Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Carla's Story

Carla Yolani Story - My First Sponsor Child
It was 1980 my first job and my first pay packet.
 For years I had thought about, planned and looked forward to being able to sponsor a child. I had heard a lot about World Vision and had a childhood interest in South America so with excitement once my pay had been banked I went to find a little girl to sponsor.

1980 Carla age 2
So many children, I would have loved to sponsor them all! Then a little face with huge eyes brown stole my heart. She was so tiny and frail but such a dear little girl I knew she was the one.

She was from a remote village north east of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, South America. She was the youngest of several children living with her Mum and Dad who were rural workers. 

Carla age 4
I began to write to her occasionally and enjoyed finding little things I could squeeze into an envelope to send to her. Although she was too small to write and her family didn't write either her project worker Blanca Herrera started writing to me on her behalf. Blanca wrote great letters full of detail about how Carla was getting on and about her community. As time went by she wrote separate letters to me about her life and family too, a friendship formed across the miles and I learned a lot from her.

When World Vision started working with this community Carla and her family were living under a cardboard box and plastic sheeting. With assistance from World Vision they were given a one room house which seems not enough to us but for her family it was a dream come true. At age 7 Carla still hadn't started school and Blanca told me her family didn't value education and wouldn't be sending her at all or if they did she would be much older. My heart sank as I truly believe the best way out of poverty is to have a good education and once finished you have more choices and opportunities. Over the next year I wrote about the things my class was doing here hoping to inspire her and her family to send her to  school. Finally at age 8 she went to school although spasmodically I think. During these years two more siblings were born and her Dad often had to leave the family to find work.

 When Carla was about 10 her letters suddenly stopped, there was no contact from Carla or Blanca although Carla herself had never sent a letter of her own. After about 6 months I asked World Vision to send out a field question to find out what had happened to Carla and Blanca.
Carla  age 6

The news I got back shocked me and bought the reality of the third world right to my door.

Carla's father had gone to Tegucigalpa a month before Christmas to buy gifts for his family, but had never returned. On Christmas eve he was found dead tossed into a ditch beside the road half way between their village and the capital. He had been robbed of the presents he was carrying for his family and murdered, his family had been robbed of their father and husband. It was the beginning of a sad time for Carla and I don't think she ever really recovered from his death. 

The photo here was taken some time after her father dies and as you can see the shy sparkle in her eyes has gone. Ever photo that followed held the same pain and sorrow.
Carla age 10

Life got slowly more difficult for Carla, her mother took a new partner who was unkind to Carla and had no time for her. Then her mother had 4 more children to her new partner and her older brothers left home to work in the capital. She was often left to care for the younger children.

Her letters got shorter and less detailed, she was so sad, life was tough. Her photos made me want to cry but all I could do for her was pray. When she was 13 her letters stopped again and by this time Blanca was no longer the project worker so the details were unclear. After several months I asked Wold Vision to sent another message to find out how she was.

Carla age 13
The letter came back within the month, Carla had run away to Tegucigalpa  to join her brothers. Her mother didn't know where she was and her brothers hadn't contacted her to say she was with them. World Vision made some enquirers from their Tegucigalpa office but they couldn't find any details of where she was or if she was ok. So sadly I don't know what happened to her and can only hope and pray she was safe and not lured into the night life and drugs as her only way to support herself. All these years later I still think of her and pray for her wondering if she is still alive or if she has her own family now. The photo of her in the orange dress is the last photo I have of her, the one of her in the blue dress in my favorite.

Another Carla came into my life last week!

Last week I was blessed with another Carla to get to know and write to through Compassion Australia. This young lady is 17 and in her final years of school. She is from Bolivia, high in the mountains southwest of El Alto. She has completed her primary schooling and is making steady progress in high school. I look forward to hearing her hopes and dreams and knowing that with Compassion's
 help and Gods love she has a very good chance of living her dream and escaping the perils of poverty helping both her family and community.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Easter Packets for my Children

Front of card
 Easter 2015

This year Easter has seemed to come very quickly and despite my good intentions of starting to make things for my children straight after Christmas I can only hope they will make it in time as they were posted at the end of February.

Each year after Easter I make a collection of any paper crafts, cards or paper Easter ideas that go on sale in the stores and put this collection away for the following year.

