for you and hopes you like it.

I am so thankful for introducing me to my fellow children and for taking me as your child. I thank God for making you the way to lead little children and teaching them through the word of God, so that we may grow spiritual, physically, getting knowledge and growing our faith.

Be blessed so much. Congratulations for a good work of sponsoring. God will give you another child to sponsor.

I am so happy to know about our Compassion family. Please convey my greeting to all my friends. I showed photos to my friends in our project. I am so lucky that you are my great sponsor.

I thank you so much for sponsoring me. I am so lucky and pleased to be your loving child. God has given great blessings.

He feels so happy about Richmond Wandera and Michelle who have gone through Compassion's Leadership Development program and how God is using them to touch the lives of people in their countries. He feels so much motivated and hope that some day he will also go through the LDP.

We thank you for your love and decision to sponsor her. Your contribution was essential so that the word of God was planted in her heart and she received all our benefits what is a privilege that just a few have because they live in a dangerous and poor community with the risk of floods, gangs, prostitution and drug sales, and many children get involved in these practices and die. Your love gave her eternal moral and ethic values very important for her life. May God reward you.

Her family change positively their circumstances and this child doesn’t need Compassion’s assistance any more. We thank all your love to sponsor a poor child that needed your support. Your contribution was very important to her because here she could receive many benefits. Her community is dangerous and poor. It’s a place with risk having floods, there are many gangs, drugs, prostitution and many children involved pass away. We know that all values will be so precious for her life. May the Lord reward you in double.

Compassion Letter Writing #3: The Impact of Visits

It's no exaggeration to say that, among children sponsored through Compassion International, their biggest dream is to meet their sponsor. I have been blessed to visit 32 of my sponsored kids in 12 countries, and while it hasn't always been the picture-perfect, fairytale day we all hope for, there is no doubt in my mind that it is the fulfillment of a dream.

Here is a sample of what I've received in my letters, in regards to visits.

Part 1 - Throwing It Out There With Subtle Hints
I would like to meet you because I would like to know you and your toys.

J asks God that you come to Ecuador. She wants to see your eyes and tell you she loves you.

I wonder if we will be able to meet face to face someday.

I would like to hug you. You are very kind. If God allows it I will be able to meet you.

I want to tell you that I love you and I would like you to come and meet me face to face.

My dream is to meet you someday.

I would like to meet my sponsor because I want to know your face and way.

I’m looking forward to your visit and I’m very happy to meet you.

I would like you to come to Chiapas so I could meet you.

I hope that the day we can meet comes soon and we will enjoy together.

I would like to meet my sponsor Mr David because I want to hold you and shake hand with you.

Some day I would like to visit your house, meet your family and be able to see the wonders of your beautiful country. I would like to get to know you, hug you, and thank you for each of the details you have had with me, the events of your life you share with me and the pictures you send me.

I am praying that you could come to visit me to be able to hug you so much.

Someday I would like to meet my sponsor.

Someday I would like to see my sponsor and Jesus.

Someday I would like to meet my sponsor because I love him and I miss him so much.

I want you, David, and your student friends to visit and play together at Thailand.

K concludes by saying he is longing to see you soon.

I am glad to express that about your lovingness upon me. I hope one day we meet together. I pray for this good chance.

J loves you, and for her, the wish to know you is the most beautiful in her life.

She wants you to know that she would like to know you in some moment to share with you nice moments.

When will you come to see us here in Brasil? I liked to know your toys Sam and Ted. Will I play with them one day?

I like all your verses and keep all your letters, I wish to show them all to you some day.

She would like you to come to celebrate her birthday.

I ask God for the opportunity to meet you.

I hope meeting you some day and you can be able to meet Nicaragua.

My dream is to meet you in person so we can take lots of photos together. That way you can share them with all your other kids.

If I could travel anywhere in the world I would like to go and meet you.

I wish to meet and hug you. I want to spend a special day with you like you do with the children in the photo, I want to take photos of us.

I will pray to God so He heals you soon, and also so we can achieve the dream of knowing each other personally and sharing a soccer game together. I would like to listen to you play the piano.

J also says that she would like to meet you someday.

Part 2 - Dream Fulfilled!
I am so happy that day we were in Manila that is my first time in Manila and first time in airplane. I am so happy that I see you and hug you and got a picture with you. My favourite part of our time together is where in the bus that you share lots of stories about your family and your cute nephew and where in the sea lion that we play the Australian football. That is my favourite day with you. And thanks for the gifts that you gave, bag, teddy bear, picture of Australia, book of Australian. Thank you so much. I hope I’ll see you again one day. I am very excited because I am 1st year high school (junior) now, new friends, new teacher and new school room. I use the bag that you gave to me. I share lots of stories about you and your family, with my new friends in school. I say what you did with me and what we doing when we were in Manila. I am so happy to share with them.

