Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"The List" And Other Important Information

During my trip to Guatemala, I had the privilege of sorting sponsor gifts and letters before we gave them to the children at Casita Adonai. I saw many different ideas and creative ways to show interest and love for a sponsor child. Many times Lisa would hear me say, "Oh! What a great idea!" or "Man! I wish I had thought to include that!"

As a sponsor, one of our goals as a family is to connect with our sponsor child in tangible ways. One of those ways is writing letters whenever possible. Another way is to send gift bags each time a team

heads to Guatemala. We are so blessed to work with Caroline's Promise that affords many opportunities throughout the year to send both letters and gifts. But sometimes it would be nice to know what to get our sponsor child, or what questions would be good to ask, and what information is worth sharing....wouldn't it be great if there was a list somewhere to help with that? Well, here's your list.

For all kids:
Water bottle
Bandaids (age/gender appropriate are so fun!)
Tooth paste/brush (Doing this every time or sending more than one, allows other family members to have good oral hygiene too!)
Hair brushes/combs
Small mirrors
Pajamas (if you're not sure of their size, a bigger size is better so they can grow into it. Also, Guatemalan kids tend be shorter than American kids, so keep that in mind if shopping for pants.)
Pencil sharpeners (for those age appropriate)
Pencil bags
Scissors (age appropriate)
Glue sticks
Crayons/colored pencils/markers
Coloring books/notebooks
Small candy or gum
Small toys
Small puzzles
Pictures of you! 

For girls:
Hair bands/bows
earrings (In Guatemalan culture, it is a sign of the parents' love to pierce their daughter's ears at birth, so you can be sure that your sponsor girl has pierced ears.)
Small bottle of nail polish or nail stickers
Emery boards (age appropriate) 

Don't worry if you send a character-themed gift. (Mickey Mouse, GI Joe, Hello Kitty, etc.) Just because your sponsor child is in Guatemala, doesn't mean they are not very familiar with current trends and popular motifs. (For example, one Casita student's favorite person is Michael Jackson; another student recognized the My Little Pony game on my tablet while I was there!) Remember that the purpose in sending gifts is to supply need and show your care for your sponsor child. We do not want to have our gifts become a point of jealousy or for possible theft, so please be mindful when making your purchases to limit to those things of moderate value.

When writing letters to your sponsor child, ask questions about them! How many people are in their family, what their favorite food/color/sport/music/activity/book/dream is, are great questions that allow your sponsor child ideas to write back to you. When writing about yourself and your family, do share about normal activities, such as school, sports, going to church, how you celebrate holidays, what you like to do for fun. Sharing what the weather is like in your area is great for your sponsor child to see how different the weather is in different parts of the world. Above all, encourage, encourage, ENCOURAGE your sponsor child! Share words of hope and blessing on them; tell them you pray for them and believe in them.  Having witnessed the response of sponsor kids when they receive their gift or letter, I know what you say matters to them; how you show your care impacts them greatly.

Lastly, even if you don't have a sponsor child, you can still send gift bags! You could pack a generic gift bag, or specify if you want to send a bag for a girl or boy; or you could send a bag for teachers of the school at Castia. Leftover school supplies, craft supplies and paper are always appreciated! One family even sent a jumbo-size bag of Dum-Dum lollipops that were distributed to the students.

Clearly this is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it gives you a starting place for the next time you are filling a gift bag or writing a letter to your sponsor child. In the end, it's not what you sent, but that you sent something. Receiving a note or gift bag from their sponsor means so much to the kids at Casita, not because of what was in it, but because of what it symbolizes. They can tangibly see that someone thinks they are special, that they are worth writing to and caring about; they are reminded that they are being prayed for and thought of from friends in another country.

Jody Trivette

Monday, May 20, 2013

Girls Changing the World! Send a girl to camp

When Caroline's Promise met with the leadership of Iglesia Adonai in March, and we started comparing notes about the summer teams, we were amazed and thrilled at what God had in store for us. One of our summer teams this year is very unique. It's all women. This seemed a challenge for us at first, because we typically like our summer teams to be a well-balanced group of ages and genders so as to accommodate the mix we will find in Guatemala. However, God had special plans in mind, and all women suited His needs perfectly. You see, Iglesia Adonai has identified 30 girls, ages 13-23 who are leaders in the church and community.  These are the young ladies who are ministering to orphans and vulnerable children in their community on a daily basis!  Iglesia Adonai has asked us to partner with them to offer a camp  this summer called "Girls Changing the World". The only way Caroline's Promise would be able to assist that camp, is if they had a team with no men on it. Coincidence? Not for our God!
The "Girls Changing The World" camp will be based on the theme Isaiah 61, and our goal will be
to make sure that the girls' relationship with Jesus is solid, understanding God as their Heavenly Father. Our prayer is this camp will provide opportunities for them to identify
(and then for God to heal) hurts, and lies they believe about themselves, others and God.  
We're asking God to free these women from the grip of the enemy so that by the end of the camp, they are free to be the beautiful women God created and saved them to be, changing the world by living out their purpose in God's great plan.
We are so excited by what God is doing and will continue to do, particularly through this camp! And we want to extend an invitation to you to join in this excitement! While you may have your own children that you are signing up for summer camps, why not consider sending one of these precious girls to camp in Guatemala! The cost is only $50 a girl, and with your donation you will receive the name of a girl that you are sponsoring for camp. You could even write a note of encouragement to her and we will make sure she receives it on the first day of camp!
If you are interested in sponsoring one of these beautiful girls you can donate online here.
Choose the fund "Guatemala Orphan Projects" and write "camp" in the comment box. 

