Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What It Means to be a Penpal

"...When this life is over, and you stand face-to-face with the Father, what a reward will be in store for you!  Because you saw the face of Jesus in the face of the lost and lonely, God will see His Son in your eyes.  Because you cared most about what He cares most about--God will recognize you as His faithful partner.  And because you made every effort to express the Father's love, even the smallest deeds you did for the least of these will count greatly for all eternity." 
-Tom Davis, Fields of the Fatherless

We are so thankful for each of you and your willingness to express the Father's love to these students.  The Webster's definition of "penpal" is "a friend made and kept through correspondence."

I LOVE THAT.  A friend made and kept.
As you make your new friends, we know there are quite a few questions you may have about how this relationship works, so here are our answers!
  • I've heard different names used here.  What is the difference between a sponsor and a prayer warrior and a penpal?
When we began sending children to boarding schools, we never intended to begin a traditional sponsorship program.  But, as time has passed, we have realized that many of you have personal relationships with children from your visits to Noel, and the idea of financially supporting a specific student appealed to many.  So, now we do have the option to be the financial sponsor for a specific child.  At the same time, we ask that our financial sponsors consider taking the additional role of being prayer warrior over that child.  The Prayer Warrior role includes praying DAILY over this student just as you would your own children, as well as developing individual relationships with the student, including writing letters and visiting if that is possible.  We believe there is great power in these children knowing they are loved and prayed for by a family or individual.  BUT, you don't HAVE to give financially to be a penpal and prayer warrior!  The biggest needs they have are not met with money, but with the investment you make on a spiritual and emotional level.  So, personal investments from both financial sponsors and prayer warriors are desperately needed! And, obviously, a more common name for the prayer warrior, is a good old-fashioned penpal!  (with some added prayer in there!)
  • How do we communicate with the child we've been matched to?
It is our hope that every student develops a personal relationship with their praying penpal family! And, the more letters sent, the deeper the friendship can go!

 We would like each penpal to write an introductory letter to their student, as well as provide a picture of your family, and send it to us by February 15th, so we can hand deliver it to the kids on our trip on March 7th!  Letters may be sent to:           
His Chase Foundation  
ATTN: (FIRST & LAST NAME OF CHILD and their BOARDING SCHOOL)
P.O. Box 143053   Irving, TX  75014-3053
You can make it a letter-writing party!  They're pretty fun!  :) 
  • Is there anything we need to know about how the letter should be written?
The name you received for your penpal is written in the conventional Rwandan way, which is last name first.  So, when you greet them, you can write it the way we have, with last name written first, and then their first name or nickname.  Then, use the introductory letter as an opportunity to do just that:  Introduce who you are, what you like, what your life is like!  Include a picture of you and your family.  

Remember to focus on encouragement and prayer in your letter, as well as getting to know them more personally!  Please refrain from asking them personal questions about their history, unless they volunteer the information.  And, please do not make any promises for visits, gifts, or other "future treats", since that is not the purpose of our penpal program.  :)
  • Oh no!  I've missed the deadline for sending my letter!  Is there any other way to get communication to my student?
YES, of course!  If you are not able to send a handwritten letter to our mailbox (which is what we prefer, simply for the personal touch it adds), then please feel free to email your letter and picture to us at info@hischase.org.  We will print your letter and picture, and deliver it to your penpal student.
  • What is the Dropbox link that I received going to be used for?  
The Dropbox is simply a tool for getting to know your sponsored child, as we receive new updates from him or her.  This will be where we include scanned copies of letters they write to you, as well as their school reports, videos, and pictures.  There is nothing you need to do or add to the Dropbox at any time.  Anything you want to share with your student will need to be done by mail, since the students do not have access to these Dropbox accounts.  Basically, Dropbox is simply our way of keeping 250 kids and their sponsors organized.  :)
  • Will I be able to receive letters from my sponsored student?
Absolutely!  Each sponsor will receive communication in return, although we can not guarantee a specific time that this will happen!  This will depend on when they are able to write the letters, and when we can get them back to the US.  As many of you know, they are thrilled to write letters to the families who love them, and will probably do so the same day they receive a letter from you!   As they write back to you, we will scan the letters and make them available to you on Dropbox in your personal file.  You will receive an automatic notification that an update has been made to your file.  You may then save the letter, print the letter, or simply store the letter online.

Important to Note:  In their letters, your sponsored child may ask you for additional items or gifts, including electronics, phones, shoes, or clothes. We do not encourage this kind of gift-giving in any way.  His Chase Foundation supplies the sponsored children with everything they need, including clothing, shoes, school supplies, food, and hygiene items, all at the same time. We want to make sure they have what they need, but ask you kindly to talk with His Chase if a request like this is made, so we can assess what has already been given and what is truly needed.   {And, rest assured that as these children receive instruction and guidance for maybe the first time in their lives, they will be receiving lessons on gratitude, as well as appropriate behavior in many situations like this.  So, we will be glad to address any situation where you think it is needed.  These children are such special people, and we want to nurture them in the Lord just as we would our own children!}
  • Will there be a time when I can send my sponsored child a gift?
The boarding schools these children attend do not allow gifts of any kind to come to the children while at school, unless there is enough for every child in the entire school to receive it.  So, no individual gifts will be allowed during the school terms.  We want to respect the authority of the schools and make sure we follow their wishes!

However, we are still formulating a plan for the possibility of a small gift in the summer months or at Christmas for each child, when they are not in school. As you can imagine, it is very important that the children all feel loved and cared for equally, as to not cause pain for any one child.  So, we will most likely have an approved gift list and purchase gifts in Rwanda for all children, if we decide this is a possibility for the holiday weeks.
  • Can I visit the child I sponsor or pray for?         
Absolutely!  This is the life-changing part of this relationship and we pray many of you get to go and spend time with your child in person.  Going on a team trip is the most effective way to visit these children, and we are excited to offer the first sponsor trip in March of this year.  There are also additional trips in 2013 for those who are interested!  For more information on a sponsor trip, email us at info@hischase.org

If you are wanting to visit your student independently, please contact us at info@hischase.org, so we can alert the school of the dates you will be coming, as well as coordinate a guide to escort you on your visit.  Please remember to communicate your plans of travel in advance of your trip, since the schools have only designated dates for visitors.
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THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for your part in this ministry.  This would be NOTHING without you.  And, because you have said YES, these kids know someone cares.  In a significant way, you have sent the message that they BELONG. And, that is more life-giving than you realize.  We pray daily for all of these relationships and what they will do for these children.  We appreciate you more than words can say.  

Although St. Theresa's words say it pretty well...
"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which God's compassion for the world is to look out; Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; And yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." -St. Theresa of Avila