I always remember when you came to visit me, I will never forget those moments we shared, I enjoyed when we were with all my family.

I also want to say that J is the happiest child because she can meet you, that day was the most beautiful of her life and she would never forget that day and she will keep it in her heart.

It was good that you came to my country and I am thankful to the Lord for you. I never thought that I was going to know you in person and I loved you here. I loved being by your side and that we could go to the pool. I hope that we can celebrate many birthdays together and it was unforgettable. I cannot forget all the times that I could hug you and I remember you and it was wonderful to be with you. It is going to be in my life forever.

I remember all the moments we were together. I know that when this letter arrives there we would have seen each other and it is going to be great. Please, when you come here, please bring me the baby Amelia, because I just saw her through the picture and I like her very much.

Thanks for coming to visit my country and family. And I also thank you for the lunch and also coming to visit the place where I receive my classes.

Thank you for your visit at my house, the presents and the outing. Everything was very good and I will remember that day for the rest of my life.  I will receive a CD with all our pictures from the Project and every day I will remember these two days we spent together. They were funny days, full of fun and emotion. Thank you very much for everything.

The swimming pool day was very good and thank you for coming to Brazil and know me.

I also say thank you very much for coming to Brazil and for the day we spent in the pool.

I am missing you and I want to see you again.

I also want to say thank you for your visit and I loved it very much, you are very funny.

She loves your letter, pictures, teddy bear and especially your presence and her family and everyone else here in the Project were also happy.

My favourite day was the day we saw each other. I was happy.

I was very happy because my dreams would come true, I am so eager, that will be an unforgettable day for me and my family, it’s the first time the sponsor will come to visit. I know it was your decision, our dream would come true. Thank you for the time you give me.

I pray for you every day because now I know that dreams can come true asking God with all the heart. Thank you for all the time you gave me and for giving me your love and attention.

I am happy, like with your presence in my humble home. It was so great when you were with me. I will never forget that day. If I lived with you it would be a great life, sad-happy, full of blessings and joy. I ask God for the day that you would come to my humble home.

I thank you so much for your visit. It was a wonderful surprise for me.

Thank you for visiting me and it was a great blessing to me and to my family. I am praying that we can see each other again.

I am so happy that you came to visit me. I dream to give you a big hug.

J says that she was so excited when you visited her house and ate together.

I want to tell you that I felt very good about your visit to all my classmates and I invited them to come to the Compassion program because it is a great blessing the gifts we get.

I hope you can come to Chiapas again. I will be waiting for you to hug you and tell you that you are very special to me. I hope you will come back to Chiapas. We will be waiting for you with much joy.

I hope you can visit me again soon. I will be waiting for you to give you a lot of kisses. I love you!

Thank you for coming and give me the opportunity to meet you. You are so kind, and feel that God have many beautiful things in you. I was very surprised I never imagined that you would give a surprise like that.

The visit you paid to her area pleased C a lot, and it really motivated her.

I want to thank you because you’ve visited me and for sponsoring me. I’m still very excited.

When you came, it was one of the best days of my life. I have enjoyed your company and joy. I remember what you said to me, and that you were coming back, and you were going to learn Spanish.

I tell you that I am still thankful for the time you came to visit me home, that time you made me feel happy. I was very nervous but I felt very happy and that’s why I tell you are very nice. I always take the koala you gave me to school the Thursdays also, to make me company like if you were there.

You are very good with me. I had a great time that day too, what I remember most is when you played the instrument in church.

When you came, the time went by really fast. I like sports a lot so that when you come back here I would like that you teach me your favourite sport that you like to play.

My family and I are very thankful to God for the life he gave you and for the opportunity He gave me to be able to meet you. It was really nice when you came to La Paz, it was really fun, but I was scared of laughing too much.

Dear Coach David, Thank you for visiting us in our house. Thank you for taking us to Jollibee and Robinsons. I am very glad that we played Uno cards. I really enjoyed that time. Thank you for being my sponsor. You are really kind. I will never forget all the happy memories we had when we strolled and played with my siblings at Robinsons. I will miss you so much. My favourite part of the visit was when we played Uno because you taught me, my siblings, my Mom and Coach AM how to play it. Thank you again.

I want to tell you that I enjoyed each moment I shared with you and your family. I also enjoyed meeting you.

I am very much excited to meet you in person here in the Philippines.

Thank you for the bond that we have last April in Manila. I really enjoyed being with you. I enjoyed riding on the plane for the first time. I miss you Mr David.

I expect your visit with joy, I’m so excited and I felt the most blessed person by God, since He gave me a sponsor like you.

She said that she misses you and she loves you very much.

