Today I got a letter from Brazil... but not from Erich. You see, since I didn't have more kids, God has blessed me with opportunities to change the lives of less fortunate kids through sponsorship (World Vision). If you click on the title of this post, it will take you there and you can see the amazing things World Vision does. I sponsor 3 boys (Michael from Peru, Nicholas from Guatemala, & Jhonnathan from Recife, Brazil) and 1 girl (Julia, South Africa). They are all nearly the same age as Erich but all at different grade levels. World Vision is gracious enough to translate the letters we send back and forth. I have sent them small gifts - like stickers...
Anyway, the letter I received today was extra special. On many occasions when I get updates about "my" kids, it is written by a World Vision missionary. This letter from Jhonnathan was handwritten by him - the first I have received in his penmanship. Plastered with stickers that I have sent him and on the back of the two pages he wrote was a great pencil drawing he did of the school yard - complete with a soccer net (one of the boys in the drawing looks like Erich - his shirt says "USA" on it), Jhonnathan is also pictured, in a t-shirt with a Brazilian flag on it. His drawing skills have come a long way since I first started receiving them. Jhonnathan, despite being 13, is in the 4th grade.
Here is his heart-wrenching letter (as translated by World Vision):
Hi dear Sherri,
We are very happy to have you as our friend. Thank you for the stickers! My sisters (Jennifer and Deborah) and I love them. I send a hug to your son and love soccer too, like him.
My sister Deborah and I have a dog called "Pipoco," a cat called "Serafim" and a fish called "Mel."
I take part in capoeira class (a Brazilian form of martial arts/dance) at the Project (World Vision facility) and I'm very excited, because my friends and I always do capoeira. It's very nice!
It's great to have your love! I live with my sisters, because my dad passed away when I was 8 years old, and my mom passed away, when I was 10 years old.
I send a strong hug to you.
From your friend, Jhonnathan. I love you forever.
On the handwritten copy of Jhonnathan's letter at the bottom he wrote those words in English. The words "I LOVE YOU FOREVER" in all capitals. Just seeing them makes me cry. Sometimes I wonder who benefits more from sponsorship... these kids or me. :)
Can you imagine if these 4 kids come to know the love of Christ, just by small donations each month and a team of people that make huge sacrifices to be with them? To know how much Jesus loves them? To know that because of what these missionaries do they get school supplies and immunizations, along with clean drinking water and things they wouldn't otherwise get? I hope someday I meet them in Heaven and I can thank them in person for the impressions they have left on my heart forever...
Sorry, I get carried away. I tried to scan the picture he drew; but I'm scanner challenged. heehee.