Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Why Compassion?

If you've been following this blog for any amount of time, you will know my passion for helping children in poverty. Although I have donated to and worked with several other organizations in the past, there is one ministry that I have chosen to become closely affiliated with. And that ministry is Compassion International.

I've often been asked the question, "Why?" Why Compassion when there are literally hundreds of other sponsorship organizations out there? And why do you choose to sponsor?

Today I want to answer some of those questions.

Photo from Compassion International Media Gallery.


INTEGRITY FIRST

I've always been a firm believer in the adage ,"Investigate before you invest." If I'm donating to any charity or organization, I want to know exactly where my money is going and how it's being used. I've heard too many stories of scams that used photos of abandoned, ragged children to garner sympathy (and subsequently, donor dollars). When I first started looking into Compassion, I was pleased to find that they have consistently gotten very high ratings by Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, and other third-party reviewers.

In the spirit of integrity, I love Compassion's decision to refrain from using photos of starving, skeletal children to raise funds. Although the poverty is quite obviously present in photos, it's not the main focus. The main focus is to portray all recipients, both children and adults, with dignity and respect. Compassion will even provide children with an outfit to wear on photo day if the families have nothing for the child to wear. These photos can then be treasured by the family and are not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Children stand in the doorway of their house with life-saving malaria nets from Compassion.
Photo taken from Compassion International Media Gallery.

But there's more than just financial integrity, although of course that remains important as well. A program can be financially stable and still not have results. As they say, "The proof is in the pudding" as I have witnessed over and over again. This isn't about hungry children showing up for a feeding program. This is about children's lives being completely transformed from a spiritual, social, physical, and economic standpoint, helping them to become healthy, well-rounded adults capable of making a difference in their countries and communities.

I want to share with you this short video that touched my heart deeply. I can't help but tear up whenever I watch it, because it's so close to my heart. It's only about 8 minutes long and tells the story of Jimmy Wambua, who went from being an abandoned child on the street, to having his life changed through Compassion. You will witness Jimmy's first meeting with his sponsor, and finally, meet Jimmy's new sponsored child in Haiti. This video is for me, proof that Compassion really does work!



SEEING THE DIFFERENCE

For me, of course, the evidence that Compassion works is in my hands every day through my children's letters. I have one child in university, studying to become a civil engineer. I have another who just graduated high school and is hoping for college. I have three who want to become doctors, and one who wishes to become a teacher. These children would not even be in school if it wasn't for Compassion.

Mbula age 5 and now at age 21

In the above photo, you can see the difference that the years in Compassion's program have made to my "little brother" Mbula. He will be graduating Compassion's program next month at the age of 22. I have only to look at my children's photos and see the difference in their attitudes; chins held up, shoulders squared, smiles breaking through... to know that Compassion works.

Basomingera age 6 and age 12

If you would like to make a difference in a child's life, and release them from poverty in Jesus' Name, will you consider sponsoring today? You can contact me with any questions you have about sponsoring, or you can go directly to Compassion International or Compassion Canada to learn more!


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Waiting Children: The Valentine Edition!

Since today is a very special day, a day of showing our love in action, I want to give you all an opportunity to show the Love of Jesus to some very precious children! Click on each child's link if you want to learn more about them, their families, their community, and how you can help!

So what day is it anyways? Valentine's day of course!



And what is Valentine's Day? A day that's all about love!



Valentine's Day is all about finding your special Prince...



...or your special Princess! 



Valentine's Day is about giving your heart to someone special...



...and telling them how precious they are...



...and how dear they are to you...



...and of course, asking them, "Will You Be Mine?"



How do you celebrate? Do you give the traditional roses...



...or perhaps another special gift?



However you choose to celebrate Valentine's Day, ask Jesus to make you a blessing to someone today!



And I'm sure that you will have a very Happy Valentine's Day!




Monday, 16 January 2017

Pleased To Meet You: Papi

Welcome to the second installment of my new series... Pleased to Meet You!

Today I want to introduce you to my most recently sponsored child!

