Because Love is the Most Important Thing

Wednesday was a sad day for me.  I had the unexpected news that Jennylyn had stopped attending her Compassion-centre, so I couldn’t sponsor her anymore.  According to Compassion, they visit a family on several occasions to remind them of the importance of their child being at the project.  Do you remember the post I wrote last June, giving an example of a child-letter?  How I loved that letter!  We seemed so close then, but things went very quiet after that and I had the feeling something had changed.

I don’t want to share too much personal information about Jennylyn or speculate as to why this has happened, but I thought you might be interested in the process of writing a final letter (Compassion do their best to make sure these reach your child).  One huge plus on the part of Compassion is that because I’ve written regularly to Jennylyn for several years, they’re willing to pass on my contact-details once I’ve signed a consent form, so perhaps we will stay in-touch, but that’s not guaranteed.  It might be difficult too without someone to translate for us, so I tried to put all I wanted to say into this last letter.

I wanted to get across how precious she is to me, so I wrote that I’d enjoyed her letters and told her a couple of my favourites.  I said I’d never forget her and would always love her.  Then I thought about what I wanted her to remember from her time at Compassion:  I wanted her to remember God and the love He has for her.

I’ve recently discovered that Bible Gateway allows you to search for verses in different languages, so I looked up a verse for her in Tagalog (the main language spoken in the Philippines).  I was thinking of my favourite Bible-verse, but it didn’t seem to fit, and I really felt to tell her God cared, so I decided on 1 Peter 5:7:  “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

* * *

I don’t know whether I got it 100% right, but in the end, letting someone know they’re loved and cared-for – isn’t that the most important thing?

If you like, you can join in Holley Gerth’s “Coffee for Your Heart” series too.  This week, she wants to see how we’ve gone about telling someone they’re loved.

Typhoon Haiyan

Status

Latest from Compassion UK:  We’ve just received an update from Noel Pabiona, the Director of Compassion Philippines, who has indicated the damage is enormous. Noel has predicted that at least 99 child development centres where 19,000 children are registered have been severely affected. Communication lines are still down, so we are still waiting on specific information regarding Compassion assisted children.
We will relay all information to you as soon as we are notified. In the meantime, please keep praying!

A Sponsor for her Birthday

Today is a very special day.  It’s Jennylyn’s birthday!  Jennylyn is my first Compassion-child, and I started sponsoring her when she was almost 6 years old.  I think sponsoring through Compassion’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  I love that I can tell someone on the other side of the world she’s loved and cared-for, talk about our families and friends, and share Bible-verses I hope might help her in the tough times, but the letters I receive from Jennylyn mean far more to me than the ones I write.  (I’ll never forget when she said at my age, my skin was smooth like a fresh fruit!)  I’m not sure when a new photo will arrive, but I always keep her latest on display so my family and friends can see what she looks like.  Sponsorship makes a big difference in the life of a child – a Bible, education, school supplies, medical care … but the sponsor benefits too.

 

I wonder if you’d like to do the same:  Start sponsoring a child who’s almost 6 years old.  If you would, I’ve found a little girl on Compassion UK’s website.  Her name’s Kristina Cassandra (what a mouthful!) and she’ll be 6 tomorrow.  Why not click on her name, read all about her and see whether you’d like to become her sponsor?

Example of a Child-Letter

I don’t often share the letters from my Compassion-kids, but today’s was such a lovely one from Jennylyn that I thought I would.  She wrote it in April and told me something she had done every month from December to March.

In December, they had a Christmas party at her school.  I think they must have chosen presents for one another because she said:  “I bought gifts like clothes and watch for the one I picked, Mary Grace.”

In January, she acted in a play at school.  Her character was an old woman, so I said in my letter back that I had played an old lady too when I was at school.

In February, she took an exam, and she thanked God that she passed.

And in March, the school-year ended.  I think they start back again in June, but I want to find out a bit more about how the school system works in the Philippines.

So that’s an example of a child-letter.  She also asked after my family and wanted me to pray for her health.

What are your thoughts on sponsoring a child?  I’d really recommend it, specially on days like today.

For When you Struggle to Relate

You know some blog-posts have such an impact on you and nearly bring you to tears?  Well, this one did.  It’s about a lady’s trip to Haiti, the connections she made and the contrasts between her life and theirs.  She mentioned the boy who couldn’t read, whose sponsor sent a picture of them as a couple, smiling and hugging in Central Park.  He stands in the doorway of a darkened, windowless shack, holding a picture of a happy couple in Central Park?

