If you haven’t written to your sponsored child for a while — or ever — you’re not alone. So don’t feel guilty. Read their letter and be reminded of the difference you’re making in their life; then write a few lines in return before life gets in the way. You’ll go from guilt to gratitude in minutes.
The envelope is staring me in the face.
Dog-eared, coffee-stained and smeared with … is that banana? I really hope that’s banana.
Forgotten beneath a pile of mail that has sprouted on the kitchen bench like a mysterious postal shrub.
The blue logo. The bright picture on the outside.
Definitely a letter from my Compassion sponsored child, Febby.
And all I can feel is guilt.
The Relentless Swirl
You know the feeling, right? You start with good intentions.
Your 6-year-old opens the mailbox and yells, “LETTER!” with genuine delight (because the only thing you usually receive is junk mail from pizza joints).
“Oh, wow! A letter from Febby! You can help me write one back to her,” you say.
Then you struggle inside with the shopping, drop everything on the kitchen bench … and life happens.
The relentless swirl of school, work, church, family and social occasions — at a respectable, COVID-19-safe distance, of course.
Modern life feels like it happens in a washing machine, except that you have not a single pair of clean socks in your house. (Where do they all go? Seriously!)
And then, one day, three months later, you get a chance to clean up the kitchen bench and there it is — the letter. Covered in … yep, definitely. Banana.
But the guilt. Oof.
You’re Not Alone
If you can relate to any part of this — probably not the banana-coated kitchen, because honestly, that’s pretty gross — then I want to encourage you.
You are not a bad sponsor because you haven’t written a letter recently.
Clearly, I don’t write as often as I think I should, and I was a Compassion staff member! I visited Febby, many years ago, and I know how much she treasures and loves the (admittedly rare) letters my family sends her.
And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken with a sponsor who’s expressed some sense of guilt about not writing more often.
So, if that’s you, at least you know you’re not alone.
The most important thing is that you are changing a child’s life with your support. That’s undeniable.
So don’t feel guilty — feel encouraged that you are playing such a vital role in a child’s development.
And if you want my advice to write more often?
It’s simply to read the letter your sponsored child has written you. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face and remind you of the difference you are making.
Then … and this is the crucial part … write a note in return right away.
Do it on your phone (it’s quick!), or sit at the kitchen table and dash off a few lines before life can intrude.
It won’t take long.
It will turn your guilt to gratitude.
And your sponsored child will be thrilled to hear from you.
Washing Machine of Life
My wife came home with the kids as I was wiping the envelope.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Banana,” I said.
She rolled her eyes.
“That!” she said, jabbing at the letter.
“Oh! A letter from Febby.”
“Read it, Daddy! Read it!” said my 6-year-old.
So I did.
“Peace be with you,” I read aloud. “Greetings in the name of Jesus. My family are healthy and strong, and we are praying for you in this COVID-19 pandemic. Praise the Lord that I turned 18 years old! I was grateful to get one more year of life, even though I had to celebrate my birthday in the middle of this hard situation.
“I got the birthday gift from you. I will use it wisely. What is your wish for 2021? I hope God will make all your wishes come true.”
And I couldn’t help thinking of when I met Febby when she was a skinny, shy 10-year-old who hardly met my eye but couldn’t stop smiling.
Now look at her! Eighteen years old, almost finished with school, with a selfless faith, praying for me and my family even as hers is on the frontline of the battle against poverty.
Somehow, in the washing machine of life, we had played a small role in helping her to grow up full of faith and hope.
I didn’t feel guilty. I felt … honored.
I finished reading and my 6-year-old looked at me thoughtfully.
“Daddy? Are you going to write back?”
“Sure,” I said. “Right after dinner.”
“Can I write a letter to Febby?” she asked. “I’ll do it now! Please?”
“Well … actually, that would be a really big help for your forgetful old dad.”
She ran to get her colored pencils.
My wife heaved the shopping bags up onto the bench. Then she laughed.
“You’ve got banana on your shirt.”
The child you sponsor will be overjoyed to hear from you. Send them a note today!
Photography by Junieth Dinarte and Caroline A Mwinemwesigwa.