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 sponsored 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’s 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

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? Over your first few letters, give them a brief snapshot about you. Your family. Your kids. 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

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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 as at the time of writing this, we can use front and back. So if it’s paper, flat, child-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 a 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 to a new sponsored child, 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. And this is what goes in it:

  • Welcome to our Family – colouring page:  These welcome colouring pages (from coloringcastle) are a perfect companion for your first letter. Using separate text boxes, I add our new child’s name at the top of the page (‘Arial Black’ font – black outline, white fill); our name below the first scroll (where it says ‘add your name here’); add in ‘your family… to our family’; and ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ at the bottom of the page; then put a coloured 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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  • 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 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 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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  • Family Gift:  And that reminds me… We try to send a family gift with our first letter, to give a special and more tangible welcome to our 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 also 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. They often then turn around and become SPONSORS. Those kids grow up and then often help other kids, in other developing countries, or give back to their own communities. Anyway… (happily pen munching as we get back to that elusive path)…

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

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  • 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 red heart outlines might look okay shrunk down and put over your map, 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 heart shape over both areas and join them together with a red arrow or ladybug-style dotted line. Add your photo and your child’s 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… e.g. going to school). Or try something like: My very special places – mark where you grew up, where you live now, where other members of your family live, where your capital city is, where you went to college… anything you want.

map-heart

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  • 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 use John 3:16 for our children and personalise it, 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 FREE Bible 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.

FREE Bible Bookmarks; free printable

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

DIY stickers

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  • All About Me ~ 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 1 | page 2) using super cute graphics from cutecolors.com; or scroll down this post for more ‘all about me’ alternatives, or use the idea to make up your own questionnaire. Do you see where I added a photo of our Judith to the newspaper on this one? 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 and return to you. 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 more fun ideas you may like to check out. If you’ve run out of room, spread them out over your next few letters…

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ccmsigtag7-bear hugs

ALL ABOUT ME ~ FREE PRINTABLE

All About Me – 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

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

3 Happiest Moments – worksheet  (imom) a free printable colourful list to fill in (and you can be sure that you will feature in one of them); 3 Biggest Dreams – worksheet a free printable colourful list to fill in; Love Notes for kids show your child you love them with these colourful notes; Happy Words – colouring page write your five happiest words inside the balloons and draw a picture to go with each; Prayer List – worksheet for kids; 10 ways to teach your child to pray; Family Birthday List jot your child’s birthday in, then add your own birthday; My Family Tree- worksheet one for you, one for your child to fill out; Top 10 Reasons why I love the people in my family; 10 Compliments for your son; 10 Compliments for your daughter; Encouraging Words for kids; Encouragement – lunch box cards; So proud of you – worksheet; Secret Pal NotesFriendship Quotes; Conversation Startersmore cool relationship builders to help you get to know your child; free printable

All About Me – worksheet  (junepfaffdaley) adapt this fun doodle lunch survey to make your own ‘all about me’ questionnaire in a fun doodle style; free printable

All About Me – worksheets  (superstarworksheets) individual worksheets, journal pages and keepsake activity sheets about their family, friends, pets, favorite activities, birthday, best day ever, favourite things, physical appearance, handprints, and more; free printable

My Life so far – worksheet  (flandersfamily) list your favourite things, character qualities, challenges, memories and goals; 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’) where your child can write or draw their own doodles – All about me; My family portrait; I’d love to visit; Going to the park; My favorite vacation; free printable

All About Me – worksheet  (fellowes) in colour, and with easy fill-in answers for younger children; Getting to Know You – worksheet to colour with hot air balloon and writing lines to write about your goals for the year, then cut and paste them onto the balloon with a photo or drawing of your child’s face; free printable

Time Capsule – worksheet  (familyeducation) Try this fun activity with kids to capture memories. Print out this questionnaire with 20 items for your child to fill in. Then find an empty jar or shoebox to use as your time capsule, decorate it, and fill it with the rolled-up questionnaire, along with other things like your child’s self-portrait, photos, drawings, news clippings… anything you like; Draw your picture in the frame; Finish the Picture: Draw Your Family and Friends; Finish the Picture: Theater It’s opening night at the theater, and you’re appearing on the great stage. Show us how you’ll delight the audience; free printable