It made me think of my Jennylyn in the Philippines, and how I’m just the same.  How can I relate to her?  “Pray for my parents,” she writes, “that they’ll be healthy and happy.”  I think of my parents and sister on the bank-holiday weekend – how we enjoyed lunch together and the warmth of the garden.  We’ve had our struggles, but we’ve come out the other side.  I wish I could tell Jennylyn her life will be like that too – that 20 years from now, she’ll be sitting in the sunshine with her parents and brother, grateful for one another’s company, but how do I know her life will change for the better?  My parents’ marriage was never under the strain of poverty.  One never left the family-home just to find work to put food on the table.  What comfort can I give her?  What promise can I make to her that won’t disappoint?

Any promise that doesn’t disappoint has to be one based on truth.  In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  I’ve found it comforting in the past to know that even though I don’t understand how, if I love God, He’ll bring good out of whatever situation I’m in.  The LORD delights in the wellbeing of His servant (Psalm 35:27).  Even though Jennylyn’s circumstances might not be ideal, God delights in her wellbeing.

Are you a sponsor?  If you are, tell your child some of the struggles your family’s endured if you want to; it’s lovely to share your lives together, but accept they might still be a million miles away from the problems your child’s facing, and sometimes the only sure answers you’ll be able to give are the ones from God’s Word.

When You’re Tempted to Break the Rules

A friend told me this lunchtime that he couldn’t imagine me breaking any rules!  He obviously didn’t know me when I was a teenager.  I’m sure that had I got in with the wrong group of friends, I would have stolen from shops and whatever else, but I didn’t.  Anyway it got me thinking about rules, and one area where I’ve been tempted to break them.

Compassion have a very strict rule:  Children and sponsors aren’t allowed to contact each other except through Compassion.  Well, last year, I had a friend-request on Facebook – from the mother of one of my girls.  I was so excited!  I talked on the phone to Compassion, who advised me against accepting.  They said they couldn’t stop me, as we were both adults, but we weren’t allowed to talk about my sponsored child.  I thought about this a lot.  The mother lived away from the family and if anything like a typhoon had hit and she’d asked about her daughter, I couldn’t have said a thing.  I decided that would be much too difficult for both of us, wrote her a message to explain and have never heard anything back.  The friend-request is still there, waiting for me to confirm or delete it.

Quite recently I had another request, this time from one of my sponsored children.  I looked at his friend-list:  His older brother was on there; a cousin I remembered him writing about …  It had to be him.  That request reminded me of my girl’s mother, and I had a thought.  My girl is a teenager now.  I looked again at her mother’s friend-list, and there she was.

How I’d love to make contact with all 3 of them, but what would that mean?  I think first the project-staff would meet with the children and remind them of the rules.  Then, if they and their families decide not to agree to those rules, they can leave the project.  But my boy has said in a letter that he wants to finish his studies so he can help his parents!  How would he do that without Compassion?  What a poor show it would be if my desire for more contact meant their having to leave their centres and squander the opportunities they’ve got.  Shouldn’t I instead set them an example and wait?  In 10 years, they’ll be adults and probably at the end of their sponsorship.  I’m free to contact them once they’ve left Compassion, and what’s a few years really?

I think those are the main 2 things that put me off breaking rules:  The consequences, and wanting to persevere; but I wonder if God likes either of those.  Does He want us to be Christians just so we’ll escape going to hell?  Does He want us to strive and strive to finish well and do what’s right, because they’re the rules and we know we should?  Or would He rather something else:  Would He rather we have such a deep love for Him, doing what’s wrong just doesn’t seem to fit.

Do you know something?  When I’m most tempted to break rules is when my love for God is in most danger of going cold.  I’ve been hearing about Peter this week and how Jesus turned someone who was out of courage and out of passion into a bold, enthusiastic Christian.  I’m sure He can do the same for me and for you, so whenever we feel we’re going cold, let’s ask for His help.

A Mum and a Spokeswoman

Compassion Bloggers have their new site up and running.  It’s for bloggers like me who write sometimes about Compassion, and for others who’ve had the amazing privilege of travelling to countries where Compassion works and blogging about their experiences.  If you decide to sign up, every so often, Compassion Bloggers will E-mail you with ideas for posts.  Their latest was:  “Why do you blog for Compassion?”

