Monday, June 16, 2014

Being Creative with Sponsorship Involvement as Mom of Small Children by Hannah Hinojosa

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old. It’s difficult to find time for a shower, and even more so to find time to write to my Compassion children and to pray for them! But I have found that when we prioritize something, we make time for it. And so I have been able to continue writing and praying for my kids…not as much as I used to, but consistently. I have had to lower my expectations a bit, but here are the things that I have found helpful.

Prayer wall: I was finding after the birth of my son (my firstborn), that I was neglecting praying for my kids. It was an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of deal. So I had my husband help me hang 5x7 photos of our kids on one of our walls! It became our Compassion wall. We bought a bunch of $0.97 frames at Walmart so it was very inexpensive. But I had him hang them where I could see the wall as I washed dishes. Washing dishes is (generally) a daily occurrence (unless we’re having a rough day!) and so as I washed dishes I could pray for my kids. We just moved into a new house and I’m missing my prayer wall! Hopefully we’ll get around to hanging up the photos soon. (This wall also makes a great conversation piece to introduce Compassion!)

Online letter writing tool: The online tool is the greatest blessing every! If I don’t have time to write a complete letter, it saves the draft for me! I find that it can take me a number of days to finish a letter, but thankfully Compassion saves it for me. And I can duplicate the letter to send to all my kids! Duplicating letters and making just small changes from letter to letter really allows me to write to my kids at least once a month, if not more.

Taking time to put together mailings: My current goal is to respond to letters from our kids within 2 months of receiving the letter. I set my sights to mail paper letters every other month. This means that my kids will receive extra goodies (like stickers) 6 times a year! But it’s not overwhelming to me to take 2 months to put together a package. And if I am unable to get a package of letters and goodies together, since I am already writing via the online tool, I know that my kids are still hearing from me.

I only handwrite responses: I used to handwrite letters to all my kids for all my mailings. Now I only handwrite responses when I have received a letter from a child. For physical mailings (the 6 times a year), I type up a short greeting, print it out and send it to all the kids who I have not received letters from. It’s short, generic, but easy!

I leave partially unfinished letters on my kitchen counter with a pen: Leaving letters out means that when I find a minute or two, I can work on the letter! Sometimes it also means that the letter has toddler scribbling on it, but I figure that it adds character!

Birthdays on calendar: I have my calendar hanging up in the kitchen. In January I highlighted (in blue) the birthdates of each of our kids! So when I do a quick glance at the calendar, I can see right away if there’s a birthday coming up. That’s how I remember to send financial gifts—I know that they’ll be late, but I figure that late is better than never.

Compassion biography notebook:  I used to have a great memory…and I used to laugh at my mum for forgetting so much. Now I’m seeing why she forgot things and I’m forgetting so many things myself! That being said, I’m not able to remember all the details about our kids…like that Jenny loves the color yellow and Estela and Feraol love cats, that Japhet has 7 siblings and Earl John only 2. So I created a document on my computer and then printed it out—each page has a small photo of each child and a basic biography. When I receive a letter, I try to update the biography if there is important information that I don’t want to forget. And then when I write letters, I have a handy-dandy document on my computer or a slightly outdated hard copy in my living room. You can see what it look like on my blog HERE.

I will say this—to me, letter writing is relaxing and it’s my hobby. If it weren’t, I would probably just stick to online letters and not mail goodies. Compassion just asks that we write minimally 3 times a year. So I want to encourage you, if you are writing 3 times a year or more, thank you! It means the world to your sponsored kids. What I wrote was in hopes to encourage you that it is possible to keep up with your Compassion kids…even if you are crazy busy! And I’d also love to hear your tips! I’m all for ways to make being involved with sponsorship easier as I try to manage a household and little ones.

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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