Monday, October 12, 2015

What to Write - Christmas (and the 5 senses)

For this month's lettesr, I chose to use the online letter writing tool. I don't use it often, but when I do I'm reminded how many fun templates they have, and how easy it is to attach photos.

I've already sent my Christmas cards, but wanted to write a Christmas letter as well. I had no idea what I was going to write about, but when I sat down and started writing, I was inspired to write about the 5 senses (inspired a homeschool lesson earlier this week).

Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year. In my country, Christmas is by far the most celebrated holiday. It seems that we find ways to treat all five of our senses in the days leading up to Christmas. For the sense of hearing, we have Christmas carols and songs. We hear these everywhere we go - on the radio, in stores, in church and in our homes. For the sense of taste we have foods that are associated with Christmas like the candy cane or sugar cookies. And then there is the sense of seems like everything gets decorated in special ways so our eyes can feast on the beauty of Christmas. We put trees inside our homes, and hang lights and ornaments on them. We decorate the outside of our homes with lights, and it's so pretty once it gets dark outside and the lights are shining. As far as the sense of smell, there are definitely smells associated with Christmas here. The trees we bring in our homes are pine trees and they have a very distinct smell. And finally there is the sense of some parts of our country it gets very cold and snows. Because it's cooler outside, we find ways to warm ourselves inside with warm drinks, fluffy, cozy blankets and sweaters - all appealing to our sense of touch.  

I think God gave us five different senses so we can more fully experience things...even Him. Did you know that God is called Emmanuel? And did you know that Emmanuel means "God with us"? Christmas is more than the birthday of Jesus - it's an annual celebration to remind us that God sent his son Jesus to live on earth with us. And even though He is no longer physically here on earth with us, He is still with us - in everything we do and experience.  

Here are some Bible verses I found about our five senses...
"Taste and see that the Lord is good" - Psalm 34:8"Ears that hear and eyes that see, the Lord has made them both." Proverbs 20:12"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." - 1 John: 1"through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him...For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being save and those who are perishing." 2 Corinthians 2:15 

This Christmas I urge you to notice God through your five senses - and thank Him for allowing you to experience things to see, smell, touch, hear and taste. Merry Christmas dear one. May God - Emmanuel - truly be with you and your family this Christmas. 
Love, the Foley family 

(I cropped this so only the lower, right part of the house was showing)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Short Presentation

It's the second Friday of the month and I should be sharing my most recent letter with you, but I haven't gotten around to writing letters this month yet. I will sometime this weekend, and I'll share it here next week.

In the meantime, I have this sweet video presentation that my daughter put together. We are part of a homeschool group (Classical Conversations) that has weekly presentations. My daughter chose to do hers on Joylyne, her birthday buddy in Kenya. It was so sweet and I asked her if I could share it here.

She agreed, so here it is....

Monday, October 5, 2015

Duncan in Kenya

Duncan Kitheka
in Kenya

Duncan is one of our correspondent children. We first began corresponding with him in March of 2013 have received twelve letters to date. He is one of four children and live with his mother, Kawemba (his father has passed away). She is a farmer, loves God and attends church. His siblings are Beatrice, Mwanzia and Jacinta. 

Duncan attends the African Inland Church Ikanga Child Development Center which is located 225 km southeast of Nairobi. (we correspond with another child at the same center - Mwanzia Stephen)

  • bought a goat with birthday money we sent
  • likes to swim and play football
  • crops they grow: maize, cow peas and green grams
  • wants to be a doctor
"I cannot hide my joy as I say thank you to have you as my sponsor and friend. I am so happy for what you write to me every time. "

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September Compassion Joys

It's that time of the month when we take a few moments to name all the gifts and blessings God has brought our way through the ministry of Compassion. Join us!

