11 Sep 2010

Lame sponsors of the world unite!

Hello, my name is Lisa-Jo and I am a lame Compassion International sponsor.

Yea, I’m thinking of starting a support group – “Lame Sponsors Anonymous.” ‘Cause after today I just know that there are others out there like me who could be founding members.

Here’s the deal- we sponsor two kids through Compassion International and I have never really put much stock in letter writing. I mean, we write – sure – but no more than maybe four times a year; when he writes us, we write back. I just don’t really see how much a five-year-old can get out of a letter from a strange white woman formerly of South Africa now living all the way over in the U, S of A.

I mean, we pay the $38/month, right? How much could a letter really matter? Today, with tears and mascara running down my face, I found out.

My life is all boys. I have two brothers, one step-brother, one adopted brother, two sons and a husband. Yea, that’s a lot of testosterone right there. So not surprisingly, the Compassion kids we sponsor turned out to be boys as well. There’s five-year old Thomas from Ghana and five-year-old Daniel from Guatemala. And yes, I have a five-year-old son, Jackson.

Today, in Guatemala, three more boys moved into my heart.

Mynar, Josue, and Daniel.

Each of them have been in the same Child Development Center since they were six years old. They are twenty now. And they don’t know it, but they put the smack down on everything I have thought up to this point about corresponding with my sponsored children. (Well them and Shaun Groves whose family, I discovered, writes a letter a month to each of their four Compassion kids. Oy vey!)

So me and my lame, low-letter producing self asked Mynar, “but what if our sponsored kids can’t read yet. Do the letters mean anything to them?”

His eyes widened in amazement and then he leaned forward, hands clasped in front of him and told me, “We save all our letters.”

“And even though when we were little, Compassion workers read them to us, when we grew up we could read them ourselves. So we go back and start at the beginning. We read every letter again to get to know our Sponsors better.”

Daniel chimed in, “Getting a letter from your sponsor, it’s just so cool!” I’m guessing that Angela from Australia would be delighted to see the big grin that I got to reap from her fourteen years of correspondence.

I listened. I listened as Mynar spelled out the three reasons why the letters that have come from Margaret in the U.K. for the past fourteen years are saved and re-read time and time again:

  1. Everyone loves to brag when they get a letter; it stinks to come to the Center on mail days and there’s nothing for you.
  2. It tells me someone loves me.
  3. It is a confirmation of what I learn at the Center – that God values me.

Cue the goosebumps.

Josue’s sponsor is also from the U.K. His name is “Mr. David” and he’s a missionary. Mr. David started sponsoring Josue when he was still single. Over the last fourteen years Mr. David met his wife, got married, and had a first baby boy. And he sent Josue all the pictures and correspondence to include him in the journey. They are connected by a bridge of letters. And even though Josue knew from the other kids that sponsors who got married often dropped the sponsorship commitment as they moved into their new lives, Mr. David stuck by him.

Glue. Words and lives and stories and exchanges. Glue that holds boys together when all around them their friends are splintering into a thousand shards of broken bits and pieces splintered by gangs and prison and hopelessness.

“Do you know Sarah?”

The young boy who has materialized at my elbow asks again, “Do you know Sarah? She also lives in America like you.”

The translator is quick to explain. This is Gaspar and his sponsor is Sarah. He wants to know if I know her. He’s with his friends Luis and Manuel. They are the mini-versions of Daniel, Mynar and Josue.

Five years. Five years Sarah has been sponsoring Gaspar (who is in the white shirt) and in that time he has received only two letters. Luis (on the right) is only five months into his first sponsorship and he is eager to write to Mike and Caroline but he can’t until they write first. And he’s still waiting. I hear the story repeated in different voices all throughout the afternoon. I mean, how can your name be Darling and somehow you’ve never received a letter from your sponsor?

“What would you like to know?” I ask. What would you like to know from your sponsor if I could ask for you? They look up at the ceiling, look at each other, fidget, and then,

“if she has a husband,” says Gaspar. “And where she lives. How old she is and what work she does.”

It only takes very simple words to build a sturdy bridge.

These boys, they climb into my heart with both feet. I feel them in there stomping around and rearranging things. And it wells up in my eyes and my hot cheeks and strangely I find it hard to swallow. My fingers are itching for a pen.

And by gum if I don’t hope yours are too!

Our letters are more important than our money. Our words more valuable than our automatic withdrawals. And we can change the course of history by investing in the person instead of just the payment plan.

I want Gaspar and Luis and Manuel to grow up to be as sure that they are loved and covered in prayer as Mynar and Josue and Daniel. Heck, I want that for my own boys.

And when I get home the first thing I am going to do after I smooch the living daylights out of my kids is to tear up my Lame Sponsors Anonymous card and pick up pen and paper. I will write. I will write letters to my Compassion kids and prayers to the God who lays Himself down as the living bridge between us.

Because today I walked across and discovered what He has known all along:

No dejemos de congregarnos, como acostumbran hacerlo algunos, sino animémonos unos a otros, y con mayor razón ahora que vemos que aquel día se acerca. Hebreos 10:25.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25.

Won’t you join me? Come on, let’s run across that bridge!

Here – here’s where you get on it to sponsor a child. And guess what? You can even email a letter and photos these days and Compassion will print it out and mail it for you!

And if you can’t support him or her with money, how about lending your words? Many children like Gaspar have sponsors but no communication; no relationship. And Compassion tells me they’re always looking for more letter writers to match up with existing sponsored kids.

Click here to become a child correspondent- a word sponsor – to write to a child and tell a Gaspar or Luis that he matters more than any dollar value. He matters because God says so. Simple as that.

Comments

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  1. 1

    dear lisa-jo,
    after reading your post i sat down to write a letter to my sponsored child and have just finished it now…its like a weight has lifted off my shoulders as i always used to agonize over writing which just meant that i never wrote often.
    i’ve also just discovered on the compassion UK website that you can register an account and write a letter online and upload 2 photos…which makes it so much easier and straightforward! not sure if the US site does this too???
    thank you lisa-jo!

    • 2
      thegypsymama says:

      I am so glad that this was the first comment. Just hearing that made writing this post worthwhile and put a huge grin on my face. Truly. And I went back and added in the option about emailing your sponsored child – thank you for the reminder!