Inside card
This year I decided to make each child a special Easter card. On the front I cut out an egg shape from black card and pressed this onto adhesive clear book covering contact. Using the black card scraps I placed a cross onto the adhesive. Once this was in place I used tiny bits of tissue paper to fill inside the egg shape. I then cut away the excess adhesive leaving about 1 cm out from the egg. This is how I stuck the egg to the card. I turned the egg over reveling the cross with the tissue paper behind it and stuck it to the center of the card. The card is a colored manila folder cut in half, I find this much cheaper than buying card stock.

Photos edited on Pizap
Using the oval from inside the egg from the front I created a tomb which I cut through the center so that it will open. Inside is written the bible verse " He is not here, he has risen, just as he said" Matthew 28:6. This I printed up on the computer and placed it in an oval shape so it was easy to cut out to fit the tomb shape. I just added some grass with texta around the tomb.

Using "Pizap" I created a photo for each child using their current photos as many of them are new since last year.

puzzles and crosswords
I also added to their packages stickers, coloring pages, mazes and crosswords. For the English speaking children it is easy to find many resources on home schooling sites, book stores and printerest. also prints bible studies in both English and Spanish which are geared to primary school children. The printerest web site has a wealth of ideas and sites to find resources free of charge.

For the older children who don't speak English I sent book marks, complicated mazes and make "word finds" using the goggle translator to convert English words into their language hoping that the single words will make sense when they get them. For the older English speaking children in India, Philippines, Kenya etc I have sent Bible studies and booklets from local Christian book shops.
stickers and craft bits

for my English speakers
With their package I also sent them a letter as follows:

I send you Luke 10:27 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" as that is how He loves us. With Easter approaching, and probably with you by the time this letter reaches you, we are reminded of Gods great love for us, He gave His only son who dies for us to save us from our sins and connect us with God our heavenly father. 
The gifts from God are these: freedom, life, hope, new direction, transformation, and intimacy with God. If the cross was the end of the story, we would have no hope. But the cross isn't the end. Jesus didn't escape from death; he conquered it and opened the way to heaven for all who will believe. The truth of this moment, is stunning. It means Jesus really is who he claimed to be, we are really as lost as he said we are, and He really is the only way for us to have intimately and spiritually connect with God again.

The Bible tells us that God will meet all our needs. He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the grass with the splendor of lilies. How much more, then, will He care for us, who are made in His image? Our only concern is to obey the heavenly Father and leave the consequences to Him. We will rejoice at Easter as Jesus rose from the dead opening a new way for us to know and communicate with God. Giving us forgiveness for our sins if we call out to him as the thief on the other cross did. Jesus said God would make a home for us in heaven when our earthly life was over to live with Him for eternity for those that believe. 

May you find the renewal of hope, health, love and the spirit of God. Happy Easter to you and your precious family.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Philippines Adventure -Part 1

Have you woken in the morning knowing something is in the air? Something different, a challenge in the wind! This started as one of those days.

 I am blessed with many Compassion children whom I write to and sponsor and also I sponsor several little girls in the Philippines through "His Hands for the Philippines" a group based in the USA.

As a child I had dreamed of being a missionary working with children in the third world. Life took its twists and turns and it never happened, instead I have gone along the traditional track of marriage, children and a teaching career.  

With my first pay packet from my first teaching job I sponsored Carla who we had the privilege of knowing for 13 years before she ran away to the capital to join her brother and was gone from our lives but not our prayers.
Baguio City

Five years ago I discovered Compassion and was drawn to a little girl in Ecuador and a year later a little girl in Bolivia. As I began to read the work of Compassion and the lives these children endure I wanted to do more. I wanted to sponsor them all. I discovered the correspondence program and my ministry began with just a few precious children I would write to. As the years pass so my number of children I correspond with has grown including many parts of the world. These are no ordinary kids, they have a strong faith, hope in the toughest environments, and love that can only be matched with Gods love for his people. I am sure they bless me more with their wonderful letters than I bless them.
La Trinidad 

Two years ago I discovered "His Hands for the Philippines", (HH4P)a small group who help the poorest children with all they need to attend school. It is not a holistic approach like Compassion but children who would be denied education because of no money for levees, uniforms or books as given theses needs, the gift of education and a hope for a better life. As a teacher this appealed to me and I sponsored several children for a tiny fee. 

