Friday, June 6, 2014

Philippines Update

Hey guys, I wanted to update you on my Compassion child, Rhean from the Philippines who was affected by the record-breaking typhoon that struck her country last fall.

As you may recall, I was able to send her a family gift in January after hearing that her home and many of the family's possessions were destroyed in the storm.  In Compassion's program when a sponsor sends a gift to the child or her family, 100% of the money goes straight to the child.  Someone from the Compassion center will then sit down with the family to discuss what to use the money on and then they go shopping for the items.  Although sponsors can suggest things for the family to consider purchasing, it is ultimately up to them what they buy.  I chose not to recommend anything to Rhean's family, instead trusting that God knew what they needed better than I did.

Sweet little Rhean with her gifts (ignore the grumpy face, I assume it comes after a long, boring day of shopping with mom)

This week I got a letter from Rhean letting me know what she was able to purchase with the gift money.  I also got an added surprise in the form of a photo of my darling girl surrounded by what they bought.  Although it's hard to tell from the picture, the accompanying letter says that Rhean's family was able to buy new clothes and shoes for she and her siblings plus rice and other food for the family.  Although I was somewhat expecting the gift to be used on building materials, I am thrilled that this family was able to get things that they truly needed.  It also looks in the picture like they may already have some supplies (bamboo, wiring, etc piled next to Rhean).

The letter also said that Rhean had a check-up recently and was declared healthy.  She also 'graduated' third in her kindergarten class, and says she will keep working hard in school and that she likes it very much.  

In other news, since graduating from college a few weeks ago, I've been busy working and getting ready to venture back to El Salvador in August.  I have also decided to start a new blog to chronicle that particular adventure.  (Don't worry I'll still ramble about my Compassion kids here.)  The new blog is called Adventures in My Heartland, and I would love for you to follow along with me there as well.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Exciting News!

Hi friends!  Remember how I said I had a lot to catch you up on from the last few months?  Well, this should basically sum it up:

I'm Going Back to El Salvador!

And now for the backstory.  In the rather abbreviated version, after returning from visiting Marlen in May 2012, I began to feel called to spend more time serving overseas.  That spurred a flurry of research on opportunities for short term service and a slew of applications with several different organizations and programs.  Over the past month or so I have begun to hear back from some of the organizations and have faced some stress as I had a few very different possible opportunities to pursue.  I then spent considerable time in prayer over where I was supposed to go.

Then, about a week ago I began to feel more at peace and officially accepted a position with Christ for the City International in El Salvador.  Although there are still details to be worked out, I am planning on leaving in August to spend a few months then returning in January for several more months.  During that time I will be working with children from the community, teaching them English.

I am beyond excited to be returning to this beautiful place that stole my heart and I cannot wait to see where God will continue to lead me on this journey!

Monday, March 3, 2014

An Update from the Philippines!

Hi friends!  There is so much to catch you up on thanks to my little blogging hiatus there.  I promise to tell you about everything soon.  For now, however, I wanted to let you know what's going on with my little 5-year-old Compassion correspondent, Rhean, from the Philippines.

If you remember, I posted back in November about the record-breaking typhoon that hit the island nation.  My sweet girl and her family live in an area that was in the direct path of the storm.  I (and many others) spent several weeks praying for this family's safety as well as that of the millions of others in the storm's wake.

In mid-late December I got notice from Compassion that Rhean's home was damaged and the family lost some possessions and school supplies.  I was heartbroken for them but also so thankful that the family was safe.  Thanks to a very thoughtful Christmas gift from my brother, I was able to send a financial gift to help them rebuild.  It will likely be another couple of months before I find out what they were able to do with this but I promise to keep you in the loop.

Then, today, I received a letter from Rhean (written by her wonderful mom as usual) updating me on how they're recovering.  She writes that the house was destroyed by coconut trees falling on it.  Hearing this about how the home was damaged makes me even more thankful that none of them were hurt as there could have been serious, even life-threatening, injuries.

On a lighter note, Rhean's mom also shared that she gave birth to a healthy baby boy last July (I knew she was pregnant but never heard about the baby).  She says that Rhean is a good big sister and likes to play with her little brother.  She also said that Rhean was able to get new dresses and hair clips for Christmas at the Compassion project.