Name: Papi
Age: 21
Birthday: June 24
Country: Indonesia

The first photo of Papi that I saw on the website.

OUR RELATIONSHIP: I first saw Papi's picture on the Compassion International website. He looked like an intelligent young man, and when I clicked on his profile, I wasn't surprised to learn that he was an above-average university student! I started sharing his photo and information on Facebook, hoping that he would find a good sponsor to help him finish out his time in the program. After a while, Papi disappeared from the site, and I celebrated; he had been chosen! But a few weeks later, he appeared on the site again... his child info packet must have just been pulled to send to an event. I began circulating his photo again... and weeks went by. I couldn't understand why this handsome, studious young man was waiting so long! Finally, I began wondering if I was meant to be his sponsor. I struggled with it for a while... knowing that I couldn't afford another child. But it would only be a short sponsorship... three years at most... and I couldn't explain why I felt so inexplicably drawn to him. My "yes" came in the form of my parents, who offered to share his sponsorship with me! Now I know why Papi waited so long to find a sponsor.... he was meant to join my family!

ABOUT PAPI: Papi lives in an urban area of Indonesia, where he attends one of Indonesia's top universities to study for his degree in civil engineering. When not attending classes, he spends his time at home with his mother, who is a domestic worker, and two older sisters. In his free time, he loves to visit the nearby beaches and play with his two dogs! Although I don't hear from him as often as my other children, he is a great writer and his letters are usually several pages long!

Papi's current photo


LETTER EXCERPTS:

"I thank you very much for your willingness to sponsor me, Hannah."

"Each morning I must struggle to ride on the campus bus because public transport to campus is not many. It is one of our town cultures."

"My hobby is watching animated movies, walking around, and hanging out with friends."

"May I call you sister? When is your birthday? What do you do? How is the culture there?"

"Shalom. I am so glad writing you letter again. I really like to get and read your letters. I reply, How are you?"

"I am so pleased that you have given the whale photo and some data about them and I found it very nice. I haven't ever seen real whales yet like you have. I only see them from TV and pictures. How many years life of a whale?"

"I like reading books that tell about the life of a person (biography) who inspired many people. I like to know their struggle to reach their success. By the way what kind of books do you read?"

"I will always remember you because our mothers' names resemble. I also like blue color, pink, and green. I am feeling lucky because my family love me much, care, and support me all this time."

"I don't sing because my voice is not good and I don't know how to play music instrument, but I like listening to music, that is why I want to hear your band."

A drawing of Psalm 91:11 in Indonesian, by Papi


"I like being at beach especially when sun sets. It always becomes my favorite moment."

"Indonesian traditional food is Se'i. Se'i is smoked beef or pork. Really delicious."

"My dogs' names are Avril and Digo. They are so cute. They act cuddly while welcoming me everytime I got home."

"The beach here is made of rocks and sands. I couldn't swim. Here we have many beautiful beaches. But lately, many people were afraid of going to the beach because there was a wild alligator that was cut loose around the beach."

"I am happy to hear your story about Ken Taylor. I never heard about him before. I hope you can send me other stories from The Faithful Man and Woman that you know."

"By the way, I like Newsboys and I also like Planet Shakers. I like their song lyrics. This is my letter for now. Lord Jesus blesses you."



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Pleased To Meet You: Mbula

Howdy! I'm excited to announce a new mini-series of sorts here on the Path of the Carpenter... Pleased To Meet You!

In this series, I will introduce you to each one of my sponsored kids in depth. I will be sharing photos, quotes from letters, fun facts, hobbies and interests, etc.

I just want to say that I totally got this idea from two awesome blogger-friends of mine; Jessi and Hannah! They have both done a series on their sponsored kids and I LOVED the idea! Jessi blogs over at Me and Mr. Jones, and Hannah blogs from Because of Shamim. I highly recommend that you pop over and check out their blogs; they have some pretty awesome content!

So with that being said, on to the first introduction!

Name: Mbula
Age: 21
Birthday: March 24
Country: Kenya

The first photo of Mbula that I received!

