I received the most beautiful letter from Shallon, now 17 years old, one of the girls I sponsor in Uganda. I have a query in to Compassion. I began writing to Shallon in early 2010, at which time her information read that she lived with her mother and her siblings. Things may have changed (or they may have meant "grandmother," which is what I am trying to clear up.)
Anyway, Shallon doesn't write a lot but when she does she writes wonderful letters. (It helps that she reads and writes English, so we don't have to go through translators.) She wants to be a nurse when she graduates from the program, which should be in two years, I think.
But this letter just grabbed me by the heart and brought tears to my eyes.
Let me take this opportunity to thank God who has given me this golden chance to greet you. How are you, my mother? I have taken a long time without talking with you and I thank God for this chance. Really, my mother, I am happy to see my photo copy. Thank you very much for the gift you sent to me.
[When I received the new photo of Shallon, above, I made a copy and sent it to her, because I don't think they get a copy themselves and, being such a nut about photos of my own kids, I thought her family would like to have a copy.]I have read your letters but I was not happy with your knees. I want a story about what happened to get that damage? But I thank God who has given you that cane which help your knees to feel better. Really that is a good thing.
[I sent her a picture from our vacation, where I am walking with a cane and explained how I happened to be using a cane.]How is your husband, Ned, Brianna, baby Lacie and your friends? Tell your friends that I love them.
[Char and Mike--Shallon loves you! (She saw pictures of the four of us on our vacation.) None of the kids I sponsor ever get the names of my own kids right. Somehow everybody mentions Ned and almost nobody mentions Jeri or Tom, which is weird because I always send pictures of all three kids when I include photos.]We are in wet season where we are planting millet and beans, which you have said that beans some people call it a super food. You have asked me whether I have ever eaten a cherry. Surely I have never eaten it. Which color does a cherry have?
My mother, I got the position which is the same with last term's position. I was fifth out of eighty one students in our class. I don't know whether next term I am going to get a new position. If it is a new position I am going to increase because our class has many students like two hundred and above students.
I am happy with the verse you sent to me because it has improved me to have love with my friends.
[I know how important Bible verses are for these kids, but not being a Bible-reader, it's difficult for me to send verses. However, I did find one about Ruth and Naomi because it was a nice story about friendship]I thank God and you very much because you have helped me in many things. When my mother died, I didn't know that I was going to get another mother like you. Praise the Lord.
[This was the part that brought tears to my eyes, because first of all, I didn't know her mother was dead, and secondly, she and Fred (from the Philippines) are the two kids I feel the closest to and it touched my heart that she considers me her second mother. In her earliest letter to me, she called me "My best friend"]I think that I will write to you soon. I wish you nice time. May God bless you.
From your daughter,
Shallon started out as a correspondence child, a child whose financial sponsors don't want to write to them, for one reason or another, so Compassion finds people who are willing to write to the children. But then the people who were sponsoring her decided, for whatever reason, not to continue and I was given the right of first refusal -- did I want to take over her sponsorship or not? At that time I felt I already had a nice relationship with her, and so I took on the additional sponsorship. I am so glad I did. I will be so proud when she graduates from the program and I am so happy that she is in my life.
Anybody interested in reading other letters from sponsored children, whether Shallon or anybody else, can check the My Compassion Kids web site. Some of them are wonderful, some are kind of silly, like the one from Leniel, in the Dominican Republic, which read only: I thank you for all of your letters and gifts. Do you eat fried chicken? Continue to pray for me. I send you a hug. A man of few words!