Letters via Camels and Waterbags?

Welcome to our Family colouring page

© coloringcastle.com

WELCOME TO OUR FAMILY! THAT ALL IMPORTANT FIRST LETTER

‘Dear Estefany’… errr now what? you are thinking, as you are sitting there quietly munching on your pen or your keyboard. Well, hopefully, not the keyboard. After great deliberation and excitement, you have finally chosen your ONE child. If you are anything like me, you want to sponsor all the children. You are anxiously waiting for your photo and packet with all your child details. And while it is coming, you are thinking about that all important FIRST LETTER. What do you say? Or more precisely, what should you say FIRST?

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A BRIEF SNAPSHOT

Over your first few letters, give them a brief snapshot about you. Your kids. Your family. Kids love to hear about kids. Your job. Your church. Your school. Where you live. Your hobbies. Your pets. They love to hear about you. Most important of all, your faith. Tell them about Jesus. Kids also LOVE to know why you chose them. Was it their cheeky or cute smile? Gentle eyes? Beautiful dress (possibly borrowed)? Or because in their official photo they were displaying just a smidge of attitude when standing there with their hands on their hips?

ccmsigtag44-plant grow

I never wait for the packet to arrive before writing my first letter. I get started right away. After all, letters can sometimes take weeks to get to your child. Some letters may even have to go by camel and water bag across deserts or mountains. And you want them to feel absolutely LOVED as soon as possible, right?

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WHAT CAN I SEND?

Maybe I should mention here that you can send your sponsored child pretty much anything – so long as it is PAPER. And flat. Think: straight out of the printer. Up to 8-1/2 x 11 inches (A4 size) and up to 6 sheets of paper. But we can use front and back. So if it’s paper, flat, kid friendly and you can get it into an envelope AND it passes the sponsors’ squeeze test(!) you can (pretty much) go for it. [Note: the official letter writing guidelines have changed since this post was written, so the ‘squeeze test’ referred to is now just a fond and distant memory, so please make sure you get the official letter writing heads up and check current guidelines.] The forum for sponsors is also a really friendly and helpful place to learn more and swap ideas. We tend to get pretty passionate about our kids. Another tip: Remember to write your child’s name and sponsorship number on EVERYTHING so it doesn’t accidentally end up going to Siberia!  :o

panda mailbox

© cutecolors.com

Okay… (back to pen munching)

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A GIFT PACKAGE OF LOVE

For my first letter, I like to make it a We Welcome Your Family – To Our Family theme. I also make it clear in our letter that we are doing this because we love the Lord Jesus and hope that they and their family will come to know and love Him, too.

1.  Welcome Colouring Page:  These welcome colouring pages from coloringcastle are a perfect companion for your first letter. Using separate text boxes, I added our child’s name at the top of the page (font ‘Arial Black’ – black outline, white fill); put our name below the first scroll; added ‘your family… to our family’ below ‘welcome’; and also added, ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ at the bottom of the page; then put a border around it. A girly border for the girls. Something more like this one below for the boys.

Welcome to our Family colouring page

© coloringcastle.com

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2.  Family photo:  Send a family photo – or two. Our kids are just as eager and curious to see what we look like, as we are of them. Everyone LOVES photos. Maybe you might like to put it in a free printable photo frame or scrapbook page (scroll down) or jazz it up a little using one of these free photo editing web sites. Everyone knows that a photo is worth a million words. Wouldn’t it be great to see a photo of each of our sponsored children with their family outside their home… arrr… maybe not. We’d be wanting to rush for the cheque book!

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3.  Family Gift:  And that reminds me… We try to send a family gift at the same time as our first letter, to give a special and more tangible welcome to the family. You never know what dire straits they may have been in before being accepted into the sponsorship program. If you are able to, a special financial gift may just be a lifesaver. And it’s always interesting to see how it is spent. This is done in consultation with their local project, so you know the funds will be put to best use. Maybe to buy a goat, a pig or a cow for the family. Or to fix a leaking roof. This is what happened with Kefa. We thought it was pretty funny the first time it happened. Not the roof. (We were happy that he was no longer being dripped on). The cow. Our eyes opened wide as we read about it in his letter. It was such a novelty that it made us giggle. He also bought a blanket. Others have bought mattresses. Our children often also buy FOOD. Something like a huge bag of rice for their family. Imagine receiving some special money for your family and having to use it to buy food.  :(

One of our other children had also lost her father. Her mother – another widow, like Kefa’s mother – was left to look after several children. She used our family gift money to start up a small business. It was a great hand UP for her family. Not just a hand OUT. That’s one of the great things about sponsorship. It works. It actually helps to eradicate poverty, one family at a time. Did you know that where Compassion originally started in South Korea back in the 1950s, they are now a country of SPONSORS. Those kids have grown up and are now helping other kids, in other developing countries. Anyway… (happily pen munching as we get back to that elusive rabbit path)…

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4.  Postcard:  Send a postcard of where you live. Featured landmarks; places to visit; native animals; native flowers; your country’s flag… etc.

