Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What I Learned about Isaac

Isaac is the first Compassion child I sponsored.  Well, I actually began sponsoring him and Francis on the exact same day.
Even though he was only 8 when I began sponsoring him, he has always written his own letters.  (That's a bit unusual.)  The good thing about that is that now that I've learned un poco español, Isaac and I are on about the same level, so I like reading his letters without the translation.  (I can almost do that with the others, but not as completely as with his.)
At first, Isaac hardly wrote much.  I contributed that to his age and the fact that he was writing on his own.
Recently, I received this country newsletter.  If you are a Compassion sponsor, you have received similar newsletters about your children.  I find them very helpful in understanding the children and their lives.
In Isaac's case, I learned that he is a part of the indigenous tribes of Mexico and that the people of those tribes face discrimination from other Mexicans.
Isaac always asks me to pray for his father because he has to work in another place.  I know that many of my children live in areas where there is not much work to be found, and that their parents have to go elsewhere to find work, so I didn't consider that unusual.  I just thought Isaac understandably missed his father.
From this newsletter, I learned that when people from Isaac's culture have to go to other towns for work, they are often treated very badly, so it's not just that Isaac misses his papá, but he is concerned for his safety.
I also learned from this newsletter that children in Isaac's culture are not valued.  How heartbreaking!  For his birthday, he was given a pot, while my other children bought shoes, clothes, toys, and so on.  I couldn't understand why until I read this newsletter.  It also explains why Isaac didn't write much--he probably didn't think what he had to say was important to me.
Since I've gained all this information about him and his culture, I have tried to be even more loving and encouraging in my letters to Isaac.  I want him to understand that he's special.  I hope I can make a difference in his life and his self-esteem.  Most importantly, I hope I can help him to realize how special he is to Jesus.
I am very thankful for these country letters.  They have certainly made a difference for me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Sweet Isaac

I received a letter from Isaac in Mexico today with this picture enclosed.
Oh my goodness!  Don't you just want to squeeze him?
Isaac just turned nine, and I love his cute smile.  Boys always have a hard time knowing how to smile for pictures, but they come out looking adorable.  
On the back, he wrote, "Estoy en jardin de mi mama, hay flores, platanares."
That means (although not written perfectly), "I am in my mom's garden, there are flowers, bananas."
I will not correct his comma splice. After all, I just learned his language.  :)
I'm so happy to receive a picture of him other than the official Compassion pictures.  He is only the second out of my eight children who has sent a picture.  I love the fact that I can see him at his home, and I totally love the banana trees, being the fan of all things tropical that I am.
Isaac wrote a rather long letter; I've always been impressed with how well he writes even though he's so young.  He's been writing his own letters ever since I began sponsoring him, which was about 18 months ago.  It's unusual for one so young to write himself.  The cool thing about that is that I've been able to see him mature as a writer.  Oh brother, there I go being an English teacher again!
I write very often to my children--once a week.  At first I was afraid that was too much (how crazy is that?), but they thank me often for sending "muchas cartas."  I pray the letters help them to feel loved.  He says that it is the rainy season where he lives and wants to know if it ever rains where I live.  Hmm--there's a tropical storm headed this way at the moment, so yes.  
This is the part I like the best:  He says his family is happy because they know me through my pictures.  I often think of just the child and me and forget that the family is also involved.  I imagine how good his parents must feel to know that someone in another country loves their son.  :)
Sponsorship rocks.  That's about all I have to say about that!
Even though Isaac writes his own letters, he always draws a picture.  This is the first one without a mountain, but he always has a horse (or maybe it's a donkey), and I think this one might also include a rabbit.  I love it.  I'm glad to see that he has drawn a sun.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bite Back!

I recently became a Compassion Advocate (more on that at a later time, I'm sure).  Do I feel inadequate?  Reference Moses--You sure you picked the right one for this job, Lord?
For my first official event as an Advocate, I decided I might have a yard sale.  One problem--I live alone, and therefore, didn't really have enough "stuff" to make a good yard sale.  Someone on OurCompassion suggested I ask friends for donations, so I posted a request on Facebook.
To say I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends is a vast understatement.  I was amazed at all that I had for the sale.  Of course, that meant a lot of work organizing and pricing (and I'm a perfectionist, so that was fun), but because I had to work four ten-hour days the first three weeks of August, I actually had the day before the sale to organize.  I still didn't get much sleep.
Then there's the little issue I have of anxiety.  I'm really quite afraid of talking to people I don't know, and having a yard sale meant talking to people all day long.  Yikes!  But I put that in the back of my mind and went on with it.
I decided to give the proceeds to Compassion's Bite Back program.  My goal was to raise at least $200.

I raised $200.

I've never had a yard sale before, but I've been told that's a pretty good profit.  Our weather in Virginia Beach had been in the 90's that week, and we'd had a lot of smoke from the Dismal Swamp fire in North Carolina (that stuff can choke an elephant), but the high temperature on the day of my yard sale was only in the mid 80's with an amazing ocean breeze blowing across my screened-in porch, where I held the sale.  No smoke.  No heat.
I'll admit, I was quite nervous when I spoke with the people, and there was a steady stream of people from before 8 AM until noon.  I'm sure they didn't notice my anxiety, but I sure did!
God clearly had His hand on this event.  For the weather to suddenly be so good, for so many people to graciously donate items, to be able to reach my financial goal . . . it was all awesome.
I have only two regrets--no one sponsored any of the five children I had available, and I now have enough stuff to have about 12 more yard sales!
But the important part is that the profits from the sale can buy 20 mosquito nets, and since on net can protect a family of 4 from mosquitos and potentially malaria, that's a potential of 80 people helped by my sale.  That rocks.
I had some Bite Back stickers.  One lady told me she would put that on her car because, "we really need to get rid of the mosquitos in Virginia Beach."  Okay, so she didn't quite get it, but at least that sticker's out there traveling the city.
And with that in mind, here's a video from Compassion that will help you to realize the severity of the malaria problem and the importance of the Bite Back program.  (If you'd like to contribute, let me know.  You'll be saving lives.)