we received 11 letters this month, including a final letter from Josseling in Nicaragua!
Dear Sponsors Kevin and Jill,  
I send you warm greetings and I thank you for the beautiful sponsorship you gave me in all this time that I was part of the ministry and I got a lot of blessings from God and one of them was to be your sponsored child. I enjoyed birthdays, Christmas parties, medical checkups, scholar packages and it was a big help to me. I also studied computing and it helped me a lot and I am at the university and have taken advantage of it and I hope I can help other children in the future as you were a blessing to me. I also thank you for your gifts. I say goodbye to you and I will always pray for you and I will take you in my heart. Wishing you the best I say good bye to you and I hope God pour many blessings on you. With love, Josseling

When Compassion called me earlier this year to tell me Josseling was being released from the program (she's in college now and too busy to attend), I asked about a final letter. Of course I was able to write and send one to her, but I was told it was very unlikely I would receive one from her. After 12 years of sponsoring her, and both my husband and I getting to meet her on separate visits, I was sad to not have this closure. So getting this final letter was such a gift!

we also received a couple photos in our letters...

Jazmin in Peru shows us the clothes she was able to buy with the money we sent for her birthday.

Nadege in Burkina Faso sent us a photo of her family - she is in the yellow dress.
She is pictured with her mom, her elder sister and her two brothers. 

Happy 8th birthday to Nadege  (pictured above)
September 25th

I was able to get my Christmas cards done this month. 

And now it's your turn! Here are some guidelines for you to follow for this link-up:
  1. Link up by entering the URL to your blog post (make sure it's a link to the actual blog post and not just your blog).
  2. Be sure to link back here to Compassion Family and tell others you are doing so. Feel free to grab the button code for your post (it's on the right side of the blog).
  3. Set aside some time to visit the other participants and leave some comment love.
  4. Begin taking notes and making a list for next month.
I should also mention that I reserve the right to remove anyone's submission if it fails to meet the link-up requirements or is inappropriate. 

***If you have trouble linking up, simply leave a comment and I'll be sure to visit your blog.

***If you don't have a blog, share your blessings in the comments!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Christmas Cards....

The past couple days as I've walked through certain stores, I've seen the beginnings of Christmas merchandise displays. It's not even October, and yet Christmas will be here before we know it.  When it comes to sending our Compassion kids Christmas cards, letters and/or other goodies, time is of the essence. Because it takes a while for a letter to be translated and delivered, we need to get our cards out sooner rather than later.

And while you are at it, consider writing out a few extra cards for some unsponsored children. Christmas is the only time of the year we get to bless the unsponsored children with words of love and encouragement.

Be sure to clearly label your Christmas cards for your sponsored kids with their names and numbers, as well as your name and sponsor number. You can send those cards to the same place you send all your regular correspondence.

If you want to send cards to unsponsored children, mail them to: (by Oct 31)

Compassion International 
Attn: Christmas Cards for Unsponsored Children
Colorado Springs, CO

Monday, September 21, 2015

David ~ LDP student in Peru

The one and only LDP correspondent I've had the privilege of writing to was David in Peru. David is an incredible young man who loves the Lord with his whole heart. I definitely feel like I got the better end of this deal in this on and you'll see why I say that.


We received our first letter from David in October of 2009 (when he was 21 years old) and our final letter in August of 2012. During the 3 years that we corresponded, we received a total of 32 letters. He was a seriously good letter writer! I also had the opportunity to meet David in August of 2010.

David was studying electronic engineering at Callo National University in Lima, Peru. He and his family were very active in their church, Assemblies of God of Peru. His father, Samuel, was a teacher, his mother, Emerita, was a deacon of treasury, his older sister, Noemi, worked with the youth, and David played keyboard and drums.

"It is a great joy for me because all my family is serving God." 
"These past years God has given me the opportunity to serve Him through music. I do not know if I am talented, but when I praise Him and worship Him through music, it is such a beautiful time for me that I forget about everything else and the only thing I do is to express my gratitude to Him through each rhythm, note and melody. I have the privilege to be learning how to play the drums and keyboard since I left high school (about 5 years ago) and I continue learning. And, I serve God with these instruments in my local church."