Mid last year I was invited to join HH4P on their next mission trip to the Philippines. The old voices of my childhood said this is your chance to visit the mission fields! So after much thought and prayer I asked my friend if she would like to come with me and visit the children and help with the program HH4P were running. She has a very adventurous spirit and is a seasoned traveler so was happy to join me on this adventure.

It seems a long time since we first mooted the idea but this last week it is beginning to become real. Air tickets purchased, accommodation, food and travel paid for, immunizations and passport done. The adventure is about to begin!

WHAT WILL WE DO WHILE WE ARE THERE? That is a good question, we know with HH4P we will visit many remote and rural communities outside Baguio City where we will be based. We will be measuring and filling in the children in the sponsorship program forms and updating their photos with HH4P. We will spend one day with Compassion meeting at least 2 of my children who are in Baguio City and La Trinidad. We will visit their student centers, then their homes and meet their families. After that we will go out to lunch together and visit some fun theme/tourist park for some free time to enjoy together. 

That is all we really know so far, it is all an adventure and I would think a steep learning curve, living alongside a very different culture. It will be a wonderful experience to meet the children I

have been writing to for several years, to hear their voices and carry a conversation that is nor broken by several months of letters coming and going.

We leave on the first of May and I will endeavor to send updates if we have internet access. In the mean time please keep us in your prayers that we will be safe and keep healthy until we return.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Christmas is coming - time to get collecting!!!!

Christmas 2014 for my Compassion Children

With October well on the way it is time to send off Christmas things to my Compassion children around the world. My children range in age from 3 years old to 20 years old. They come from 23 countries around the world and speak many languages with the majority speaking Spanish.

I tend to start collecting throughout the year little things which I com across in shops and on the net. I find mazes, word puzzles, paper decorations and general ideas on the web. Our Christian book shops here and on line are a great source of stickers, book marks and little books for those that speak English. The Oriental Trading Company have great  range of paper things to send but for Australians it is very expensive postage to get them to our country. sell some of the items from Oriental trading at a better price than importing them.

Paper tree decorations I made
Each year I try to make some little thing for each child. This year I used pre cut Christmas shapes which I decorated with a punch heart and silver pen.

For the middle age group

For the middle age group of children I found some Christmas bells to make from paper on the Cannon web site. A star decoration, mazes, colouring pages, stickers and their photo with a Christmas blessing and photos of my family around them. Stickers from oriental trading and a letter.

For the younger children

The younger children are always the easier with so many options for them. This collection is made from stickers, paper Christmas heart decoration from Cannon, puzzles, dot to dot, mazes, fold out Christmas tree, colour and make your own Christmas scene, jigsaw, book mark, photo Christmas card, and a letter.

For the older children
The older children are always the hardest to find things for, especially for those who don't speak English. Cannon has Christmas decorations which are quite difficult but have good diagrams on how to make them without being able to read the instructions. Difficult mazes, photos, paper decorations made here and a letter are on their way to these children.
For the very little ones in preschool  or younger

The tiny ones are the easiest of all with so many Christian home school sites with a huge range of early education activities linked to Christmas, these include matching activities, early number, drawing and cutting skills, jigsaws and puzzles. To this I added stickers, colouring in sheets, picture books of the Christmas story and the child's photo in Christmas message and letter. 

For my older English speaking child I added a devotion, study guides, sermon extracts, book marks, cross words and word finds etc. in English which were based on the Christmas story and Christian celebrations of Jesus birth.

Hope this gives some ideas for others and that sponsors will take a few moments and write to their sponsor child. If you don't have time to collect things for your chid then just a card with a short message and a few stickers will bring untold joy to a child, them just knowing their sponsor is thinking of them and has taken the time to write to them is a blessing we can not measure but know it makes a great difference to a child far away.

God bless your Christmas preparations, may this season be a blessed one for you and your family.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

A precious child needs sponsor

Over the last couple of months I have lost 9 of my Correspondent children. I expect this might be a reflection on Australia's economy as I have been writing to these children for several years and suddenly their sponsors can no longer sponsor them. I have been blessed with 5 new little people but it is hard to say goodbye knowing they will now be waiting for some time for a new sponsor who may or may not write.


