What will I say?

this isn’t going to be the usual photography-oriented post, but it’s still related.

I’ve been sponsoring a young girl in Kenya for the past seven years through Compassion. We exchange letters, and I often send lots of photos and postcards.

Child sponsorship has always been something I wanted to do when I started working. In part, I wanted to do it because I want to remember that the money I earn should not always be about me and my comforts. I want to remember that an individual’s life in another country can be made better if I forego just 10 lattes a month. And I honestly do like letter writing and snail mail very much.

I do wish I’d considered child sponsorship when I was younger. I think it would have made me a better steward of my finances and resources. Maybe that’s something I wish I told my younger self – to find and support causes that look far beyond your own concerns and the tiny world that revolves around you.

Having Caroline as a regular “pen pal” has been really fun. Every time I travel, I always look out for postcards specifically for her. I always stop at free postcard stands in my country and other countries in case there’s an interesting or educational postcard I can send. Sometimes if the postcards are too tacky, I print my own photos and send those to her. I’ve also sent stickers, cards, brochures from tourist attractions, and pages from coloring books.

me trying to describe Kenya's location

me trying to describe Kenya’s location

Beyond the fun factor, child sponsorship has enlarged my heart for this one individual, and for her country. Every time I get a letter from her in the mail (about three or four times a year, because it takes a few months to translate and send over) I marvel at how someone so far away whom I’ve never met in real life has captured my imagination for so many years. She usually writes me about school and her family, and asks me to pray for her to do well in her studies.

Come October, it’ll be a dream come true to finally be able to see this special friend in real life. The biggest question on my mind has been “What will I say when I finally see her?” Will it be full of awkward silences? Will she be more interested in the gifts I bring? Should I make a list of questions?

Whatever happens, I’m believing this once-in-a-lifetime visit will leave a great impact on me. And hopefully I’ll be able to better communicate the importance of living a better story when I come back from this trip and share about the experience.

I intend to take as many photos and videos as possible of the meeting. I’m also bringing along a Polaroid camera so that she and her family can have instant photos of the visit.

More than anything else I hope I remember to tell her that she’s beautiful and that my life has been so enriched by having her in it.

Letter from afar

Letter from afar

I’ll be writing more about my preparations for this trip in the coming weeks.

Check out Compassion International to sponsor a child

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9 comments

  1. Hannah, this is beautiful. We have a sponsor child in Senegal. She is only 3 years old, but someone writes on her behalf when I send a letter or gift. For about 10 years we sponsored a girl in India. Even though we went to India we didn’t manage to get to the area where she lived, but we sponsored her to adulthood. May the Lord richly bless your time in Kenya and especially the meeting with Carolyn.

    1. thanks Edie. appreciate you a lot for stopping by and always leaving sweet comments.
      i love getting letters from Caroline. they are the best part of my day. it’s wonderful that you are involved in child sponsorship (and so many other Kingdom initiatives). many are blessed because of you!

  2. Fellow Compassion Blogger here.

    I have yet been able to sponsor a child, but it is something I’m looking forward to, hopefully in the short future! How amazing that you are going to be able to meet your “pen-pal.” What an amazing and special time that will be. I too wish that my family and I had sponsored a child when I was growing up. I think it would have been great to have that as a child. I’ve been able to teach my mom more about sponsoring and she is interested in sponsoring now! Enjoy your sweet and fun time with Carolyn. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Jess
      thanks for stopping by and for reading. i really appreciate it.

      it’s great that you’ve been able to talk about sponsoring a child with your mom! i still don’t really discuss it with my family about it even after all these years. i think if i started sponsoring when i was younger i would’ve written more letters and had more interesting things to talk about for show-and-tell in school. i hope you get to sponsor a child. my heart is for the older children who have been waiting longer for sponsors – it is so important to have someone affirm you and look out for you in those challenging teenage years.

      all the best. hopefully you’ll have some child sponsorship adventures soon.
      -Hannah

  3. I remember being in high school and wanting to sponsor a child through Compassion, but the lack of money stopped me. It didn’t stop me from praying, watching the Compassion website, and waiting for my circumstances to change.
    My husband and I began sponsoring through Compassion in 2004, and these past 9 years have changed our lives.
    We love corresponding with our Compassion children, and like you, we specificly seek out extra goodies to send with our letters. We started our blog and joined Compassion’s bloggers network to not only raise awareness about this wonderful ministry, but to also encourage others in their sponsorship ministry by sharing our sponsorship story, letter writing ideas, and more.
    I am also praying for you as you travel to Kenya next month to meet your precious Caroline, and I look forward to reading about your experiences. We have not yet met any of our Compassion children, but will be traveling out of the country for the first time in April for our first Compassion trip to the Dominican Republic. While there, we will meet our sponsored son of nearly 5 years by that time. Have you ever traveled outside of the country? Is this your first Compassion trip?

    1. hi there. thanks for the lovely comment on my post.
      It’s wonderful to hear that you have been involved in child sponsorship for so many years. God bless you for your faithfulness in giving towards their redemption stories.

      thank you for your prayers, I appreciate it. ever since i confirmed my trip to Kenya, the country has had some pretty rough situations to deal with – first the fire that gutted a big part of their international airport, then the ongoing hostage crisis at Westgate mall. i’m still going to go unless an urgent travel advisory is issued.

      yes, it’s my first Compassion-related trip. I’ve traveled extensively around the world but it will be my first time to Kenya. I’m sure your experience visiting your child in the Dominican Republic will be an incredible one.

      once again, thanks for stopping by. keep in touch πŸ™‚

      -hannah

      1. Hi Hannah,
        We will be specificly praying for peace and protection while you travel. Where else have you traveled?
        Thanks for your encouragement about our trip, and feel free to stay in touch as well! πŸ™‚

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