Miscellaneous info:
  • Received a study Bible from Compassion
  • May of 2010 - visited by Wess Stafford - "All the staff of Compassion Peru was truly blessed but I believe that this visit had a major impact on the LDP students as we could see what a humble and wonderful leader this man is. I had the opportunity to minister during the worship time by playing keyboards. I had to rehearse with the LDP students for this day. The day of Wess' visit I was nervous but then I felt good and enjoyed this visit."
  • had a brother who passed away when he was only one month old - their house was made of mat and the cold weather caused his death
  • June 2011 - mom finished high school! She finished a ministry formation program (pastoral theology) and started Bible seminary.
  • Sister, Noemi, studied agroindustrial engineering - she was also sponsored through Compassion
  • July 2011 - mom formed a group of musicians who went on a mission trip to the province of Cajamarca
  • Learning English was his biggest personal challenge
  • January 2012 - participated in LDP bus evangelism outreach - they presented themselves as university students, telling others that it is through God they are reading their dreams. This was well-received and caught a lot of attention as evangelism among university students is rare in Peru. (it is usually done by the less educated)
  • Summer 2012 (January - March ) - summer music workshop at church. David had 5 students in his drum class. 
  • March 2012 - helped do home visits for prospective LDP students in Compassion. This reminded David to never forget where he and his family came from. 
  • June 2012 - began working for Partner of IBM and Cisco
  • Used the final birthday gift we sent him to buy gifts for his family - shoes, pajamas and shampoo for his mother, pants and deodorant for his father, shoes and pajamas for his aunt and a backpack and USB for himself for work.
  • signed many letters with "I send you a strong hug."

Some letter highlights following our meeting....

"My mother is so thankful to God that she could meet you. My mother and I will never forget August 25th. It has been a very special day in our lives filled with blessings and joy." 
"I had the privilege to meet Jill. I will never forget these two days I spent with her. They have changed my life. I met a true servant who reflects much love. I have seen God's great love in her life. Dear Jill, thank you for your words and for taking your time to come to Peru to meet Jazmin and me. You are a very kind and cheerful woman and you are one of those few people who cause a great impact on others. Perhaps I did not tell you this because I was too excited. I know God let us meet so we can learn new things from each other. Now I feel I love you and your family more and I appreciate your support. I thank God for this beautiful experience, for this unforgettable day in my life. God has spoken to me through Jill and not only through her words but also through the things I could see and feel."

We received the following info:
  • LDP country profile
  • LDP university profile
  • LDP annual update
  • LDP new student profile
  • LDP new student testimony (questions and answers below)
How did you come to accept Christ as your personal Savior?
I learned about God's Word in Sunday school when I was very little. When I was about 8 years old, I went to a children's festival called, Festninos, where we were taught about God's Word. Our teacher, Isabel, encouraged us to ask Christ into our hearts. We were invited to go to the altar to receive Christ and I did. That day was very beautiful because that was when I really started to understand God's love. I remember my teacher with love because she was a very special person to me because she was nice to us all.

What impact did Compassion have on your personal and spiritual development?
Compassion influenced me a lot. They helped me financially by giving me food every day that I attended the child development center. I learned more about God and what He is like. I also took Bible lessons. I learned how to behave properly and many other things that are useful to me now because what I learned still remains in my heart. I remember one day my center took us to the movies to see a film about abortion. When I saw this film, I was shocked about how abortion is done and understood why God prohibited it. Another special moment I had at the child development center was my graduation from Compassion. An LDP student told us about his experience as part of this program and how it had blessed him by preparing him to be a leader. I was overwhelmed with what I heard and since that moment, I have wanted to be part of this program. There was a special person for me at the center, sister Abelia, who is the current director. She encouraged me to study to make a difference among other people in the future. 

Who has had the most influence on your life and why?
My parents influenced me because every day, they have guided me and advised me not to do things that I might regret later. They gave me their love and a good education despite their limited financial resources. They avoided spending money on other things so they could pay for my education. They have always advised me to make good decisions and to progress in life. 

I've written many other posts I've about David...

