Questions for My Sponsored Kids

If all goes to plan, in just a few short hours I’ll be hugging my sponsored kids and dining with them at the hotel. I am beyond giddy! When I traveled with Compassion International to meet my two Ecuadorian sponsored children, Josué & Emily, in 2013, I had no idea what to expect. No idea how I would react or what I would see. And so, when I returned, I ended up having a long list of questions I wished I had asked my kids while I was with them. I first shared this list back in May of 2014, but I thought it would be fitting to re-share and review it, today. This time, I’ll be ready. I’ll be prepared to delve deeper into their everyday – and hopefully, I’ll gain a better understanding of their family and their lives.

EcuadorFunDayBus3

Back in 2013, they, our group leaders, did tell us to be thinking of questions to ask our kids – they warned us that we would get caught up in the moment and forget what we wanted to know if we didn’t write it down. They did tell us, and I did ignore them. I couldn’t think of anything in particular that I wanted to know – I just wanted to know my kids. I just wanted to see them, hug them, and tell them I love them. I didn’t have anything to ask them. I am, by nature, a quiet person, an extremely introverted person. Small talk tires me – it was enough, in those few moments, to simply hold my kids. To just be there with them – to be completely there. To breathe in the air and know that this moment will never happen again.

And so, like they warned me, I forgot anything I wanted to ask. I stumbled over the small talk- amazed at simply being there. I had no idea what to say or what was appropriate to ask. Fortunately, I was blessed with an amazing translator who kept the conversation going as me and my kids are all quiet, reserved souls – and there were so many new people. Only when I had said my “bye-for-nows” did I realize there was so much that I didn’t ask.  So much more that I wanted to know.

Below are the questions I forgot – the ones that I’m now including in my letters, but wished I had included in my face-to-face conversation. Some of them don’t seem like much, but they are gold to me. Let me encourage you, if you are ever taking a trip to meet your sponsored child, take a notebook with you. Write down your questions for them, and their answers to you. Write down all the names of all the people you meet. Write everything down. Memories are frail and fleeting when it comes to small details – notebooks, pen, paper, cameras – invaluable.

Things I wish I had asked both Emily & Josué:

  1. How are your father & siblings?
  2. What did you do when you found out I was coming to visit you?
  3. What kind of “extras” do you like to get with the letters? (do you still like stickers? Do you like the paper planes better? What makes you most excited to open the letters?)
  4. Which letter is your favorite, and why?
  5. What size clothes do you wear?
  6. Exactly how tall are you?
  7. What is your shoe size?
  8. What is your home like?
  9. What does an average day for you look like?
  10. What is the hardest part of your day?
  11. How many kids in your project get regular letters from their sponsors?
  12. Do any of your friends/siblings not get letters?
  13. How old is your Compassion Project?
  14. How long have your tutors been working with Compassion?

Things I wish I had asked for Emily specifically:

  1. What is your favorite part of the Compassion Program?
  2. What kind of lessons does your mother teach for Sunday School? Does she have a favorite lesson?
  3. Has your father found stable work? Did he get his teach accreditation?
  4. Does your mother still work with Compassion at the Project? What does she do there?

Things I wish I had asked for Josué specifically:

  1. How did you get started with your baseball team?
  2. Tell me more about the service projects you and your friends do for your neighborhood.
  3. Who is your best friend, what do you like most about them?
  4. Of all of your baked goods, what have you been most proud to make?

What would you ask your sponsored child, if you could ask them anything?

Snow Day Letter Templates

I don’t know about you, but we’re recovering from some serious snow days in northeast Arkansas. Last week we saw the largest (and hopefully last) major snow storm of the season, and yesterday was really the first day I’ve been able to get back to my routine and not feel like I’m skating on ice everywhere.

That being said, I always like to write to my Compassion Sponsored children when it snows (especially since we don’t often get major snows here), and last week was no exception. Using the online writing tool provided by compassion, I popped a few photos of the snow into a template and sent a quick note. I love the online writing tool – it makes everything so easy! But, I also have a couple of snow-themed printable templates. You can read more about each of them below:

Older Child Snow Template

Last year, I shared this snowy themed template specifically created for writing to older children – It is one of my favorite templates. I have had some feedback where users are having problems printing the template – I have not been able to duplicate the problem, so if you have trouble, please let me know. I want to get it fixed and usable for everyone.

TeenSnowTemplate

You can download the older child snow template from scribd here. If you do not have a free scribd account, and do not want to create one, you can view the template here on Google Docs. 

