Tips for new sponsors, especially sponsors of older children

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I started sponsoring a 12 year old girl yesterday and I sent my first letter to her online today. God had put sponsoring a child on my heart for many years, so I am absolutely overjoyed to be able to do so as of yesterday. I am looking for ideas and advice for things like letter writing tips for writing to older children, how often should I send a letter to her, and anything else I should know about sponsoring my first child. Also, is it possible to know if my child has had a sponsor before? Her name is Belinda and her I.D. is GH03150038. Thank you!
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Libby Hill

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Posted 1 year ago

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Adam

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Hi Libby! Welcome to Compassion! The centers hand out letters once a month so I try to write to my kids once a month and then also respond to the kids letters as I receive them. I'm behind right now, but I'm going to try to get caught up this weekend. As far as tips, I would say just be yourself and don't worry too much about saying just the right thing. I think that's what keeps me from writing sometimes. Just try to be encouraging and show an interest in what your sponsored girl is interested in. My kids ask a lot of questions, and I'm sure that your girl will want to know all about you so don't be shy about talking about yourself. Most of my kids are younger than that but I've been impressed by how mature they seem in their letters. I would just write to her like you're talking to a friend and let her know that you're there for her. I think that's what our kids really need from us most of all, is just someone to believe in them and encourage them.
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Libby Hill

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Thank you for the advice! So how do I find out if my child has had a previous sponsor? I'm guessing that she might because she is older.
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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Libby, 
Congratulations on your new sponsorship of Belinda! We are so blessed to welcome you to our Compassion family! I would be happy to look up her background, however, I am actually not able to locate Belinda in our system using that child number. Would you mind double checking that number for me? 
Also, I think Adam said it perfectly, as these kiddos truly just want to know they are loved, important and cared for! Please know that you do not need to feel obligated to write every month, but you are more than welcome to! Typically we see that sponsors write once per month or maybe every other month. 
For some ideas and such I would highly encourage you to check us out on Pinterest! We have lots of wonderful content and ideas on there! You may also get some great feedback on here from some other great supporters. :)
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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Libby! I was able to locate your child under the number, GH031500038! :) She had one sponsor prior to you from 2009-2012. It looks like she had left the program because she moved out of the area back in 2012, but she was just reinstated in Compassion's program in May! :)
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Chantel

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I want to second what Adam said about to worrying about saying the right thing. When I first started Sponsoring, I had no idea what I would write about. But I have quickly learned that pretty much everything is interesting to someone (especially a child) from another country. Things that are routine and boring to you are possibly things your child has never experienced. Also, you would be amazed at what your child may appreciate. For Valentine's Day I sent my kids the lyrics to the song "Pass it On" because it is a song about spreading God's love and one of my kids said she really enjoyed that letter because the words are so beautiful. 

I also write at least once a month and respond to any personal letters that I receive. I write series letters (one that I did was one letter a month with each letter focusing on one Fruit of the Spirit). I Sponsor and correspond with several children and they all seemed to enjoy those letters. It helps me to do this because this way I know for sure that I will have something to write about each month. If something else comes to mind during the month that I want to share with my kids (be it something personal or just a word of encouragement) I surely do not hesitate to write more than once a month. 
 
You can request to be added to the Facebook group for Compassion Correspondents/Sponsors if Social Media is your thing. It's a wonderful community. 
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Malissa Hudson

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Chant Eli do the same! I try to make a ‘theme’ for my letters. In one I told him how I serve my church home and the different things I do there and talked about the importance of planting yourself in Gods house and serving as Jesus did. I then asked him how he serves his church and community. I try to make sure to let him know every time that I pray for him and his family as well as remind him how special I think he is. As they get older the peer pressure gets harder on them to join in with wrong friends so those preteen or teen years, it’s so important to remind them how following a good path with lead to rewards later in life. I write to mine 3-4 times a month.... but I’m a writer, and I go over board I guess lol but I also signed up and just recieved a corespondent child so that I’m overwhelming my kiddo with too many letters to respond to
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Libby Hill

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Thank you so much to everyone who responded!
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Libby Hill

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Ok, 2 final questions: what will be in my welcome packet and when should I be expecting it in the mail?
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Adam

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The welcome packet will have a booklet with information about your sponsored child and their center and community as well as information about Compassion and your sponsorship, about sending gifts and ways to write and things like that. There's also a photo and prayer bookmark inside. It seems like I've always gotten those in just a couple weeks or less.
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Libby Hill

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Ok thank you!
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Teresa Dawn

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Welcome Libby!  I sponsor or correspond with close to 60 Compassion kids right now (mostly correspond, I can't afford to sponsor anywhere close to that amount financially) and many are in that age range.  I asked them what they liked best to hear about in letters and they all said "How my sponsor is doing and what they are doing in their life." (Not word for word identical of course but similar.  Some added things like "Bible verses" or "Photos" but they all included the first part too, so basically I just write about what I'm doing. 
I find it handy to keep little notes actually!  Because sometimes it's the smallest things that I'd forget about normally they like to hear, so when I think of it I write a note to remind myself. 
I write 2-3 times a month to each kid (which is a LOT I know but since I've started writing I find I have so much to tell them haha!) I write anything from what I'm currently working on at work to prayer requests, updates on my daughter to simple things like "I went for a walk with a coworker and we saw plenty of pretty flowers and birds.  What kind of flowers grow in your country? What are your favourites? Mine are..." It can all be turned into a great letter
Another thing I love to do is ask them random questions and then discuss my personal answers to those questions in the letter.  Or send a photo and talk about it.  For the kids' birthdays I send a letter about my life at the age they are turning.  (What grade I was in, who my friends were, what hobbies I had then and any big events that happened that year like trips or moving or a new school or whatever).  

Some of the random things I ask are stuff like "What would you do if you were invisible for a day?" or "What would you do if you were royalty and what would you do if you met a prince or princess?"  (I had one 13 year old boy answer "If I became King for a day, I’d make a castle, and if I met a princess I’d say that she made the more beautiful castle."
I got some REALLY insightful answers asking my kids these ones: 
"If you could have any 3 wishes come true, what would they be?"
"Tell me a funny or interesting story about anything that has happened to you."

I also asked my kids about New Years Resolutions.  Some don't make them but I had to laugh when one boy told me: "My New Years Resolution for next year is to study hard and do well in school.  My one for THIS year is to have fun."



If you are interested I have posted a lot of the questions I have asked on my blog along with some of their answers.  I also have posted question lists like 73 random questions to ask sponsor kids or 55 questions about school, 70 questions to ask about culture community and country and 35 questions to ask about friends and family. http://connectedinwriting.blogspot.ca/  (That's the blog I haven't updated it in ages but the stuff is still there)

Hope that helps with some ideas!
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Libby Hill

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Yes it does help a lot! Thank you so much!
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Teresa Dawn

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you're welcome :)

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