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5.  Put your heart on a Map:  I haven’t done this for my kids, but loved this idea of putting a heart over a map. One of these might look okay shrunk down and printed over it. Or perhaps an open heart-shaped sticker. If all else fails, just draw it. Or you might like to download a world map – and mark both locations – yours and your child’s. Draw a tiny heart shape over both areas and join them together with a red arrow or ladybug style dotted line. Or try something like this: My very special places – mark where you grew up, where you went to college, where you live now, where other members of your family live, where your capital city is… etc. Add your photo and their photo at each end. Work out the approximate distance between you and your child with this calculator that measures from the nearest airports then add it to your map. Compare your time clock to your child’s. You may like to add the time difference to your map, making it more personal (e.g. when I am waking up, you are…). Scroll down for more map ideas.

map-heart

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6.  Bookmark:  Make a bookmark with your child’s name on it and one of your favourite Bible verses. Or choose a ready made FREE Bible bookmark. I like to personalise John 3:16 for our children, e.g. For God so loved Estefany that He gave His only Son, so that if Estefany believes in Him, she will not die but have eternal life. You may wish to consider laminating it to keep it looking nice. Make it a special ‘welcome to our family’ gift your child will treasure. Send extra bookmarks or a sheet of wallet cards to make their family and friends feel welcome, too. There’s nothing like them having something to GIVE out to others, to give your child a buzz and help them feel good about themselves.

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7.  Stickers  Every child loves stickers (even the big ones). If you are able to get some stickers relating to your area or country, even better, e.g. native animals, birds, plants, or national flag. Or even generic stickers of your pet (e.g. dogs, cats, birds). Or make your own Bible verse stickers with address labels and this super easy tutorial.

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8.  Questionnaire  Sometimes it can take a long time and many letters before you find out even basic things about your child, depending on how old they are and how well they write. Sending a fun questionnaire with your first letter is one way you may be able to get around this. You are welcome to download this one I made up for our children (page 1page 2) using super cute graphics from cutecolors.com. Or use the idea to make up your own. (Do you see where I added a photo of our Judith to this one on the newspaper? Feel free to add your child’s photo there instead). Send two copies – one filled in all about you – and one blank one for them to fill in. Remind them to return it, by mentioning it in your letter. Hopefully they won’t forget. Hopefully.  :)

Q1

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MORE CREATIVE IDEAS

Here are some other fun ideas you may like to check out ~ spread them out over your next letters…

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COLOURING ~ FREE PRINTABLE

Ephesians 1:4 – Scripture doodle  (scroll down to Ephesians) ‘Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose YOU to be His very own.’ What a fabulous verse to let us all know – not just our kids – how special we are to God! Wow! This is one of my favourites that I make sure I send all my kids, normally a bit later though with a ‘God knew you before you were born’ theme. Available in several languages; free printable

Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose YOU to be His very own

FREE Scripture doodles  (Paper Gifts for Estefany) lots of Bible verse colouring pages to choose from; Psalms – Old Testament – Gospels – New Testament – Other Languages – Relax as you colour Scripture; free printable

FREE Bible verse colouring page; Proverbs 4:23 - Guard your heart above all else for everything you do flows from it; free printable  FREE Scripture doodle Bible colouring page - love truth; John 14:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; free printable

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ALL ABOUT ME ~ FREE PRINTABLE

imom has lots of cool printables to help you get to know your child – love my family and friends; encouragement lunch box cards, love notesfriendship quotes; my family treeconversation starters like this one3 biggest dreams free printable list to fill in; 3 happiest moments another great free printable list to fill in (and you can be sure that you will feature in one of them); or how about a happy words – colouring; as well as lots of other fun ideas; free printable

Family Prayers  (ministryark) send this printable to your child for them to draw pictures of their family members (including yours, now that you have officially welcomed them into your family) in each photo frame as they pray for them; free printable

Lunch survey in a fun doodle style  (junepfaffdaley) adapt this fun idea to make your own ‘all about me’ questionnaire; free printable

