A very important note before we get started…
This site is filled with many ideas, more than what you will be using. Do not feel guilty or overwhelmed because you don’t do everything, or feel like you don’t do enough. I certainly don’t do it all either, and every sponsor goes through times where we don’t write as much as we would like, for one reason or another. Remember that most sponsored children have never received even one letter from their sponsor, so even writing once is a treasure for them. However, that does not build much of a relationship, so the goal here is simply to encourage you to write consistently and connect with the heart of your sponsored child.
Some of these ideas are ones which I’ve used over time, some are ones that I’m currently using. Others are ideas that I’ve thought of for future reference, or that I think others will be interested in using. Consider this site like sitting down to a buffet of ideas… no one goes to the restaurant and eats everything offered! You may only be looking for a single printable or stationary to use, or need some info on how to use one of the tools, or maybe you want one idea to get you going. Or you might be looking for a lot of ideas to help you along. Just use what works for you… Whew!
So now you’ve started writing your child, have already covered some basics like where you live, your family members, and maybe some of your favorite hobbies. Maybe you’ve been writing for a number of months, and are waiting for replies back, and are stuck on what to write. Or maybe you’ve sponsored your child for a few years, and feel like you still don’t really know this little person at all. So what now?
I love Geljan’s response, because it shows that we are connecting and building a sweet relationship. It’s really not difficult to write to your sponsored children… just share from your heart and life, and let them know that they really matter to you.
Creating Beautiful Childhood Memories
So much of what your child faces from poverty is harsh, unkind, and ugly, but as you write and let your child know that he really matters to you, your letters and relationship will become part of their beautiful childhood memories. And the things you write, encouraging him to learn from God’s creation, to observe and enjoy, and to narrate back to you what he is discovering… encouraging him to dream and be confident… encouraging him to connect with the heart of a loving Father God… these are ways to help him create beautiful childhood memories that he will treasure for a lifetime.
Here are a few basic ideas to get you started.
Praise and Affirm
One of the first things I tell my children is how special they are, not only to the heart of the Father, but to my heart also. Pick up on anything that you find from their initial profile info that you can praise and affirm the child. For example, Geljan had an amazing smile in his photo from when I first sponsored him, and I wrote how much I appreciated his joyful spirit. He simply exudes it! And he still has a great countenance in his photo updates. When a child’s info says that one of his household duties is carrying water or gathering firewood, then tell him how proud you are of him for the wonderful way that he is serving his family.
As you start receiving letters, look for more qualities that you can encourage and praise. In one of Yovani’s first letters, what he wrote about his little sister just melted my heart.
He’s written of his love and help for his mom, and his yearning for his dad to reunite with their family. In many letters to him, I’ve told him how I love his heart for both his mom and sister, and how he honors them so beautifully… and that he is growing up as such a Godly young man.
Share from simple life experiences as well as special ones
Share from your ordinary life experiences that don’t focus on materialism or wealth. For example, I’ve written about taking walks along the shore at the bay, and what I saw or experienced… picking wild blackberries on walks near my house, and asking my kids what foods they have growing wild where they live… working at my Christian bookstore, and often getting to pray often for customers for healing or comfort, and sharing with them about sponsoring children and the importance of writing to their children… and the joy when my grandbaby is brought to my store for unexpected visits to see his Grammie. I love being with my grandson, and share about taking him on walks, or special outings that we’ve shared together. My kids regularly hear about my art projects, and they like seeing the new ones that I do.
Since it rains so much here in the Pacific Northwest, I wrote one letter about the phrase, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” and shared phrases from around the world that I found online for conveying a similar thought. I added a couple of photos of vintage paintings illustrating this phrase, and the kids loved that simple little letter… many of them have commented on it.
Share from special experiences too… such as the birth of a new child in the family, a new job, or a special outing or trip. My kids loved hearing about a missions trip that I took to Mexico to help with widows and orphans.
All of these give them glimpses into my world and life, as well as who I am as a person. We desire those same glimpses into their world, so be an example to your child for how you want them to write to you.
