Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: My Christmas Wishlist

The older I get, the less Christmas gifts I want for myself. And this year is no different. To all my friends who are thinking of getting me a gift this year, how about buying a special gift for a child in need?

Have you checked out the Compassion International Gift Catalog yet? You can buy gifts for children or families in need like mosquito nets, safe drinking water, livestock and bicycles. Compassion will tell you how much each item will cost and you just have to buy it. Click on the link above to check out the various items that you can buy. 

Just think of how special this Christmas will be for these families when they receive a new goat so that they can sell its milk to earn a living? Or a bicycle that will get the children to school each day? Or how about just sponsoring a child for $38 a month and providing medical checkups, healthy meals, annual Christmas gifts, and the chance to build a long-lasting relationship? Just know that whether you decide to send a one-time gift or sponsor a child, you are making a HUGE difference in their life. Compassion focuses on raising a child out of poverty in Jesus' name. Even though you are providing food and education for them, you are giving them a way to eternal life with our Savoir too. And that is what Christmas is all about.

Would you like to do that? Would you like to make an impact in a child's life? 

There's one more thing that I'd like for Christmas this year. I've already mentioned it several times on my blog and also on my Facebook page. 

I signed up for the June 2015 trip to Honduras to finally meet Fadi and Ali. Right now, I'm in the process of raising the money to go. The trip will cost $2,600 for the plane travels, hotel stay, meals, translator and transportation for the sponsored kids. I'm trying to raise an extra $900 to pay for my flights to Florida and also to buy special goodies for my kids. 

If you'd like to donate to my trip, please click HERE

I hope all of you have a very merry Christmas this year! Don't forget the reason for the season! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: My Sponsorship Video

Since I'm in Galmi right now, I haven't had a lot of time to write my "Sponsorship Saturday" posts. So, I want to post this video again.  I made it last year while in the States. Please watch it and I pray that it would encourage you to sponsor a child:

Feel free to share the video with your friends and family.

Check out last week's "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: Honduras Trip Update #1

If you look to the left at the link to my GoFundMe page, you'll see that I have moved up to 24% on my donations. And that pretty much happened in a day. I am very blessed to have friends and family who are willing to support me on this trip.

So far,  I have been able to raise $825. I need to get to $2,600 by March so that I can officially be registered for the trip. Getting the remaining $900 isn't as important because if I need to, I can use some of the money that I've been making this year.

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to those who have been praying for me and also to those who have donated. I just know that this trip is going to be very, very special for me and for my sponsored kids.

I think about going to Honduras a lot. In fact, I'm sure that I daydream about it at least once a day. I love Fadi and Ali as if they really were my little sister and brother. And in a way they are because we are all in the family of Christ.

If you would like to donate to my trip or learn more, you can click on the link to the left of this post or click HERE. Or, click above on the Honduras 2015 tab.

Thank you again for supporting me!

Check out last week's "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wild About Kindergarten: Week Thirteen

Whew! It's been a really long time since I've done these. While I won't go into a lot of detail, here are my Highlights, Tough Moments and Prayer requests. Then I'll talk about this new opportunity that will be happening next week!

~ Highlights ~
1. The kids can read now!! Well, the books are short and simple but they are recognizing their sight words and sounding out words. It's really exciting!

2. Our two non-English speakers are doing really well. One still isn't making conversation in English but he understands quite a bit.

3. Praying every morning for each other and people around the world. It's nice seeing answers to prayer too.

4. We celebrated a birthday today! The student's mom and dad brought in cake, balloons, juice boxes and gift bags for everyone. The most annoying thing though was the noisemakers. Need I explain more? They made a lot of noise . . .

5. The kids get really excited when they earn rewards for behaving well and being kind to one another. I love seeing the joy on their faces!

~ Tough Moments ~
1. I went a few days without my voice (laryngitis) and had to miss work. Although I was grateful for some days to rest, I missed the class and also missed out on a few other obligations. It was nice coming back though because the kids had been praying for me.

2. Sometimes, the kids really forget to be kind to each other and end up fighting. I never know what exactly to do.

3. We have days where all the kids are energetic and easily distracted. It's sometimes tough to teach them and keep them focused.

4. Sometimes, it's still hard to communicate with the kids who struggle with English.

~ Prayer Requests ~
1. I'm still trying to get rid of a cough and a cold due to my laryngitis. Please pray that I would fully recover before I have to leave for 3 weeks.

2. The kids have been sick. Please pray that they would be healthy.

3. We're getting ready for our annual Track & Field day. Please pray that all of us would stay safe and that we'd focus on having fun and not on winning (I'm especially excited for this year because I won't have to participate in any of the races or events. YAY!!).

And now, on to my exciting announcement!!

