Why does it take so long?

By Scott Linscott

We all love to get a piece of mail from the child we sponsor. I love it like Christmas morning!

But it doesn’t happen very often … sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Why is that? Is the child that I’m sending money for even real? How do I know?

Robin and I have three children that we sponsor. Well, one is not much of a child anymore – he just turned 20. We are helping him to complete University so we have him for a couple more years. One is sponsored through Compassion International and the other two are through AMG Ministries. Our Compassion child is in Ghana and our girls are in Guatemala.

We hear from Vincent quite often. But that’s because his situation is entirely different. Most of our contact with Vincent comes by way of the computer. The Compassion office in Ghana is setup to scan correspondence from the children and then electronically send it to sponsors. I get a notification in my inbox to sign into my account to see a letter from Vincent. It’s cool, but if he was 8 and coloring pictures I would still prefer an actual piece of paper.

I have been to the center in Oratorio, Guatemala where my girls are from. “Fancy” is not a word that we would use to describe their situation. In fact, for my Guatemala girls it might even be more of a challenge to have markers and crayons and paper to color on.

So how does the letter writing process work? When you write a letter what do you do? You put it in an envelope, pop a stamp on it and go to the mailbox, right?

But the problem is in Guatemala, at least this past fall, that there was no National Postal Service. That’s right, because of crime and corruption the post office was SHUT DOWN. A shipping company? It costs about $100 for a 10 lb package to Guatemala with no guarantee it will make it! Crazy, right?

My point is that it’s easy for us here to communicate. We even overnight mail but that doesn’t exist in other parts of the world … especially third-world parts!

So, picture a hundred and fifty to 300 kids coming to school for letter writing day. That picture you have in your mind? It’s totally off-base. I’m sure you’re picturing our schools and our students sitting at nice desks, in well-lit classrooms, with everything they need to complete the project. Maybe a few students are missing with a stomach bug but their parents have taken the time to let the administration know that they would be absent.

Now let’s go to Guatemala. You’re never quite sure how many students are going to show up on any given day. It depends on what’s going on in the household; perhaps mom got a job as a day laborer and couldn’t manage walking the children to school. (I know, I know, you’re thinking of school buses, cars and ride shares, right? Nope, not an option there.)

Maybe 80 or 180 show up for letter writing day. You never know what you will have. But, you do your best to track who has written and who has not and try hard to track down the students who missed today to get their letter done by the end of the month.

At the end of the quarter, you take your stack of letters to the AMG Guatemala headquarters 2.5 hours away. There, they get added to a stack of 8000 other pieces of correspondence to be translated by a single office worker who also has receptionist duties.

Do the math … 8000+ children writing two letters a year is 16,000, right? They need to be translated, sorted and packed for the next part of their journey. That means the receptionist/translator has 64 letters a day to handle! Would you like her job?

Taking all that into account, I am amazed and thrilled if I get one letter a year! Still, I go online at the start of each month and write to my kids on the Internet. I know my messages and attached pictures normally reach them in just a month or two. I’m more interested in making sure they know they are loved and prayed for than I am in getting a letter back.

If you sponsor a child in Oratorio, come with me on my next trip! Meet your child. We’ll be like the Pony Express and deliver messages and goodies. 😃

#missions #childsponsor #missiontrip @fbcwestbrook