What?! This was far too simple to be called the “favorite.”
It lacked love, scripture and anything else that I thought would be memorable to a child. I had to ask Santiago why it was his favorite.
He explained that he had taken that particular postcard and hung it up because he thought the raccoons were “neat.”
It didn’t make sense.
After going a bit deeper, I realized that this simple postcard had held an important space in the backdrop of Santiago’s home as he grew up. It was an indelible childhood memory to him, similar to that one old toy that you loved as a kid. The toy that your parents never knew meant so much to you. The thing that you remember every once in a while as you reminisce about your own childhood. The one you search for on eBay just to see it again — and remember.
I was struck with the simplicity of that sentiment and the lack of everything that I once believed was so important to tell my sponsored child when I write. I try to pack so much into these letters I write to my child. I mean, this is really a big responsibility. That “A game” type of pressure can often keep me from writing at all.
The next day, I was still thinking about that postcard. So I asked his sponsor why he had written something so simple.
He told me a story from his own youth. He had left his tiny hometown in Montana immediately after turning 18. He couldn’t wait to leave. But he confessed that during his time of finding his way, he was extremely homesick, often feeling so small that not even God could find him in the massive landscape of the big city. Being unknown is painful. He told me that during these times of homesickness, his dad would sometimes send him random letters. Inside were simple messages like “Getting warmer here … ready for the rain to come. — Dad”
He shared that it didn’t matter what his dad said in those letters. Just that he sent them.
“When you feel so alone that no one knows who you are, just to be known means everything.”
He went on to tell me that he had always sent postcards to Santiago with simple messages like this. Santiago even had many of them in that backpack. Postcard themes of cows, milk, green fields and cheese were the mainstays of the collection. Remember, his sponsor was from Wisconsin. And it’s probably no surprise that Santiago is now the CEO of a dairy company in Guatemala.
The Real Takeaway
The real takeaway for me is that it really may not matter WHAT you write to your sponsored child but THAT you write your sponsored child.
We must remember that simply being known and thought about is an extraordinary blessing that reflects the very heart of God. The soul does the translation — that you were being thought of and you were worth writing to. Some days that’s all we need to keep going.
How I Write Now
My sponsor child now gets some pretty corny postcards from everywhere I visit. I chuckle every time I send one because it’s hard to trust their simplicity. But because of Santiago, I know that it’s most often just about being known.
If you’re wondering what to write to your child, relax. Go find your own raccoon postcard and send it on. God will translate.