I need more communication between Joelma and myself and it needs to be letters that respond to previously written letters.

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I write letters to Joelma and it takes a very long time to get letters back. The letters I get back have nothing in reponse to anything I have written in any previous letters. I am beginning to wonder if she is even receiving the letters. If she is then there is a problem in how she is being educated because she should be able to respond to the letters I've written easily for an 8 year old in any level of education.
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Josh Schlieger

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Posted 4 years ago

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Josh, I'm very sorry to hear that you're upset and don't feel like the letter writing relationship that you have with Joelma is progressing the way that you would like for it to. It's great that you are eager to get to know her through the letters that you exchange with her and I'm sorry that you feel like your communication with her is lacking and that the responses that you receive from her don't seem to address your previous letters.

Letters take about 2-3 months to travel each way and so you could expect a reply to a letter that you send to her about six months from the time you send it. Children in the program are required to write twice a year but if you write to your child more frequently then I believe that they will write up to six times per year and so the more often that you write to Joelma, the more often that you should be hearing back from her and the more communication you'll have with her.

Please rest assured that Joelma is receiving each and every letter that you send to her. Most of the time when children in the program receive a letter they immediately take that letter home and put it in a special place to save them. From what I've heard, a lot of the children save every single letter that their sponsor ever sends them. Joelma might receive a letter from you but then not sit down at the center to write a letter back to you until several weeks later and most likely she would not have the last letter that you sent to her in front of her at that time. Since she is so young, she probably has a tutor helping her with writing her letters to you and they might suggest topics of things to talk about or questions to ask in her letters to you. If you have a specific question that you would like answered in a letter, I would encourage you to highlight it or to list the questions in bullet points so that they stand out more. Many children living in poverty in developing nations are much more comfortable with verbal communication and some may struggle with the concept of communication through writing.

I know the letter writing process takes patience but I would just encourage you to think of it as a long-term relationship with Joelma and to view this as your personal ministry to her to encourage her and support her and remind her of our Heavenly Father's love for her. Please know that you are making a huge difference in her life through your letters and that she values and treasures every letter that she receives from you even if she is not yet able to fully communicate that to you at this time.
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Josh, you're such a wonderful letter writer and I can tell you are eager to get to know Joelma in a more personal way. I'm so sorry that you haven't experienced this thus far and have found yourself becoming disappointed in our program. I understand that it would be difficult to get excited about and work hard at building a relationship that you feel is one sided or are even hesitant is legitimate. Adam was so kind as to give you some explanation and great feedback about letters and our program so I will only mention a couple of other things.

I want to give you assurance that she's been getting your letters. I see that you have sent 14 letters since you began your relationship with her in 2013. What a blessing you are! My prayer is that with Adam's encouraging words and tips for you, that you'll begin to receive more personal letters from your girl in the future as our staff help her to respond to your questions.

It's often difficult at first for children in the countries in which we work, to open up to their sponsors as letter writing is a very foreign concept to them. Their relationships are all very face to face and in person as most of the people they know, they've known their whole lives and live in very close proximity to. On letter writing day, some children are eager and exccited to write a new letter to their sponsor, especially if they're older and have had several years to grasp and build a relationship with their sponsor. Other kids, might be more shy or even un-motivated to write that day. Especially if a child hasn't received letters in the past from their previous sponsors, or if it's a younger child like Joelma, it can be hard to get them to sit still and write a letter because they see their friends playing outside and are excited to join them as you can imagine :). But evven with playful jitters, we value your relationship with her and want your sponsorship experience to be a postitive one. We want you to know how she's doing and be able to tangibly experience her growth through your letters back and forth. This is why we strive to work hard with our children to help them understand the concept of writing to someone across the world that loves them and try to help them improve their skills with each new letter. If a child is unsure what to write, or is young, we have templated letters as well as letter prompts that tutors put up in the project with ideas on what to write or questions to ask.

Like Adam said, even if she hasn't been able to express it to you, these kiddos love to hear from their sponsor. We hear children so often say that the letters are what made the greatest impact on their life while they were in the program. We recently did a several day video blog series with alumni from our program that talks about the impact letters make. We even hear of children sharing letters that they receive, with their friends at the project who don't receive letters so that they also feel special. Your words are powerful, impactful, and they matter. Your words tell her she's loved and that someone believes in her and hopes for her future. So thank you for taking the time to write so often even if you aren't receiving the responses you hoped for quite yet.

If you try the tips Adam recommended and you still don't see any progress with her letters to you and she's still not answering your questions, please let us know and we can have the tutors at her project work more closely with her in improving her letters to you and providing more details about the current events happening in her life. I would also encourage you to read some of our blogs that have been written specifically about letter writing. You might find them inspring and helpful!

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