As a way of saying "thank you" we would like to send you one of two books by Tom Davis.  "Fields of the Fatherless" or "Red Letters".   Please mention the book you want in the comment box as well.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tapestry Of Love: Your Opportunity

This is Claudia. She is a mother of five children and works three jobs trying to make ends meet. A lot of times there is more month than there is money or food. Her oldest son takes care of the four younger ones while Claudia works. Claudia joined the second group of women in the sewing program. She is learning a skill set that will provide her with the opportunity to generate an income while staying home with her family. She is hearing about God's love for her and seeing His love in action through the volunteers and staff of the church. This chance for Claudia is huge, not only economically, but spiritually as well. God is weaving her story of poverty into His tapestry of love.

A tapestry? Yes, a tapestry. The sewing program at Iglesia Adonai began as a burden in the heart of the church leaders to tangibly help those in the community around the church; help them for a lifetime, not just for the day. So the church opened up it's doors during the week so the sewing program could have a safe place for the women to come and learn.
Oneida (pictured on the right) teaches the women how to sew. She and others share the love of God with the women, encouraging them and pouring into their lives. The sewing machines have been donated by sponsors like you in America. Supplies and material have also been purchased for use. By the end of each program when the women are trained, they invest in their own sewing machine and supplies by selling their finished products. By utilizing what they've learned, they pour back into the community, the homes and the church, since most of these women are moms of children at Casita Adonai.

God weaves this tapestry of the church, the mommas, the volunteers, the sponsors - across countries  even - to show His glory. A missionary once said, "We need you, your support, your prayers; for without it, we could not function. You need us to do the work, to be physically on location to minister on your behalf. And we all need God, for He alone does not need anyone, but rather He CHOOSES to let us partner with Him."

God is doing great things in Guatemala through the sewing program! Women, like Claudia are blessed as they witness the testimony of God's great love for them, tangibly expressed through partnerships like the sewing ministry.

Our 2nd class will graduate in June and we are looking for people who will sponsor these precious Mamas at $50 or $100 each.   We think this is a great way to honor your Mom or wife on Mother's Day!  With each $50 or $100 sponsorship we will send your loved one a beautiful Card, telling her all about how you  honored her and how that gift is changing the life of a family in Guatemala!  To participate please donate online.  Choose the fund "Guatemala Orphan Projects" - $50 or $100 - and write "Sewing" in the comment box.  Please complete the acknowledgement info so that we know who to send the card to.

We are continually blown away by your generosity, whether financially, prayerfully, or physically with your time and energy. Thank you for continuing to partner with us as together we reclaim hope for God's glory.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Thoughts From Recent Trip To Guatemala

Caroline's Promise went to Guatemala in March for an administrative trip. While we had the great blessing of spending time with the children at Casita and Iglesia Adonai, the focus of the trip was to update school records of the sponsor children, train the teachers on some new equipment, assist in a one-day youth conference and plan for the summer teams.

She's just the sweetest thing.
As a sponsor, I was overwhelmed to see all of the children at Casita; getting to meet them in person, see how fabulous they are, and at the same time realize more fully the serious need they live in daily. Spending time with my sponsor child was so precious. What a blessing to love on the child we've been praying for, wrote letters to and supported! What an amazing opportunity to sponsor through Caroline's Promise, where the possibility exists to meet your sponsor child!

As a volunteer and supporter for Caroline's Promise, the trip opened my eyes (even more than I thought they were!) to several things:
1) the critical need of the children at Casita Adonai, the poverty they live in, the danger they endure not only for their safety, but for their well being, their health and education.
2) the necessity of the body of Christ (in this case, via Caroline's Promise) rising up to love on and care for those at Casita Adonai.
3) the integrity and dedication to transparency that the leaders of the church and school have in their partnership with Caroline's Promise, maintaining the highest standards of trust and faithfulness with the children, sponsors' support, and the goal of reclaiming hope for those within their community.

One of the privileges I had on the trip, was to train the teachers on a die-cut machine, called a Cricut. Previously, if the teachers wanted to create anything for the walls or bulletin boards, they had to cut it out by hand. See the lettering and the pictures of the women in the photo below? All cut by hand.
We were able to give them a Cricut with supplies, and teach them how to use the machine.

While we were there, we also labeled each child's backpack with their own name, using the Cricut machine. Such a small gesture, and yet, to the kids, having something of their own - with their name on it, is a huge gift.
This young man, after watching for about five minutes, was able to show the teachers how to use the Cricut! He was hilarious! 

Another incredible moment was visiting the sewing program at the church. The sewing program is currently working with it's second group of women, and we met them and watched them work. While we were there, some graduates from the first group stopped by to visit, and ended up staying to assist those who needed some help! What a great blessing to see these women helping out their own, not just receiving from the program, but giving back to the very group that offered them hope. We are excited to see what God has in store for this program and the women in it.

Throughout our days in Guatemala, every spare moment was spent with church leaders, planning what the three summer teams will be doing.  I was blown away at how thoroughly every moment, every activity is discussed and prayed over. Hours were spent discussing not only WHAT each team would be doing, but WHY, what was the purpose? How could the teams utilize the time in Guatemala to the fullest opportunity of blessing? The love that these teams will lavish on the children and staff offers not only a respite from the every-day-ness of their lives, but also provides a chance to encourage, equip and refresh them, impacting generations, not just for the moment, but for the future. We are excited about what God will do this summer!

In the next few weeks, I'll be adding some posts regarding child sponsorship from a sponsor's perspective, answering questions a perspective sponsor might ask.  We'll also post about the sewing program and how you can help grow this ministry.

 ~Jody (blog editor for Caroline's Promise)