What to Do If It’s Been a Long Time Since You Received a Letter

Sitting in a window reading

When I first became Alison’s sponsor, I was SO excited. I felt led to sponsor her for three reasons: she was a girl, she was a teenager (which I knew meant it would be harder to find her a sponsor), and she lived not far from where I spent a year working in Ecuador. It was perfect.

I quickly wrote my first letter to her, telling her all about my family, where I lived and why I had chosen to sponsor her. I included photos I thought she might like. And I excitedly asked a handful of questions about her life. Needless to say, I already couldn’t wait to receive her response!

I knew it would probably take a little while, so I was determined to be patient. A handful of months went by without hearing from her, but I knew that was normal. I kept waiting. A few more months passed — still no letter. Then a few more …

It took nearly a year to receive my first letter from Alison! And if I’m being completely honest, I often felt disappointed as I waited. I had been so excited to begin a relationship with her, and it felt like that dream was on hold.

What I came to later find out was that there had been a translation mishap somewhere along the way, causing the letter to be delayed. Even though there was a delay that was out of my control, I was so happy to know Alison had indeed written me back and that the letter had not been lost.

Now, my letters from Alison come much more quickly. But that didn’t mean that the season of waiting at the beginning of our relationship didn’t feel long.

Have you ever felt that way in your letter-writing experience? Like you’re just so excited to receive a letter but it feels like it’s been forever? I’m sure a lot of us have. And it’s highly likely that you might feel that way during this global pandemic.

Coronavirus and Letter Delays

Due to constant and ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines across the globe, letters to and from your sponsored child will likely be delayed. And at this point, we’re not exactly sure by how long.

Compassion is extremely committed to doing all we can to protect children, global staff and volunteers from this virus. That means encouraging social distancing, which makes handing out and collecting letters nearly impossible.

This might feel upsetting, disappointing or sad to you — and that’s completely fair. We’re feeling a lot of those same emotions lately. You’re probably longing to know how the child you sponsor is doing. To ask how her family is holding up. To tell him you are praying for him.

This season is testing all our patience. We ask you to continue being patient as you wait to hear from your sponsored child.

In the meantime, we’d love to share some tips while you wait — whether you’re waiting to hear from the child you sponsor due to the coronavirus or for non-pandemic-related reasons.

Keep Writing

Showing off letters in Ethiopia

Even if you haven’t received a letter from your sponsored child in a while, it’s important to continue to write! Your words remind your child that he or she is loved, remembered and cared for — even from thousands of miles away. Plus, it’s possible that your child has written you but that there is a delay in delivery that is completely out of his or her control.

We typically recommend that a sponsor sends at least two to three letters per year. So, if it’s been a few months since you last wrote, take a few minutes to send a letter to the child you sponsor even if you’re still waiting to hear from him or her.

If you’d like some tips for writing letters during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Reach Out to Us After Six Months of Waiting

It is very important for you to know that this tip does NOT apply to the coronavirus delays. You can check our website for updates as global offices open and letters begin sending again. Once they do, your letters will be on the way.

This tip applies to normal delayed-letter situations. In our typical, non-pandemic world, our hope is that you’re receiving letters at least once every six months — or up to six per year (if you’re writing regularly, the child you sponsor will respond). When I was waiting for my first letter from Alison, I didn’t know this. I waited much more than six months before hearing about the delay in my letter. I wish I would have reached out sooner — but now I know for the future! So, if it’s been MORE THAN six months since you received a letter, please feel free to reach out to us at 800-336-7676, and we’ll try to find out what’s going on.

Read Through Old Letters

Children sitting on a wall reading letters

If it feels like it’s been forever since you last heard from the child you sponsor and you’re finding yourself missing his or her letters, consider reading through old ones! It’s so fun to reminisce about how your relationship with him or her has grown and developed. Plus, you can hang one of the letters on your fridge so that you’re daily reminded to pray for your sponsored child!

Pray Without Ceasing

This tip could probably go without saying, but never forget to pray — even while you’re waiting. Take the experiences and stories from old letters that you already know about the child you sponsor and pray for him or her! Pray for his or her family, health, friends, schoolwork, community and relationship with Jesus. God moves in powerful ways in our waiting — invite him to do so!

Waiting for a letter can feel hard — trust me, I know! But I hope these tips will help you along the way. If you have any questions about how Compassion is responding to this COVID-19 crisis, click here. And as you wait to hear from your sponsored child in these unprecedented times, consider writing a letter to him or her today!


Photos by Tigist Gizachew

13 Comments |Add a comment

  1. H February 5, 2022

    I have a genuine question. I sponsor 3 kiddos and 1 of them is in Mexico. Since there is currently no way for the letters to get to our Mexican sponsored children (if I understand correctly) should I stop writing her? I don’t want the system to get backlogged further due to my letters. I just feel bad when I write my other children if I don’t also write her. But part of me is concerned that I’m being selfish by writing her. As a side note… even in a world without covid I never expect to hear back from any of my three kiddos (though I love receiving letters!). I specifically chose to sponsor kiddos with disabilities knowing that might affect the communication.

    Sorry for the long message. I was just genuinely curious about Mexico.