We never received and official last letter, but I certainly don't feel slighted when it comes to receiving communication from David. Since his graduation and departure, we have communicated through email and google chats, although our correspondence has diminished greatly. Corresponding with and meeting David is definitely a highlight of my Compassion experience.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Correspondents

Recently, due to a mix-up at Compassion, a lot of correspondent sponsors have had to say goodbye to their kids. As I was writing final goodbyes to six of our kids (five due to the mix-up and Agustin), I thought I would share some of my thoughts and what I sent in the final letters for these precious six kids.

First of all, if you are not familiar with the correspondent program, I encourage you to read the post So You Want to Write Letters by my friend Jessi. I just want to say that I think it is such a wonderful blessing for kids and correspondent sponsors that Compassion has this program!

And if you are a correspondent (or a sponsor!) who has had to say goodbye, I just want to encourage you with two thoughts:

1. The time you had with the child was valuable, whether or not you see the fruit!
If you are discouraged, I want to encourage you to keep writing to kids! It does make a difference. Out of the six kids we are saying goodbye to, we only received letters from a few of them. But each of our kids received a ton of letters from us. I know that they will be able to hold onto those letters and re-read them throughout their lives.

And this is how I know that the letters we send in that short time matter--one of our boys wrote that he had stopped going to church and seeking God because he felt that no one loved him. But after receiving letters from us, and knowing we loved him, he said he was reminded of how much God loves him. And so he is now attending church again and studying the Bible! Not every kid shares how your letters impact their life…but the letters do have an impact.

2. God cares for that child more than you ever could!
This is applicable for sponsors who have lost kids too. Sometimes it feels like there is no closure…like when your teenage girl from Ethiopia runs away and is not found by the project… But this is when I have to remind myself that God knows where each precious child is and He cares for them! And although we cannot be guaranteed a life-long relationship with each child with whom we correspond or sponsor, we are able to pray for that child for the rest of our life. And God knows where that child is and how he or she is doing. Isn't that so encouraging?


Now I thought I would share what I am sending to my kids in this particular situation. These kids had not received many (if any) letters from their sponsors prior to be assigned to me as a correspondent and they are now returning back to their sponsors. So this is a general form of what I shared with each kid, I just modified it to make it more personal. Feel free to copy and edit this letter to suit your needs:

Dear Name,

I am sorry to write and say that this will be my final letter. It makes me sad to say goodbye. But I am so thankful for the time that we did have to exchange letters! I was so blessed to be able to team up with your financial sponsor and to write to you for the past few months! Now your financial sponsor would like the opportunity to get to know you and I will be praying for God to bless your friendship.

I want you to know that I feel so honored to have gotten to know you. You are such a precious child of God and I am praying for God to guide your future. Please know that while I am unable to write to you, I will pray for you for the rest of my life. You will always have a place in my heart and I hold onto the hope of seeing you in heaven one day as we worship our Savior and King.

Most of all, I want you to remember how much God loves you. He loves you more than any person on earth ever will! I would like to share a verse with you and ask you to memorize it because I think it will encourage you. The verse is Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I love you very much and I am praying for you! God bless you, dear friend.


Considering that these kids may very likely never receive a letter again, I wanted to send a package of letters. Since I had been sending Jill's Fruit of the Spirit letters and only reached Kindness, I finished up my adaptations of Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control to include.

I also included a version of the Father's Love Letter and a reading plan for Holy Week (as seen below since I cannot find the link):

Along with a copy of the child's photo, a Christmas ornament and card, and Juanito's artwork, I included a few journals from Trusty's Mailbag Shoppe, which has some really cute and fun templates for sending to sponsored kids (it is very inexpensive since you can print all the copies you need and all the proceeds go to Deborah's sponsored kids!). I sent the kids the Bird Watching Journal and Searching for God journal.

Since the packet ended up being a little on the larger side, I used file folders and decorated them with Christmas cards:

Everything fit very nicely inside!

I hope that these ideas are helpful if you are preparing final letters! And if you are interested in becoming a correspondence sponsor, I encourage you to check out Jessi's post here.

About Hannah Hinojosa...Hannah is a long time Compassion sponsor and writes about her sponsorship journey at Because of Shamim. In addition to being a wife and mother, she is a part-time math professor and loves to read.
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