Not sure where to start when it comes to writing a letter to your sponsored child? Perhaps it's been a while, or maybe you've never written. Today is a new day. So why wait? It's time to pick up that pen (or smart phone, tablet, laptop or keyboard!) and get going!
01 Apr, 2019
Are you feeling nervous about writing a letter to your sponsored child? We completely understand how you're feeling, and you're not alone!
April recently asked us on Instagram:
“I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve sponsored a child for over a year now and haven’t sat down to write my first letter. I don’t know where to begin and the more time that passes, the harder it seems for me to actually begin. Any advice?”
If you're in the same boat as April, there's no reason to feel embarrassed or guilty. Hellos are hard, and communicating across different cultures can be complex. Not to mention that when life gets busy, writing to the child we sponsor can unintentionally get pushed to the back burner.
But don’t let that keep you from getting started with letters—or started again.
Why? Your words are powerful. And on the other end of that letter is a child living in the context of poverty who can't wait to receive a letter, no matter how long or short, from their sponsor.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. —Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)
So, what is it that holds us back from writing letters? Here’s what other sponsors have said as they've grappled with this issue.
“Gah! Is there a tutorial for this?!” —Andrew
“We want it to be a perfect intro to our family. Unfortunately, that means we still haven’t sent anything.” —Christine
“I wasn’t sure what to write and how to start. I waited almost 10 months before I sent a letter.” —Tara
We don’t know what to say.
“I feel like I’m always struggling with what to say. I’m constantly worried that my stories and photos will draw a line between us because I have means, and they don’t. Then I remember that they just want a letter. I’m the one who is worrying.” —Emily
“I’m not sure what to talk about. I am not sure what parts of my life might be culturally confusing (such as pets, my work, going on trips, etc.). What I try to do is just think about what has been going on in my life lately. Then I think of something about my country and culture that might be new or interesting to them. Finally, I think about what God has been teaching me in my life lately and offer a few thoughts and try to make it age-appropriate and include a verse. This way they can see how God is working in my life.” —Emily S
We feel guilty for not writing—so we don’t write at all.
“Honestly, I’m embarrassed and feel bad and that’s why I haven’t written in so long.” —Dan
“I was cleaning out my closet one day and found three, yes, three, letters from my sponsored child that I hadn’t responded to. I felt so bad after so long that I was afraid to write at all. Finally, I just decided to get over it and I sent a letter. —Jenny
“I think sometimes I hesitate to write because I am not sure how to connect with someone who is in such a different situation from my own. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking about how many activities and things I have in comparison to my child. When I write to my child, I have to go into a different frame of mind and share more from my heart. Sometimes it’s difficult to get into that space.” —Emily
Whether it's the first letter ever or the first in while, what helps?
“It helps me to imagine the smile on my child’s face when their name is called and they find out they’ve gotten a letter. That’s pretty motivating to me.” —Jenny
“You could sit around and feel guilty, or you could just write! Take five minutes and send a quick note. They are just counting down the days till they hear back from you.” —Lee
“Think about someone in your life that you haven’t heard from in a long time. If they reached out to you today, what would you feel? I would feel glad and joyful that this person wants to have a connection with me. It's never ‘too late’ to write to sponsored your child.” —Tara
“I would say what helps our family is remembering the impact it has on the kids and how little effort it takes on our end. Articles like this on the blog are awesome reminders of how much the kids cherish their letters.” —Andrew
Why is letter-writing important?
“Letters are a big deal to the child you sponsor. I’m both a sponsor and a Compassion employee so I know that at many of our centres, ‘Letter Day’ is a special occasion. Children sit on the edge of their seats waiting to hear their name called so they can run up to the front of the room and get a letter from their sponsor. The entire room bursts out into cheer and applause. Why not create this special moment for the child you sponsor?” —Jenny
“Letter-writing truly is the single most powerful way to connect the heart of a child to the heart of a sponsor. Sponsored children hold their letters so dear that it will be a treasure regardless of how long its been. It’s never too late to tell a child you love them. I think its great to be vulnerable and honest. If you’re apologetic, say so. And reassure the child you sponsor just how important they are regardless of how imperfect you feel.” —Tara
How can I start writing today?
“Write back as soon as you receive a letter from the child you sponsor. This makes it fresh in your mind and you just get it done in one task.” —Sara
“Put it on your calendar! Decide how often you want to write and make an appointment for yourself. It’s OK if you move it around, but don’t delete it and take it as a seriously as you would any meeting.” —Emily
“Pray! Before you write your letter, pray and ask God what HE wants you to share with this child. What message should you give them with this precious time? What might they be struggling with?” —Emily
“Look at the news from your child’s country or area. What is happening there right now? Is there something you could tell them you are praying for? What does this area struggle with that might be impacting your child’s neighbourhood (gang violence, floods, political upsets, etc.)? —Emily
You can write a letter online in My Account right now. It's fast, easy to use, saves on paper and you can even add up to ten images!
And if you need some more letter-writing inspiration, check out the following blogs to learn more:
- Letter Writing: 50 Questions to Ask Your Sponsored Child
- How to Write to Your Sponsored Child in a Time of Crisis
- What Can and Can’t I Write in Letters to My Sponsored Child?
A version of this blog was originally published on compassion.com
Words by Jen Wilson and Compassion Australia. Photos by Ben Adams and Sean Sheridan.
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