  2. 3

    What a great post. I love reading your posts about this trip. Thanks so much!

  3. 4

    What an eloquent post and what beautiful children. As I read, I thought how much I would love to sponsor a child financially, but am not sure my husband would let me fit that in the budget. I love the idea of sponsoring by letter writing and I appreciate you bringing it to our attention. Thank you!

  4. 5

    Our family’s goal is to write each of our 6 (soon to be 7) Compassion kids twice a month. I have heard and read how important these letters are, so we pledged to do this for our kids. I want to thank you for spreading the word about the importance of letter writing. I have a blog where I aim to share ideas for letter writing topics on a monthly basis as well as share photos and descriptions of things we’ve sent. (You can send flat gifts with your letters!) If you’d like to check out my blog, just click my name and hop over. This trip has been so amazing and I pray for travel mercies for your whole group!
    In His Love,
    Michelle

    • 6
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh that is so fantastic! What a HUGE blessing you are to these kids! Thank you on their behalf – I told them I would speak to as many sponsors of theirs as I could. So thank you thank you thank you!!

  5. 7

    Thanks for giving me a swift kick and a reminder that when we speak words we really do have the chance to speak life!

    Thanks friend.

  6. 8

    Thank you for the reminder, Lisa-Jo. I set a goal of writing once a month, but I don’t always reach it, even though I know how important writing the letters are. Our sponsored child’s mother has written us, thanking us for the letters and the pictures, so if that isn’t the reminder I need, I don’t know what is! I guess some of us are just a little more lame than others and need a few more reminders than we should! ;)

  7. 9

    Wow. I’ve followed every Compassion blogger trip since Shaun started doing them and this is the most powerful post I’ve ever read. I love, love, love how you ended it with actions that anyone can take – monetary OR word sponsorship. I hope that everyone who reads this responds in one way or the other. Or both.

    Off to write to my kids….

    • 10
      thegypsymama says:

      It is making me giddy happy to see how many of you are taking this challenge to heart – on behalf of the hundreds of kids I’ve met here a great big ginormous thank YOU!

  8. 11

    Oh the motivation that poured out of this post! I could be the president of the lame sponsors. We write once a year *GAH* how embarrassing! Not anymore, motivation has struck and the pen is out. Thanks Lisa-Jo!

    • 12
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh yay, yay, yay, YAY! If I could wrap my arms around you as tight as the kids who clung to me this week because they wish they could hug their sponsors in person – girl – I would! :)

    • 13

      Tracey, it’s been almost a year since you shared your correspondence challenge, I wanted to know how the past 12 months have been in terms of letter writing… have you been able to write more letters? What has helped motivate you? Has the communication with your sponsored child changed since?

  9. 14

    Man, you guys are wrecking me! My husband just knows now when he looks over and I’m sobbing over my computer that I’m reading another Compassion blogger. My little sponsored child is just six, and I’ve wondered the same thing – how much can those letters really mean? I write each time I hear back from her, but I’ll definitely be increasing that communication! Seeing those “grown” boys, what they’ve accomplished and how much their sponsors’ letters meant…man. Thanks so much for this…

    • 15
      thegypsymama says:

      Yes, yes, that’s *exactly* what I thought too. And man did my heart leap into my throat when I was asked if I could tell Ms Sarah to write to Gaspar more. Oh man – the conviction!

      • 16

        Would you believe I got a letter from my little Sruthi in India TODAY!!! With a drawing! I tore into that thing and I’m writing back immediately!

  10. 17

    Wow. I didn’t realize how important it was! I “try to” write when I receive a letter, but I totally didn’t make it a priority. Definitely will now. Thank you.

    • 18
      thegypsymama says:

      Thank you on behalf of a hundred grinning kids all desperate to wrap their arms and hearts around their sponsor. A thousand times thank you!

  11. 19

    Lisa-Jo,

    You just made a LOT of sponsored children happy, but they just don’t know it yet. Thank you for reminding all of us how much it MATTERS to these children! I KNOW it myself and still am not as diligent as I should be.

    There’s no good excuse…and you’ve just encouraged me to action :).

    Love you. A lot :).

    • 20
      thegypsymama says:

      Love you right back. And wish I could hug you with the knock-you-right-over fervor of the kids who were ecstatic to meet a sponsor for the first time in their young lives and couldn’t hold onto us long enough. We got to actually be the literal, physical bridge and I will remember how it felt the rest of my life!

  12. 21

    Hey girl, you have brought tears to my eyes because that has been the message that my husband came back with since he went to GU in June 2009. He was blessed to meet and spend time with our Compassion daughter (living in a household of boys I *knew* ours HAD to be a girl) for 5 days. He & one of the other Pastors at our church came back with a mission to make sure that we weren’t just “sponsoring” kids that we were writing and investing in the lives of these kids.

    We have a reminder set up on our calendar (outlook) to write her at least once a month and generally we do that and an online letter. We have all her letters, pictures and drawings proudly displayed on our kitchen cabinets so we always see her bright smiling face and remember to pray for her and to write her.

    I love your heart my friend and love the passion you have shown in helping others see that the relationship is *always* more important than just sending the money!

    Be blessed girl!

    xoxo,
    Melissa :)

  13. 22

    I read this out to my husband after feeling like a right toad. I got to “it stinks when… There’s no letter for you” and he made me stop. I kept trying to keep reading it to him, but he kept hitting the sync button ;) “I’m convicted!! I feel terrible! Just stop!” :D

    We will be writing more. Real ones, with pen and ink… So more thought goes in, so they are more personal, so I can kiss it before I send it.

    Thank you for making me uncomfortable, Lisa-Jo. Really.

    • 23
      thegypsymama says:

      Thank you – from a thousand kids who wish they could wrap hearts and arms tight, tight around their sponsors! Those kisses will not be wasted!

  14. 24

    I know I already replied to this post but I want you to know I came back to read replies and am crying with joy! Your inspiration is going to make SUCH a difference to the children whose sponsors are now committed to writing more often. I am already imagining the smiles on their faces when their names are called on Mail Day!

    Thank YOU for this post! Thank you, thank you for each child who will receive words of love from their sponsors.