Well, firstly I want to see more children sponsored, but hopefully I don’t write in a give-us-your-money sort of way.  I just want to show you the need that’s there, and suggest how you can respond to it – not just the need for financial sponsorship, but I’ve also written about letter-writing because I believe children have a need too for love and for someone in their life who cares.  If you can’t afford to sponsor financially, you could still do the writing part; just ask Compassion about becoming a correspondent.  (Compassion UK don’t offer this option, but you could do it through Compassion International.)

And the other reason?  Because Compassion has made me a mum.  I have a friend I went to school with, whose Facebook page has loads of updates about her baby daughter.  I love reading them, and I’m so grateful that through this blog and Facebook, I can share about my children too.  I may not be a mum in the natural, but because of Compassion, I can be a spiritual mother and share my heart with the children I sponsor.  I was only telling someone yesterday:  “I don’t think I’d be very good at cleaning up sick, but I’m good at writing.”  🙂

So thanks to Compassion for the work they do.  I think there’s something in all of us that wants to pass what we’ve learnt on to the next generation.  How do you do that; are there children in your house?  In your street?  Your friends’ children?  Or have you thought about sponsoring a child?

“One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts” – Psalm 145:4.

Hey I Learnt Something

I hadn’t written to Jennylyn for a while, so this afternoon I put that right.  In my letter, I mentioned the hills near where I live, and my mind went to the forthcoming diamond Jubilee celebrations.  I tried to tell Jennylyn that over the weekend, people would go to the top of the highest hill and a beacon would be lit.  All would have been fine, except I realised I didn’t actually know what one was!  Was it like a torch that someone carried up the hill?  Was it something that was at the top all the time, but not always lit?  I had no idea, and it was only through wanting to explain it to a child in the Philippines that I found out.

So thank you, Compassion, for teaching a blind person about the town she’s lived in all these years!

Is there anything you’ve learnt that you thought you should have known already?

The Stuff of Dreams

An exciting day for one of the Compassion bloggers today.  For Amy, it was time to meet her sponsored child:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bOLPN0eR70

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of hearing about other sponsors meeting their children, and it makes me think how I’d like to meet mine one day.  Sometimes I imagine myself visiting Jennylyn’s home in the Philippines – struggling to climb a ladder to get to where she lives, and being lowered through a hole into the home by her father.  Other times, I picture Cindy as a student in Compassion’s Leadership Development Programme, speaking at a church in the UK about the impact Compassion had on her life, and me being there to meet her at the end (I’ve seen video-clips of this happening to other sponsors, and I’ve loved them).  Will it happen like that for me?  I don’t know, but it’s good to dream.

What are some of your dreams?  And if you’re a sponsor, do they include your sponsored child?

So You Class Them as Your Children

I recently had a discussion with an official person about reading letters. Her view was that handwritten letters were less important than bills. She asked the question: “Do you class them as pen-pals – these people you write to?”

Since she asked, I thought I might as well give her the answer. “No, they’re like my children.”

“So you class them as your children.” Her tone wasn’t too contemptuous, but I sensed she didn’t understand.

“Yes. They’re my sponsored children, so they’re like my family.” I wondered how she would feel if her child sent her a letter and she couldn’t read it. She still disagreed about the importance of the letters, but if she had several envelopes through her door – some of them bills, and one with a stamp on and addressed in her son’s handwriting – I reckon she’d open her son’s letter before any of the others.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am for my Compassion-family. I’ve seen single and married women in their 30s who’ve got no children, and it really bothers them. But if people ask have I ever wanted children, I say: “I’ve got my children. They’re in the Philippines and Haiti”, and I’m truly happy.

Official people in this world might only care about the practical side of running my life, but the emotional side is important too. Jesus cares about me, and you – our whole person. When I started to get to know Him in 1999, He had a plan for my life. He knew how much I would grow to love my friends’ children; He knew that I too would want the opportunity to be a maternal influence in children’s lives, and He gave me that opportunity through Compassion.

Are you starting to see the plan God has for your life? Would you like to begin to get to know Him? And if (like me) you want to be an influence in children’s lives, have you thought of sponsoring a child?