Share what you’re learning, and encourage them in their learning
When I was a back-to-school mom full-time for nearly 3 years, I wrote about my efforts to always do my best, how I was working long hours every single day on my studies. They loved seeing me in my cap and gown for graduation! I keep encouraging them in their studies and learning, to do the best that they can do too. Their studies are important to them, and they often ask for prayer to excel in their work. What were your favorite subjects in school? Tell them about it, and ask them what they enjoy best too.For my Spanish speaking kids, I’ve shared about my desire to learn to speak Spanish, and how I would listen to my lessons everyday on the way to school. Since half of my kids are in Latin America, I was interested in learning to make homemade tortillas, and wrote about my efforts… and asked for their tips on making them. For my girl Aswathi in India, I wrote about when I tried out some traditional East Indian foods, which I discovered that I really enjoyed. And of course, I asked if she made those dishes, and how they made them. A simple thing like trying to eat a food they are familiar with is one way that lets them know how important their lives are to you.
Share your dreams and aspirations
What special hopes and dreams do you have for the future that you can share with your child? Invite your child to share some of their dreams with you. I was amazed when Yovani shared one of his dreams with me… he wants to build a house someday for his single-parent mom, and provide for her. I asked him to sketch out the floor plan of his dream house, and here it is.
I just love this boy.
Share about experiences in nature
I love sharing about creation and experiences in nature, because it is not focused on materialism, and it is something that we can all share in, one way or another. My kids were all so amazed and delighted with the letters and photos I sent about the animals that I saw on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. None of them had ever seen animals such as bison and elk before, and were so excited to hear about it. Because there was such a strong interest in this subject, I found some wildlife/big game calendars to sent to them. Check at hardware stores and your bank… often they have free calendars to give away with beautiful nature photos.
Have you gone camping? Write about it, and send some photos. You can write about hunting and fishing, or hiking in the mountains. I wrote to my older boys about when my brother, Steve, and my three sons all went deer hunting together, and sent pictures from their hunt. I sometimes share about projects that my sons are involved with, such as all their hard work to fix up an old wooden boat, and the delight of sailing it on the bay afterwards.
One whole year was spent writing to my kids with a bird theme sprinkled throughout my letters, and I love seeing them encouraged to explore and observe nature where they live. This is one way of encouraging them in experiencing a beautiful childhood. As a result of those letters, I created a whole section of ideas for writing on a bird theme, the first of many upcoming themes.
Share your love for God
At least a couple times a year I will share the words of a worship song that especially moved my heart. I’ve had a number of my kids write back about their favorite worship songs and/or Christian musicians in their countries. I love looking up these songs on youtube, and write back to them about what I liked about their favorites. Here is part of one of the letters that I wrote about one of my favorite songs, 10,000 Reasons…I wrote out the words to the song on the back of the letter, and ended by saying that I was determined to keep singing! Here was Geljan’s response…
Share a Bible verse that was meaningful to you that day, and if appropriate, share why it was important to you. I’ve challenged my kids to memorize a particular psalm along with me, and I’ve started getting letters back where they are joining me in this. Write about answers to prayer, and also any miracles that you or your loved ones have experienced. What prayer requests do you have that you can write about, and what miracles do you need in your life? My children faithfully pray for me!
Share your testimony. In one Easter letter, I shared about receiving Jesus as a young child, and being baptized when I was 9 years old. Then I wrote about a miracle story about when my Babushka was baptized in an icy river in Russia as a young teen… they walked through the snow, broke the ice, and were baptized. But when they came out of the water and walked back through the snow, they were “enveloped in God’s Presence like a blanket” keeping them toasty warm. Lidia wrote back that she would like to hear more miracle stories like that!
I think that one of the most important things to share with your child is how you have been learning to hear God’s voice, and what He is speaking to you. Give examples from your life, especially when it might have been difficult for you to follow through with obedience. Encourage your child in developing a heart of worship… a heart of love… a heart of obedience for God, one that seeks after Him and longs to hear Him, and to know and experience His Presence. This is where real change happens that makes a profound and lasting difference in their lives.
More Ideas and Resources
These were a few basic ideas to get you started. On the following pages, you will find lots of ideas related to various themes that you can even use throughout the year, such as a bird theme, or even a Trusty theme. Each one gives fun ideas, printables, Bible verses and stories and more to encourage and delight your child. The Creative Letters section will be continually growing with more ideas and themes to come, so keep checking back! Also, check the Toolbox for great tools to help build up your child and help you connect with him.