Please remember to write your child’s name, child’s number, your name, and your sponsor number on the letter. I accidentally left out the blanks for those on this template.

Younger Child Snow-themed Template

Man I love this one, It just makes me happy. Created for younger children, it would be suitable for sending all winter long. And, like my other templates, it’s super easy to fill out. Enjoy!

http://www.scribd.com/embeds/77603050/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-1ud3jekxibuesdiytt8z

If you don’t have a Scribd account, and don’t want to create one, you can view the template here on Google Docs.

I’m working on turning several of my existing templates into “older” versions.  If you have one that you’d like to see created for an older child, please let me know. Right now I’m just going back through them in a random way, updating whatever speaks to me at the moment. Also, I’d love it if you’d share any suggestions for new templates with me (for whatever age children).

*Please note that I do not encourage you to abandon letter-writing and just send these templates. Instead, these are meant to be used as a guide in building your relationship with your sponsored kids. As you learn more about your child, it should become easier to write them without using the templates. Hopefully, these templates can be helpful in ‘kick-starting’ relationships or  sending short notes when you’re pressed for time.

Emily’s Birthday Package: What I Send My Compassion Kids

I’m continuing my series of copy-able letters to sponsored children. To read more about this series, click here. To view other templates, click the “Sponsor Letter Templates” link under the main blog header (or here, if reading in a feed). 

I’ve got several birthday packets to send out to my sponsored kids over the next few days and thought it might be fun to share what all I send on these special occasions.

EmilyBirthdayPackageWith all of my preparations for traveling to Ecuador to see Emily again, I got behind in mailing her birthday letters/package. Unfortunately, this batch will miss her March birthday – but even so, she will know I love her and am thinking of her. For this year’s goodies, I included:

  • A four page letter telling her how special she is to God, me, and my family; and reminding her to enjoy her childhood years
  • Lots and lots of stickers: flower stickers, Lisa Frank stickers, heart stickers, and more!
  • A card-stock dollhouse (found at the local Dollar Tree. I’ve sent several of these with no problems)
  • A watercolor princess page
  • A Lisa Frank Swan folder to hold it all (it’s even got glitter on it)
  • A paper Birthday Cake

I always enjoy putting together these special occasion packages for my sponsored kids – and will soon be mailing Josué’s. Then, before I can even blink, April will be here and I’ll be flying off to meet them once more. I cannot wait and until that day, I’ll keep mailing my love. If nothing else, they will know someone cares about them, about their future, and about their family.

What do you send your sponsored child(ren) on their birthday?

25 Easy & Fun “Extras” to Include in your Compassion Letters

******EDIT: Please note that this post pre-dates Compassion’s New Writing Guidelines that go into effect on April 11, 2016. You can read about the new guidelines here.************
25extrasPinterest

As you know, I’m a passionate Compassion International Child Advocate with three sponsored children in South America. As a sponsor, I give $38 per child per month to provide for their education, health, and Christian studies. More important that the financial contribution, however, are the letters I send. The words of encouragement and love mailed half-way across world to children in desperate need of validation. Words that serve as hugs on difficult days and offer glimpses into the life of someone who cares. By far, the letters matter more than the money.

Over my 8 years as a Compassion Sponsor, I’ve picked up a few tips for letter-writing, and now as an Advocate, I am called to support current sponsors and encourage them to make letter-writing an integral part of their sponsorship experience. In doing so, I thought it might be fun to share a few examples of the many “goodies” sponsors can send along with letters. Please note, Compassion restricts “goodies” to: small paper-based items no larger than 8-1/2″ x 11″ and cannot be more than 1/4″ thick. Also, it is a good practice to label all pieces with your sponsor number and the child’s number.

And so, here are 25 Fun Extras to Include in Your Compassion Letters:

  1. Bible Coloring Pages (include 2 – you color one and let your sponsor child color one)
  2. Extreme Dot-to-Dot (great for older sponsored kids)
  3. Bright Pocket Folders (no brads – these are slightly larger than the 8 1/2″ x 11″, but I’ve never had a problem with them going through)
  4. Sticker Sheets
  5. Sticker Dress-up Dolls
  6. Holiday Cards
  7. “Thinking of You” Cards
  8. Letter Templates
  9. Paper Origami Sheets with picture instructions
  10. Color by Number Pages
  11. Watercolor Pages
  12. Hidden Picture Posters
  13. Temporary Tattoos
  14. Card-stock Dollhouses (Found at Dollar Tree)
  15. Travel Postcards
  16. Photos of You
  17. Photos of You when you were your sponsored child’s age
  18. Photos of your sponsored child (They may not have one)
  19. Travel Postcards
  20. Decorative Post-it Notes
  21. Certificates of Achievement
  22. Decorative Band-aids
  23. Paper cut-outs for bulletin boards (stars in above photo)
  24. Small, thin story books
  25. Lacing Cards

For an ever-evolving list of “goodies” to send to Sponsored Children, be sure to follow my Pinterest Board.