A friend and I have been given the opportunity to help teach at a school a few hours outside of Niamey for a few weeks. It's going to be quite the experience because we're both straight out of high school with not a lot of teaching experience. However, we both LOVE kids and LOVE serving Christ.

During this time, we'll be living together which will be a different thing for me. It will also be the longest that I've ever been away from my family. However, this whole trip is going to be good for me because college is coming up and I'll be even more independent.

I'm very thankful that Mrs. S and the school has allowed me to do this because I need as much experience as I can get with teaching. I still don't know if I want to be a full time teacher but I love working with kids and have been learning a lot this year.

I'm also very grateful and thankful for how God has been working in my life this year. He has given me so many amazing opportunities to do what I love:

- I spent the summer working at a camp where I had kids from 1 to 12 years old. The majority of the kids didn't speak English and I was also in charge of a lot of kids. While I don't think I'd ever do it again, it was a good learning experience

- I've been working this year at my old school which has been nice. I'm able to bond with my brother's class and build closer relationships with some of the younger students (I lead a small group at the middle school Bible study)

- The Kindergarten teacher went to John Brown University and majored in Early Childhood Education. It's been so cool learning from her and helping her out this year

- I'm still doing childcare at our church service. I love getting to know the toddlers. A few of them are the younger brothers and sisters of the Kindergarten class

- I've had a few times where I've been able to "teach" the Kindergarten class and work one on one with some of the students. I prefer the one on one part but it's all helpful

- And now, I get this amazing opportunity to live for a few weeks away from my family to help teach a class. God is good!!

Please pray that my friend and I would stay healthy and work well together. Also, please pray that this experience would help us to rely on God and point in the right career path.

Also. . . I need some help funding my upcoming trip to Honduras. I will be going to see two of my sponsored kids: Ali and Fadi. Please consider helping me. Click HERE to learn more. Thank you!

**My parents will also match any donations (up to $500) that come in TODAY for my trip! Click on the link above to donate and to learn more.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: Aicha

When I was in school, each year I had to complete a certain amount of Community Service hours. Fortunately, a lot of the Community Service opportunities at my school revolved around kids. So, in 11th grade, I started going to a baby orphanage. We didn't do anything exciting like the other Orphanage Teams did. We didn't play games with the kids or tell them Bible stories. These were little babies. Some were weak, some were premature and all of them just wanted to be held and cuddled. We'd find them rocking in their cribs because they needed someone to pick them up. If one of them cried while we were holding him, it wasn't because he wanted to get down. It was because he was hungry or needed a diaper change. So every week, for an hour and a half, we'd go to the Baby Home and hold babies. And it was wonderful.

I graduated from school last year but am still going to the Baby Home each week to hold the babies. I haven't been able to bond with any of the small ones like I used to but I have hit it off with the oldest
girl there. Her name is Aicha and she is 8 years old. I have no idea why she is still there but it may have something to do with her being crippled. She has the greatest smile, the sweetest personality and she looks out for the younger kids at the Baby Home.

Every week, Aicha and I find each other and paint our nails. Well, I'll paint her nails and I'll let her paint mine. Sometimes, the toddlers will wander over and demand to have their nails painted too. It doesn't matter if they're a boy or a girl. Everyone wants the attention and the sparkly stuff on their nails.

When I paint her nails, she watches me carefully and will point out where I've missed a spot. And while her nails are drying, I'll let her paint mine. She concentrates really hard so that she won't miss a spot (like I usually do) but ends up covering my entire finger in polish instead. But I act as if I've gotten the greatest manicure in the world -- because I have.

Let me explain.

Aicha doesn't really have any friends. She is 8 years old and lives with a bunch of toddlers and
newborns. She has a playroom there but has no one her age to play with. I honestly have no idea what this little girl does every day.

So, once a week, I basically let her empty out the nail polish all over my fingers so that she can be a kid and have fun. It's totally worth it to see her smile in satisfaction over her work and show it off to all the nannies. She can't speak English or French but we still find ways to communicate. Thanks to Aicha, I am learning the names of the babies at the orphanage. We make faces at each other and laugh over silly things. I LOVE to see her beautiful smile. And at the end of the afternoon, I'll blow kisses at her while she waves goodbye.

All around the world, there are other kids who have childhoods similar to Aicha's. They may not get the luxury of playing with toys or making silly faces with friends or painting their nails. Not only that but they may also be missing out on 3 meals a day, clean water, medical visits, a safe environment to grow in and most importantly, the love of Jesus. It's very likely that they are feeling alone and maybe even worthless too.

So what can you do?

