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Monday, January 9, 2012

Letters

The anticipation of waiting for a letter is killer but there is something different about the anticipation of opening the letter. I went to the mailbox to check for a letter. I do this quite frequently. As I opened the mailbox, I slowly peak in the box looking for the cream envelope. Today there were two envelopes from Compassion. The first one contained Glory's packet. The second one had the blue writing on it that all sponsor wait for "Message from your sponsored child!" As I got the letter out of the mailbox, my feet quickly found there way back to my apartment. I tried to act calm (not that anyone is around to watch me). I put the letter on my couch and put a new dvd in my dvd player, grabbed a brownie, and then I slowly began opening my mail. I first opened Glory's information and read about how she lives with her grandmother and her father and her sibling (Simon her twin). After reading about Glory, I picked up the envelope with the letter. The anticipation was overwhelming. I slowly ripped into the envelope as I wondered what child this could be from. I had not heard from any of the kids in a long time. I was still waiting on introductory letters from Gift, Glory, and Apophia. I also hadn't heard from Karen, James, or Simon in nearly two months. I figured the letter could be from any of them.

As I opened the letter I saw handwriting that I had not recognized before. It was from Apophia! It was her introductory letter and now the relationship with this child has begun. I hope to get to know her and I look forward to her next letter.

Linda

Linda was my first sponsored child...at least my first on my own. When I was younger my parents sponsored a child from Ethiopia. I remember getting to pick the boy out but I don't remember much more. I don't have many childhood memories. My mom didn't keep the sponsorship of the boy long. She didn't think the money was actually going to the boy, thought it was a scam. Most likely it wasn't a scam. My mom likes to see the worst possibilities and deem them the most likely possibility for the situation. I remember when I was older, and out of my parents house, that I would see pictures of starving children on TV commercials. I remember wanting to help them out but I was worried it was a scam. So, I went online and did a lot of research. That is how I found Compassion.com. I remember it was really late at night when I decided to sponsor a child. It must have been around 1 or 2am when I finally clicked sponsor me on Linda's picture.

Linda was from Colombia and she was so small. She was 6 when I started sponsoring her. I fell in love when I saw her little picture. She had on overalls and her hair was in pig tails. I didn't know it at the time but she had something wrong with her eye and she needed surgery. I didn't know how important writing to my sponsored child was at this time. I feel guilty looking back on it now. I think I wrote to linda maybe 6-10 times in the nearly three years that I sponsored her. I didn't realize how much she would mean to me. I saved all her letters. They are so full of love. In the three years, I received a good amount of letters and, even better, a lot of pictures. I got pictures for her birthday every year and then 2 updated photos from compassion. She was such a smart and sweet child. She wrote such long letters that always told me things going on in her life. After three years of sponsorship her parents pulled her from the program. Compassion stated that her parents were no longer interested in the program. I still pray for Linda. I still miss Linda. I hope that she is doing well. I hope her eye is getting better as she grows and her studies are still going well. I still feel guilty. I wonder if I had written to her more if she would have stayed in the program. Maybe she was upset with the lack of letters and her parents didn't think it was a good idea to keep her in the program. Maybe there was nothing I could have done to keep her in the program but I will continue to pray for.

Thanks to Linda, all my newly sponsored kids get lots of letters. I'm hoping to grow a relationship with these new children as I had with Linda. I may have not noticed what I had with Linda while our relationship was growing but I will not make the same mistake with these children.

Now that it is Monday again, it is time to check mail. A new week brings the possibilities of new letters and a building of a relationship.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Waiting

I'm waiting for letters from my Compassion kids. I have not heard from them in a long time. By a long time, I mean a few months. A few months isn't a long time because it can take many months for letters to arrive but I am impatient. I want to hear from them. If it was up to me I'd be able to email them and see them all the time.

The weird thin about Compassion is that when I look at all the pictures of the kids I realize that they could be kids I see running down the street. These kids look just like I did when I was a child. I was lucky, I didn't live in poverty and I was never hungry. These kids aren't so lucky but it could have just as easily been the other way around.

Someday, I'd like to go visit each of the kids that I sponsor. All the kids that I financially sponsor have a story about how they fell into my life. Karen came because I lost a sponsored child named Linda. Linda was the first child I ever sponsored and after she left I didn't know if I wanted to continue to sponsor. I almost stopped. Then I looked into the eye os Karen. In her picture she was probably 4 years old. She is now 6 (will be 7 in April). I couldn't say no after looking into her eyes. After Karen, I began to get more involved with Compassion. I joined OurCompassion.com and became very involved with letter writing. I never realized just how important it was until I joined that site. That site has a very positive community that I enjoy reading what is going on with everyone and their kids.

After Karen, I began thinking about sponsoring another child. Around that time, Ghana-232 posted videos of their children introducing themselves. It was so great to watch the children in the video. I looked at those children but didn't know who I wanted to sponsor. That's when I saw James. In his picture, James was not a kid that caught my eye. It was his name that caught my eye. James is the name of my boyfriend. I clicked on James and watched his video. He couldn't be cuter! His smile left me yearning to meet him. At the end of his video he sang 'goodbye'. He seemed like such a class clown. His personality shown so much through the video that I could not see in his photo. James won my heart through his video and he became my second sponsored child.

