April 17, 2012

The First Letter Out

Our family began sponsoring a child in March. Because I have been following some of the Compassion Bloggers, I was already aware of how important contact with your sponsored child is. How much they value letters from their sponsors and of the great opportunity a sponsor has to encourage their sponsored child. Encouragement they might not be getting anywhere else.

Once our sponsorship was finalized, I started putting together the first package we would send to Carlin. I knew the package must be 8 ½ x11 or smaller in size, paper items only and no more than ¼ of an inch thick.

I thought about what I wanted to say to Carlin. It can be difficult to find words when you write to someone you have never met. The Compassion Canada and Compassion International websites both had articles offering letter suggestions, and I watched a few related videos on YouTube for inspiration. One video that stood out was this one with Jimmy Wambua. I admit I borrowed an idea from his first sponsor letter to use in the one I sent. This is what I put together.

First I printed off some coloring pages of butterflies and flowers. And others of Jesus with children, and one of a Teddy Bear with 'Jesus Loves Me' on the picture.

I found a picture (thank you Pinterest) that has visual instructions on how to make all kinds of paper airplanes. I sent a copy of the instructions for the first plane (a glider) and some extra colorful paper that could be used to make the planes, or for anything Carlin wanted to use it for. I included this because I know Carlin has brothers and I thought this would be something she could share with them.

Next I found some paper dolls with an Easter theme and printed them up on cardstock, with the clothes printed on paper. Carlin enjoys playing with dolls and I thought she might like these. Cutting them out took awhile but I was not sure if Carlin would have access to scissors for any length of time to cut them out herself (and I remember never really finding the cutting part to be much fun. The fun was playing with them).
Three sheets of paper, folded separately to make a pouch for each doll worked well to keep each doll with its clothes. It also stopped them from possibly all bunching up together in the folder and creating a thick spot.

By now I was getting quite a number of items so I decided to use a pretty orange folder - the school type with two pockets inside - to keep it all together. The folder was slightly bigger than 8 ½ x11, but I had read that these folders go through okay and it was a nice way to organize it all.

Carlin has a birthday in a few months so I chose a cute card with kittens on the front and added birthday wishes inside (I didn't realize Compassion would send me a card to send to Carlin, but there's no reason I can't send both).

Stickers of different types were added to the things to send. Rainbows, butterflies, flowers and ponies.

Meanwhile, Compassion sent out the sponsor's pack that contained a pre-made, fill in the blank type card to send to Carlin. I included it in the folder.

Finally I wrote a letter on Easter-themed paper.
This is a copy of the letter I sent. If you're having trouble writing your first letter, perhaps it will give you some ideas.
Dear Carlin
Hello from Canada! God has led us to be your sponsor and we feel truly blessed by His guidance. 
Jody and I live in a small town in Alberta, Canada.
We have two children. Our son is 14 years old. Our daughter is 10 years old. A silly little dog, named Jackson, is also part of our family.

During the week, Jody goes to work. I stay at home to take care of our home and to teach our children. T. and C. do not go to a school building. They have their lessons at home. After school they will play with friends.
It is spring for us now. Our snow is melting and our weather is warmer. We have been getting ready to celebrate Easter. We have been reading Bible stories about Jesus. Do you have a favorite Bible story?
We look forward to your letters. We want to know more about you and your family. Even though we do not know you yet, we love you already! We love your family!

How can that be true? It is because God knows you and loves you, and He has shared that love in OUR hearts, too. Jesus tells us to "love one another as He loves us." (John 15:12) and so we send our love across the world to you. 
God bless you and your family.
With love in Christ,

Each item and piece of paper had Carlin's name and child number written on it. Everything was placed in the folder. I slid the folder inside a large ziploc bag so it would travel well to the Compassion office. This was sent off in a large envelope.

I hope it brings a smile to her face when her name is called at mail time. She's such a beautiful little girl and she deserves to smile.

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