    Cue the Ugly Cry.

  15. 25

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I needed that!

  16. 26

    {I’ve been out of town since your trip started and am so excited to sit down and read everything today!}

    I go thru spurts on letter writing. Right now? Not a good spurt. ;) I was just thinking about making a new monthly post on my Impress Your Kids blog about writing letters and making little flat crafts for our kids to send to our “other” kids. I’m gonna do it next week!

    Thank you for the beautiful stories! I’ve got tears in my eyes looking at those grown up boys!
    a

  17. 27
    Lynn Lawson says:

    I just finished my 3 letters to my 3 kids! It didn’t take to much time…so what has been my excuse??? LAME…. I was so LAME! Now I will continue to write! Thanks for the push!!!

  18. 28

    You just answered the cry of my heart. I used to be a compassion sponsor of two children I loved dearly. Then divorce hit and I was struggling to take care of me and my children. So I found friends who stepped in and took over the sponsorship of these kids. I knew the money would continue to grow but I sure missed the correspondence and the relationship. I still pray for these kids who are almost 10 years older then when I had to let them go. Their teens and young adults now. I wonder how their life has turned out. How has God molded them? I still can’t sponsor a child like my heart aches to but you just gave me a way to have that relationship again. I’m calling compassion so I can write to the children who’s sponsors don’t write them. I’m so excited to gush love on them I can hardly stand it. Thank you!!

  19. 29

    If any sponsors need some ideas about letter writing, or just want to hear about other sponsored kids, or just have questions about Compassion, please join us at http://www.ourcompassion.org which is Compassion’s website for sponsors. If you are already on there, come read our journals and join in.

    I love this blog, except for the title. I almost didn’t read it thinking it was about disabled sponsors :)

  20. 30

    Relationship. Christ wants us in relationships with others. Plain and simple.

    So glad you are getting the word out. So glad that God spoke to your heart so you can speak to others.

    Our homeschool wall is a huge bulletin board filled not so much with academic stuff, but filled with letters, photos and drawings from our Daniel. Putting them up on the wall reminds us to write to him often, to pray for him often. We try to include his whole family as well in our questions and comments. We often send him photos (usually just ones I’ve printed off on my printer) so he can see the faces of these people who love him. We send him bookmarks my son makes for him, and stickers and funky bandaids. My son also draws him pictures.

    To those reading this, would you please shoot up a prayer for our Daniel? He is sick and the doctors do not know what is wrong. It is quite a worry to his parents, and to us thousands of miles away. This is the second time he has been sick like this.

    Thanks and God bless and keep writing!!!!! They LOVE it!

  21. 31

    I am definitely a member of Lame Sponsors Anonymous! After reading all the work you all have been doing, I was inspired to write to my child yesterday. I even told my daughter about her, pulled her up online and showed my daughter her picture. I have recommitted myself to this precious, little child of God who receives my automatic withdrawal each month. Thank you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the work that you are doing!

    Praying for you and your crew!

  22. 32

    Lisa-Jo,
    This post is SOOOOO important!! I will *never* forget the sinking feeling I had when I watched a sponsored child in the slum of Africa-without ONE modern convenience pull out the ONLY letter they’d ever received from their sponsor of 10 years!! It was just for our effect, because they had long ago memorized every word.

    All I could think about what how little I had written.

    That’s changed in the last six months.

    Thanks for this challenge. It is a good one.

  23. 33

    Thank you for helping spread this very important message!

    I have been a child correspondent, in addition to sponsor, for several years now and am amazed at how my correspondent children view me. I am the important one to them, because to the children, it’s not about the money – it’s about the relationship. As one so eloquently put it…”The easy part of sponsorship is writing the check. The hard part of sponsorship is writing the letter.”

    I just met two of my correspondent children in Peru a couple weeks ago. I was a little sad I wasn’t meeting one of the children I actually sponsored, but after meeting David (LDP) and Jazmin (CDSP), I realized that my role as correspondent is more important than any amount of money.

    • 34
      thegypsymama says:

      “The easy part of sponsorship is writing the check. The hard part of sponsorship is writing the letter.” – That is now officially my favorite sponsor quote ever! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do!!

  24. 35

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! What an incredible read. God bless the children.

  25. 36

    okay, i almost couldn’t finish reading your post before heading over to the Compassion web site to write a letter to Neema in Tanzania! My 4-year-old and I just sat down and did it…thank you so much for sharing how our letters can impact the lives of our kids. The letters can seem so distant through translation that it’s easy to miss the meaning…the love behind them!

  26. 37

    Thanks for sharing this! We are going to start sponsoring a child and would love to be able to write to more than one! I have a large family and I think all of my older children would commit to write to at least one child. Thank you! Thank you!

  27. 38

    Beautiful post! Thank you!

  28. 39

    I am so excited waiting for information on my sponsered child, he isnt from compassion but i hope m next one will be. Im just waiting to be in work again as we are really tight in money. Though reading your posts i know i really dont have a clue on the word poverty.

    I wish to build a relantionship with my sponsered child and have them know that they hold a piece of my heart and are always in my prayers.

    God bless you xxx

  29. 40

    I am ashamed to admit, but, I am definitely a member of the Lame Sponsors Anonymous club. :( Thank you for this great post that has challenged, convicted and inspired me to write to my sponsored children once a month, instead of just writing back to them when I get a letter. The thought of my sponsored children watching on mail day as others receive mail and they don’t has wrecked me!
    Thank you for enlightening us as to just how important those letters are.

  30. 41

    Lame Sponsor…wow, that hurts and describes me perfectly. The little girl we had sponsored for a couple of years in Honduras left the program and early this year we were assigned another child. While we happily continued to send our money, I kept putting off sending a letter. I guess my heart just wasn’t in it. Just typing those words makes me feel so self-centered. It nearly broke my heart to read your description of the child longing to send a letter to his sponsors, but couldn’t because they hadn’t written yet. Today I will write a letter and have added a monthly reminder to my calendar. I never want my child to be one of those who goes away sad on mail day because there is no letter for her again.

