Oct 8 2008

The Day Finally Came

Today’s post is written by Steve K., The Leopard at the Summit, member of the blog on child poverty hall of fame and latest addition to our SpotLINK focus on you, our readers.


The other day I received my first letter from my sponsored child — six-year-old Richar, from Peru! I picked up the mail late that night and there it was — a business-sized envelope with a see-through address window, and “Message from Your Sponsored Child” in blue letters on the outside. Woo hoo!!!

This represents the first step in making it real for me. There is this little boy on the other side of the equator that I’m communicating with. Other Compassion blog posts that I’ve read have been written by employees of Compassion, sponsors of 89 different children ;-), or by people who have been sponsors since they earned their first paycheck. I’m the new kid on the block . . . dancing with the letter in hand, cooler than Jordan, Jonathon, Joey, Donnie or Danny could ever hope to be!

The letter is written in Spanish, and the translation is typed in English. (It is funny to see both versions because I know a little Spanish and can see a few details that have been left out in the translation, and I see that there are differences in Peruvian Spanish that I haven’t heard before.)

In addition to the letter, I received a picture of Jesus with four little children that my child so neatly colored. Guess what’s going on my refrigerator until the paper turns yellow?!?

A “tutor” named Maria Angelica (that can’t be her real name, can it?!?) helped him write the letter, and his name is written on the picture. His first name is printed, and his last name is cursive. I wonder if he only did his first name. So cute!

And before I wrote this blog post, I wrote Richar via Compassion’s e-mail page. It’s true, I care more about him than all of you put together! ;o) (BTW, I like to put the little “winky faces” in letters and e-mails to show I’m joking or kidding . . . I tried to explain to him that is what I did in part of the letter — he and Maria might have no clue what I was talking about and just think I’m a crazy 38-year old American man that sends him letters!) ;o)

In addition, to the reply letter, I sent him a Christmas gift/contribution. I hope I get to hear what he gets with that donation. I know the local program could pick out what he needs or wants better than I ever could.

For a newbie, this is a fun first step (by step) . . . I feel like I’ve got The Right Stuff! (If you don’t understand, good for you . . . I’m an American child of the ‘80’s!) ;o)

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  1. Oct 8, 2008
    at 3:24 am

    Great post! You totally brought back memories of getting MY first letter. So exciting. (And almost three years later, I’m just as excited every time I see a Compassion envelope in my mailbox. That feeling hasn’t faded.)

    But cooler than NKOTB? Oooo…now that’s putting yourself out there! lol

    You may have talked about this in previous posts — I think you have — but tell us why you picked Peru?

  2. Ken M.
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 4:24 am

    Congradulations on receiving your 1st letter. I can imagine the excitement you feel. It gets even better. When my child, who is turning 8 within two weeks, wrote 1/3 of a letter in his own handwriting, I was full of joy. Then his mother wrote the remainder of it. I had to show that letter everyone . Then about 1 month ago he wrote an entire letter by himself. That became my favorite letter from him. He thanked me for being his sponsor and he said that he love me.

  3. Rob L.
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 4:57 am

    If you think that picture is coming down when it turns yellow, your crazy:) It will be there until the refrigerator dies! And then it will make it to the next one.

    After years of sponsoring, I still get excited to get the letters. It doesn’t get old.

    What is great is when your own children get to color pictures, write notes and pray for your sponsored children.

    If you are that excited to get the letters, you should consider visiting your child. That is an awesome experience!

  4. Lindy
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 6:00 am

    Steve, I love your blog! Ken is right. It does get better and better! You’ll find yourself feeling as if you know Richar’s whole family in the months ahead! And you’ll find yourself praying for him and for his family in all kinds of places, and at all kinds of moments in your day. You’re in for much joy!!!

  5. Oct 8, 2008
    at 6:18 am

    Thank you all!

    Lisa ~ You even used the NKOTB, you are waaaaay cool!

    Ken ~ I can only imagine how the progress seen in the child’s development would be very heart moving. All in good time!

    Rob ~ I’ve got a box of my kid’s stuff (the little painted hands, Christmas decorations with their school pictures, colorings, etc.) and they are priceless. I hope I can take my own kids to visit him in Peru in 3 or 4 years from now … they’re 11 and 12.

    Lindy ~ I think people can undervalue what they get back from sponsoring a child before they go through the process. Thanks!

  6. Misty
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 9:14 am

    One of my kids has learned English! Imagine the first letter you get in English!

