Hello, I’m a letter from a sponsor in Utah. I’m going on a journey to Malawi, in Africa. Along the way I’ll be joined by a friend I call RL—a Reciprocal Letter for a sponsored child to write back to my owner. But I'm getting ahead of myself. You’ll get to hear about his trip later. Please join me on my journey.
1: Into the mail!
My owner smiles as she fills my page. She writes about her family, work, church, and things she likes to do. Then she puts me in an envelope with a photo for the child I am going to go see. After decorating the envelope with stickers, she mails me to Children of the Nations (COTN).
2: COTN's USA office
When I arrive, I’m carried to the sponsorship department and put into a basket with other letters for Malawi. I snuggle in and decide to take a little nap, but a nice volunteer soon wakes me up when she gently unfolds me. She reads my words and smiles. 
Then she introduces me to RL, my new friend. She carefully writes notes on RL about my owner, the child I will see, and the photos that came in my envelope. Then she folds RL around me. I’m glad we will be traveling together! 
She gives RL an identification number and rubber bands us together with more letters and a tracking sheet so we won’t get lost. Then we are packed into a box and placed on a shelf where we must wait for the next team of people going to Malawi to take us with them. I’m told this could be one day, a month, or even two months.
3: The airplane! 
I feel a rush of excitement when someone finally lifts us off the shelf. But the next few days are very tiring. We are constantly being bumped around as we are loaded into a car, put onto a conveyor belt, and then onto an airplane. I do not like to fly! It is cold and cramped. Just when I think we are done, we are put into another airplane—ugh!


The children love seeing your creativity when you write to them!

4: COTN's in-country office 
We finally land in Malawi and are taken to COTN’s ministry center. As they unload us from the car, I hear a lot of excitement. “Look at all the mail!” someone says. “The children are going to be so excited. Our children are so blessed by their sponsors!” 
Later that day, some of the boxes are opened, but not mine.  I want to yell, “Let me out!  I want to meet my child!” But alas, I must wait a little longer. It seems that no one is going to the village of Chilombo today, and that’s where my child lives.


Sometimes it takes a couple of months to get a letter from the US to your sponsored child’s country. It’s always exciting for the children when they receive your letters.

5: Your sponsored child's village
Oh! I’m moving again! The rubber band is loosened and I see a kind face. He unfolds RL and me. It feels good to stretch! A young girl looks up at us with a big smile and anxious eyes. The kind gentleman hands her the photo and small gifts. I hear him call her Grace. 
Grace smiles as the man begins to read my words. But wait, they don’t sound right! The gentleman is reading in Chichewa, Grace’s native language. She has only just begun to learn English in school. When he finishes, the gentleman hands me over to Grace. Her hands are gritty with red dirt, but she holds me close. 
As Grace and the kind gentleman begin filling RL’s page, I look all around. There are so many children, and like Grace they have letters too. Suddenly, the gentleman stands up. He has RL in his hand. This is the last time I see RL, but his journey is not done.

Follow_your_letter_children_w_buckets.jpg The journey isn’t over when your letter arrives in-country. Next it’s on to your sponsored child’s village.


Last stop: Grace's home 
Grace carries me and the photos home. Unlike my home in Utah, her house is made of mud walls and a thatched roof. Grace runs excitedly to her mother and shows her what my owner sent. Her mother smiles with tears in her eyes. She’s thankful Grace has been blessed by her sponsor. They carefully lay us on a shelf where we will stay safe and dry. 
I really like my new home in Malawi. Grace still likes to look at me. Sometimes she comes home after school and studies us. She’s beginning to recognize some of the words my owner wrote. Grace is always gentle with me and I love making her smile.
Ready to start writing your own letter? Check out some tips for writing to your sponsored child
If you’re not yet a sponsor, you can become one in just a few minutes.
by Melvi Petty, COTN-USA Malawi Sponsorship Coordinator