    Thank you for the beautiful, eloquent way you stepped on my toes…I needed it!
    Terry

  31. 42

    Guilty. I read your title and knew I was in your club. The worst part? I have been to Guatemala, been to buildings and homes very similiar to what you are experiencing. I have smelled the smells, walked into homes that people are proud of that don’t meet our American standards, and have been overwhelmed by the smiles and joys that radiates.

    The first time I wrote my sponsored child, her response back began with “Dear Godmother” — and although I wasn’t raised in a family with Godparents, I knew that she was offering me one of the highest terms of endearment, that she trusted me, and knew I would pray over her throughout her life. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

    Yet, I have been busy and haven’t written back. Thank you for the gentle reminder to not only have the money automatically withdrawn each month, but to automatically write a letter as well…to have it be such a part of my routine in giving that I don’t think twice about it.

    Thank you!

  32. 43

    I send an email to my 12yr old boy in India! And I always feel like such a slacker for sending a letter – not my own hand, my print for them to see. I hope the email means as much as the hand written letter.

    thanks for this post – definitely makes me want to write far more often than monthly!!

    • 44
      thegypsymama says:

      Stef – guess what I discovered?!!! The Compassion staff is so totally and incredibly amazing that they actually print out email correspondence on very special stationary with cool kid-friendly pictures and font to make it a special experience. So keep right on sending them that way!! You bless and bring joy and I thank you so very very much on behalf of a thousand kids here who LOVE their sponsors!

  33. 45
    Steve Jones says:

    I loved this post! I cracked up at the title. Oh how often I have felt like the founding member of that club.

  34. 46

    LJ, I’ve been hanging on every word of every post for this trip, but THIS is the one that has me literally blubbering tears all over my keyboard. Off to write our littlest Compassion boy, the one I’ve put off writing, because it WILL matter, even though he is only three.

    I love the idea of writing once a month… making it a priority.

    • 47
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh Bunny, me too. I felt like the weasliest-weasel of them all when I saw the little boys wishing they could hear from their sponsors and then glancing over at the life changing affect it has had on the big boys! I am setting a calendar reminder each month from now on!

  35. 49

    Whew! You got me there. I definitely have the Lame Sponsor Card though its been hanging over the trash can for awhile now.

    My goal has been to write to my child in Ecuador at least once month (I make it probably 5 or 6 times a year) and also respond to any letters from her, which can sometimes get confusing especially when I receive letters out of order. I think I’m going to start making a copy of my letters, so I remember what I’ve said and what she’s responding too.

    I’ve struggled some with connecting with this little girl, because I had my first Compassion child for nearly 3.5 years when her parents pulled her out of the program. It was hard to start from scratch again, but I feel like we’re making progress. It always gets me that Pamela ends each of her letters with “I’m praying for you and your family. Are you praying for me?” Talk about a humility check.

    I love Mynar’s reasons for writing. Especially #1. I know that feeling…of wanting to be loved, looking for affirmation and then being disappointed. That’s enough for me.

    Here’s to loving more and throwing away the lame sponsor card!

  36. 50

    So I sobbed yesterday over at Holy Experience looking at all the photos and reading the stories. And I sobbed again today hearing the personal stories and how much the letters mean!! I had NO IDEA how much letters could mean to these children. We are planning to sponsor some children and I’m going to make it part of our homeschooling writing time to write letters to them. And how fun someone said in the comments that you can send a flat gift too!!
    Thank you for going. Thank you for sharing from another part of the world that isn’t so very far away after all. I am changed and I pray I stay changed.

  37. 51

    This post is so worthwhile! We write our little girl, Rubina, every few months, but now knowing how much they actually mean to the children is all the more motivating to write! It breaks my heart to think of our Rubina not receiving regular letters when they mean that much to her. And how my heart aches for others who haven’t received word.

    I skimmed a Compassion blog last week that suggested marking the 2nd Friday of every month to write your Compassion child. Our calendar is now marked and a letter will be written this weekend! Blessings, Lisa-Jo! The Lord has used your all’s trip in my life!

  38. 52

    I needed to read this. I am going to start writing my children several times a month. I want that bridge with my children. I will not be a lame Compassion sponsor any more!

  39. 53

    Thanks for writing this! It’s such an important message for all sponsors! I learned this lesson when I went on my first sponsor tour and made a pledge to write more often. I recently went on a second trip and I couldn’t stop myself from asking the children if they received letters from their sponsor. Many times, I had to look into the sad eyes of a child as they told me “no”. It’s not always easy to write the letters, in fact I need to be writing this month’s letters today, but it does make it easier when I’m reminded of just how important our letters really are! Thanks for the reminder, and for inspiring so many other sponsors to write more.

  40. 54

    i know others have said it, but i want to say it on my own behalf: Thank you for the post!

    was having an aimless saturday afternoon, no one around the house and nothing that i gotta do. that’s usually not a good, safe place for me anyway. then shawn g. shared your post, and i was drawn back to The Big Picture again.

    thank you for sharing your heart as you shared your experience.

  41. 55

    My name is Christine and I am a recovering lame sponsor! I’ve been a sponsor over 10 years and have written less than 10 letters. I never really knew what to write. But I know what I would want to say as a mother so that’s how I will approach my letter writing from now on. I just sent an email and I will write a ‘real’ letter tomorrow after church. Thank you for giving us a picture of just how important it is!

  42. 56

    Yup, I’m part of the club too. When I really start feeling guilty about it I do go online and email, but part of me doesn’t write because I always want to send pictures and I never seem to have any copies at the right time. Is it really true you can upload pictures to send with an email? I can’t seem to find it on the website. If it was that would be awesome, but I guess that might get kind of expensive too.

  43. 57

    Again, thanks for the reminder. The letter-writing was also the strongest part of my trip to GU about 15 months ago. We have 6 sponsored kids and I know I don’t write enough. I’m curious about uploading photos, I didn’t know about that – and it is truly the desire to send photos that keeps me from on-line writing more often. Thanks for the messages from your trip. God Bless!

    • 58

      As far as I know, only those who sponsor through Canada may upload pictures directly into email but the feature is in the works for the US. As for now, I either upload my pictures to Walgreens.com and pick them up later that day or I print them onto regular paper using my printer.

  44. 59

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

    Thank you for challenging to write more letters to my sponsor child.