One of these children and his family really need the love and support of a kind loving sponsor who will write frequently and encourage this little family. I will tell you a little about him in the hope he may steal someone heart from here and hopefully someone who loves writing.




Age 10 - 2013
I have been writing to Jeisson for several year, he lives in El Salvador and is now 10 years old. He writes detailed wonderful letters every 1 –2 months and answers your questions and puts lots of detail about his life. He has a loving little family and takes huge responsibility for them already. Jeissons Dad was already gone when I first started writing to him, it was just him and his Mom, then Dad returned for a short time and Jeisson was over the moon. He left again within a few months and I haven’t heard anything of him in the last couple of years. During the time of his return Jeissons Mom got pregnant and Jeisson was so excited about having a brother or sister, it seemed to overshadow the fact his father had gone again. When his little sister arrived it was evident she has special needs and later I learned she had down syndrome and a few other problems. She goes to the hospital twice a week for treatment.


This dear little boy is doing very well at school and wants to become a lawyer so he will have enough money to support his mom and sister for ever. He is so sincere and determined that he will look after his little family and he is ONLY 10.


I wish I had a budget that could support him until he finishes school and keep in contact with him and his Mom. His Mom occasionally writes or sends messages through Jeisson.  I also have a lovely photo of Jeisson with his Mom and little sister which I will happily email to anyone who might sponsor Jeisson. If you would like to sponsor this wonderful little boy contact me and I will give you his number, he will be on the Australian site but I am sure he could be transferred to another site/country if your heart is drawn to him. I am sure he will bless you as much as you will bless him, I will miss his sweet letters.
Jeisson- Age 8- 2012


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Children Outdoors Inspiration!


 I spent today listing to the inspirational speakers Claire Warden and Niki Buchan who are leaders in Early Childhood Education, they are known around the world for their work in reconnecting children with nature.


What a play ground!
As I listened it struck me that our Compassion children suffer from many things, poverty, lack of clean water, lack of clothes, lack of safe homes, parents with no work or low incomes, malnutrition, lack of basic resources but in one way their life styles echo what our children lives lack. They don’t have the resources, like mega amounts of shop bought toys the TV and electronic games our children have. Their playground is the natural environment with rocks, sticks, sand and mud, climbing trees and helping out with household chores that involve 100% nature. These children face mighty challenges yet you see the joy in their faces as they play and there is not a commercial toy in sight.
Kingston Beach


I think we can learn a lot from these children and listening to Claire and Niki today made this all the more clear. Claire talked about boys needing to play with toy guns and bows and arrows  as this was part of their brain structure a basic instinct to them, from role play they begin to understand the real world. Claire talked about many centres and schools banning “Superheros” but research shows that boys need this type of role play to develop and it is just as important as fairy dress ups and ballerina costumes. She spoke on how we tended to often provide opportunities from the girls interests like home corners and dolls but we tend to over look the boys who would like toy hammers, tools etc as they are seen as dangerous.


In the developed world we tend to wrap our children in cotton wool all to worried about the dangers of every day life that we end up depriving our children of a healthy childhood. We make sure there is no danger by putting up high fences, draining puddles, putting soft fall everywhere and keeping climbing structures to a minimum or not at all. Swings have been removed from most schools yet research show that a child needs rhythmic motion to help the brain develop. Children are discouraged from climbing in case they fall or can’t achieve it so feel failure.


Claire believes we should be teaching our children to manage danger themselves, learn to make their own judgements on how high to climb or if they should jump a puddle– we are not preparing our children for life if they never have to make choices and feel a little ‘failure’-or more to the point, if something didn’t work  they will try again using another strategy– not failure!


Our Compassion children do this every day, many of them are home alone with siblings while parents work, they play in their environment without adults wrapping them in cotton wool, they learn to risk manage, enjoy the land they live in, run, jump and skip becoming strong and responsible. Their world is terrible on so many fronts but enjoying the environment and staying safe in it is something they could teach our children.


If you ever get the chance to listen to Claire Warden or Niki Buchan speak I would encourage you to attend as she is a very inspiring speaker and has so many wonderful ideas that will make the world a far more interesting and learning place for our children.