Today's guest post comes from Alexis Dionne, a World Vision sponsor who shares what she does to let her sponsored children know they're loved and cared for during the holiday season.
If you're a World Vision sponsor as well, you can log in to My World Vision for ideas on how to connect with your sponsored child as the holidays approach.
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The holidays can be overwhelming.
There is such a flurry of activity: presents to buy, parties to go to, and so many fun traditions to participate in. I want to do everything. Of course, deep down, I know that I can't do it all, but that doesn't stop me from wanting things to be just perfect for my family.
I love sending them letters, cards, and packages when I can -- and the holidays are no exception. Of course, with restrictions to the size of packages that can be sent, I can't send them all the things that I'd like to (dollhouses! LEGO® castles!), and I know there are other factors to consider as well.
I think that it is important to remember and respect their family situation. I don't want to overstep anything that the children's parents do, but I want them to know how much I love and care for them. I want them to know what a blessing they are to me -- and how lucky I consider myself to have them in my life.
I think that the best gifts come from the heart, and one doesn't need to spend a great deal on gifts (for anyone!) for them to be special and remembered.
For example, several years ago, for Majlinda's birthday, I sent her a doll. She wrote back, saying how much she loved it, and that she named the doll Alma -- the "Al" for Alexis, and the "Ma" for Majlinda. She wrote that she hoped I didn't mind that she used my name for her doll.
My heart melted into puddles.
This year, for the holidays, I decided that Alma needed a friend. I found another doll to send Majlinda, and I think she will love her. The doll has a soft body, and I can bend her arms and legs to fit into an envelope to send.
I also made her a quilt for her new doll. I've sent her doll quilts in the past, for Alma -- but this new little lady will need one, too, I think.
For Redion, I found a toy set -- a Star Wars aircraft. It has wheels at the bottom, so if you pull it back along the floor, it will zoom forward. It seems like a fun thing for a boy!
I will also include something a bit practical, like a sweater or shirt, and a book for something a little bit educational. I've had some luck in finding a few children's books printed in Albanian! I'd like to send a book to Majlinda as well.
For Boikokobetso, I've found two darling dresses. I've sent her a few dresses in the past, and when I have, I've received a photo back with her wearing them! I love that. Boikokobetso speaks Northern Sotho, and I have not found printed books for her. I will likely find her a small toy to send as well.
Culturally, I want to be aware of each of my sponsored children's situations, especially around the holidays. For example, Majlinda's lives in Albania, where a large percentage of people are Muslim, while some are Christian, and some do not practice any religion.
I think it is a privilege to sponsor each of my three children, regardless of the differences we may have. Sponsorship is a chance for me to live out my faith by caring for those in need, without conditions. World Vision believes that by loving these children unconditionally, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. I couldn't agree more.
In her letters, Majlinda writes that she prays for me and my family, but she does not specify further than that. There is no reference to specific holidays, other than Albanian holidays, and she does not mention attending religious services.
I don't press further on that, out of respect. I simply say the same -- that I pray for her and her family. I talk a bit about holidays, but in a more general tone, and more about spending the time with my family.
Throughout the year, I send them other items -- crayons, coloring books, stickers, paper dolls, etc. But the holidays should be just a bit more special, I think. I want them to know that I consider them to be a part of my family. I wrote them each a letter, saying how special they are to me, and I will also send a card or two separately, as the more mail, the merrier!
I think of them often, and I hope that their holidays are happy.
Already a sponsor? Visit My World Vision for ideas on how to connect with your sponsored child this holiday season!
If you're not yet a sponsor, consider sponsoring a child in need today. You'll help provide life-giving basics like nutritious food, clean water, medical care, education, and more -- but beyond that, you'll build a special relationship with a child who will know your name, feel your prayers and love, and bring added joy into your life.