Learn from supporters who have had the opportunity to meet their sponsored children on the field—and start writing as if you’ve met your sponsored child, too!
13 Nov, 2019
We need to be honest with you.
Most people aren’t able to meet their sponsored child. I myself have never had the chance to visit Alison, the girl I sponsor.
Health concerns, financial restrictions and many other factors keep most of us sponsors from being able to visit—and that’s completely understandable! But trust me, if we could send every person on a trip to meet their sponsored child, we would.
The good news is that even though you may not have the chance to visit your sponsored child, you can learn from others who have. After hearing so many sponsors tell me that their relationship changed after meeting their sponsored child, I began to wonder how.
It turns out, what changes most is letter writing.
Let’s meet some Compassion sponsors who would love to share their letter writing tips with you, based on their experiences:
Tip 1: Ask about parents or caregivers
In 2016, Becca visited Emanuel in Nicaragua.
“[After my visit] Emanuel became even more of a real person, with a real personality. It also gave me context. I learned more about his schooling and how his mother was in the midst of an accounting internship. It was great to see a glimpse into his world and then follow up on it.”
Becca was able to meet Emanuel’s mother. Even if you can’t meet your sponsored child’s parents or caregivers in real life, make sure to ask about parents in your letters. Ask about their job, their faith and their family. We find that the parents of sponsored children often consider you part of their extended family, so this connection can be so meaningful! And make sure to follow up based on what you learn in later letters.
Tip 2: Write knowing your letters are valued
In 2019, Joanne and Chuck visited Carlos in Colombia.
“After [my visit], I realised how important it was to really speak love, faith and encouragement. I realised then that my sponsored children hold on to my letters. They treasure them. How humbling! My letters to all my sponsor children have become more personal and I need to use these treasured letters to encourage them in their faith and share God’s love for them.”
Let Joanne’s experience be a reminder to you — your letters are precious to your sponsored child! In every single letter, remind your child how loved he or she is by you and Jesus. Often children save these letters for years to come back to later for encouragement.
Tip 3: Write longer letters
In 2013, Matt visited Edwin in Kenya.
“[After meeting Ediwn] the letters got longer for sure. We started getting two- and three-page letters from Edwin who was nearing the end of his time in the program.”
Long, thoughtful letters are especially fun to receive—Matt knows from experience. Imagine how special it would be to your sponsored child if he or she received an extra-long letter from you.
Tip 4: Ask deep questions
In 2018 Judy visited Gary in Guatemala.
“Gary and I had already developed a close connection through our letters before my visit, but a deeper heart-to-heart connection resulted after meeting each other in person.”
You can foster a heart-to-heart connection like Judy and Gary did! If you sponsor an older child, next time you write, don’t be afraid to ask deeper questions like:
- “What are you most passionate about?”
- “Has anything hard been happening at school lately?”
- “What questions do you have about God?”
Tip 5: Follow up on struggles
Since 2015, Taylor has visited Adam in Uganda three times!
“My letters have become more powerful since my visit. I learned so much about Adam and his family during my trip that I’m now equipped with the knowledge of how to ask more direct and meaningful questions. Adam was only four when I began sponsoring him so information about this life was hard to come by. Now I know how to ask, who needs prayer, what their current needs are or how they’ve been able to overcome certain battles I knew they were struggling with.”
Follow up on struggles you know about, just like Taylor does. If your sponsored child has told you about specific hardships he or she is facing, make sure to ask about them in your next letter. Or maybe you can ask them if they have a specific prayer request. Also, save their letters in one place to refer back to!
Tip 6: Be descriptive
In 2019 Don visited Thalia in Ecuador.
“Writing is always easier for me after a visit because I can now visualise the children in their homes, and I can relate to their families since I have now met them. It seems to make the letters more personal.”
Even if you haven’t seen your sponsored child’s home like Don has, there are still things you can do to help visualise it! Try asking your sponsored child to send you a drawing or a description of what their home is like. Children also say they love hearing about their sponsor’s home or community.
Next time tell them something unique about where you live.
I hope you find the experiences of these sponsors encouraging, and that they give you some new ideas about how you can write to your child!
Now that you’ve got some inspiration, write a letter today.
Words by Katy Bennett
A version of this article was originally published on Compassion International’s Blog
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