The reason I wrote to our kids is that I read the Tear Correspondent yesterday. It left me feeling a little uncomfortable. Convicted, perhaps? Definitely motivated. You see, I have this personal belief that our sponsored children shouldn't just be a social obligation. Send your money off and you've done the deed. Uh-uh. No way. These are real children, with real dreams, real problems, and real emotions. So I've been trying to make sure that I treat them as extended members of my family. Kind of like a cousin. Only to be honest I have very little contact with my cousins. Maybe more like a neice of nephew. I have one neice...a recent ah, 'aquisition'. I made her a toy at the same time as I made my son one. I enjoy watching videos of her latest developments (such as climbing the stairs this week!). I very carefully chose a good birthday present for her and have already sent it on in case we couldn't make it for the big one year old birthday and dedication. But we have decided we will make it anyway; these things are important. So you get the idea. I've only seen her twice, but my neice is an extended part of my life. I like to know what is going on with her, and I do hope that she will feel comfortable and loved in my home (I cherish secret ambitions of cousinly sleepovers when they are older!).
This is what I want my relationship to be like with my sponsored children. I want them to feel part of my life. The issue is that they are so far away. And so easy to forget. I mean, they are not sitting beside me crying (like my son sometimes is). They don't fuss or create over pretty much anything. Neither do I get to see their eyes light up with joy as they run and chase a ball, or learn a new word at school.
Tear Correspondent addressed this issue so well. Helen Manson wrote, "It's hard to feel close to someone you have only ever seen in a photograph and who lives on the other side of the world...When it came time to write back to him, I would sometimes begrudgingly sit down for five minutes and frantically search my brain for something relatively interesting to say that would fill up the 20 lines on the page...Then we moved to Uganda (where her sponsored boy lives)...Here standing in front of me, was this beautiful, precious little 12-year-old boy who was not just a picture. He had a beating heart, dreams and desires; he has things he wants to do and be. He feels sad and happy; he was so...human...If you sponsor a child, my prayer is that you would engage. Engage with them, think about them, make their photo big in your house - give it pride of place, write to them with joy when you get their letter. They are WAITING for your reply! A letter from you, even a sticker, is a treasured item - worth far more than you realise..."
Needless to say I made time to write to my kids today! The letters are sitting there, waiting to be posted tomorrow. It didn't take me very long. And once I sat down and got started, I didn't have to think too hard about things to say either. After all, it is only around 10 simple sentences. I find photos help. I write about the things around us, birds, things we grow and eat in the garden, things Munchkin is learning to do. I printed a whole bunch of photos out awhile back and laminated them into small cards the kids can play matching games with, so I've been sending a few new cards with each letter and talking about the pictures. And I try to write something encouraging or moral - like how good it is that our sponsored boy was helping his grandma, or that I pray for our sponsored girl to reach her dream of becoming a nurse.
We do have our sponsored kids photos up on the wall beside our family ones. But I am finding it all too easy still to forget about their existence most of the time. Yet I know that I can make a profound impact in their lives. Just imagine the difference it makes knowing that someone loves you enough to pay for you to go to school, get immunised, and have a vege garden. But imagine how much MORE impacted a child is when they realise that this person doesn't just have time to send money, but time to give of themself. That this person wants to know what they are learning at school, what food they grow, what games they play, what they want to be one day. That this person is encouraging and believing in them. That this person prays for them regularly. That is what motivates me to try harder, to keep writing letters and to think of some way to include them in our daily prayers as Munchkin gets older. I hope one day in the coming years we will be able to visit our kids overseas. I think that would be the experience of a lifetime, and one I am really looking foward to sharing with my husband, my son, and my sponsored children!
Saturday, 26th February, 2011