OUR RELATIONSHIP: On May the 15th, 2013, I put my name on Compassion Canada's waiting list for an older correspondent child from Africa or Asia. At the time, I had two 9-year-old girls, and really wanted the chance to connect with an older child. I especially wanted a teen boy from Africa, although I didn't specify that. On May 31st (my mother's birthday) Mbula showed up on my account! The teen boy from Africa that I wanted! He looked very stern and and handsome in his bright red sweater, and I was a little intimidated about connecting with him... I needn't have worried. From our very first letters back and forth, we have called each other brother and sister. He is the sweetest and most Godly young man one could imagine! And on September 25th, 2014, Mbula's financial sponsor dropped him, so I was proud to become his financial sponsor.

Mbula's photo updated a year after I began writing to him!

ABOUT MBULA: Mbula lives with both parents. He has three brothers (Kilonzo, Musyoki, and Mutua) and one sister (Betty). His family are farmers who grow maize and beans, and Mbula works hard to help them with the planting and harvesting. One thing I learned right away about Mbula is that he is a VERY passionate football (soccer) player. He mentions football in almost every letter and enjoys competing as an attacking mid-fielder. Mbula has also been a very dedicated student who's favorite subject is History. He recently graduated from High School, and he dreams of pursuing a university education and becoming a doctor!

EXTRA PHOTOS: In August of 2014, a sponsor friend visited Kenya and offered to take a gallon-size baggie filled with goodies for a few of us sponsors! I was happy to be able to send a polo shirt, wristwatch, toothbrushes, leather gardening gloves , journal with Jeremiah 29:11 on it, bookmark, and a Canada keychain. A few months later I received these fantastic photos of Mbula with his gifts, and got to see my boy smile for the first time!







LETTER EXCERPTS:

"In our family, we have three brother and one sister. I would not mind anymore if you would be my second sister in our family."

"My pastor's name is Pastor Matthew who is God's fearing servant and he likes doing God's will and following them."

"My brothers were very much interested in the letter that you sent me. Actually, it was very interesting and they appreciated very much."

"In our community, we are doing well although the rain was inadequate, we managed to put extra effort in the garden matters. We thank God for the little that we have got from our garden."

Mbula's very first Compassion photo at 5 years old!

"In our country we had an athletic games where we had some Kenyans participating in Moscow. In spite of tough competition they managed to win some of the games."

"I am very glad to know the meaning of your name and actually the grace of God is with you. According to me, my name was inherited from my grandfather according to our custom."

"I had a wonderful time since you started sponsoring me and you actually committed yourself in helping me. May you continue with the same spirit as you continue living in this world."

"I am very happy to hear that you have managed to be my sponsor. May the Almighty Lord bless you as you keep on sponsoring me. I also give thanks to my outgoing (previous) sponsor who was very helpful to me. May the Almighty God keep on blessing her very much."

Mbula age 13

"I would be very happy if you wish to visit us here in Kenya and enjoy good and attractive places with beautiful natural features."

"Hallo my sister, let me take this golden chance to salute you. I would greatly thank you for sending me a hand watch, gloves, diary, shirt, toothbrush and the letter that you wrote to me. I actually appreciated them and they are really helping me. Concerning T-shirts I usually wear it when going to church. I also shared toothbrushes among my brothers and my sister. They also appreciated you very much. I also use the watch in school and the diary in church for writing personal Bible verses."

"It is my hope that you are always trusting in the Almighty Lord as your personal Saviour. May He fully bless you and protect you in your life, and expand your territories."

"How have you been since I lastly wrote a letter to you?"



"I am very happy to know from your previous letter that your father is a French. I would also appreciate if you sent me a letter with a French words and their meanings."

"I greatly appreciate for your letter of a short story of a moose. I have really enjoyed reading it and it's my hope that our family members will enjoy reading and narrate it to others."

"It is my hope that God has made your life a beautiful moment, and you deserve to honor and believe in Him in your life."