The letter ends with a plea to 'always pray that no other typhoon will hit here like Typhoon Haiyan.'  Please join me in praying that this type of disaster will not repeat itself.

And, I really do promise to try to be better about keeping up here.  I've got some exciting stuff going on right now as I try to get my post-college life together and I'll let you know when I get it worked out.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Happy New Year Friends and Welcome to 2014!

Around this time of year people start thinking about all the things they want to change about themselves and their lives.  They consider all of the negatives from the previous year and become optimistic about leaving them all behind starting now.  Then they make big promises to themselves, usually grand but vague, describing how they will be better people now than they were before.  Soon enough however, (I heard today the average is 3 weeks later) those sweeping promises begin to fall to the wayside and old habits are settled back into until the next January when all is repeated.

Primarily for the reasons described above, I have never been too keen on the idea of New Year's Resolutions.  I think a person should try to be his best all the time, not save it up for a few weeks at the beginning of the new year.  I also think that making such huge commitments to change all at once will only cause people to become frustrated when they inevitably slip, leading them to give up and feel angry at themselves for their inability to change overnight.

Apparently there is also a new trend of people choosing not a tangible goal, but a word to live by in the coming year.  This still seems fuzzy to me as I don't want to choose a word to live by that will end up not being applicable to my life this year.  It also seems to have a similar likelihood of being broken or forgotten about fairly quickly.  (Maybe I'm just being pessimistic though.)

With that said, for now at least, I will try to keep up the goal I set for myself in 2013 (not at New Years mind you).  Over the past several months I have worked to stop saying no.  I've spent a great deal of my life trying to protect myself with that tiny, powerful word.  No to opportunities to be social, to step out of my comfort zone, to have fun.  All because I was afraid I might say the wrong thing, make a mistake, or look foolish.  So, recently I have been working very hard to reverse that so that I start living freely and truly enjoy life.  It's something that I have to consciously work for, but so far I am loving the results and hope to continue to progress in 2014.  However, it will be just that, a progression of prior changes, not an overnight identity change.

2013 was a wonderful year for me and I only hope that 2014 will hold just as much fun, love, and growth.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Christmas Wish

Hey friends, I've got a special holiday post today (sort of).  I'm not sure if any of you saw the movie Annabelle's Wish as a child (there's a chance I was a childhood hipster and loved things no one else knew existed), but this movie was basically my Christmas go-to growing up (and still makes me cry every time I watch it).  The movie was actually made to promote the Make-A-Wish Foundation and tells the story of a calf who gives up her Christmas wish in order to give it to the boy she loves.  This is overgeneralizing of course but if you want to know the whole story, I think the movie is on YouTube (or you can come to my house and we'll pull out the much beloved VHS).

That fun little stroll down memory lane brings me in a somewhat roundabout way to my point.  I have a very special Christmas wish this year (I'll pause as my entire family gasps since I never tell them what I want for Christmas).  As a Compassion advocate, I have volunteered to try to find a sponsor for one child this Christmas.  My wish is that one of you beautiful people would help me make that happen.  Let me introduce you to the special boy I'm speaking of:

This little dear is David.  He will turn 7 on January 12.  David lives with his grandparents in El Salvador, although he is not listed as an orphan.  His grandfather works as a laborer and his grandmother stays home to care for David.  David helps out at home by cleaning, carrying water, and running errands.  His favorite things to do are playing soccer, playing with toy cars, and running.  His information indicates that he is not yet in school but I would guess that he has begun since starting Compassion's program and, if not, will definitely begin with the new school year in January.  
David lives in a village in the north of the country where homes are typically made of dirt floors, mud walls, and tile roofs.  The average monthly income in his area is just $36.  This is extremely low in El Salvador, which uses the US dollar.  

You should all know by now the impact that sponsorship has had on my life, especially since my trip to El Salvador last summer (if you're just joining me feel free to read back or ask any questions- I'd love to talk about it more!).  Therefore, my Christmas wish this year is to find someone to love on this sweet boy and to experience the amazing gift that is child sponsorship.  I would be so blessed and thrilled to know that David got his wish this year too.