Compassion Letter Writing #4: Dreams For The Future and Funny Stuff

One of the incredible things about Compassion sponsorship is that it enables kids to dream for their future, and equips them with skills and opportunities to achieve that dream. It is nothing short of miraculous. These kids are growing up in abject poverty. I have walked the streets of many developing countries and literally tasted the pervasive hopelessness and despair. Yet because of the love of God, the church and Compassion, they have an opportunity to dream.

Here are some of the dreams of my sponsored kids over the last few years.

When I grow up I want to become a teacher like you

When I get older, my dream is to become a teacher like you. I want to help my family and my younger siblings.

She says she’d like to be a doctor in the future, to help sick people.

When I grow up I would like to be successful and I dream to be a nurse. I worry that my family doesn’t have the finances to be able to pay for my studies to be a nurse. It is a dream to me.

According to C, her dream in life is to become a teacher so that she can impart the knowledge that she learned to the children also.

When I grow up, my dream is to become a successful teacher.

In the future, after L graduates from Senior High School, she wants to be a nurse.

When I grow up I want to be a nurse.

I want to tell you about my dreams. When I grow up I want to be a technician in clinic laboratory and I also would like to be a hair stylist and I would like to go to Australia and the United States.

I want to tell you about some of the dreams I have in my life. I would like to finish my studies and being a professional woman to earn money and help my family by buying a very big and nice house. Also, I would like to sponsor children as you do.

Someday I would like to help my family by building for them a good house and buying for them good clothes.

Someday I would like to be like my sponsor so that I will help the needy.

When I am older I want to help needy people.

When my son grows up he wants to be in the military. He wants to help us even in a simple way.

If I could go anywhere in the world I want to go there in Australia with you and experience a real snow in winter season.

Here in our school we do not have camps like yours in Dunkeld. Only private schools can afford these activities, but since I am in a public school I’ll never experience that. And I wish someday I’ll experience that.

When I am older I will be a doctor

I want to be a soldier.

Funny Stuff
As the relationships with my sponsored kids have developed, many of them have become more comfortable and have come out with some stuff which I have found honest and often random and funny (I'm sure unintentionally on their part).

I am okay at school with good grades, but I have to stop talking.

I thank God that He placed you in my life. Thank you for the affection that you have for me and you can be assured that I also like you!!!

I am very happy to be writing you again. Believe me Sponsor, I am very happy.

I hope a lot of people thank you because you are a good sponsor.

I like helping my dad take care of his poultry. Do you practise breeding?

I don’t have any female friends, they don’t know how to play soccer.

I participated in contest of chant at Project without intention, because I hate to sing. I would rather play soccer.

Thank you very much for the photos. You look nice. I like flowers. Your flowers are nice!

K asks you whether cats go to heaven when they die.

Thanks for the letters. I would like to hear how Australia is. Are there kangaroos as I watch in the movies?

Would you like to be a pastor later? May God grant you strength!

Wife Watchers

My relationship status has often come
under scrutiny, since all my sponsored kids are from countries where people get married and have a family at a very young age, and if you don't....Nah, I really do appreciate their concern.

I hope that one day you will finally meet the woman meant for you.

I hope that you will find someone who will take good care of you and love you so much. I know God will send her to you, because a good man like you deserves to be happy.

P says he is praying for you to get good wife from God.

I can pray for you and maybe God has a special woman for you to be your wife. I hope that she loves God’s kingdom.

Kids With Kindness (Insert Blushing Here)

Thanks for loving J. She is very glad to have your affection. She wants to thank you for the nice pictures you sent. J says you are very good-looking boy. She wants to know, what did you see in her that made you want to sponsor her? She is very small, but has a big heart and wants you to know she loves you.

J wishes that God blesses you abundantly. You are photogenic. She says goodbye with love and kisses.

I am very happy and I am happy to be able to see you in your photo. You are very cute with your beloved. I love you very much.

I love you very much. You are the handsomest guy in the picture.

Compassion Letter Writing #5: Struggles and Hard Stuff

As a Compassion sponsor, I made the decision to invest in the relationships with my sponsored kids and their families by making a conscious effort to write them at least monthly and also visiting their homes and communities. I realize the second thing is not possible for everyone, but everyone can write regularly. And trust me, it is worth the effort.

I found that the more I wrote about my life and took an interest in them, my sponsored kids trusted me more and I started getting some incredibly honest and often heartbreaking letters. Far from being the generic template that some sponsors complain about (and I've had my fair share), these kids were opening up and trusting me with the hard stuff in their lives, which is a privilege I don't take for granted.

I'd like to share some here. (no names have been used to protect identities).

Last October 15-16 was our scouting at our school but unfortunately I didn’t join because I couldn’t afford to buy a girls scout uniform.

Ten years passed since our little house was built but until now it is not yet finished because my parents earnings are just enough for our everyday food.

I only celebrate my birthday with my family. But no party at all because my parents could not afford it.

My Dad has been very sick with much bones pain, and he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. We have been going through hard time because of my aunt’s death.

