Three CFCA sponsored children from El Salvador talk about letter-writing and what they want to hear from sponsors. Here are five topics they want to know more about: jobs, recreational activities, parents, grandchildren and gardening.
How long have you been sponsored? Four years.
How often do you write your sponsor? At least five times a year.
What do you like about writing letters? I enjoy making drawings for them.
Does your sponsor write you? If so, how often? Around five times a year.
What have you learned about your sponsor through letters? She is a joyful person, very friendly. She has told me that she is a doctor and cures animals. Sometimes she cures her grandchildren too. Read more
We’re in the middle of a series, “Five ways to ‘visit’ your sponsored friend” that don’t involve an actual mission awareness trip!
Cinthya, a CFCA sponsored child in Nicaragua, writes a letter to her sponsor.
So far we have three ways:
The fourth is to:
4) Write letters.
Time and time again, we hear from sponsored friends about the value and impact that your letters have in their lives.
They also love to see your pictures!
We recently featured an interview with Edras, a sponsored child in Honduras.
He said about his sponsors, “I would ask them to continue writing me because it makes me very happy, more than any gift that they would send me.”
Writers’ block? Here are some tips and tricks to help you get started:
- From the mail bag: Writing your sponsored friend
- How to make CFCA letters easier to translate
- Download some of our handy letter templates: Template 1 | Template 2 | Template 3
By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer
There’s something magical about receiving a letter from your sponsored friends. You can see and touch the words they’ve written, providing a window into their lives as well as your own.
Sandhya, left, helps her sister write a letter to her CFCA sponsor.
We’ve collected some special quotes from those who sponsor and those who are sponsored:
- “The reason I am writing is to thank you with all my heart for the help you sent my brother and our family for so long. It was a blessing because all that he received, thanks to your financial support, was for the benefit of our home and especially for him because your support enabled him to study medicine in the university.” (From “Brother writes letter after sponsored youth dies“)
- “From the first time the girls ripped open an envelope from Regina, their world expanded from our small town to another place where people don’t live as we do. It was a lesson in geography, economics, philosophy, even English. Most importantly, it was a humbling lesson of humanitarianism.” (From “Regina’s gift to her sponsoring family“)
- “The two of us have felt very proud to be able to watch you, in some sense, to grow up from a very little girl to the strong and able adult that you are now. We have been very lucky to have been able to help you in some small ways, and we would wish to have been able to do even more for someone whom we have come to love and regard as a very special granddaughter.” (From “We will meet again“)
- “At last I’m enjoying rains in a nice house that doesn’t leak. Thanks a lot for making my life happy. Ö You are part of my life, I cherish your care.” (From “Letters + watercolors = land for a family“)
- Finally, I couldn’t resist adding a quote from my sponsored friend, who’s too young to be writing letters yet. His mother writes for him. She told me that in Kenya, the weather was very hot. “Victor received your letter … and he was envious to hear that the weather where you are is very cold and snowing.” (Personally, I wouldn’t mind borrowing a little weather from Kenya to Kansas!)
Now it’s your turn! Can you share with us in the comments something that your sponsored friend recently wrote to you?
Last week CFCA sponsor Cheri Duchrow shared with us some of her thoughts about writing to her five sponsored friends. She answers the rest of our questions in this blog post.
You have already met some of your friends. How does meeting them face to face enhance your correspondence?
I have met two of the children I sponsor so far and will meet Florence in August.
Meeting them can take your relationship to the next level. It is like when you watch the news and see a story that takes place where you have actually been.
Francini, a child sponsored through CFCA in Costa Rica, reads a letter from her sponsor.
When you visit your child, not only do they have the affirmation that there is a real person behind the letters, but so do all of the other children. To touch and talk with a real live sponsor gives them all a gift.
One girl I sponsored had to travel on a bus for almost 24 hours one way with her mother just to meet me. Her teacher postponed a test for her whole class for three days at school so she could meet me.