    A sponsored kid saying they love you, now that is truly priceless.

    God bless.

  7. Shelly Quigg
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 9:21 am

    Congratulations on your first letter, it is very exciting!

    I am glad you mentioned that your translation wasn’t exactly spot on. I have been getting letters from my Bolivian sponsored child for a year and a half, and it seems every letter I receive has errors in the translation. I hate to be picky, but one letter failed to translate a “thank you” for a birthday gift I sent. There have been several important mistakes and I have become frustrated for the sponsors who can’t read Spanish and aren’t getting the full letter. I thought about contacting sponsor services, but I hate to be too picky!

    Has anyone else noticed this?

  8. Michele
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 11:04 am

    Your 1st letter…how exciting! I remember my 1st letter from my 1st child. It was one of my favorite days! 11 years later, the feeling remains the same each time I get one. They are life changing! My last letter from Michael he told me that he went on a youth missions trip with 20 children and on the trip, over 250 people gave their lives to the Lord! I wept and wept at how AWESOME our mighty God is! You never know the power of 1!!!

  9. Sara B.
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 12:54 pm

    Congratulations!!! I love to get letters, I have been sponsoring my little girl for over 4 years but I still dance when I get her letters.

    I am jealous of the picture!! I have been asking her to draw/color one for me but I have never gotten one!

    You are right about Peru having a little different Spanish than other places. I spent 2 months there on a missions trip and learned quite a bit of Spanish. I am now taking classes and it is a little different. But it is still cool that you can read the original letter. My kids are all from Asia and I have no way of reading the originals.

  10. Cahty
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 4:44 pm

    Hey, I enjoyed reading your post. It reminded me of when I received my first letter too!

    Also writing a letter every month will help to connect with your child even more.

    It has already been a year since I started sponsoring my little girl and each letter is so special to me.

    Be Blessed

  11. Rhonda
    Oct 8, 2008
    at 6:42 pm

    I too get so excited every time I receive a letter. Today I got to see my child I sponsor in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time. If you think the letters are great, I can’t even describe for you what it is like to meet your child for the first time and to spend time with them.
    As far as the translations. locals are hired to do the translating, so people are getting some income in that country from it. They have to take a translation test, but there can be some differences. I hope you keep on dancing!!!

  12. Oct 8, 2008
    at 8:08 pm

    Misty ~ Oh yeah, hearing “our” kids become bilingual … priceless!

    Shelly ~ Translation is one of those tough things, I agree. I think there will always be disagreement no matter what.

    Michelle ~ My child is 6. The thoughts of him doing teenage things is more than enough reason to continue sponsoring until the “end!”

    Sara ~ Yeah, I chose a Spanish speaking country for that reason, and in hopes that I could someday travel and maybe converse without a translator!

    Cahty ~ My goal is to do a letter every two weeks. We’ll see if I can keep it up!

    Rhonda ~ As soon as I save up thousands of dollars for my family to travel, I will! And isn’t there a good country song, “… I hope you dance!”

  13. Diantha
    Oct 9, 2008
    at 4:49 am

    He what nice you have got your first letter of your sponsor child .
    I am still waiting for my 3 sponsor children to sent me their first letter .
    How long did it take by you before you received this first letter .
    I am sponsoring for 3 months now but have allready sented 4 to 5 letters to them .
    Greetings Diantha

  14. Oct 9, 2008
    at 5:42 am

    Diantha ~ Well, it’s funny you should ask! I first sponsored a child in May, wrote every two weeks, and then in July I got a letter saying he dropped out of the program. I picked up a new child that was recommended by Compassion and less than three months later I get the letter. I’ve heard up to 6 months for the first letter can be normal.

  15. Denise L.
    Oct 9, 2008
    at 8:28 am

    To new sponsors – please be sure to save every letter you receive. My sponsored child has specifically asked whether I save what she sends, because she saves everything from me. Also, it’s a good idea to save a copy or draft of YOUR letter so you know what you’ve communicated already.

    I too am sponsoring in Spanish-speaking countries because I understand the language. If you write a letter in the local language, you can write a longer letter because you burden no one in translation and the country office just puts it in the “translated” pile. You don’t even need the official stationery with the translation side taking up valuable space! But be sure to tape on the bar code if possible, or at least write the names, sponsor number and child number at the top.