Please pray for me and my dad who is at the hospital, he is grave.

We do not have the necessary things we would need to build a house that has all the things we need. I want to tell you that we do not have access to basic services. We get water from a well but during summer it dries. On weekends I enjoy washing my clothes in a small brook.

I am fine now, thanks to God. I was some days sad and far from the project because my uncle had died, but now I’m back.

Thank God, now we are okay. 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.

I am worried about my Dad’s life because he is alcoholic.

Life is not very happy here because there is a lot of crime, child abuse and in Guatemala life is very hard, because we work in the field and as the sun is very strong, then we get sick. After that we see the hard work fruit and of the time we spent at work.

I contribute to the family budget because my father drinks; so I ask you to pray for him so that he changes some day and we may be a happy family.

C shared to me about the worries in her life when I asked her, and she said that she is worried about the situation of her father, because her father encountered a big trials. She is sad also because her grandmother passed away through her illness. But C said God has a purpose for everything why it was happened.

Her family is so poor. Her Dad is a day labourer and can’t eat good food most of the time.

Her father become sick often, for that her family is in bad condition.

Her father is poor. Her father works as a day-labour and her mother cooks in house. They have no own house. They stay on a hill. They suffer much to collect water.

Pray for my friends so that they don’t become gang members. There are adolescents who get pregnant at early age because they don’t have anyone to give them a piece of advice or a mother whom they can trust. Please pray for my friends so that they don’t make the mistake to get pregnant without getting married or having a profession.

Her father is a daily labour. How much he earn that is not enough to provide the family needs. But now by your sponsorship they could access all the things as a normal human being.

I live in Indonesia. It is hard to get food here because it is very expensive. Electricity just entered the village and was lighted on July 17th. We do not have water flow to village yet. We take water from the spring.

No, I do not have any special doll (toy). Actually I want to play doll, but I do not have even only one.

My parents never gave me advice to go to school because my parents do not go to school, so they never gave me advice. I also always thought to go to school, but my parents do not have school fund, so I cannot be at school. But now, because of the spirit of God that has moved your heart so I can attend school at the project.

Life in El Salvador is more difficult every day and it is difficult to find a job and there is much violence.

I want you to know that my granny passed away and that made me a little sad, but I am surpassing it.

My family and I are going through a difficult time, because my Dad and mom will break up. We are moving to another house.

I am better than the other days because my parents did to fight and now I think we are a very happy family thanks to God and to all your prayers.

My cousin bothers my little sister. She is only 5 years old. He is violent. One day he fought me with a stick, but I forgave him because he is like my brother

Everything is fine in my house although sometimes my aunt and uncle fight a lot, but I beg God to protect all those that I love very much from all evil.

Life in Bolivia is dangerous, there is not security and there are many crimes.

Some time ago the mum of my friend died and she was very sad. Now she is getting better, I help her so she does not think of it. She is my best friend and I am sorry she does not have her mum any more. She feels alone. I just pray to God to keep close to her.

I want to tell you that I fell off my bike with my friend. She fell on me and I fractured my arm. I was taken to the doctor and he put me in a cast. I know the Lord will heal me so we must pray.

He says he is not living with his father
so he beg you to pray so that he can see his mother in good life.

I’m afraid that I will fail. I don’t want to go anywhere, I just want to stay with my parents.

Living in the Philippines is quite easy for others. For us, not so quite because of our lifestyle, financially hard up. We don’t have any home, we board only to others, at least complete with running water, electricity and toilet.

He told me that if he grow older, what will happen to us parents? Aren't we getting older too? I explained him gradually the true situation being people in this world. I think with this things in his life he’s worried. JD says he never leave away his parents, especially I his mother. He loves me very much, he doesn’t want to go away from their parents.

My mom left the family, and I would like you to pray she comes back

I want to tell you that I am afraid of scorpions even though they never bit me. They come into the shoes and holes in the walls.

Please pray for the lives of my parents because they have many problems as a couple and it makes me feel sad.

Hello with all my love!! You met Pastor Miguelito. He passed away last February. We are very sad because he loved children very much, and we loved him.

I am feeling jealous when I lost my class position and I will have to struggle my best to recover it but it is not good because of the God’s Commandment.

B is serious in his work as well as school’s work. He doesn’t play with his homework. Because of his age and his class, people start to laugh or make fun of him but he is working hard in school. As it is said, he did not start school early and for that he is older than the rest of the class.

Here in the Philippines last February 6, 2012, we had an earthquakes that caused so many damages and also many people died because of landslide and some houses were destroyed, but in spite of that I thank God because we are all still survive behind the tragedy.

After you left my grandmother passed away and I am very sad. I had to travel to the place where she lived in Maranhao. My mother and I travelled to there but when we arrived there she had already been buried and we could not see her. It was very sad.