    I am committing right here to a letter month!

  45. 60

    Lisa-Jo–this Compassion blog tour is wrenching my heart. I sponsor a boy in Guatemala. The images of homes, so similiar to his situation I assume, have been powerful. I share them with my son (12) who is the same age as Elber Yoisey. We have sponsored him for a few years, but I’ve never felt this connection to him as I do now. Thank you for being a part of the Lame Sponsor Club with me. I want to change that now, along with all the others here. His birthday was in February and I have a card still sitting here on my desk that I made for him here in September. Wow. How we take the time for our own family’s celebrations but don’t realize what would happen if we made the time for these ‘adopted’ kids that we have as sponsors. I feel guilt-wridden but am now going to do something about it. The email link with a way to attach photos is a brilliant idea, Compassion. That will make it much easier as we all hunker down over Facebook to remember to write our kids first. Hugs to you all in Guatemala. Thank you for sharing your hearts.

    • 61
      thegypsymama says:

      Hip, Hip, Hooray!! So thrilled you have busted out of the Lame Sponsors Club – you and me both!! What a joy you will be to Elber and I promise you on behalf of the hundreds of kids who told me – what they want most is to hear from their Sponsors!

      Blessings on you!

  46. 62

    I needed to read this. I am going to start writing my children several times a month. I want that bridge with my children. I will not be a lame Compassion sponsor any more!

    Hopefully there will be an update for the Compassion iPhone app that will allow letter writing. Compassion would see a huge increase in letters from sponsors if that were to happen.

  47. 63

    What a great reminder–thanks for sharing this! I’ve met so many formerly sponsored children–who are now adults who have told me just how important those letters are. They’ve said things like, “My sponsor was the first person who told me that they loved me.” My sponsor was the first person to tell me I was beautiful.” I never really understood how much of an impact our words could have on these children. Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful children’s stories.

  48. 64

    WOW. This was convicting. I’ll be writing a letter to my kid ASAP.

  49. 65

    I’m officially asking to be removed from your club! :) The thought that my sponsored child goes to mail day and there is nothing for him cut straight to my heart. I will be writing tomorrow and every month from now on. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  50. 66

    A few years ago I read the story of another blogger-trip with Compassion. We sponsor two kids through World Vision. I read about the importance of letter writing and relationship building. I thought to myself, “Oh, that’s a great idea. I wish World Vision allowed us to write to our two little guys.” And you’re probably not surprised that I too was a Lame-O Sponsor! Of course I could write to them!! Address labels were included in our sponsorship packet!!! ADDRESS LABELS WERE INCLUDED!
    Now we write regularly.

  51. 67

    Lisa-Jo, between yours and Ann’s posts today, I am overwhelmed by the opportunity to change a life that has been sitting right in front of me . . actually, on my fridge. His picture is so easy to quit noticing. But hearing your story . . how they SAVE every letter, brings sweet, sweet conviction and excitement! Thank you.

  52. 68

    I remember the first time I heard Shaun tell a story about a child who saved every letter their sponsor ever sent. Like you, I was blown away by how important those letters can be. It’s changed the way I look at sponsorship.

    I loved this post, especially the link at the end to being a word sponsor. What a fantastic idea! I’m going to spread the word about that.

  53. 69

    Waaaah! I’m going to write to my sweet gal every month!!!! This post hit me like a ton of bricks.

    I really love the idea about being a word sponsor. That is an amazing idea.

  54. 70

    Writing a letter right now. Thanks for letting us know what the other end looks like!

  55. 71

    Oh, I didn’t know about the word sponsorship opportunity! How fantastic…I want to adopt another child, but finances – or lack there of- prevent it. But words and letters I can do!! Thanks souch for putting yourself out there to be motivation in action!!
    *blessings*

  56. 72

    I’ve only been sponsoring for 6 months or so and already I was a lame sponsor. I always *meant* to write to my girls every month, but my life got in the way and I figured, does it really matter anyways? Between this Guatemala trip and Kristen’s (We Are THAT Family) Africa trip – it’s really made me see how important those letters really are and I’ve been making more of an effort to get letters out to the girls. It’s also exciting to know that you can write to children as well – I think that’s a great opportunity for those of us who just cannot afford any more sponsorships.

  57. 73

    Hello. My friend just sent me a link to this and I loved it. We have been World Vision sponsors for 16 years and my letter writing has ebbed and flowed over time and as we have added more kids I have to try much harder, but I still do it.

    Last year I spoke at an event with a past Compassion sponsored child who is now an adult living in America and I was so happy I spoke first because I cried my eyes out when he told his story. All about the letters his sponsored family wrote him and so on.

    Great post!

  58. 74

    I came over here through a link on BooMama’s page. I have been sponsoring a child since BooMama went to Uganda. But, I must admit that I have only written one letter. I wasn’t even sure if the letters really got to the children and I had no idea they really meant that much to them. Although I don’t know why- my own daughter (who is the same age as my Compassion daughter) loves to get mail and it means so much to her- why would my Compassion daughter be any different. I am off to write her a letter today! Thank you so much for going on this trip and for this wonderful post.

  59. 75

    Oh wow! Your letter challenge is heart MOVING!!

    I don’t know who could miss sending a letter to these sweet folks!
    What a blessing!

  60. 76

    Oh! You’ve squeezed my heart! I’m writing to all three of our sponsored children today!!!

    Thank you!

  61. 77
    Keith Bradbury says:

    Writing our little girl right now. Thanks for the smack up the side of the head. KB

  62. 78

    thanks for the swift kick in the pants…such a convicting post (in a GREAT way!). writing our sponsored kiddo today (after i run to target to get some fun stickers to send in the birthday card and print out some pictures)…i’m putting this on my “to-do” list every month!

  63. 79

    What a beautiful bunch of comments! I sponsor a young girl, Wendy, in Bolivia. I’ve met her once, but I am slack in writing letters. Will get back to my letter-writing schedule today.

  64. 80

    Ok, what do you call a person that can’t write letters to a kid because he no longer sponsors one? Extra-lame-post-sponsor? Thanks for you obedience. I’ve got to go find that kid…or at least sponsor a new one.