My life so far  (flandersfamily) favourite things, character qualities, challenges, memories and goals; free printable

DIY Friendship memory book  (itsybitsyfun) in a fun doodle style or use them as colouring pages to draw, doodle or write – My friends, the book of most amazing people in my life; about you; about me; my doodles, birthday dates, signatures of friends; free printable

Another fun and free ‘about me’ sheet  (teacherstakeout) fill one in about you and ask your child to fill in one about them; free printable

All about me – colouring pages  (Dover sample) family and friends; dreams; animal adventures; hobbies; favourite books; things that make me happy or sad

All about me – worksheets to colour  (classroomdoodles; scroll down to ‘Printables’) All about me; My family portrait; I’d love to visit; Going to the Park; your child can write or draw their own doodles; free printable

My Family Tree  (Dover sample) sheet to fill out

Photocopy your own children’s favourite soft toys – to colour  (thebroodinghen) for them to colour and send to your sponsored child, or for your sponsored child to colour; another fun idea

All about Me – fun worksheet  (timvandevall) in colour or to colour; All about me – fun poem to fill in and colour  This is a poem all about me, where I come from, who I’d like to be. My first name is…, … is my last, I stand…. feet tall, I’m growing real fast, etc; All about me – 20 questions with room to add your own doodles; free printable

conspiracy-of-love  great letter writing fill-in templates specifically designed by a Compassion sponsor for her younger children – About Me; Where I live; My Faith; and I like to…

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MY COUNTRY ~ YOUR COUNTRY ~ FREE PRINTABLE

Thinking of you World Map – card  (tortagialla) a white world map on pink background; draw a tiny heart on your location and your child’s location and join them with a ladybug style dotted line; also a matching pink and white envelope; free printable

Distance means so little when someone means so much  (longdistancerelationshipmagazine) designed for couples and family relationships, but there are lots of cool ideas here that could be adapted for your sponsored child, like this adorable world map with two sites joined by dotted ‘ladybug style’ lines with tiny hearts at each end; free printable

Another Heart and map idea  (dawanda) using a large white heart over a map

World map – to colour  (coloringcafe) free printable

Vintage airplane flying in front of a world map – to colour  (timvandevall) with a couple of people in it (maybe you and your sponsored child flying around the world together?); free printable

More ideas for a travel related theme  (Paper Gifts for Estefany) more highlights between your country and your child’s country from when I sent Estefany to Paris!  :)

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CRAFTS FOR KIDS ~ FREE PRINTABLE

Jesus loves me – thaumatrope  (Paper Gifts for Estefany) a spinning paper toy, or make one of your own with some of these fun ideas; free printable

Thaumatrope with words, Jesus loves me; free printable optical illusion toy for kids

I love you this much – craft  Trace around your hands (or your child’s / grandchild’s / student’s). Arrange them on a sheet of paper so your child can cut them out and join them (e.g. with a strip of paper or string) – so when the hands are pulled apart, it says I love you this much. Very cute and so easy to make. Imagine their smiles as they cut out your hands. Decorate if you wish with doodles or stickers or watercolour or… wherever your creativity leads you. Encourage them to make the joining strip long enough to wrap around them in a hug! A big paper hug from you to them…  :)

Valentine hug  (projectnursery) trace around your hands and attach them to a heart shape; this idea could easily be adapted and drawn on a sheet of A4 paper for your sponsored child; free printable

Paper kids holding hands – to make  (artistshelpingchildren) a little circle of people to make; personalise it by drawing your family and adding your new sponsored child; free printable

Valentine – Thaumatrope  (wildolive) a fun paper toy with a round tag with a heart on one side and words on the other, saying I love you; a very simple but very cute idea; free printable

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PAPER GIFTS FOR KIDS ~ FREE PRINTABLE

FREE Bible Posters
FREE Bible Verse Cards
FREE Bible Bookmarks
FREE Bible Wallet Cards
all for kids; and all free printable – tons to choose from!

ccmsigtag7-bear hugs

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THINGS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR LETTERS

Tons of ways to share your love   Let’s shower our precious children with our love and make sure we tell them about God’s great love for them, too. Lots of great ideas here; free printable

Here’s how much I love you – pocket book  (longdistancerelationshipmagazine) a 6 page booklet to fill out and send; or adapt the idea to make your own on a sheet of paper; with room to doodle or jot a note, and ideas like a find your way to me maze with hearts at each end, if we were together we would be…, no matter how far I love you always, I love you today because…; free printable

You are a special gift  (hisheartofcompassion) Great thoughts from Deb, another Compassion sponsor, ‘Sometimes new sponsors wonder how to start writing their new child… when I first sponsor or receive a new child, there is always such an explosion of incredible JOY, and I feel like I’ve just received a very special gift…’

100 ways to encourage a child  (fatherhood) free printable

20 Life-giving phrases for kids  (Happy Home Fairy) free printable

I know something good about you  encourage your child and make them feel really special with this great DIY bookmark  idea from an innovative classroom teacher.

