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Now that you know, what will you do?

Today I met two supermodels. Not really. But holy cow, aren’t these two sisters gorgeous? These two girls are sponsored by two separate Australian families with Compassion here in the Philippines. Aira, on the left, is 17 and hopes to become a teacher. Dhesthile, on the right, is 13 and is mostly happy playing volleyball.

They both help lead worship in their dilapidated shell of a church in an area here called The Island. They call it that because several times a year, houses are flooded up to their waists.

Aira wants to stay there and teach. She wants to stay because she’s already investing in kids, and she knows them by name.

She knew that little Margie down the road lives with her single dad and brothers because her mother left to become a prostitute.

She also knew that of the kids in the neighborhood, two still don’t have sponsors. Aira prays that these friends will soon.

Hope begets action

“Live simply so that others may simply live.” This well-known quote from Mother Teresa has been floating through my head all week as I’ve worn the necklace you see here that Lisa made. Live simply. It’s resting on my heart right now, literally and figuratively.

I mean, I’ve more or less believed this for awhile now. My family and I have lived abroad and seen the simplicity of other cultures first-hand. I’ve lived on the Serbo-Kosovar border in the former Yugoslavia, not long after Miloseviç swept through with his atrocities. I’ve visited Russian orphanages mere months after the Iron Curtain fell.

But I admit that this week has been the first time I’ve seen real, hard-core, true poverty with HOPE enveloping each of these hearts. These kids, loved on individually by Compassion sponsors, have hope. Their families may live in homes not larger than the bed I’m typing on, but they have hope. You can see it in their eyes.

So… How do you process all this? What’s the take away? What can you do, as a family, to bring hope to families like the ones you’ve seen all week?

The obvious

You already know that it costs $38 monthly to sponsor a child through Compassion. It’s not much by our North American standards, but I understand that it would take a bit of sacrifice for some people. I’m not made of money, either. That legendary tree-sprouting-money-leaves still isn’t growing in my backyard.

Maybe you want to give, but you’re not sure where to find that extra money. Here are some ideas.

1. Start living on a monthly written budget, and include a line-item of $38 in your giving. You’ll be surprised that once you write down your monthly financial plan and give every dollar a name, it goes farther than you think.

2. Sponsor a child with your book club, Bible study, or play group. $38 divided by several families is almost nothing. If college dorms can do it (and they do), you can, too.

3. Skip one meal per week, and set aside the money you’d normally use to eat for your family’s Compassion fund. It’s only one meal — as your stomach gurgles, you’ll be reminded to pray for the millions worldwide whose tummy growls all day long.

4. Skip two lattes a week — $8 per week is $32 monthly. Heck, even simply downgrade your usual drink from a latte to an americano. At Starbucks, this would be an almost $200 difference annually.

5. Eat one meatless meal per week. Skipping just one pound of ground beef per week can easily save you $20 per month.

6. Switch from cable to Netflix. Not only will you watch less television (always a good thing), you’ll save about $30 monthly.

7. If you normally eat out twice a week, drop it down to just once. That can easily be $40 weekly saved (or 4.2 kids, in Compassion terms).

So… yeah. I’m going to keep doing some of these things. I’ll start doing some others. I’d really like it if you joined me.

The not-quite-as-obvious

Did you know that if you’re a sponsor, your child can rattle off your first and last name and where you’re from without batting an eye? I loved asking kids all week who their sponsors were. “Mr. Brian Chun from South Korea.” “Mr. Robert and Mrs. Julie Hill from Colorado.” It was precious to hear their staccato voice resound your names with a smile on their faces.


8. Write letters. I had no idea how much sponsor’s letters mean to these kids. No idea. Eva, a volunteer teacher with Compassion, told me today that she sees a remarkable difference in academic, social, and emotional progress between the kids who get letters and the ones who don’t. It broke my heart to hear prayer requests from children that they would receive a letter from their sponsor.

9. Write letters to kids you’re not financially supporting. There are kids whose sponsors don’t write — head here for information on how you can write on their behalf as a correspondent. These kids will love you for it.

10. Have your children draw pictures for your sponsored kids. Such an easy, inexpensive, meaningful way to bless these kids. There’s a good chance these drawings will become artwork for their walls. I’ve seen your kids’ scribbles, taped to their dilapidated cardboard walls.

So there you go. Ten things. Ten little steps we can each take to make life a lot easier for a child.


We board our plane in just a few hours, and my fellow bloggers and I will head back to our homes and squeeze our own children. I’ve got a suitcase full of laundry, and come Monday morning, it’s back to making oatmeal and reading stories on the couch.

After today, you’ll get a little break from hearing about Compassion and the Philippines. (But don’t be surprised if you hear about it again in the not too distant future.) Yet I hope that Aira’s simple prayer stays with you this weekend, as it will with me as I rest on my long flight over the Pacific:

That more of her friends will get sponsored.