    I hesitate to use the email function because the child does not receive a pretty letter in your handwriting with stickers attached or any permitted enclosures. The email is for your own convenience and does not speed up the message to the child. It only speeds up the message from you to Colorado Springs, where it is printed. I think when children have a hard time visualizing us as real people out there, that a handwritten letter is important, so even though I could print it from my computer I take the time to print it by hand.

    I do sponsor a child in Bolivia and have had issues in the past when the translator glossed over details. The translator leaves his/her initials at the bottom of the page. Compassion told me that if the translation is really bad to make a copy of the letter and send it along with a letter to the Colorado Springs office detailing the problem, and they would contact the country office. Compassion really does want good translations, and if a translator consistently does a poor job, his/her job should be given to someone who will be more dedicated. No one closely oversees the translator’s work (they pick up stacks of letters from the country office and return them with translations), so unless you complain the translator may do sloppy work on multitudes of letters.

  16. Misty
    Oct 9, 2008
    at 9:41 am

    Timing of letters seems to be different in each project! I got a letter written on August 26th by Axel in East Indonesia. I received in in late September. Arlita, who is in west Indonesia, wrote me a letter dated July 9th and I got that somewhere around the 1st of October! (Each half having their own central office) And sometimes I will get 2 at once from the same child written several weeks apart! It all depends, I think, on how remote the project is, how many translators are available, how the mail service in the other country works. And any political or natural disasters that are occuring. On a disc I got from Compassion there is a section that says to let sponsors know that it could be as much as 6 months before you get that first letter. I know it’s hard to wait!

    God bless

  17. Heather
    Oct 12, 2008
    at 5:17 pm

    Congrats Steve! :) I truly wish I could write my two sponsered girls in their native language but unless I learn Amharic or whatever dialect those girls speak anytime soon I think I’m out of luck. My child(she’s 5 so I think someone else wrote it..) thanked me for a gift I sent and she got clothes,dolls and bags of grain. I almost cried!! 25 dollars did so much for her..I can’t wait to get her third letter!!!

  18. Sara F.
    May 14, 2009
    at 11:06 am

    Hi All!

    Someone mentioned that it can take up to 6 months to get an initial letter. If the kids are suppose to write 3 times a year, why does it take so long?

    We are sponsoring 5 kids and have 2 correspondence children. I know that handwriting letters would be great, but I decided to streamline the process. I created a template for each child. Their number and our number are at the top of each page. I type on one half of the page and have lines on the other half for the translation. When I am done, I can save a copy for my records and print on bright, colored paper. I hope they enjoy it. Right now I feel like I am writing with very little response! I guess I just have to trust that they are getting where they need to go!

  19. Becky
    Jul 29, 2009
    at 8:05 pm

    @Sara F.

    Sara, I don’t know if you’ve gotten your answer from someone else in the past few months, but here goes at my best response.

    It depends on how remote the project is as to how long it takes for you to get a letter from your sponsored child. From my experiences (only in Brazil, 3 separate kids) some projects have the kids write a letter immediately when the child is sponsored. However, in the case of my newest child, it appears he did not write a letter until his entire project wrote their Christmas letters. If your child is at a project where the child writes his first letter with the rest of the project, then the timing of your letter depends on when in their ‘letter cycle’ the child was sponsored. If you sponsored the child right after the project wrote, the child may not write for 2-3 months after being sponsored and then it takes 2-3 months more to reach you.

    My most recent (and only current) sponsored child wrote to me in mid December 2008 and I’d started sponsoring him in November. I got that letter over 4 months later in late April 2009. His second letter was dated 25 May 2009 and I received it on 16 July 2009! I would love if my letters took less than 2 months to get from me to him and vice versa.

    It took over a year to start getting questions from my sponsored child (two previous ones who left the program) about things I’d written in letters, telling me they loved and prayed for me, and specific information about their schooling. I treasured their letters before then, but once we had a relationship established it was easy to see what impact my letters had on their lives. Specifically, one child started quoting bible verses in each letter! (perhaps from his project’s suggestion, but I still loved it)

    As an aside, one of my kids left the program because his family situation improved and they didn’t need outside assistance. The other one left because he was behaving badly and sent away to live with relatives (right after he asked for prayer to be obedient). I know many people who have sponsored children for years, so I didn’t want to scare you with that!

    Although handwriting can seem more personal, it is wonderful that you are taking the time to invest in your sponsored children regardless of how you write the letter. I’d say it is much better to send a typed letter (on your pretty paper :-) ) than to not write at all. The encouragement you can give these children is literally life changing.

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    at 9:16 am

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