    1. Grace February 7, 2022

      H, we are genuinely so thankful for your heart to sponsor children with disabilities and write to each one of them! I know your love and letters mean the world to them!
      Yes, you are correct that at this time we are unable to deliver letters to Mexico, and for additional information, we encourage you to send us an email at [email protected]!
      Even with letters not being delivered, we encourage you to continue writing notes to your girl in Mexico. When we can send letters again, I am sure she will be overjoyed to receive your letters! ? And it is not at all selfish for you to write her; I’m sure it is a blessing to her and her whole family that someone cares about them so much. I hope this information helps. If you have any further questions, please send us an email and we would be happy to assist you! God bless.

  2. Michael McClung May 19, 2021

    The article above says “So, if it’s been MORE THAN six months since you received a letter, please feel free to reach out to us at 800-336-7676, and we’ll try to find out what’s going on.” ~~~ It’s been almost *2 years* since we last heard from our sponsored girl in Columbia. I called Compassion today and spoke with a representative for a long time, but I still know nothing more about the status of Danna in Columbia than I did before I called. Another sponsor here in the comments described sponsorship as “one sided,” and that’s exactly right. The ministry of helping impoverished children in the name of Jesus is a very good and noble one, but sponsors in the US shouldn’t expect much of a relationship with their sponsored child even after 10+ years of letter writing.

    1. Jesse May 19, 2021

      Hello Michael! First, let me thank you for your 10+ years of partnership with Compassion and letter writing. I also want to thank you for sharing your feedback, we really appreciate it. We would love to make it known that this article was written before we knew the letter process would be impacted by the global pandemic. Secondly, I am deeply sorry that we have disappointed you and that when you called us, all your questions were not addressed. We always want to serve with excellence. Two years is a very lengthy amount of time to not receive a letter. Although, we hoped it wouldn’t the pandemic has definitely impacted the letter writing process and there is likely some of that impact being felt here. If you would like to know how our Colombian offices are handling the pandemic you can click here to find out more. I want to apologize again that your letter writing experience has felt one sided, we never want that to happen either. Please know that your sponsored child does care and needs the encouragement from you – even if they have a hard time expressing it through letters. I am praying that in the future when travel through Compassion is open again that you get the opportunity to visit your child so you can see your impact in person! I would be more than happy to look into your child’s specific center, to see how they are operating for you if you would like. Please email us at [email protected] so that we can assist you with that!

  3. Arianna Fontenot February 6, 2021

    Our family is eagerly awaiting a letter from our sponsor friend. We try to write him as much as possible to include him as part of our family by sharing memories and special events through online correspondence and uploading pictures. Our mindset is that he is like the son we have always wanted, and write him like he is away at boarding school. One day we hope to meet him. We pray for him every night, and his picture is on our fridge, which is at the center of our every day activities to try and think of him, connect him into and through our conversations. As one sided as it has been, we try to regularly read the news headlines from Nicaragua whether to check their weather or recently about recovery from the devastation from hurricanes. We also have researched his country’s culture, holidays, foods, and historical documentaries. This little bit if knowledge of what might be going on around him helps us feel connected.

    1. Mackenzie February 8, 2021

      Arianna, thank you so much for the love and prayers you send to German! I am so sorry that your sponsorship has felt one sided. Sadly, especially since COVID-19, many children have not been able to write regular letters, since they still have restrictions on meetings in most communities. Thank you for your letters! They are a treasure! ? I am so glad this blog was able to give you some encouragement about your sponsorship! If you ever have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected]. Blessings! ?

  4. Alan Rush May 25, 2020

    I keep writing to my sponsored child. When things turn around, she will know I was thinking of her during a difficult time. I keep sending family gifts, because with a lock down, I’m sure the family can use it. I trust Compassion to get those gifts to the family.
    Before this pandemic hit, I noticed the letters I received were getting more warm and from her heart. Trust is earned. I have climbed a rung in the ladder to that end!
    God’s speed to all those helping others in these trying times.

  5. LISA BUZZ May 17, 2020

    I did not write many letters in the past but this pandemic has opened my eyes to what a privilege it is to write and receive letters from my sponsored child. I pray for him and his family daily and send extra funds when i can, hoping his family will receive the funds i’m sending.

  6. Dawn Daugherty May 11, 2020

    Ron Roberts I like that idea.

  7. DONNA TAYLOR May 11, 2020

    I gave a gift of $100.00 as a family gift a couple of months ago , but in the last letter that I received last week no one acknowledged that it was received. My sponser number is: 09084629. My child’s number is: meo15400335. Please email me what happened to my donation to that family.

    1. Shannon May 11, 2020

      Hi Donna,

      I am emailing you now regarding your gift. Thank you so much!

  8. Ron Roberts May 11, 2020

    Thank you Katy, yes I too am anxious to receive a letter, but in a great way. I look to joy that will come when a letter from one of my five sponsored children arrives. For now, I just write and write some more to all of them. Since I use the online letter form, I decided to tell a story to all of them. It took five letters, each one stopping at a significant point in the story where I could add a scripture verse. My hope is, whether or not they get all the letters at once or just one at a time, they can look forward to reading the next letter. Each child appreciates getting letters and getting to know us their sponsor, and that is reason enough for me to continue to write and put a smile on their face. Blessings to all.

  9. Billie Markoff May 11, 2020

    I expected some delay during this pandemic, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting a letter, praying and hoping for his safethy

Add a Comment

Read the ground rules for comments.