Open when… letter ideas  (longdistancerelationshipmagazine) I love this idea that may be possible to adapt for our sponsored children (if they can hang off not reading it) but it will have to be an unsealed letter to be able to go through the sponsorship letter system. Topics may include: read this when you need a hug; read this when you need to know how much I love you; read this when you need encouragement; read this when you’ve had a bad day; mystery letter; here are some creative ideas of what others have done for their own loved ones (and that’s a great idea for ll of us) and what to put inside.

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STATIONERY FOR KIDS ~ FREE PRINTABLE

FREE printable stationery  lots of wonderful ideas to choose from for kids; all free printable

  God made me - FREE Bible poster, bookmark, wallet cards, note cards, stationery for kids; free printable  David & Saul stationery A4  FREE stationery on pink background with delicious pink and white cupcake with sprinkles, a tiny gold star and pink hearts; Bible verse from Psalm 119:103; free printable

Heart – DIY handprints card  (idearoom) stamp 2 finger painted handprints in the shape of a heart; write a personal message or a favourite Bible verse around the edge to form the frame; turn it into an adorable greeting card; very cute and simple; a great one to get your children / grandchildren / students involved

Thinking of you World Map – card  (tortagialla)  a white world map on pink background; draw a tiny heart on your location and your child’s location and join them with a ladybug style dotted line; also a matching pink and white envelope; free printable

Sweet little notes of love  (amyjdelightful) in soft pink and green tones, polka dots, hearts and flowers that our little girls will love; print one of these, cut it out and adhere to the front of a nice quality piece of folded card to make your own personal greeting card or DIY sheet of wallet cards for your child – a sweet little butterfly with hearts saying ‘I love you lots and lots’; or a cute little turtle saying ‘I love you it’s true’; a sweet pink Bambi saying ‘You’re such a dear’; free printable

Heart – card  (worldlabel) in trendy red and white; free printable

Glad to get to know you – card  (Canon) a ladybug and a snail meet on nearby leaves; free printable

elli.com  lots of cute and elegant free printables – stationery and envelope liners, petal shaped cards, note cards. Make sure you check out the personalised travel stationery with vintage map. It might be just what you are looking for in your ‘about-me-and-where-I-am-from’ theme. Simply type in your name and print.

Customize your letters with Stamp Yo Face  (stampyoface) a cool idea that turns any of your photos into a rubber stamp; a novel way to sign off your letters; for purchase

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PRAY FOR YOUR CHILD ~ THEY ARE PART OF YOUR FAMILY NOW!

Fun ideas to remind you to pray for your sponsored child  (scroll down to the end of the post) put it on the fridge or on the wall, tuck it into your Bible… anywhere where it will remind you to pray for your new family. You may also like to add a time clock – with your child’s photo on it – to your phone or desktop to remind you to pray for your child each day.

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NOTE:  Your letter is the important thing. Paper gifts are optional extras. Shower your child with your love, hope, faith and encouragement and then watch them blossom before your eyes. And before you sign off your letter, don’t forget the most important thing…

Tell them about Jesus!

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The adorable graphics on this page and the questionnaire are courtesy: cutecolors.com 

9 thoughts on “Letters via Camels and Waterbags?

  1. Great post, I am eagerly awaiting our packet from Compassion as we sponsor our first child and this post was full of great information. Thanks!

    Like

  2. Wow – Andrea – you are SO creative!! This website is amazing and inspiring, and you are truly using God given gifts to bless others (actual Compassion children etc and the families/leaders using the resources you have provided). God bless you for using His inspiration for the building of His kingdom!

    Like

  3. Pingback: GUEST POST: Sample Letter – Trouble, Darkness, Trust | Paper Gifts for Estefany

  4. Pingback: GUEST POST: Sample Letter – God is always with you | Paper Gifts for Estefany

  5. Pingback: GUEST POST: Sample Letter – Keep the Faith | Paper Gifts for Estefany

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