Why not sponsor a child? When you decide to sponsor a child across the world for $38 a month, you are providing for them to go to school, get medical checkups, eat healthy meals, dream about a future free from poverty and learn about how much Jesus loves them unconditionally. You also get the opportunity to build a deep relationship through letters and gifts.

I praise God that I am able to sponsor Fadi and Ali and correspond with Lucy and Eloie. Not only does my sponsorship bless them but it also blesses me. Because of my prayers, letters and sponsor money, I am releasing them from the bondage and hopelessness of poverty. And because of their letters and prayers, my relationship with God has grown deeper.

If you would like to sponsor a child, please click on the link below. Please change a child's life and give them a childhood and future free from the hopelessness of poverty.

Check out last week's "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

I need some help funding my upcoming trip to Honduras. I will be going to see two of my sponsored kids: Ali and Fadi. Please consider helping me. Click HERE to learn more. Thank you!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: 10 Letter Writing Tips

On Wednesday, I finished my letters for November. Honestly, as soon as I'd finished writing the letters, I couldn't wait to write them again. I'm thinking about sending each of my kids a Photo Book in the middle of this month just so that I'll have an excuse to write again.

This week, I'd like to share with you some important letter writing tips.

Most of these tips will be old news to those of you who have been sponsoring for a while. So, I've basically directed this post at all the new sponsors and correspondent sponsors.

Tip #1: Get out everything that you need beforehand. When I write, I usually pull out all my letters from my kids, their Welcome packets, their picture, crayons, paper, envelopes and a bunch of stickers. If I am replying to one of their letters, I'll read it before I start writing. It's also important to have their old letters in front of you so that you aren't asking about information that you already know. I like to have it all ready so that I can get it all done in one sitting.

Tip #2: Be creative! When I write letters out by hand, I make my on stationary just out of regular printing paper. If I'm writing to one of my girls, I'll decorate the paper with Dora the Explorer stickers or lots of hearts and flowers. If I'm writing to Ali, I draw trucks and decorate it in his favorite colors. Below is a picture of my most recent letter to Ali:

Here's a creative way to get to know your kids: Ask for them to trace their hand or their foot. I designed a special information paper and filled it out for myself. It included information on my favorite animal, color and even what I want to be when I grow up. On the back (as shown below), I traced my hand. I then designed a paper just for them asking the same questions. At the bottom, I asked that they would trace their hand and send the paper back to me. That way, I can know the size of their hand and feel closer to them. It's a fun way for us to get to know each other.

Tip #3: Include Bible verses and encouragement. Even though my kids hear Bible stories and memorize verses at their Compassion centers, I still like to include a verse that has spoken to me or that I know will encourage them. 

I also like to encourage them. I tell them how much I love them and I also remind them that they are special to me and to God. When it comes to encouragement, it doesn't matter how many letters you tell them the same thing over and over. In every letter, Fadi hears how beautiful and special she is. I tell Ali how much I love him and how I love writing him letters. You can never say that too much.

Tip #4: Ask a lot of questions! I try to include at least three questions in each letter. When I write online, I type out the questions in capital letters so that they'll know to answer them. If I'm writing the letter by hand, I'll underline the questions in a different color. I love it when I get answers to my questions!

Tip #5: Leave space for translation when you use your own stationary. When I first started writing Fadi, I didn't know to leave room at the bottom of each side of my letter for the translator. If you look at the picture above, you'll see that I divide my paper in half on both sides and write only in the top sections. 

Tip #6: Remember that it can take up to 3 months for your letters to reach your kids. This is because of translation and the letters being distributed in areas where it's hard to distribute mail. Keep in mind that if you want your letter to reach your child by a certain date (for example, a birthday letter or a Christmas letter), write and send the letter at least 3 months in advance. I wrote my Christmas letters in October this year. Fadi's birthday is in May and I sent her letter in March. 

 Tip #7: Don't forget to include your sponsored number and your kid's child number on every paper and every gift. This makes it easier for the staff at Compassion International to send your letters and gifts to your kids.

Tip #8: Write often! Sponsors are required to write at least three letters a year and your children are supposed to do the same. However, I have chosen to write once a month to my kids. I feel that this is very important, especially for the kids who have never received a letter before. I want them to know that I do not write them because I have to but because I WANT to.

Even though your kids are supposed to write to you at least two or three times a year, some may barely write or seem very disconnected in their letters. But just realize that sponsorship is not at all about you. You have been called by God to lift a child out of poverty and to make them feel special. So, whether you're getting new letters or not, keep writing to them. Tell them about what you've been up to, let them know that you're praying for them and include encouragement. They're always reading your letters and they will always know that someone across the world loves them unconditionally.

