In addition to the emotional and spiritual benefits your sponsored child receives as you develop a relationship with him, you can also expand his horizons as you share knowledge and information from your life experiences and understanding. Many of these children live where there is little or no access to libraries or computers, and they do not have bookshelves bursting with children’s books at home. They might not have a single book of their own at all.
These are photos of when I visited the rural school of one of my sponsored children in Honduras. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the precious children contrasted by the starkness both inside the rustic classroom and outside in the school play yard with its one lone rusty, broken swing set. This is what one school in dirt poverty is like. This is the reality of the school setting for some of our sponsored children.
I wrote to all my children asking if they had a library nearby where they can read books. Another child from Honduras replied that she liked to read, but while there was a library in central park, she had never been there. So once again, poverty is limiting her life in something that we would consider very basic: the library.
Share From Quality Literature and Resources
Since my children are limited in their access to available books, I choose from quality stories, books, magazines, or other resources to send to them. I’ve sent books in their language, such as good children’s literature… see my book list for ideas. When writing to your child about a bible story, consider printing off a bible map and photos from that region, as it’s rather unlikely that he has access to a bible handbook. When visiting Honduras, several of us on our team brought children’s bibles and bible story books. I was undone seeing the response of the children hearing some of the stories read aloud to them, and especially the response of those who received their own copy. They were so hungry to hear, so grateful to receive. When the book was set down, often another child immediately picked it up to read quietly on their own.
Encouraging a Beautiful Childhood
Drawing from my 25 years of homeschooling experience and understanding, I’m encouraging my children in a few key ways to help create a beautiful childhood for them as much as possible. This includes encouraging them in reading beautiful stories, in learning the valuable skill of narration by narrating to me in their letters, and encouraging them to narrate verbally to people in their lives around them. It means providing selected art prints to introduce them to the great masters, where they can learn to observe carefully and share what they discover and feel. I’ve started choosing themes for the year to write about, encouraging them in observing and learning about God’s creation right in their own neighborhood. You will find easy to implement ideas for all of these and more in the Creative Letters and How-To’s sections of Trusty’s Mailbag.
Share New Experiences
On my child visit day with Daniela, I brought her and her family to the mall near my hotel for lunch. I discovered that they were not used to riding in a vehicle, and her older sister battled motion sickness on the half hour drive. They had never been to a mall, had not ordered or eaten fast food, and had never ridden on an escalator before. We came to my hotel to go swimming, and they were amazed by the revolving front door, by the gorgeous crystal hanging chandelier, by the entry table with the beautiful display of a huge fresh flower arrangement, by the curved staircase leading upstairs, by the beautiful paintings on the walls, and by the bathroom where we changed our clothes for swimming… it was not only clean but gorgeous and decorated, and even had a shower! Their whole experience that day was like stepping into a fairy tale world of sights and experiences never dreamed of before. It was a day filled not only with new experiences for them, but with a new understanding for me to realize how limited their life experiences have been.
We can write to our kids about new experiences that they are unfamiliar with. For example, I’ve flown on planes for a number of trips in the past few years, and have written to my kids what I’ve seen and experienced. I actually take a handful of the Compassion form letters with me, and write to several of my kids while on each flight, telling them what I see as I look down on snow capped mountains, cities, or the ocean. Most of the sponsored children live in warmer climates where they’ve never experienced snow. I write to them what it is like living where it snows, where we can have ice on the streets during a freezing rain. This is a fascinating topic for them to hear about.
Without focusing on wealth or materialism, share new experiences with your child that will expand his understanding of the world beyond his door.
Expand Your Child’s Knowledge of His Own Country
When I sponsored an older World Vision boy for the first time, I googled to learn about his country and what special places were near to him. I discovered that there were some caves, so I asked Geljan if he had ever been there, and shared about my experience when my family visited the Oregon caves. I love his response back in his next letter:
Later he wrote about an upcoming field trip to an ancient castle with his class at school. “It is a pretty and antique castle. I am looking forward to going there because it is the first time that I will be there,” and after his trip, he narrated for me the legend of the castle. I love how simply expressing an interest in his country prompted a delightful exchange of letters on this topic.
Google maps of your child’s area or country, and discover what his area is like. Print off a copy to send him, and highlight special places of interest that you have learned about.
Encourage Your Child’s Heart for God
Most importantly, as you develop a relationship with your child, encourage him in his faith and love for God. Share from your testimony. Share how God is leading and teaching you. Encourage him in memorizing and learning scripture together with you. You will find though, that you will need to let go of pat answers, and will cry out to God along with your child for His wisdom, His understanding, and His hand to move in your child’s life and situation. You will be stretched in your own faith, right along with your child.
Excited and motivated by the “Why” of writing, and ready for ideas for “What” to write? Follow Trusty this way…