As a sponsor you’re probably familiar with the thrill of sitting down to write to your sponsor child! But has this ever happened to you? You sit down, smiling, putting pen to paper:
Hi, How are you? We are praying for you and hope you are doing well…
And then – a blank page stares you in the face – you freeze.
I have literally nothing interesting in my brain, how in the world do I fill the rest of this card/page?!
Good news, we’ve been there! You’re not alone and we’re here to help (and just in time, too, there’s another letter writing opportunity right around the corner – whew)! We’re excited to share a handful of ideas for filling your future letters/gifts! After all, who knows how many years they may hold onto these letters and pictures, even into adulthood? We know it is just as meaningful to receive their letters, pictures, and drawings.
So, you’ve got the guidelines about what’s appropriate and what’s not helpful, but when you’re not sure what to write, where do you start? Here are our ideas:
Always ask questions. Be curious! Isn’t it a great feeling to know someone is interested in who you are? Get to know your child with a mix of 2-3 silly and intriguing questions per letter (depending on the age of your child). Plus, we already found a great blog who came up with a boatload of suggestions after years of sponsoring through another organization – pretty awesome – check it out here to see which questions might be appropriate for your child based on their age/circumstances. We can’t promise your sponsor child will answer each question you ask, but they are encouraged to do their best and it can be pretty exciting to learn things like, “the color I like best is red” for when you’re looking for christmas gift ideas later on!
Talk about simple things that connect us all. What was your day like, how did you feel and what did you do about it? As human beings, on an average day, week, or month we experience universal things like emotions, family, and community as we interact with music, faith, school, sports, etc. For example, we all know about sorting through the aftermath of a rough day, or the way it feels to begin a lasting friendship. Talk about it and use it to encourage your child! These everyday dinner table-type discussions can typically be simplified into truths that connect us all, more than distinguish us. Writing about this helps to reveal how much we all truly share, no matter where we live. Stay positive, and talk about relationships in your life: parents, siblings, best friends, a spouse, children, all of it! Is anyone in a profession your child might be able to relate to (doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, pastor, policeman)? Share! Can you think back to things you remember from when you were in school (your favorite subject, your best friend)? Tell them! Imagine what you might tell a younger sibling or a youth you’re mentoring as they dream for the future.
Build them up. No child can hear too many messages of hope and self-worth, right? We don’t know how many voices regularly uplift these young lives, but whether we’re one of the loudest ones or just part of a large choir, there is certainly no harm in shouting it from the rooftops. Encourage them to try their best in school, and remind them how proud you are no matter what. Feel free to search for and include quotes, stories, and verses to sprinkle throughout your letters. If its helpful to get you started, here are some simple phrases to say often:
• we believe in you / care about you
• God loves you
• we’re so proud of you
• we are so happy to know you
• we pray for you and your friends / family
• we think of you / see your picture and smile
• you are strong / smart / beautiful / brave / kind / forgiven
• you are free / amazing / lovely / loving / known / important
• you matter
• you are not alone
• you are (perfectly) loved
• you are worthy of love
• you are doing a great job/great work
• don’t be ashamed
• there is always hope / joy
• dream big / shine bright / be bold
• anything is possible
• don’t ever give up
Short and sweet is ok. Remember, you don’t have to write a novel for your letter to be meaningful. Your sponsor child will be excited to hear from you, so length can vary by age, but there is never a need to write four-pages or send twenty drawings to prove you truly care. Every thought will make an impact on a child who wonders why someone across the ocean would take time to think about them, supporting their education and future. In simply choosing to write, you encourage a spark of hope to burn and grow! (ps – We’re so grateful for you!)
– Send a picture of yourself/your family holding your child’s picture or the letter you just wrote, plus your kids/family/friends holding drawings that will be sent (don’t forget to identify the people pictured, and be considerate of our scenery guidelines) – a cool way to further connect your smiling face to the paper they’ll be holding!
– Share about your pets! Though it may not be as common culturally in Sierra Leone to keep dogs or cats as part of the ‘family’ sponsor children will be as interested in the details of your life as you are curious about theirs. We’ve seen their eyes widen and heard them giggle as they sort through these details about you 😉
– Keep your sponsor child’s latest letter handy to reference anything they shared with you, to answer any questions, or even to comment on their recent picture! How special for them to know you are paying equally close attention as your relationship grows.
– Learn about their home/culture and share about yours. Healthy differences to discuss include: comparing weather/seasons, local terrain, sports/activities (not including things like tv shows), local animals, local food, school subjects, books, music.
Do you have any suggestions to add? Comment below or email us, we always love hearing new ideas and it would be great to improve our list!
Have questions? Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org