Tip #9: Include pictures. The pictures don't have to only be ones that you've taken with your camera. Why not draw a picture for your sponsored child? Sometimes I even tear out a coloring book page and color it for my child. I know that they love to look at your drawings just as much as you like to look at theirs. Be fun and creative and always think of new ways to make them smile.

Tip #10: Send small goodies! Unfortunately, because all letters and gifts are sent as documents, Compassion is only able to send paper gifts to your kids. This includes stickers, paper dolls, drawings and coloring book pages. But be creative! Lots of sponsors have found new things to send to their kids like small puzzles, books, coloring books and paper airplanes. Just realize that no matter what you send, you'll make your kid's day brighter. 

Do you have any important letter writing tips? Comment below so that others can read them! And don't forget to write to your kids this month!

Check out last week's "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Sponsor A Child

Please consider donating to my upcoming trip to Honduras. I will be going to see two of my sponsored kids: Ali and Fadi. Click HERE to learn more and to donate. Thank you!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: Honduras 2015

Happy 1st of November!!

It's good to be back to writing my Sponsorship Saturday posts and I'm feeling  a lot more passionate about them.

And WHY is that?!

Well . . .

Next summer, June 2015. . . . . . . . . .  I will be going on the trip of the lifetime to HONDURAS to meet FADI and ALI!!!! I am beyond excited for this. I am absolutely ecstatic!!!!

As you may know, I've been wanting to do this for a long, long time. In fact, in my very first letter from Ali, he asked if I was going to come and meet him. And back in April, Fadi asked me if I wanted to come visit her. So, this is going to be amazing!

I don't have to tell you how special Fadi and Ali are to me. They are my first sponsored children and each have a very unique story about how they came into my life. In fact, I am looking forward to sitting them in my lap and telling them in great detail how God brought us together.

From what I've read from the itinerary and from blog posts of other sponsors who have gone, we'll be spending a day serving a meal at a Compassion center in San Pedro Sula (which is very close to where Fadi lives), worshiping at a Honduran church, sightseeing, visiting the homes of some sponsored kids, and spending a whole day at a water park with our sponsored kids. Yeah, I can't wait!!

Even before I knew that I was going, I was making a list of things that I wanted to bring for Fadi and Ali and for their families. Each will hopefully receive a Bible, a swimsuit (I heard from one blogger that she brings swimsuits for her kids because not all of them have one when they go to the water park), a doll for Fadi and a soccer ball for Ali, clothes, a few small goodies, a special quilt (if I do this, it'll say "Always in my heart"), along with special gifts for each of their family members. I also plan to pray for each of them separately and to talk a bit with their parents. It is very important to me to build deeper relationships with their families and tell them even more about God's love than what I include in my letters. As I mentioned before, this is the trip of a lifetime.

My future is still very uncertain. After my brother graduates next June, we'll be returning to the States for good. I have no idea if God will ever bring me back here to Niger (but I really hope that he will). Before starting college, I will be flying to Florida to meet the Compassion International team going to Honduras. This will be my first time flying on my own and I'm a bit nervous about that. When I return from Honduras, I'll have to fly by myself again to join up with my family.

I am hoping and praying (and I hope that you'll join me) that God will use this trip to confirm the plans that he has for my life. I know that nothing is really certain and God does not set us on only one career path in life but I would like to know how he wants to use me regarding my love for kids. So I would appreciate a lot of prayer on God opening my eyes during this trip.

Also, here comes the part that I feel weird talking about. I don't like asking people for things.  But in order for me to go to Honduras, I desperately need your help. I am working this year and being paid but it is not even close to being enough to fund this trip.

If you are able and if God is leading you, would you please give a little to my trip? I'll include the link at the bottom of this post but I wanted to address this all now. I am asking for money to fly to and from Florida (the trips by myself), money to fly with Compassion and stay in Honduras, and money to buy gifts for Fadi and Ali AND also to buy school supplies for one of the Compassion centers.

The most important amount that needs to be paid by March is for my hotel and meals and my flight to Honduras. If I don't have it, I won't be able to go. The amount is $2,600 for my meals, hotel stay, flight to and from Honduras, transportation for me AND for my sponsored kids, and payment for my translators

Please pray about it and see if you're able to give.

Also, please pray for me. I am terrified about flying alone. I know that the States is an English speaking country but I feel lost in it and I'm used to being surrounded by people that I know. I'm also a bit nervous about meeting Fadi and Ali. What if they don't like me in person? What if one of them gets sick or I don't get to meet them? What if their gifts get lost? What if I don't make enough money to see them?

I have been reminded over and over that God will provide for me and that he loves me. I know that in my heart but I would still appreciate your help.

I am so excited to see my little brother and sister. May God use me to bring them hope, love and his promises.

Honduras 2015

Please click on the link below to donate to my trip. Thank you!!