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 2 years ago

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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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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.  (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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