All about me – poem to fill in and colour  (timvandevall)  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

About Me – worksheets  (conspiracy-of-love)  has some great letter writing fill-in templates specifically designed by a sponsor for her younger children – About Me; Where I live; My Faith; I like to; free printable

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

All About Me – worksheet  (timvandevall; scroll down) in colour or to colour; members only

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MY COUNTRY ~ YOUR COUNTRY ~ FREE PRINTABLE

Father Loves… (your child’s country) – world map | world index  (fatherlovestheworld) a declaration of our Father’s love for your child’s country, with a map with a heart over where your child lives, and a few facts and figures; click on the world index to find your child’s country

God Loves Every Tribe, Tongue and Nation – poster  (answersingenesis) trace the line on the map to travel across the continents. Take a detour to mark your location and your child’s. Remember that God loves every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 7:9); 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 cute ladybug style dotted line; also a matching pink and white envelope; free printable

Printable World Maps  (printablemaps) free printable

World Map – colouring  (coloringcafe) fit the whole world map on one page; 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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BIBLE ADVENTURES ~ FREE PRINTABLE

A ton of Bible verses for kids  35 pages of Bible verse to share God’s Word with your child; free printable

A Ton of Bible Verses; free printable list

FREE Father’s Love Letter  a selection of beautiful Bible verses written as a personal and intimate love letter from God to you; available in 123 different languages; free printable

FathersLoveLetterSpanish

Heaven (and how to get there)  share the love of Jesus with your child!

FREE ABCs of Salvation poster; tropical beach; free printable FREE ABCs of Salvation Poster; Flower Jar; free printable

Share your favourite Bible hero / adventure with your child:  NoahAbraham | Isaac | Jacob | JosephMoses | Joshua | Ruth | David (& Goliath)King David (Warrior) | Elijah | Esther | Daniel | Jonah | Beatitudes | Golden RuleI AM statements of JesusParable of the Sower | Parable of the Prodigal Son | Parable of the Ten VirginsFruit of the Spirit | Armour of God | Bible Treasure ThemeThe Secret of the Missing Scrolls

Queen Esther Bible verse free printables for kids

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  • Colouring Pages

Ephesians 1:4 – FREE 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, often as part of 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 – Psalms | Old Testament | Gospels | New Testament | Other Languages | Part 6 – Relax as you colour Scripture; lots of beautiful Bible verse colouring pages to choose from to help give your child a love for God’s Word; 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 FREE Scripture Doodle; Colossians 3:12; free printable

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  • Puzzles

FREE Bible puzzles

 Scripture doodle 1 Thessalonians 5:10 1 Thessalonians 5.10 Christ takes our sins and gives us His goodness

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  • Crafts

FREE ‘My Bible’ Mobile Phone – paper toy  (Paper Gifts for Estefany) a mobile phone paper toy craft where children can write out their sms/texts/prayers to God (I talk to God) and some of their favourite Bible verses (God talks to me). There are transparent templates where you add your child’s photo, several ready made designs with more creative ideas of what you can do with them, and extra insert pages… enjoy!

Mobile Phone paper toy craft with Beach photo on blue and green background; I talk to God; God talks to me; write out your favourite Bible verses and prayers to God; free printable Mobile Phone paper toy craft with photo of young girl on red background; I talk to God; God talks to me; write out your favourite Bible verses and prayers to God; free printableMobile Phone paper toy craft with hot air balloon photo on mauve and yellow background; I talk to God; God talks to me; write out your favourite Bible verses and prayers to God; free printable Mobile Phone paper toy craft with lion on black background; I talk to God; God talks to me; write out your favourite Bible verses and prayers to God; free printable

FREE Thaumatropes – paper toy  (Paper Gifts for Estefany) spinning paper toys to make, and there’s blank templates and lots of creative ideas if you would like to make your own; free printable