After James, I waited a few months before sponsoring another child but before I knew it I was bit by sponsoritis. I wanted to sponsor another child. I began searching the site looking for exactly the right child but didn't know. I prayed asking God if I should sponsor another child or if I was doing it for selfish reasons. I kept looking until Gift caught my attention. Her full name is Gift Godlove. I looked at that as my first sign from God that this was a child I should sponsor. Gift was from Tanzania which was a place that I had wanted to sponsor. Her child center was also TZ-452. 452 is an important number from my favorite show when I was a kid. So Gift was added to my list of children.

My last added child is Glory. Glory came after a lot of prayer and thought. Weeks before I sponsored her, I thought about how I wanted to sponsor a girl that was part of a girl/boy twin. I wanted the child to be older than 7. Right before Christmas, I found Glory and Simon from Kenya who were 8. I wanted to sponsor Glory but I didn't want to sponsor her and leave Simon on the site. How would he feel if she was sponsored and he had to wait a long time before being sponsored. Glory and Simon had already waited 6+ months for a sponsor. I decided I would watch them and pray. If Simon got sponsored then maybe I would sponsor Glory. However, I figured that was a small chance as it seems girls get sponsored quicker. To my surprise, Simon was sponsored and Glory was not. I waited, thought, and prayed then made the decision to sponsor Glory. I'm excited to talk to her about being a twin and sharing my stories of being a twin with her.

As for my correspondent children, I don't know why they were put into my life. God has a plan and in his plan meeting Apophia and Simon is part of that. Both children I love and encourage.

I'm hoping to stay strong and not add any more children to my family but when I look on the Compassion website I see too many cute faces. Then I once again think about how that their situation could easily have been mine. That makes my resolute to not an addition fold. These children need help and I just can't not help.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Which battle do I fight?

I was just on compassion's website looking at all the children not sponsored. There are so many of them! My heart always breaks becaue I look at each child and I see how special they are and how much love they could use in their life. I'd love to sponsor them all but logically I know it would be impossible for me to sponsor every single child that was in poverty.

So, I started thinking about the future. I finish law school in a year and a half. I always have said I want to be a prosecutor because they put people in jail and speak for the victims when the victims can't. To me that is a noble profession where I can do good in this world. The problem with that profession is that thanks to the state of the economy the pay is not there. The starting pay isn't terrible and it's enough to live on but when I factor in taxes, paying back student loans, mortgage, possible kids, retirement, etc. it leaves little left to give. My back-up plan if I can't find a job as a prosecutor is to be a trust and estates lawyer. I don't know why but I liked the class a lot. I just looked up their pay and the average pay is about double what a prosecutor makes. The trust and estate lawyer makes close to 100,000 a year!! I thought with 100,000 a year that I could easily sponsor 30 kids!! That would be about 14,000 a year in sponsorship but with 100,000 a year that would be do able. 

My boyfriend wants me to become a trust and estate lawyer because of the money. If it was up to him I'd make loads of money and would give little if any to charity. It's not that he has a bad heart but he believes as long as we have debt that means we don't have enough to give away. I of course, don't agree. If I made 100,000 a year and he continued to make his income there is no way he could tell me no to sponsoring so many kids! The thing is I don't know which option to go. 

Do I speak for victims of crimes who can not speak or have too little of a voice in the justice system (I want to work sensitive crimes) or do I work with those getting their affairs in order but help those silenced by poverty. Both would make me happy and both would be honorable but how do you choose which battle you should fight in? How do you choose which charity or group to help when you know you can't help them all? 

I thought I knew what I wanted and now I'm conflicted because both battles need people to fight for them. I know no one can tell me what the right option is but this whole thought process just made me start thinking how does everyone choose which charity to give to when they know they can't give to all of them. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Give?

Recently I was asked by my significant other why I give my money to charities? He was quick to point out that I currently do not have an income and live on student loans. He made sure to remind me just how much debt I will be in when I graduated. For him it is simple, if you are in debt don't donate. While I respect his opinion and to some extent agree, I feel he is wrong. If I was in debt because I just couldn't make ends meet then maybe giving to charity would not be an option. However, I'm sitting comfortably in my own apartment, I have nice furniture, I own more clothes than I ever wear, I drive a nice car, I never worry about where my next meal is coming from, and I have more random gadgets then I know what to do with. So yes, technically I'm in debt but I'm not in need of anything. I have more than a lot of people and, when I finish school, I will also be working in a field that makes a decent wage. So I give. I give to those who ned help the most and who are doing what they can to make ends meet. God has called us to be grateful for what we have and to give of ourselves to other. God did not tell us to give only at Christmas time, when it's convenient, or after we have bought everything we want and might have a bit left. We are supposed to give to help each other out.

Currently, I volunteer my time at local domestic violence shelters, I give to numerous charities and I sponsor 3 children with Compassion.com. I don't know who is getting more out of me giving: me or them. I do know that I eagerly wait for letters from the children to come to me and I always remember to pray for them. These children are always on my thoughts. When I'm having a bad day, I remember what these kids must be going through. I grumble when my alarm goes off at 6am and I never want to leave my blankets when it's cold. Yet, these are luxuries that I have. These children know of hard-work and poverty when all they should be doing is playing games and dreaming about all the possibilities of their future. I love sponsoring with compassion because I think it allows the kids to be kids again but it also teaches them valuable skills. Compassion is also one of the few organizations which is also God focused. To me, that is important.

So, maybe I'm not completely financially secure and maybe my money would be "better" spent paying back my loans. I just don't think that's true. God has given me more than I could ever need and I feel that I should share my good fortune with those who have not been as lucky as me. So my answer to why give is why not.