  65. 81

    lisa jo, i read this post for the first time earlier today and it’s been in my brain (heart?) ever since. i can’t shake it. i have wanted to sponsor a child for some time, and right now our budget is as tight as it can be. we think things will ease in the new year, and i’m planning on sponsoring one then, but i already called about bein g put on the wait list for a sponsored child who might need letters. i can write. it’s always been my gift, my passion, especially letters (in middle school i had 10 pen pals at once!). i can’t wait to be blessed by using such a gift as he’s given me, and i’m so glad you pressed this burden here. i’m humbled and feeling excited.

  66. 82

    Oh, how I needed this. Thank you!

  67. 83

    If writing four times a year qualifies you for the Lame Sponser Club….well, I’ve got to hold some sort of high office, cuz I’ve sponsored my child for two years and have never written. No, not once. Never. Ever.

    Oh wait…My daughter wrote a letter once and I never mailed it. I never mailed it.

    Now that I’ve totally spewed out what can only be classified as vile and unholy, I will write to my sweet, sweet child in India. As soon as the kiddos get home from school tomorrow, we are having a writing project.

    Thank you for posting this.
    Blessings,
    Sandy

  68. 84

    Thank you for the encouragement to leave the lame sponsors club! Do you know if the children care if the letters are handwritten or emailed? I had no idea we could email… that makes it so much easier! Would you mind replying and telling me what you think/heard about the value of handwriting vs. emailing. I’d SO appreciate it! (but I know you’re busy with your family, so whenever you get a chance… thank you!!) ? Michelle

    • 85

      The letters are printed off at the country’s Field Office and I have read that they print it onto fun, colorful paper. I would venture to say that ANY letter is appreciated. If you only have time to email, those letters will still be cherished.

  69. 86

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    I’ve been convicted about how pathetically lame it is that I can’t get a letter off to our sponsored child with World Vision. Then I come here and read this.

    Stab. In the heart. Tears down my face.

    Precisely what I needed.

    Certainly there is time in our family spent on things of ever-so-much-less value. That all changes tomorrow. No, not procrastination – just that everyone’s in bed and it needs to be a family venture. We pray for our child. But we stink at letter writing. I plan to turn that around.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this.

    God bless,
    Dianne – Bunny Trails

  70. 87

    I just started sponsoring 2 boys at the end of June. I write to one and my son to the other. In addition to the initial sponsor get to know me letter, I’ve sent off 1 letter to each boy a couple of weeks back. It’s about time to start the 2nd letter. I made the resolve long ago that if I sponsor a kid, writing would definitely be more than once a year. I’m working towards the once a month.

    Here’s an idea for the Lame Sponsors Anonymous group…Have a card that says Former Member of “Lame Sponsors Anonymous” and display it as a reminder that you don’t want to be part of the Lame Sponsors club.

  71. 88

    A quick update. Once we were done with Bible and prayer this morning, I read your post to my boys (while choking on tears) and we sat down and wrote to our sponsored child with World Vision. I am printing pictures to send with his letter, as I haven’t done this yet. It will be in the mail today. Thank you, again, for sharing this and allowing God to use you to light a fire underneath me.

  72. 89

    I’ve heard before that you can e-mail a photo with your letter, but I’ve checked the Compassion site several times and I’ll be darned if I can figure out how to add a photo to an e-mail.

    • 90

      This option is only available to those who sponsor through the Canadian site. It is in the works for those in the US but is a few months off, from what I have heard. We just upload pictures to Walgreens.com and have them developed. It is cheap and quick. (I have also heard that CI may charge for uploading pics to the US site, to offset the costs of printing, so it may be easier and cheaper to upload to Walgreens at any rate.)

  73. 91

    I am late in reading your Compassion posts, but I just wanted to tell you, this one made a huge impact on me. I always dread writing letters to the two young women in Tanzania through our church. It just seems to hard — what do you say? What do you write about? I feel cautious, and embarassed by how much I have. Do I write about my children’s birthday celebrations…when my Tanzania girls do not have parents with whom to celebrate their birthdays? Do I write about vacations, when my girls in Tanzania never leave their orphanage? Often I end up writing about the weather — I know, horrifying!

    But now, reading this post, I realize I worry too much — that it’s the words themselves that count the most. So I will write from my heart from now on and worry a little bit less.

    Thank you, Lisa-Jo — and so glad to have you home safely.

    • 92

      We often write about our church, both sermons and activities. I also share a lot of ideas on my blog, if you need more inspiration. I am glad you’ll be writing more!

  74. 93

    I signed up to be a correspondent! I’m so excited! I didn’t know there was that need but so pleased I can be a part. Thanks for letting me know!

    LT

  75. 94

    Thank you so much for sharing. Yours and Ann’s story gave me the final push I needed. Today my seven year old daughter and I became sponsors to Zaida. She is 8 and lives where you visited. My daughter chose her because they both look after animals.
    Thank you for being God’s pushing hand in this.

  76. 95

    Lisa-Jo,

    God used this post to provoke me to action. I tell about it on my blog and linked to you today. If you are interested, you can find it here:

    http://www.godspeakstoday.net/2010/09/lord-deliver-me-from-my-lameness.html

    Thank you for your transparency and obedience. Now, excuse me while I go bawl my eyes out.

    Blessings,
    Sandy

  77. 96

    Thank you so much for this post! I just got online and wrote my child and will do so monthly. I’m so glad you enlightened us!

  78. 97

    I’ve been thinking about how I need to write my sponsored kids more consistently, especially as I’ve read the Compassion Bloggers’ experiences in Guatemala. This post confirmed it. Surely I can make time for even a brief note or drawing so that my kiddos never stand empty-handed on letter day! Thank you for this post. I hope that none of us will have to join the Lame Sponsor Support Group.

  79. 98

    http://meeshimama.blogspot.com/2010/09/delivery.html

    A friend that I met on Our Compassion wrote this incredible story and gave me permission to share it on my blog. It moved me, and I hope it moves you as well!

