This week, we received letters from our three correspondence children in Colombia who all attend the same church. Eddison, Miguel, and Yency are sweet and responsive children who have been very excited to receive our letters.
It can be complicated to write to children who attend the same church. We want to write unique letters to each child so that he or she feels special.
Often, all three children will receive the same letter that we write online or send seasonally. I find that the best time to send personalized letters to the children is in response to the letters they send to us.
Response letters are very important. They let the children know that we read the letters they write to us and that we notice the details of their lives. These letters are the true connecting points in our relationship.
To be honest, it can be difficult to respond to letters. It may feel like the children write similar letters time after time. It may feel like your child spends a lot of time thanking you for the letters or gifts they have received rather than telling you about themselves. Some children are like us--they just don't know what to say! We have to learn how to take the little tidbits we receive in letters and build on them.
I want to share with you a letter that we received from 6-year old Yency this week in order to illustrate a few tips that can help you put together an encouraging response to your child.
Always choose something to praise your child for. I thanked Yency for answering some of the questions I asked her. I also commented on the beautiful drawing.
2. What's new? Yency shared that her mother has stopped working to care for her and her siblings. This may signal a change in the family's income. Yency may not understand this, but I can add this as a prayer request for her family. I enclosed a little note and some beautiful flower stickers to encourage Yency's mom in her challenging and rewarding new job as a stay at home mom!
3. Did your child share a hope, dream, or interest? In this letter, Yency shared that she hopes to be a professional artist one day. I chose to encourage her by sending her a special folder full of blank paper that she can use to practice. I also asked that she send me one of her masterpieces!
I plan to follow up with a series of online letters for her featuring artists and famous works of art. I love it when the children's letters give me an opportunity to share more in future letters!
Yency also shared that she hopes to learn her alphabet quickly so that she can write to us herself without the help of her tutor. How precious! I definitely want to encourage her in this and let her know how proud I am of the progress she is making. I also sent along a workbook to help her practice her letters.
4. Respond in kind. Did your child share something with you? Did your child ask you a question? Did you have a similar experience? In this letter, Yency shared a Bible verse with me, so I chose to share a verse with her in response to what she shared about her mother.
I hope that these four steps will help you strengthen your relationship with your sweet sponsored child. Response letters take careful reading and intentionality, but the rewards outweigh the extra time and effort. It is powerful to think that a little child who has never seen my face took time to read and respond to the letters that I have written. I encourage you to treasure your child's letters! I believe in God's eyes, the little investments that we make in response are some of the most powerful ministry we will ever do. Like multiplying loaves and fishes, God will multiply our encouragement in the minds of our children to build confident, fulfilled, faithful adults!