"I am very glad to inform you that I received the gift you sent me. I really appreciated and thanked a lot. I was able to purchase the following items: 1 goat, 3 plastic chairs and 2 hens. I pray to God that you will keep on remembering me and any other person since we are all God's people."

Mbula's most recent photo; 21 years old.




Monday, 2 January 2017

One Word For 2017

Happy New Year friends! It's been such a long time since I've visited with you all.

As some of you might already know, I've never been a "New Year's Resolutions" kinda girl. It's easy to make 'em but it's also wayyyy easy to break 'em. And I don't like the guilt trip that happens when I inevitably stray off the beaten path a month (or a week, or a day) in.

So when I first joined the Compassion Bloggers and learned about "One Word", I liked the idea immediately. The premise is simple... you choose one word (although I know people who have picked a phrase, but I like to keep it simple) to focus on for the year.

My very first Word of the Year was chosen in 2015, and it was "Joy." I chose that word in January, and it was a well-needed reminder. I had been struggling through a lot of personal losses at the time and I felt like I had completely lost my joy. So it was really something I needed to focus on.

My second Word of the Year was "Free," and you can read my blog post about that right HERE. Again, that Word had a huge amount of significance in my life. And I can say with all honesty that that Word has changed my life this year. I broke free of a lot of things that held me back, cut myself loose from some harmful relationships, and freed myself from some harmful mindsets. God always knows what He's up to!

This year, I'll admit I had quite a struggle picking a Word. I actually got really frustrated on New Year's Eve because I still didn't have my Word chosen. I waffled back and forth between two or three Words, but nothing felt "right." I had to have a word that really "spoke" to me, not just a word but a Word (there is a difference you know!), and I just wasn't getting it.

Until last night, when it came to me simply and easy after a long hike in a snow-covered wood.



Embrace.

Last year was the year that I became Free. I let loose and let God change me into the person that I was meant to be... I even started a new blog about my personal journey (The Peaceful Bohemian). But with all that change came a lot of resistance, a lot of fear, a lot of emotional baggage and other stuff. This year, I will learn to EMBRACE that freedom. To cling to my faith with all I've got. To stop existing and starting LIVING. To hold on tight to the people I love. To take a deep breath and dive in. To love deeply, passionately, wildly. Embracing who I am in Christ, and embracing others for who they are. Throwing my arms wide open and letting God's love allow me to Embrace the whole world. Whatever that means.

Photo belongs to Compassion Canada, taken from their Facebook page

So, I hope you all will join me on this year's journey, as we all learn to embrace ourselves and our lives and God's will for us.

What will your word be?


And if you feel God is speaking to you to embrace a child in need this year, will you consider sponsoring one of these precious little ones? By supporting them and welcoming them into your family, you will change their life and also change your own. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding sponsorship whatsoever! Click on the link below each child's photo to learn more about them! 




Adorable Rein is four years old. He lives in Indonesia.
Rein has been sponsored!


Cheerful Chelsea is seven years old. She also lives in Indonesia.
Chelsea has been sponsored!


Pigtailed Arisleidy is four years old. She lives in the Dominican Republic.


Friday, 26 August 2016

News From My Kids!

I haven't been updating this blog very frequently lately, so it is with joy that I share THREE new letters from my beloved kids!

Since Compassion implemented some of their new letter-writing policies, there was a bit of a backup with letters stemming from some glitches with the new system. Things are getting back on track though, and I am finally starting to hear from my kiddos again!

First up is a letter from Mbula! 



He starts every letter with "Hi! My dear sister in Christ." He says he hopes that I enjoyed the Christmas holidays well. His was "really wonderful" and he really enjoyed it. He responded to a letter I had written quite a while back about my job situation, and adds that he is praying for me and knows that God will answer his prayers. He also asked for prayers since this is his last year in secondary classes. One more reminder that he will be graduating Compassion's program next year! (Cue teary sponsor moment).

I had written about Richard Turere, the Maasai boy who invented a way to protect his family's cows from lions, and Mbula responded, "I also appreciate the story of the Maasai boy. Actually, I have never heard it but it was interesting to go through it." He also says he is keenly and actively participating in church.