 

Generic Older Boy Letter Template

I’m continuing my series of copy-able letters to sponsored children. To read more about this series, click here. To view other templates, click the “Sponsor Letter Templates” link under the main blog header (or here, if reading in a feed). Want to pin this template to Pinterest? Just use the “pin-it” button at the bottom of this post. Easy Peazy!

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a letter template, and in all honesty, it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve had a bit of crafter’s block when it comes to dreaming up new templates – and while I’m gearing up to share more templates for older sponsored kids, coming up with ideas is no easy feat. So, friends, if you’ve got an idea for a template that you’d love to see, please leave a comment or drop me an email and share your inspiration. I’m always looking for new themes and for ideas that will help sponsors write more often and with less anxiety.

This time, I’m sharing a pretty generic letter template that, in my mind, would be perfect for an older boy. However, the template is by no means limited to any one group. Feel free to use it as you need it!

GOBTemplate

You can download it from scribd here. If you do not have a free scribd account, and do not want to create one, you can view the template here on Google Docs. 

As I said before, I’m working on turning several of my existing templates into “older” versions.  If you have one that you’d like to see created for an older child, please let me know. Right now I’m just going back through them in a random way, updating whatever speaks to me at the moment. Also, I’d love it if you’d share any suggestions for new templates with me (for whatever age children).

*Please note that I do not encourage you to abandon letter-writing and just send these templates. Instead, these are meant to be used as a guide in building your relationship with your sponsored kids. As you learn more about your child, it should become easier to write them without using the templates. Hopefully, these templates can be helpful in ‘kick-starting’ relationships or  sending short notes when you’re pressed for time.

Snow Themed Letter Template for Older Sponsored Kids

I’m continuing my series of copy-able letters to sponsored children. To read more about this series, click here. To view other templates, click the “Sponsor Letter Templates” link under the main blog header (or here, if reading in a feed). Want to pin this template to Pinterest? Just use the “pin-it” button at the bottom of this post. Easy Peazy!

It’s a chilly 5°F today, and I’m definitely feeling like a giant icicle. I was planning on creating an older-child version of my Easter template, but this snow themed template seems much more appropriate.

TeenSnowTemplate

You can download it from scribd here. If you do not have a free scribd account, and do not want to create one, you can view the template here on Google Docs. 

Please remember to write your child’s name, child’s number, your name, and your sponsor number on the letter. I accidentally left out the blanks for those on this template.

I’m working on turning several of my existing templates into “older” versions.  If you have one that you’d like to see created for an older child, please let me know. Right now I’m just going back through them in a random way, updating whatever speaks to me at the moment. Also, I’d love it if you’d share any suggestions for new templates with me (for whatever age children).

*Please note that I do not encourage you to abandon letter-writing and just send these templates. Instead, these are meant to be used as a guide in building your relationship with your sponsored kids. As you learn more about your child, it should become easier to write them without using the templates. Hopefully, these templates can be helpful in ‘kick-starting’ relationships or  sending short notes when you’re pressed for time.

Free Letter Writing Template: My Family

I’m continuing my series of copy-able letters to sponsored children. To read more about this series, click here. To view other templates, click the “Sponsor Letter Templates” link under the main blog header (or here, if reading in a feed). Want to pin this template to Pinterest? Just use the “pin-it” button at the bottom of this post. Easy Peazy! 

Today, I am joining Michelle from Blogging from the Boonies as she posts a week long series on getting entire families involved in Compassion Sponsorship and the relationship between sponsored children and their sponsors. This week, in keeping with the theme of family, I thought it would be fun to roll out a new template where children and adults can share more about their loved ones.

family template

Like my previous templates, this one can be used by any sponsor, young or old, to write their sponsored child. It would be a great tool to enable you to empower your own children to write their own notes to your sponsor child(ren), and would be a fantastic addition to any letter you send. However, it may not be the best option If you are working with very young children. Instead, I’m going to point you toward Jessica’s awesome template that is PERFECT for preschoolers.

 

If you don’t have a Scribd account, and don’t want to register, you can view the template here on Google Docs.

Be on the lookout for several new templates over the next few weeks, and as always, if you’ve got an idea for one, please let me know!