  80. 99

    Well, this has convicted me too. We sponsor a little boy in India. About 3 summers ago we went to a concert where they had a table afterward that you could sign up to be a sponsor. My (now) husband chose this little boy but I have been the one to write all of the letters so far. My husband then complains to me that Shantha writes back to me and not him! LOL! So, we recently got a letter from him and for the first time, Shantha specifically asked about “Uncle James” and thus my husband has now written a letter back which sits on my table with all of my other papers and such waiting to have a photo attached so I can send it out. The problem is that I always seem to have so many other things to do that the important stuff like this gets overlooked. I have twins girls who are turning a year old tomorrow and they obviously take up a lot of my time and brain power (not to mention my sleep!). But it’s no excuse when we have so many resources here that enable us to keep in contact. I will be making the concerted effort this week to get a printed picture (the danger of digital) and to mail out the letter. I will also be following it up with one of my own. Thank you for piercing my heart with this post. I came upon it quite by accident, having never been on this site before. God bless you richly!

  81. 100

    I definitely fall in the “lame sponsor” category (unfortunately). BUT – no more! This post just lit a fire under my pants. I plan to start writing our sponsored child…pronto.

    Thanks for writing this, Lisa-Jo.

  82. 101

    Now I am crying again! I think I need to print this post out so that I never forget!

  83. 102

    Amazing post. Just amazing. I’m definitely printing this out! I just feel so ashamed and angry with myself for how little I correspond with my two lovely sponsored girls! NO MORE! I am going to make them both feel special from now on.

    Blessings,

    Sherry

  84. 103

    thank you so very much for inspiring me to get off my **duff** and write to that very precious child in the Dominican Republic~ i am so ashamed that i have not taken this more seriously….God Bless You!

  85. 104
    Christina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this… We have a child that we sponsor with the Kid’s Worship group at our church. I am SO GLAD that we are not being “lame sponsors” with Evelyn!!! However, this article prompts me to make sure that we write and send her little packages even more!

  86. 105
    Michelle (in Switzerland) says:

    I’m very pleased to report — I sent off two letters today, to the two precious kids we sponsor through Watoto ministries in Uganda! Thanks for the kick in the butt (ahem, inspiration), Lisa-Jo!

    My wonderful husband helped our kids make some sweet drawings to tuck in with my letters, and then we sent our love and prayers with each little envelope…

    (I really had to do it NOW, could not wait any longer…once the twins arrive it will be *impossible* to get to it for a while, or anything else for that matter. We’re in the holding pattern, could be today or any day now, up to 5 November. Yikes, now off to tackle other things on my “to-do-before-the-birth” list :))

  87. 106

    I am going to sponsor a child on Christmas day, when I have a little more money saved. To hear that that one child had a sponsor for 5 years and only received 2 letters… that hurts my heart so much.

    When I sponsor my child, I will write to them at least once a month. I will make it a habit from the start. Children should know they are loved through and through. I will write prayers down for them to pray, and send them little goodies all the time.. I am so inspired. I will pray for them constantly.

    When I accepted Jesus in my life, he changed my life, rocked my world. He made me feel loved in a way no one else had made me feel before. It was the first time in my life I truly understood the meaning of love. And to share that gift with a hurting child across the world… that means everything to me.

    Thanks for the post!! I will certainly reflect on it a lot today. :) God bless you!!

  88. 107
    Barbara Ferraro says:

    While I am currently behind in following thru on writing to my 8 children I sponsor and the 6 my daughter sponsors on a monthly basis, I do write more than the 4 times a year required by Compassion. Sometimes I miss a couple of months but I keep track of when I last wrote so that more time does not elapse. I have met one of my sponsored children, Giovanna, who lives in Bolivia and I learned first hand from her and her mother how much my letters mean to them and that she also saves each and every one. I try to write about what I may be doing in my life, any trips I take and also send pictures and post cards of where I live and sometimes where I have been. I try very hard to not send or write anything that points out too much the difference between their lifestyle and mine as I don’t want any of them to feel they are missing out on anything. I love each and every one and wish I could sponsor a child from every single country where there is a Compassion project.

  89. 108

    I sponsor 2 and write to 2 more…. Thank you for your story….. I am a better writer than I was starting out….. I want to write twice a month… I can think of new things to write about on Facebook about myself so need to do the same to these kids

  90. 109
    Jacqueline B says:

    Thank you so much for this!
    It’s my first time to read it tonight, though I recognize Maynor, Josue and Daniel from the Compassion trip last year (Ann’s blog posts). I just wrote to my 3 boys – Bryan, 4 in Ecuador; Kwesi, 10 in Ghana; and David, 15 in Honduras. I am ashamed that I, too, belonged to “Lame Sponsors Anonymous.” Like you, I am tearing up my membership card!

    Thanks again for the encouragement to do the right thing and bless souls.
    To God be the glory!

    love,
    Jacqueline

  91. 110

    I just found this post and felt immediately convicted. Thank you. Hello, my name is Lezli, and I am a lame sponsor.

    But, I just finished writing an email letter to our sponsored child, Cristel, and I am going to send pictures via snail mail soon. (I couldn’t find an option to email pictures… Is there one?) I don’t wanna be lame anymore. :)

  92. 111

    Hellloooo! I (once again) linked to this post, so awesome!!! Thanks

    http://www.welcometolove.net/2011/04/letters.html

  93. 112

    Mentioned this post (again) at my blog today! Thanks!!!

    http://www.welcometolove.net/2011/04/letters.html

    Sarah Elizabeth

  94. 113

    Lisa-Jo, I shared this on FB and Twitter again today. What a powerful message. I plan to link to this post on my blog again in the coming days. My passion is blogging and sharing tips that can inspire sponsors to make the most of their ministry to their sponsored children. Real life stories like this are so important. Each sponsored child is a *real* person who is hoping and waiting for those messages of encouragement and love.

    We write to nine children at least once a month but usually twice. From start to finish, it takes less than 15 minutes to fill up half of the Compassion stationary with tidbits about our lives, things we’re learning in church and a Bible verse or two. We always tell the children how blessed and happy we are to know them and to be able to pray for them daily.

    These children are important. Despite the lies of poverty trying to tell them otherwise, they are valuable. As sponsors YOU have the power to fight those lies.

    Just 15 minutes a month. Surely we spend more than that *every day* reading on blogs and social media, don’t we?

  95. 114

    Followed a link from Compassion’s site on Facebook. Writing letters is SOOO important! Oh my… I love this post.

