Walt had the car for a bit of the time today, including going to SF to the opera. I decided not to go to Atria before he took off with the car, and to spend the day catching up on Pocket letters and on writing to the Compassion kids. I am probably a more regular writer than a lot of sponsors, but if I haven't written in 3 weeks I start feeling guilty.
I regularly get the odd letter here and there throughout the month, but I went through two months with zero letters, which is very unusual. Compassion is going through the growing pains of a new mail system and, like Obamacare, it has had its share of glitches getting up and running. The end result is supposed to decrease the length of time it takes to get from you to your child and vice versa. As it is now, kids are answering mail I sent a year ago. A difficult thing to establish much of a relationship.
But this month came the deluge. I'm getting two or three letters a day and it's been wonderful, if overwhelming. I have a huge stack of letters to answer, which I am continuing to work on.
I've been connected to some of these children for many years and do have a relationship with some of them. While the newer kids write the same thing, it seems, each month ("Personal greetings from me. I am fine together with my family. How are you and your family? I received your letter and I thank you for your support. Please pray for me and my family." -- or something to that effect. It takes awhile -- often years -- to get some sort of personal information.
But in looking at the children and which ones need to get a response, I had to think first of the child from whom I had no letter -- Briana and for two others children, Lovson and Miche. All three live in Haiti and I know it will be months before I find out how they have been affected by Hurricane Matthew, which devastated the island yesterday. The last time this happened, the bulk of the damage happened around Port o Prince which is in the southern part of Haiti. Briana lives in the far north of Haiti. I am not sure how close to the storm Lovson and Miche live.
The news has briefly touched on the fact that the hurricane hit the Dominican Republic too. I have two kids there and even Compassion hasn't mentioned that yet.
Watching the video of the winds whipping and the flooding in the hard hit areas, I wonder what it's like to live in a place like that. Where do you GO when there is so much wind and water if your house is not strong enough to stand up to it? I watch all this from the security of my recliner, on my nice large screen television set while the sun shines outside and I feel guilty for the children.
When something like this happens you realize how self-centered our news is. All of the news reports I've been able to find concern the storm approaching Florida and how people are preparing. I want to know how badly Haiti was hit. Even Compassion does not yet have any information on the kids and the centers they attend. I sent a donation to the Haiti relief, but I still worry about my 3 kids there.
But when letters arrive, like the ones I've been receiving, you realize how completely our lives differ from those of our sponsored children and how little we know of their culture.
Anjali, in India, is the very first child I sponsored. I love hearing from her because after all these years, she is finally writing chatty letters. Today she wrote about a couple of Indian holidays she celebrated. I have to do my homework and check them out.
From Fred in the Philippines (another of my long-term kids -- he'd now 12), I got a letter that refers to a letter I sent many months ago, but also says "Last week when my case worker visited me, I felt so shy because she saw me washing our clothes because my mother got sick and I'm the one doing anything at home."
I wish I knew more about the family. His mother used to be the one translating his letters and she was very chatty and I got to know the family well, but now he is able to write his own letters and so it's nice hearing directly from him, but sad when I get the standard "how are you, I am fine, pray for me" letter. But over the years there are more personal messages like the time he thanked me for a monetary gift I had sent for his birthday and told me they had used the money to pay for the funeral of one of his siblings. He is also one of only a couple of kids for whom I have a family portrait
This was taken in February of 2013 and though I have asked about family often, I know nothing else but this photo.
I had a letter from one of my girls who said she had to miss a couple of months to take care of her sister, who had malaria.
Several of the kids have asked me to pray that their fathers (or mothers) can find a job. One asks me to pray for his mother that he might be able to live with her again (he lives with his grandmother and cares for her).
A boy from Honduras writes that his grandmother won't let him go out of the house to play because it is too dangerous.
Divine in Rwanda confessed that her grades in school have dropped this term and asks for my prayers that she might study harder.
The kids often include Bible verses (which sends me to the internet to find a verse to send back, as I am not a Bible reader normally. I do wonder what Mercy (age 12) was thinking about when she sent me THIS verse...
Go to the Lord and you will live. If you do not go he will sweep down like fire one the people of Israel. The fire will burn up the people of Israel. The fire will burn up the people of Bethel and no one will be able to put it out. [Amos 5:6,7]
(Maybe she's heard of all the California wild fires, but I doubt it.)
What are they teaching those kids? Whatever happened to the God of Love?