UPDATE, April 8, 2016: The OurCompassion community closed its doors on June 30, 2014. New account creation was disabled, and the Second Friday Letter Writing club activities were moved to Pinterest. Since the publication of this post, letter-writing guidelines have changed to speed up the delivery of letters and as a result you may not be able to send some items through Compassion’s correspondence system. Before you send your letter, please review our letter-writing FAQ.
Members of the Virtual Child Sponsorship Letter Writing Night group in OurCompassion have committed to write letters to their children on the second Friday of each month. The group provides letter-writing ideas and/or craft projects to use as a theme when writing.Today’s post is written by June Gauss, the founder of the group. June has been a sponsor since 2002 and an advocate since 2008. She sponsors three girls (Karla in El Salvador, Jeeva in India* and Yenny in the Dominican Republic) and corresponds with one boy (Wander in the Dominican Republic).
In 2005, I took my first sponsor tour to El Salvador. During that week, I met many wonderful children but two boys stood out. One was sponsored and one was not. Both boys appeared very sad.
It seemed odd to me that the sponsored boy was sad. I learned that he was happy he was sponsored but was also sad because he had not received any letters from his sponsor.
Through a translator, the boy told me that he just wanted to know about his new family, which made me realize how important our letters are to our children really are. I committed to write my child more frequently and not just respond to her letters.
I returned to El Salvador with Compassion in 2008. During the trip, I visited the home of two teenage sisters, Ruth and Flabia.
When I was in their home, the girls showed me their letters. Ruth, all smiles, proudly showed me her stack of letters and pictures. Flabia had a look of sadness on her face. She had only received one letter from her sponsor.
Flabia was thankful for her sponsor and the extra money the sponsor frequently sent, but she really wanted to hear from her sponsor, to know her and have a relationship with her. It was written all over her face how much she wanted this.
Those young ladies had such beautiful spirits about them. I wished I could tell Flabia’s sponsor how beautiful her child is and how she was missing out on a beautiful relationship with this young lady.
I don’t think that many of us (sponsors) grasp how much our letters really mean to our children. I know I didn’t, until I experienced firsthand the sadness that lack of letters creates.
When I returned home from my second trip, I made myself accountable for my correspondence to my child. I organized all my letters from Karla in a three-ring binder and now any time I write her, I make a copy of the letter and place it in the binder. I also scan each craft I make so I have a record of everything I have sent to Karla.
Through my experiences, the idea of setting a specific day each month to write my child started to take shape. Then I thought that maybe other sponsors would like to join me at my house to sit down together and write our children.
In May 2009, I hosted the first letter-writing night in my home. Months went by with only a small number attending, and I tried to think of other sponsors I could invite to join us.
I remembered a group I had joined on OurCompassion. It was for sponsors who lived in my area. When I posted an invitation to the letter-writing event at my house, I ended up sending it to all my friends on OurCompassion by mistake.
I received responses from those who lived in other states wishing they lived in my area so they could participate. That made me think. What about a virtual group?
So I asked. And in February of this year the Virtual Child Sponsorship Letter Writing group began.
For the past few months, I have been discussing with God my disappointment with the size of the attendance in my home. I wanted to reach more people but it seemed as though my attempts were unsuccessful.
Last month, out of the blue, I received an e-mail from Compassion saying they liked the virtual letter-writing group idea, and they offered me a chance to invite you to join us. This is only by the hand of God!
God has spoken to my heart through this — about how He will do abundantly more than what I ask or imagine, if I am obedient to the desires He puts on my heart.
I had been feeling unused, that I was being wasted. He said to me, “I do not waste anything I create. I will not waste you, June. Do you see!?”
My initial desire was to have a consistent group of five to eight people coming to my home each month. But God made it more — a much larger group of people, from all over the world, coming together every second Friday of the month to write letters to their children.
Will you join us this Friday, Sept. 10? Please leave a comment if you plan to. I’m curious to know where everyone is from.
*NOTE FROM EDITOR: This content honors Compassion’s historical work in India. While we no longer have an India sponsorship program, we are grateful for the lives changed and meaningful work achieved through our sponsors and donors in our nearly 50 years there. For a detailed explanation of the end of our sponsorship program in India, please visit: compassion.com/india-update.