Today in My History
2000:I'm All Right, Jack
2002: Hate Is Not a Family Value
2004: For Want of a Subject
2005: Where's the Cream Cheese?
2006: Off to Vloggercon
2007: All Things Pari sian
2009: Whoda Thunk?
Books Read in 2010
"The School of Essential Ingredients"
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10) And Then I Ate
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LETTERS FROM THE KIDS
10 June 2010
I sponsored the first child from Compassion International just a little over a year ago, a 10 year old girl named Anjali, who is from India. I quickly added Predro, a boy from Brasil as the second child I was going to sponsor--surely all I could handle financially. How could I pass up a chance to develop a relationship with a child in need in Brasil? I added a third child just before the earthquake in Haiti. Compassion put out a plea for the chidren of Haiti and, just out of curiosity, I looked at the pictures. How could I not take Briana (she only has one "n" in her name, which differentiates her from granddaughter Brianna),
But over the course of the past year, I've added three more children, not children that I sponsor, but children whose sponsors don't write to them. Compassion says that letters are very important, and we all know that if there is one thing I can do it's write!
So I now have Fred from the Philippines, Shallon from Uganda, and Esther from Indonesia, to whom I write and who think I am their sponsor (I am uncomfortable with them thanking me for things that their sponsor sends them, but Compssion tells me this is the way things are done...I am the "visible sponsor" and as such I get credit for all gifts that the people who write the check send.)
There is a on-line discussion group for Compassion sponsors and they always seem to be filled with stories of the close relationship that the sponsors have formed with their children. Recently new people have talked about how stilted and unsatisfying their own relationships are, how cold and impersonal the letters from their kids seem (the children are supposed to write to sponsors three times a year), and it's been kind of comforting to read those letters and realize that not every sponsor-sponsee relationship is warm and loving.
It obviously takes time to establish a relationship, and with some kids it just ain't gonna happen. Opening up and writing to people is not part of some cultures and they do what they can, but it's never going to be all touchy-feely. The the whole point of this is not to become good friends with these kids, but to do something that will help make their lives better. You change the world one person (or one puppy) at a time. If you feel you have become "good friends," it's just a perk.
Still, it's nice to start getting to know the kids to whom I write. The one I know best is Fred, from the Philippines. I know him best because his mother speaks English and she is so incredibly grateful for my sponsorship (guilt...guilt...). She writes long letters a couple of times a month. Fred is too little to write for himself, which is fine because I'm getting to know his mother. And I love it that he sends along drawings which always show a happy house with bright sunshine shining on it. He seems to be a child who is well loved, and happy (despite the sourpuss in this photo!).
It's surprisingly how more complete and involved my own letters to him are, because really I'm writing to his mother and I am starting to feel that I know her. She told me, for example, that Fred would like to go to New York, so I was able to devote a whole letter to describing what New York is like.
I also have a better understanding of Pedro, from Brasil. He doesn't write often, but he writes about things he does, his friends, things he likes. He's a big soccer fan and says he has never seen American football, so I found a place where I could get a very simple explanation of football and I asked Eduardo, the first foreign student who ever lived with us, if he would translate it for me. He did such a great job. He did it paragraph by paragrah and left the English paragraphs in between the translated paragraphs. I then bought a package of trading cards of football players and included that. It hasn't been long enough to hear back from him after he received that package, but I was very happy with it.
I loved the last drawing that he sent to me, which shows a race car (lots of his drawings include cars) and underneath he wrote "deus e fiel" (God is faithful). I'm not sure exactly what that has to do with a race car, but I loved it.
Not surprisingly, it took a long time before I heard from Briana. Fortunately, she lives in the northern part of Haiti, so was not affected by the earthquake, but one can only imagine the chaos that made it difficult to resume normal activity throughout the country. When I finally did get a letter, it had been written by her Dad, who gave me lots of background information about his daughter, such as the name of her friends and the activities and foods she likes. I hope to get to know her better as the months pass.
I finally received the first letter from Esther (Indonesia), but it was kind of a fill-in-the-blank form with little blocks for parents names, favorite food (roast chicken), favorite color (pink and blue), best friend's name (lia), hobby (singing) and a small block for a personal message, which was to thank me for sponsorship and to ask what my favorite food is. It will probably take a bit of time to establish a more normal method of interaction with her.
Shallon is older and able to write more complete letters, and is also able to write in English, so I think it may take less time to get to know her. In her first letter she talked about the games she likes to play and asked what my favorite game is. She also shared her favorite Bible story. I am, of course, a bit out of my depth when it comes to comparing Bible verses, but maybe I'll learn something!
I am starting to feel a real bond with these children, to care about
them deeply and to enjoy getting to know them. It's a infinitesimal drop in an ocean of
need among the children of the world, but we can't all be Oprah and build (and staff)
schools for children in need. Better to do what I can, then to wring my hands
because the need is so great.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Happy Birthday, Judy Garland!