    PS Is that Ann Voskamp in the photo? I just read her book. It looks like her. LOL

  96. 115
    Shannon says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It has confirmed to my husband and I what we have been thinking as we write to our children. We have 2 we sponsor and 1 correspondent. We write 1-2 times per month to each child. One is 6, one is 7 and the correspondent is 17. We write to them about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit alot and we figure there are things they will not understand now, especially the younger ones. But, it has been our hope that someday, when they are older, they will be able to read the letters for themselves and be encouraged. Our hope is the letters will be a reminder of two people who loved them as if they were there own and through that, Jesus will be able to touch their hearts and their lives. We have believed it would be priceless for them. So, your post is encouragment for us to keep on what we are doing. Someday, they may need the words written to them so many years earlier and it will be life giving. Praise the Lord!

  97. 116

    UGH. THANK YOU.

    I have been feeling like a complete jerk for the past year because I haven’t written my compassion child. But because of this post, I finally did. I pledge to make it a more regular occurrence.

  98. 117

    I am a big letter writer – I doubt a letter day goes by without each of my kids receiving at least one letter from me. What’s more, I’ve read this post before.

    But it still makes me cry. I’m going to post it on facebook and hope that others will be inspired to write to their sponsor children.

  99. 118

    Wow… thank you for this post. Obviously from the date, I am the queen of late. I am also the QUEEN MOTHER of Lame Sponsors. Your words hit me hard. I am embarrassed to admit that we’ve sponsored our child (World Vision instead of Compassion due to a radio promotion that inspired us to sponsor) for about a year and had never written. World Vision doesn’t offer photo upload, but I did email our little guy just so he knew we care about him. I am pledging to get more letters sent to him. Thank you!

  100. 119

    Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for this post – I read it a few days ago and today finally, FINALLY sat down to write my Compassion child a letter. No more waiting for the perfect moment or something interesting to say, just pen and paper and a message that she is loved.

  101. 120

    Just discovered this “confession/kick in the pants” by twitter link. Thank you for expressing the importance…that our communication is far more important than the money. I will write my precious boy tonight. Your words often affect my life~Thank you, Lisa Jo.

  102. 121

    Just realizing now that you wrote this post several years ago, but I just needed you to know what a good reminder it was to me today. I have a bad habit of saying things like, “I really need to sit down and write to my kids” or “we need to have family letter writing times”, but then I move on to do something else and forget. God broke my heart with this today. Not out of guilt, but out of love. He loves these precious kids and He wants to use me to share His love. How could there ever be anything more important than that? Thanks for your honesty, I needed it.

  103. 122

    Thank you so much for writing this. It was soooo inspiring. I love writing my sponsored child and now I know exactly how much it means to the children. It really gave me goosebumps and chills when I read that they save all of their letters. I just spoke with Compassion about being a correspondant to other children as well. I’m really excited to write even more! Thank you so much for showing how important this is. God bless you.

  104. 123
    Joanne Young says:

    I was doing a google search about Compassion and World Vision (we sponsor kids from both) when the link to your blog came up. Thank you so much for writing this! I always put the letters to write our sponsored children in a “when I get to it” pile. :( I always feel guilty, but tell myself the letters don’t really matter that much, they won’t really notice or care…etc. This article gives me the motivation and purpose for writing those letters!! Thank you! (I don’t think that google search was an accident.)

  105. 124

    When I read your post, I was very inspired. I immediately signed up for my own child to sponsor from Compassion. Thank you for your words!

  106. 125

    We sponsor one child so far. We write letters to her every two weeks. It takes about 8 weeks for a letter to arrive to her, and she only goes to Center once a month to receive the letters and gifts that we send. Our effort is to have her name called out at EVERY Center Day.

    We always make sure to send extra of everything (stickers, papers, pencils, etc.) so that she can feel free to share with anyone around her.

  107. 126

    The rationale behind such a tremendous growth is not merely the price discrimination but also the non-price discrimination as
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  108. 127

    Ce poste est plein de conseils

Trackbacks

  1. […] of you know that writing your sponsored child truly makes an impact. Your letters and words of encouragement are used by God to pierce the darkness of hopelessness and […]

  2. […] as far as writing letters and over the years I’ve gotten better, but when Lisa-Jo wrote her Lame Sponsors of the World Unite post my motivation was […]

  3. […] those of you who don’t know, I’m a recovering Lame Sponsor with Compassion International. I have a checkered past when it comes to keeping up regular […]

  4. […] as far as writing letters and over the years I’ve gotten better, but when Lisa-Jo wrote her Lame Sponsors of the World Unite post my motivation was […]

  5. […] hope I can be a blessing in these children’s lives.  I read one of the Compassion Bloggers blogs this week about being a lame sponsor….  I write my children regularly, but I want to make a […]

  6. […] family started sponsoring an 11 year old boy after I followed Gypsy Mama and read a particular post on the Compassion trip to Guatemala last year. Currently, there is a special need for children over […]

  7. […] academic support, hygiene supplies, and nutritious meals. But after reading a post called Lame Sponsors of the World Unite by Lisa-Jo at Gypsy Mama, we realized that it’s our words (not our $38/month) that are […]

  8. […] but it never really connected in my head. There’s a link in the Lettered Cottage post from The Gypsy Mama blog talking about how important the correspondence from sponsors to the children is. She talks to […]

  9. […] off by shamefully admitting that up until this past September, I was a full-fledged member of the Lame Spnosors Club. I rarely wrote my two sponsored children, even though I had just added Emily in February. I would […]

  10. […] read Lisa Jo’s call to lame sponsors. I knew I needed to write more, I just didn’t know where to begin. Michelle had a great list […]

  11. […] can’t imagine you saving my letters to reread for the rest of your life. You, I assume, can’t imagine me visiting your home. And that’s okay. Today we’ll […]

  12. […] didn’t have much to contribute, so I was just reading the tweets when up pops this (stop now, follow the link, read, then come back): Don’t be a lame #Compassion sponsor like I was. Seriously […]

  13. […] you sponsor children through any organization, please write to them.  This post by Lisa Jo Baker paints a clear picture of the importance of our letters.  Please make an effort to get to know the […]

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