Letter writing tips for writing to your sponsored child

One of the best parts about child sponsorship is the ability to have communication with your sponsored child.  I had the opportunity to meet one of our sponsored children this past summer in Uganda and seeing him in his mud hut holding onto a stack of letters that our family has written him over the years was heartwarming.  This family lives in a very small space and only has room for the most basic items.  To see that they had made room for the stack of letters that was written to them by a family they didn't even know, made me realize how much they do cherish that communication.

When I returned from my trip, the one thing that I made sure that other child sponsor families knew is how much their letters were cherished and how important it is to write to your sponsored children. The next question I often get is, what should I write. I thought I would provide some tips that I found that may be useful for you in writing to your sponsored children.

Write about things your sponsored child is familiar with. 
Talk about your family and the people living in your home.   Talk about your childhood and the chores that you did growing up.  Share with your sponsored child about your family and siblings when you were a child.

If your sponsored child is in school, talk to them about what you like to learn about and ask them about the things that they are learning.  Tell them about things that your children are learning and share with them what you hope they are able to learn in life.

Talk about your favorite past times.  Do you like to read?  Do you or your children participate in sports? Share with them the things that you enjoy and ask them about the things that they like to do.

Do some research about the area that your sponsored child lives.
The area in Uganda where our sponsored children live is very tropical and surrounded by a large lake. If you look at the picture above, you can see that one of our children loves to draw pictures of fish. In fact, below is a picture of him drawing pictures with me when we met.  Learning about the area that they live in will help you understand what kinds of questions to ask.

Explain special events
Tell your sponsored child about the celebrations that you are sharing in letters.  How do you celebrate Easter? What traditions do you have at Christmas? What special things do you do for birthdays? These holidays and events are probably celebrated much differently in your sponsored child's home land, so make sure you ask what things they celebrate and how they are celebrated.
Use language they will understand
I found that as I spoke with the children on my trip last summer, the language I used starting to change. I was traveling with an 11 year old neighbor of mine and instead of introducing her as my neighbor {which I did several times}, I started to say that she was one of the children in my village.  I started describing my garden as my crops and instead of saying that I get my chicken from the grocery store {the kids were appalled that I had never cut the head off of a live chicken for my dinner!} I told them that I got my food at the market.  
Share about your life
Explain to your sponsored children the job that you have, but keep it basic.  One of the men on our trip is a computer programmer. None of the children had ever seen a computer let alone had any idea what a computer programmer is {heck, I don't even know if I do!}.  The sponsored children don't need to know all the details about your job, but describing the basics {businessman, teacher, mother} is perfect.Talk about your church and how you worship.  Ask them questions about the church that they attend. Tell them about the things that you do each day and the places that you visit.

Describe the area that you live
Share with your sponsored child about your home and the area that you live in.  Do you live by water and mountains? What is your weather like? Since we live in the Seattle area, I usually describe this time of year as our "rainy season".  It's a term that they understand and while other people in the country may know that Seattle gets a lot of rain, our sponsored children have no idea! You can even include a photo or two of the area that you live in.
Ask questions
Don't forget to ask questions and then respond to those questions.  This is a bit more difficult since there is usually a several month lag between the time you send your letters and the time you receive a new letter, though try to do your best. Your sponsored child would like to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them.
Include your children in the process
My kids won't always sit down and write a full letter, but they will draw a picture or include a short sentence to our sponsored children. Small children can draw a picture or color a page for your sponsored child and older children can ask a question or two and share a little bit about their day. 
Some things to avoid
There are lots of things that you can write about, but there are a few things that can be written that may make your sponsored child feel uncomfortable.  Don't talk about your lavish vacations, your new car purchase or include pictures or details about your home. Avoid discussing politics and elections and don't promise your sponsored child something that you can't deliver on. 
Hopefully this list has given you a few new ideas about things that you can write to your sponsored child. I promise you, your sponsored children love hearing from you.  Just knowing that someone cares for them and makes an effort to be a part of their lives is something that makes all the difference.
If you are interested in child sponsorship, please visit this page to learn more.

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