Come with us as we return to South America this summer to volunteer at La Casa De Fe, a home for abandoned and special needs children in Shell, Ecuador.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~Mathew 19:14

Friday, September 23, 2011

The power of a letter…

by sara

While I was spending the day with my sponsored children David and Kevin, I also took the time to get to know the project workers that interact with the boys on a regular basis. When I talked with David’s tutor she told me that, among other things, she helps the children to write letters. Letter writing has always been one of my favorite parts of being a sponsor, and so I asked her about the process and about the children’s reactions to the letter writing process.

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“The kids are always thrilled to receive letters from their sponsors and to know more about them and their families”.

She said that she loves to help the kids write letters and for the most part, the kids are also excited to write letters to their sponsors.

With kids who are old enough to write, but not quite competent with composition, she helps them to organize their thoughts. When she helps my David write a letter to me she said that he dictates his thoughts and she writes them on the whiteboard. Then he sits down and carefully copies those sentences. Apparently he always has more to tell me than will fit on a page.

But she also told me that not all of the kids look forward to the letter writing days.

One girl in the project has had a sponsor over five years, ever since she was registered in the project. However, in all that time she has not received a single letter or photo. All she knows of her sponsor is her name.

For the children letters represent relationship, they see their sponsors as valued family members and want to get to know them better. For this little girl, the lack of letters and relationship with her sponsor has effected her self-esteem. She asks her tutors…

Why don’t my sponsors write to me? Why don’t they care about me? Am I not pretty enough? Do I not write nice enough letters? Why do other kids have sponsors who write to them, but not me?

The tutor has had to reassure her that her sponsor does care and does love her. She comforts her and encourages her to keep praying that her sponsor will write.

I am sure that her sponsor has no idea how much of an impact her words of encouragement would mean to her child. A simple note describing the sponsor’s family, and telling the child that she is loved and prayed for would make a world of difference to this little girl.

If you sponsor a child, will you sit down and write them a letter today?

If you have not written to your child yet, would you take a few minutes, right now, to be the answers to their prayers? Or if you have written, take the time to write a quick note to tell your child how much you care for them and are praying for them.

In addition to financial sponsorship, the few minutes you carve out of your day to write a letter will tell a little one that they matter and are special to someone. 


For those who sponsor through Compassion, a new email system has been created that allows you to chose from a number of colorful stationary templates, and gives you the option to upload photos to send with your letter. You can find the email option on your account at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kevin and David

by sara

After spending the weekend visiting with my friend and his family in Quito, I headed out Monday morning to meet my boys.

I walked and then took public transport to get to the Compassion office. I actually must have gotten on the wrong bus, because I was supposed to take it all the way to the trolley station which is next door to the Compassion office. But the one I took kicked everyone out at a bus station. After asking lots of questions and catching a new bus I finally made it to the correct stop, and then to the office.

When I walked in I looked around to try and find Omar, the visit specialist and my guide for the day. I was instead greeted by a familiar face.

My David had arrived early!

He ran over and and gave me a huge hug. He was with his mom and a tutor from Compassion project at his church. We spent some time catching up and sharing stories. After a little while we were joined by Omar, who went to try and figure out when my other child, Kevin, would arrive.

After reaching Kevin’s project director on the phone, we agreed to meet him and his family at the big park in the middle of the city.

The park is called La Carolina. It is a beautiful park with grassy fields, basketball courts, soccer fields, and different attractions scattered throughout. It stretches for quite a few city blocks.

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We met Kevin and his family in the park and we all headed out to the area where you could rent paddle boats. David, Kevin and I hopped in with Kevin’s little sister and we started off around the little pond.

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The park had a man-made pond that was a huge figure eight.

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Kevin, Rut, Me, and David.

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David’s legs were a little short to man the pedals, and I kept steering us into the walls (it’s harder than it looks!)

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But we had fun anyway

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Yeah, we had run into the wall again… but a great time for a photo!

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Explaining to David how to steer the boat. We mostly went in circles.

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Kevin telling us about a boat that he had made.

As we paddled around we talked a little bit, but mostly we just enjoyed each other’s company. This was my third year to see my boys, and their second time to meet each other.

After making a few laps in the boat we pulled up to the dock and headed into another part of the park

Not before taking a few more photos….

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Me with the boys, David and Kevin

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The adults of the group. Kevin’s project director, David’s mother, Kevin’s mother, and David’s tutor.

We headed straight to the playground and had fun running all over the equipment. This was probably my favorite part of the visit. there is something about running and playing that quickly breaks down shyness and lets you get to know a child in a special way.

Once we were thoroughly exhausted we spent a few minutes talking and then headed to the local mall to have dinner in the food court.

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After a long decision Kevin went for the McDonalds burger

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Rut with her “happy box”

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David wanted Pizza

After eating we got to exchange gifts.