Mbula closed his letter with, "Remember, if you believe, all things are possible to him who believes as it is stated in the Scripture Mark 9:23." Thank you for that reminder my dear brother!

He also drew me this beautiful picture, the first drawing I have ever received from him!



Next up is a letter from my beautiful Basomingera! 



This was a "first letter" template, since I recently became her financial sponsor. I was excited to learn some details that I hadn't known before, such as her mother's name and her siblings' ages (I knew their names). I learned that her favorite color is yellow, her favorite food is meat, her favorite game is football (soccer), her favorite toy is a doll, her favorite subject is math (good girl!), and her favorite Bible verse is Job 28:28. She then said, "I appreciate your letter and the photos that were many! And it was so nice. I wonder when did God give you such a love that you show me? (cue sponsor tears... again.) I wish you God's peace and blessings. Pray for me to perform well in school the National exams, November 2016."

She also drew me her first picture ever, an adorable cow!



Lastly, a letter from Miriam! 



This was written on the "My House" template. In this letter, I learned that she sleeps with her siblings, she gets water from the river, her house is made of mud with an iron sheet roof, she does not have electricity in her house, and she washes her clothes in a basin. I also learned her parents' and siblings' names.

Miriam's tutor wrote some exciting news on Miriam's behalf, "Miriam greets you in Jesus' name. She says she is fine and doing well at home and at school. She loves you and thus informs you that her mother has a new-born baby boy (Mbulu) who is 2 months of age. (Cue excited sponsor dancing up and down moment!) She is looking forward to meet you one day of her life. (Heart-melt!) She says that she loves going to Sunday school and prays for you and your family members. Wishes you a happy life."

And she drew this awesome, colorful picture!



I'm so glad to be hearing from my kids again! Now I'm just waiting on long-overdue letters from Isimbi and Papi, and of course Shakira, whom I don't hear from as frequently since she is through a different organization.


Have you gotten any fun letters lately? 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

One Less Broken Heart

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you'll know my Basomingera Ada from Rwanda. My sweet girl that I've been writing to for almost four years now.

Four years. That's a long time.

So when I logged in to my Compassion account and noticed that her precious face was missing, alarm bells went off in my head. I immediately contacted Compassion, and learned the news that makes every correspondent sponsor's heart sink. Ada's financial sponsor had dropped her.

Logically, I tried to look at my finances. But thankfully for all of us, your heart doesn't always follow the dictates of your bank account.

Because I remembered the first time I saw this precious face.


I remembered the overwhelming joy that flooded my soul when I looked into those melting chocolate eyes and felt like I'd found a piece of myself. I remembered that night, lying awake and loving this child that I didn't know, but yet felt like I had known forever. The words of a song by Christina Perri rang through my mind that night... they played over and over. I have come to call this song "Ada's Song", and whenever I hear it, I think of her.




And as I stared at the blank spot on my account, where my darling girl's face used to look back at me, I remembered her words.

"I thank you for your previous letter you wrote to me and many more other letters you keep sending me and tell me that Jesus is a Friend Who can never forsake me. I thank you for the nice pictures. Please continue writing me."

"I feel like missing you."

"Thank you so much for your having accepted to be my sponsor. It reminds me of how Jesus loved me and accepted to be my sponsor."

"I am so glad to hear from you and know that I am part of your family."

"I pray for you to be with God all the time."

"I thank God Who connected us. I wish to be a doctor and I wish to see you."

"I thank you for being a good parent and I was happy for the good things you always do to me. I believe to have a better future."

And lastly, I looked at this precious face.



And the rest is, as they say, history. Welcome to the family Basomingera Ada... my fourth sponsored child. My own. My heart, my world. God willing, I will sponsor her until she graduates out of the program.

You've come home, beautiful Basomingera. I will be the last sponsor you ever have. And I will love you for the rest of my life.

And to quote Matthew West's song One Less, "There's one less broken heart in the world tonight."