Yesterday, I shared how we decided to sponsor a little girl in India the day before Ben left to visit India with Compassion.
His flight didn't leave until later that evening, so we had some time in the morning to run out and buy her a few gifts to send with him.
Ideally, I would have thought and planned about what to send her for several weeks and come up with just the right items.
But I only had a few hours.
I do not do well with little time, but I had no other option.
I really wanted to send her some books. Although, at that point, I knew very little about her, I imagined that she did not have any books of her own. But I knew that she would be learning to read in school, so I wanted her to have some of her own.
I wanted her to know that books were for her. Not just the books I was sending, but all books.
That may sound strange to those of us who have always had books in our lives, but children living in poverty don't know that. They don't believe that things we take for granted like books are for them. In their eyes and hearts, those are things for other people.
I don't know if it was the time restraint or the fact that this little girl was born on the other side of the world on the exact same day as my own daughter, but I felt a great pressure inside of me to send as much as I possibly could.
I felt like I would never have another chance to give her a gift--maybe in her whole life. Who knows if Ben will ever go back to India and it's not that likely that I would find myself there.
I really wanted to make this count.
Because to me, she essentially IS Juliet. She's a beautiful little girl, brimming with potential, with her whole life before her. The only difference is the opportunities she and Juliet have been given. And the fact the one of them was born into a world where all her needs are provided for and then some, and the other was born into a world where it is a daily struggle to survive.
I kept thinking, if it were Juliet, I would want someone to help her.
Here is what I came up with from the books on our own shelves.
I realized that these may be the only books she ever owns for her entire childhood. I wanted to send ones that she could read over and over again without growing tired of them. Also, I wanted the illustrations to be as enjoyable as the stories themselves.
The brief description about Rebatee on her sponsorship packet said she enjoyed art, so I sent the I Can Crayon book by Usborne. I also sent a notebook and some crayons and a set of markers. (A quick trip to Target yielded the extra goods besides the books.)
The Fire Cat is one of our very favorite books. It's one of those that I can read over and over again and never get tired of. Also, I particularly love the message. Pickles is a cat who wants to do great things--and he does--because he has someone who believes in him. I know Rebatee will do great things with her life. I hope she hears that message from us--that we believe in her.
Go, Dog. Go! is another of our favorites. I was trying to avoid too many books with people in them--since I wasn't sure how our culture would translate to her. I wanted characters she could relate to--and animals are universally relatable to all people.
"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" is full of wonderful illustrations and it always makes Juliet laugh. I like to imagine Rebatee laughing at the animals, too.
Guess How Much I Love You. I've met so many adults who have gone through Compassion's program who have told me that their sponsors were the first people in their lives to tell them they loved them. I don't know if this is the case with Rebatee--maybe she hears this all the time already, but even so, you can never hear the words "I love you" too many times. I hope she feels how much we love her.
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name This is our favorite Bible for kids ages 4 and up. It's written in paragraph form, so it was a bit much for Juliet at age 3, but once she turned 4, it was just right. Over and over again, I hear how other people love this book as well.
We also sent a little dress, the tiger in the picture, some candy, a slinky, play-doh, and a photo book with photos of us. Juliet dictated a list of questions for Ben to ask her when he met her.
We also included a notebook filled with page protecters. (So she could have a place to store the letters we will send her over the years.) We also included a map of the world. I had Juliet place two hearts on it before we folded it up and placed it inside. One where she lives and one where Rebatee lives. I hope she will hang it up in her home to remind her of our friendship and love for her. This brings to mind a great book called How I Learned Geography.
So that is it. We filled a pink backpack with the goods and sent it with Ben. Tomorrow, I'll share about his experience meeting her in India.