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David with his new hat, school supplies, and the binder I made for him to keep his letters from me.

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This is Kevin with his new binder (I had brought books the first year, but they’re full now).

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David looking good in his Olympic sweatshirt.

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Showing Kevin all the science info in the Magic School Bus books I brought for them. He wants to be an Engineer when he graduates.

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David being silly.

After talking and exchanging gifts it was time to get the boys home. We headed to the bus station for our final goodbyes.

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Saying good bye to David.

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Kevin, me, his mom, and his sister Rut. I am holding the jewelry box that Kevin made for me out of a coconut shell.

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One last photo..

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sarah Brown

This is a video of the little girl my grandmother just sponsored thorough Compassion International. It is not related to our trip to Ecuador, but we needed a place to store the link and I thought you would enjoy seeing it.


GH2320090 from Compassion International on Vimeo.

And here is the little girl that I was able to sponsor. I thought it would not be possible, but with a little help from my creative family, Janet is now a part of my family.

GH2320118 from Compassion International on Vimeo.

And here is a tour of the project they attend. Led by the director of the Compassion program for their church.

Video Tour of Compassion Project in Ghana from Compassion International on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

At the Beach with Yamileth

by sara

After I visited Elian and his family in Santo Domingo, my translator and I rode the bus to Esmeraldas, a large coastal city in northern Ecuador. My sponsored child Iris Yamileth lives in a small neighborhood on the outskirts of town.

After eating breakfast in the hotel the next morning I waited in my room, wishing the clock hands to move faster toward the hour when Yami was supposed to arrive.

While I was lamenting the slowness of time and wondering exactly how I would know when she got there, the phone in my room started ringing. I picked up the receiver and said Hola? A familiar voice on the other end said “Hola Madrina (sponsor).” I rushed right down to the lobby and gave Yami a big hug! It was sooo good to see her again.

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After greeting her mother and being introduced to the director of the project we took a taxi from the hotel to her neighborhood in the south end of Esmeraldas.

Yamileth attends the Compassion program activities at the local church in her neighborhood. In addition to the church building there are rooms that were constructed specifically for the project activities: tutoring, Bible classes, organized play, healthy meals, and medical checkups. The church also serves as the neighborhood park and gathering place. When I visited last year the ground was uneven and not very conducive to running around. This year the play area was smoothed out and soccer goals were set up on each side.

The Church Compound

The pastor also showed us the wall that was being built around the church compound. Apparently the neighbors like to use the church property as a short cut and they drive across the field with little regard for the kids playing. The wall will ensure that the kids are safe.

Next door to the church is the elementary school that Yami and her siblings attend. On the other side of the school and across the dirt road is Yami’s house. She lives with her parents and 3 (soon to be 4) of her siblings in a small cinderblock house. The house is continually under construction and right now has two bedrooms with a small kitchen and bathroom. There are also two rooms in front of the kitchen that do not have a roof. The floors are rough concrete and the whole house can’t be much bigger than 15’ by 30’.

I was happy to see the new room that was being added on, and the fact that the front wall was more substantial. Yami had mentioned in a few letters that she gets nervous when she and her siblings are home alone. Hopefully the stronger wall will help keep her and her family safer.

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The front of the house last year. A blanket covered the doorway.
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The front of the house this year. Still is missing a door and windows, but it is a lot better.
While we were at Yami’s house we took some time to open gifts. I love to bring surprises for my kids.
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Checking swimsuit sizes
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Yami liked the one with hearts.
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It fit just right!
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She decided to wear the headband I had made for her right away.
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The sparkly pants were a hit too.
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She wore them when she showed us the mother’s day dance that she had performed at church.
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Eric in his new hat and shirt.
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All my kids loved the Slinkys that I brought. Best $0.10 that I ever spent.
After visiting and talking we headed out to go to the beach.
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Yami and Eric on the bus
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After a long bus ride we arrived at the beach community of Atacames. We ate lunch at a local restaurant…

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…then headed straight to the beach.

We spent the afternoon playing in the sand, jumping in the waves, and eating ice cream.

All too soon it was time to head home. We made the long trip back to Yami’s community and dropped her family off at her house. She and I walked back to the church to grab my backpack and spent our last few minutes saying goodbye.

During the visit I had many opportunities to learn more about Yami and her family.  I found out that in the last year her older sister had gotten married, had a baby, and moved to the capital city of Quito with her family. I also found out that Yami’s mom is pregnant and any day now the family will have a new little baby. Even though we exchange frequent letters, there are some things that you only really learn when you are face-to-face.

My favorite part of the visit with Yami was just being near her. Holding her hand, seeing her smile, and running with her in the waves. It was also neat to play and bond with Yami’s siblings. None of them are registered with Compassion, so Yami said that she shares me with all of them. She also told me that more than being a sponsor, she called me her mom. It was humbling to know how much she looks up to me.