Writing a letter is not even close to riding a bus one way for 24 hours. I met one of the mothers who had worked for 10 years, never taking a day of vacation until I came to meet her son.
It humbles you to see the faith and joy they have rising up out of their situations. No longer can you turn a blind eye to what really matters.
What have been the highlights of your correspondence?
Florence is one of my best letter writers. She shares the name of my mother, and that is a God story all in itself how I came to sponsor her.
But I feel she has the same spirit as my mother. At only 9 years old she wants to become a doctor so she can help others like all of the people who have helped her. She has shared scripture with me.
Two children I sponsor are being raised in a single-parent (mother only) home. I have shared with them that I raised my daughter by myself and understand what a single-parent home is like.
I have asked them to pray for me for specific situations in my life. The more often I write I am more likely to get a small gold nugget of new information and not just what they have done at Christmas or Easter!
How do you think your sponsorship experience would be if you did not write?
CFCA sponsor Cheri Duchrow graciously shared with us some of her thoughts about writing to her five sponsored friends. She has a fascinating story, or letter-writing journey, to recount.
How difficult was it to write the first letter?
It used to be that after the first few letters it was difficult to find new things to say. I thought I always had to have something fun and new or wait and send a photo.
But just letting them know you are thinking about them, they are beautiful creations that God loves and you are praying for them is enough.
Like so many things in my life I needed to change my view and attitude and let go of the fear. I find now that I will share ordinary things.
For instance, many places may not have grass like we do so I take a picture of my feet in the grass and then a picture of the lawn mower telling them it is not my favorite job to mow grass, but I like it better than shoveling snow. In the winter they get pictures of snow.
Then I might ask them what are some jobs that they don’t like to do and we will pray for acceptance. I know how much I long to receive one of their letters.
How often do you correspond?
I try to write the children I sponsor every month but on average I would say it is about every 6-8 weeks. To help keep track of what I have written and the questions we have shared over the years I have a little system that works.
I also find that putting my questions for them at the end of the letter helps me to get an answer more often as it is not buried in the letter.
When it comes to letter writing, CFCA translators worldwide make an important contribution.
Translating a letter requires more than knowledge of the language. It requires an ability to convey the author’s true sentiment.
Ana Carla Agreda and Paulo Alfonso Pleitez Barrera have translated thousands of letters in El Salvador. They offer tips to make letters easier to translate and for sponsored friends to understand.
What are some challenges in translating letters from English?
Ana Carla: There are some phrases and words in some states that only the sponsors understand what they mean. I am lucky to have translators who can help me.
Paulo: Most letters arenít that difficult, but in some cases there are sponsors who use technical language or language specific to their profession such as nuclear chemistry, law and other professions.
|Tips from Ana Carla and Paulo|
These words donít always translate easily to another language. Or sponsors use words that in the U.S. have another meaning.
For example, in English, the word ìvacationî is when you leave to travel, spend 15 days away. Here, it is when the children have free days and donít go to school.
Also, levels of school are difficult. The sponsors say it differently, like ìmy child is in 11th grade.î So I try to relate it to our terms so we can translate it and make it familiar.
Can you share one of the most memorable letters you have translated?
Ana Carla: There are letters so beautiful that they make you think and wish you could be part of that friendship.
Paulo: Each letter I translate is a new experience. You start to feel part of the story. The sponsors always try to transmit new knowledge and this helps the sponsored friend imagine and open their minds.
I remember one sponsor who sponsors several children in different countries of the world. There was one letter I enjoyed translating it a lot.
He described that he had gone to visit children he sponsored in Central America and Mexico. He sent photos of an amusement park in Mexico.
I will never forget it because it transported me to the place he was describing. I imagine it was the same for the child, since the child is limited to the small village, neighborhood or wherever they live.
There are children who donít have the opportunity to see things on the Internet or television to give them an idea of what these places are like. With these anecdotes, the child knows and it makes him use his or her imagination.
We appreciate your effort in writing to your sponsored friends, who treasure every letter!