I am also applying right now to spend a year serving overseas, with my hopes on venturing back to the land that captured my heart, El Salvador.  If I do end up there, I would love to take along a gift for this cutie from his new sponsor.  

I know that this is a big commitment to ask of you and I am certainly not wanting you to take it lightly.  However, it would mean more to me than anything else this Christmas to know that my passion for this ministry has led to a child being connected with a sponsor and both of their lives being changed.  

If you have any questions about David, sponsorship, or anything else please don't hesitate to ask me!

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Heartbreak in the Philippines

As you may (or may not) know, a devastating typhoon struck the Philippines this weekend.

This category 5 storm may have been the strongest to ever make landfall with sustained winds of 145 mph and gusts over 175 mph.  (Keep in mind Katrina was a category 3 storm when it made landfall.)  

There have been an estimated 10,000 deaths in one city alone.  100,000's have been displaced.

Many compared the scene to a tsunami, and water is reported to have surged up to 30 feet in some areas.  A disaster zone has been declared and aid is beginning to pour in from within the Philippines and around the world.

However, relief efforts are being hampered by authorities' inability to reach people due to debris and destroyed roads.  There have already been reports of looting and violence due to a lack of clean water and food.  

I'm bringing this tragedy to your attention because of this little cutie (and the estimated 1.7 million children just like her who have been affected by the storm.)  You've heard me talk about my precious Filipino baby whose sweet mom writes the most loving letters on her behalf.  Now I'm worried for her safety.

Rhean lives in a rural area in the south of the province of Leyte, directly in the path of the storm.  She, along with her father, pregnant mother, 9-year-old brother, and 6-year-old sister, live in a house constructed primarily of bamboo with a thatched roof.  Their small village on the plains is about 15 miles from the nearest city. 

Somehow tragedy strikes harder when it is not unknown victims, but a child close to your heart.  I do not know for sure if Rhean was affected, and it may be some time before Compassion is able to communicate with the field office to find out.  However, I am praying that she and her family are safe.  I'm also relieved to know that Compassion's staff will check in on them and make sure that they get aid if they need it.

Please join me in praying for Rhean and her family, as well as the millions of others affected by this disastrous storm.  The situation there is truly heartbreaking.

For more information about Typhoon Haiyan and the beginnings of relief coming to the island nation, please visit  

You can also donate to relief efforts here:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Saying Goodbye ... And Hello

Hi friends, sorry for again slacking off from this place the past month.  Apparently all the rumors about senior year being crazy are true and I've had no time to blog (although I've loved the busyness!).  Anyway I just wanted to update you on some changes to my Compassion family this week.

A few days ago I got a call from Compassion letting me know that my correspondent child, 19-year-old Joan from Uganda, has left the program.  She and her family moved rather abruptly to an area where Compassion does not have a program.  Because she left so quickly, Compassion is not sure where she is, which means I will not be able to write a final letter to her.

I began writing to Joan last Christmas and have received two letters from her and sent many more her way.  Although I don't know her very well, I was excited to get to know this young woman and to encourage her during her last years with Compassion.  I know that she is in God's hands now and I will continue to pray for her safety and well-being.

After learning that Joan left the program, Compassion assigned me a new correspondent child to begin writing to.  So now please welcome 9-year-old Irene, also from Uganda, to my Compassion family.

Irene lives with her parents, who work as peasant farmers, and has two siblings.  She helps her parents at home by gardening, buying and selling in the market, and helping in the kitchen.  Irene is in 3rd grade.  She enjoys many things including playing with dolls, soccer, reading, art, and telling stories.

Although I am sad to lose Joan and will never give away her place in my heart, I am also thrilled to write to sweet little Irene as well.  I know that God has a reason for putting both of these girls in my life, for however short a time, and I have been so blessed by all of my kids.

On another note, I recently received an updated photo of my precious little Rhean in the Philippines.

This is Rhean's first picture from when she registered with Compassion just after her third birthday.

And her is my cute girl now at 4 1/2 years old.  She has grown so much (as expected) and I can't wait to continue to watch her grow in the coming years.

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