The first couple of times you write to your sponsored child it can be somewhat of a daunting task. What do you say to someone that is (in most cases) much younger than you and lives in a very different culture than your own? The key is to find things that you both understand and if you don't feel that the child will understand, explaining it.
One tip that Compassion stresses is to keep the letters simple. I usually follow this general format:
1. Ask how they are doing, say how I am doing.
2. Give praise/recognition of something from the last letter.
3. Tell him/her about what has been going on in my life or what I've been reading in the Bible.
5. A message of love to close.
Letters are a great way for both you and the child you are writing to, to grow and learn. It is a time for encouragement, support, and love. Here are some topics or ideas for what to write about in your letters (taken from the Compassion Website):
1. Describing or talking about your family (where they live, what they look like, interests, work, etc.)
2. Explaining holiday or family customs (your child may do this too so you can see the cool parallels)
3. Talking about important events (weddings, graduations, trips, new jobs, holidays, etc.)
4. Sharing dreams and daily activities of your life
5. Writing about where you live (because it's probably very different from where you live)
6. Talk about your childhood (maybe you liked to do/play with similar things as your child!)
7. Talk about someone that has influenced you
8. Talk about a life lesson you have learned or something you are currently learning
9. Talk about how you overcame a challenge or met a goal
10. Share favorite Bible stories and verses
11. Talk about prayer requests (both your own and anything the child has asked you to pray for)
12. Talking about how you include the child in your daily life (praying, sharing letters/pictures)
13. Talking about what a privilege it is to be the child's sponsor
14. Affirm that God loves them and has a great plan for his/her life.
There are a couple of topics that Compassion wants you to avoid:
1. Discussing the material aspects of your life (size of home, kind of car) because the child will likely not understand
2. Sending pictures that show your possessions
3. Sharing your address, email, or phone number
4. Using slang
5. Suggesting that the child visit or that you're going to send a particular gift
In addition to writing letters, there are other things you can send to your child in the mail. These include:
1. Birthday and Christmas cards
Basically anything that is flat and that will not change the shape of the envelope.
A full list of what can and cannot be sent can be found here.
This is a fairly broad overview so I'll talk more about what to say, other letter-writing ideas, and questions that come up about letter writing throughout this week as well as how to become a correspondent partner with Compassion. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments.
Love & Peace