FREE Dinosaur Mini Thaumatrope for kidsFREE Universe Mini Thaumatrope optical illusion paper toy for kids; free printableFREE Momma Duck and Cute Little Ducklings Mini Thaumatrope optical illusion spinning paper toy for kids; free printableThaumatrope 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) on a piece of paper, for your child to cut 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 – craft  (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 – craft  (artistshelpingchildren) a little circle of people holding hands to make; personalise it by drawing your family and adding your new sponsored child, showing that you are welcoming them into your family; free printable

Valentine Thaumatrope – paper toy  (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

Love / Just Because – crafts  more cool craft ideas for kids

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  • Paper Gifts

FREE Bible Posters | FREE Bible Verse Cards  and all free printable – tons to choose from!

FREE Bible poster; I am the Good Shepherd; free printable FREE Bible Poster; Tropical Beach scene with ice cold drinks; Bible verse from John 4:13-14; free printable

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

FREE Bible Bookmarks; free printable

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

FREE Dare to be a Daniel secret ID cards (Bible wallet cards) for kids (for Daniel in the Lions' Den and Daniel's 3 Friends in the Fiery Furnace) with Bible verse from Daniel 1:8; free printable

 

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THINGS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR LETTERS

Prince of the King | Princess of the King  Let’s encourage our young princes and princesses that if they have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, they are now a very special son or daughter of the King of Kings.

PGFE Prince of the King FREE Article for kids; free printable PGFE Princess of the King / God's Princess FREE Article for kids; free printable

You are a special gift  (hisheartofcompassion) 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…

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

100 ways to encourage a child  (fatherhood) print off this free poster or include snippets from it in your letters; free printable

20 Life-giving phrases for kids  (happyhomefairy) Share these 20 life giving encouraging phrases with your child from the Happy Home Fairy. Let’s speak LIFE over our kids and point them to Jesus!

Look how happy I was to receive your letter  Have someone take a picture of you holding your sponsored child’s letter, put it in one of these frames and send it back to them!

Here’s how much I love you  (link removed, but a great idea so I’ll leave it here) make a booklet or on a sheet of paper, draw a doodle for your child; draw a maze with hearts at each end; or write tiny notes of love and encouragement for them all around your page, or jot a note telling them something like, ‘no matter how far apart you are, I love you always’ or ‘if we could meet today we would be… (e.g. taking a walk in the park, drawing a picture together, playing soccer with your family)’… anywhere your creativity leads you; free printable

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

Open when… letter ideas  (link removed) I love this idea and it 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 a smile; read this when you need encouragement; read this when you’ve had a bad day; a secret mystery letter for you…

DIY Newspaper Snippet  (fodey) make your own newspaper clipping snippet to announce the arrival of your sponsored child into your family; free printable

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STATIONERY FOR KIDS ~ FREE PRINTABLE

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

FREE Fruit of the Spirit stationery with Bible verse; Galatians 5:22-23; strawberries with bright pink border on lime green background; free printable 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 FREE stationery with tiger photos and Bible verse from Joshua 1:9 on white background with striped orange/black border; free printable

FREE Notepaper / To Do Lists  lots of wonderful ideas to choose from; all free printable

FREE pink to do list with Bible verse from Ephesians 3:19; perfect to make you feel warm and cosy on a snowy day, this delicious cup of hot chocolate or coffee is wrapped in a soft aqua woollen jumper and set among the sparkling snow, filled with whipped cream and embellished with a pink heart; free printable Bible Treasure Theme for kids; colourful to do list; 6 per page; free printable

Love / Just Because – FREE stationery  (scroll down) various to choose from; 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 – 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 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 deer saying ‘You’re such a dear’; free printable

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

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

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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 these reminders on the fridge or on the wall, or tuck it into your Bible… anywhere where it will remind you to pray for your new child and their 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. Pingback: GUEST POST: Sample Letter – Keep the Faith | Paper Gifts for Estefany

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

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

  4. 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

  5. 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

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