Sponsor a child. Really. You’ll be blessed as much as the child you’re blessing — try it and see what happens. You’re giving these kids hope, but your family will be the better for it, too.

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies

    For anyone on the threshold of taking the leap to sponsor a child, I urge you to read Malachi 3:10.
    As I posted yesterday on my blog, I know that for most, it is the financial commitment that worries them. $38 can seem like a lot. Yet, for every person that I know that has taken this step, once you start to give, the blessings are amazing. No, money will most likely not start falling on your head, but I would bet that your view on wants and needs will change a bit.

    You cannot outgive God. I truly, truly believe that.

  2. michelle

    Thanks for this list, Tsh. It’s helpful to see practical ways to help and give. We could do the meatless meals for sure, I’m going to talk to my husband about consciously skipping a meal.

    Thanks again!

  3. FishMama

    Can’t say how much this trip has meant to me personally. It brought to the surface all sorts of memories of a trip to Honduras many moons ago. Thank you for the gentleness with which you have communicated your experiences. I’ve had all sorts of misconceptions about Compassion broken this week. Much to process in my mind and heart. Can you come for coffee next week? 😉

    My almost 9 year old son and I scrolled through the kids in the Philippines yesterday and chose a 9yo boy to sponsor in addition to Joseph that we sponsor in Peru. Dreaming a big dream that we can eventually sponsor a child in every country that Compassion serves.

    Thanks for your encouragement, Tsh.

    • Tsh

      So fun, Jessica! And yes, please — I’ll do coffee with you anytime.

  4. Krissa

    Thank you so much for going and for sharing with us all your experiences there. My 4 yr. old and I just watched one of the videos Kat posted and then she picked out a little 4 yr. old girl to sponsor. We’re so excited and getting to see all your pictures and hear your experiences has made it so real. Thank you!

  5. Teena

    Thank you, Tsh. Alyssa and I sit here reading this post. We plan to sponsor a child today from the Philippines. God has been pulling at our heart all week.

    Compassion is such an amazing organization…. but so much more.

    Praying for all of you.

    Please don’t stop talking about the Philippines!

    Much love

  6. Jill Foley

    Awesome wrap-up post! I would also add encouragement to those who do sponsor to plug into community with other sponsors. Compassion offers a resource called Our Compassion – a social networking type site to connect with other sponsors and advocate.

    There are also several of us who have Compassion-themed blogs. Michelle from Blogging from the Boonies is a great inspiration for letter-writing. My family’s blog is called Compassion Family and is geared towards making sponsorship a family effort. There are others, and getting involved helps keep the ministry in the forefront of your mind.

    So glad you were able to go on this trip. Thank you for a wonderful week of thought-provoking posts.

  7. Anthony from CharismaticKid

    Damn it, you convinced me. Here I go. I feel good already and I haven’t even done it yet.

    • Cheri

      Anthony I don’t know you but your post made me smile! Welcome to the Compassion family – here is hoping you will never be the same. Speaking from experience!

  8. Christine

    Thank you, Tsh, for going on this trip! You’ve done a wonderful job in Jesus’ name, all week long. God be with you on your reentry! When we are done with underemployment, we’re committed to doing this!

  9. Nikki

    You’ve been such a huge inspiration in my life, Tsh. Thank you for sharing this experience with all of us. You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about this week.

    Thank you for the encouragement and motivation.

  10. sophia

    my favorite is this: “Live simply so that others may simply live.” – i think it include almost everything; love, repect and unity with others. great article!

  11. Laura

    I went to Honduras a couple of years ago to volunteer at an orphanage and experienced a pull to adopt someday. Reading all of these posts has brought back up a lot of the memories from my trip. I processed it in words yesterday in my blog. Compassion (by definition, and the organization) is a powerful thing.

  12. Cheri

    Thank you for your words, thoughts and deeper glimpes into Compassion life in the Philippines. Thank you for being a faithful servant this week so that we could see, learn and do more.

  13. Sarah G

    Your post this week have encouraged me in so many ways. I never realized how meaningful our $38 or letters really were until this week. I wrote my current compassion child and we are now in the process of choosing a second child to sponsor.

    In fact, one teenager that we were considering (from the Philippines) was chosen before we had a chance! I think many have been moved to sponsor through the compassion bloggers : )

    • Heart and Haven

      I hope you select another child instead!
      It’s funny you mention this…I had a strong pull toward ONE specific child (my husband also picked the same girl independently!) As we were discussing our budget (yep, we’re cutting cable so we have the funds)…and he was reasearching on-line about Compassion, etc. I asked “Can I just select her first, and if you find something you don’t agree with we can back out?” He asked if I was afraid “someone else would get her”. Uh, yes I was 🙂
      BTW, we are now proud sponsors of a beautiful 4 yr old girl, Andrea, from El Salvador….and I haven’t been able to stop praying for her and her family since yesterday! 🙂

      • Sarah G

        Definitely, I actually had 4 teens up on the screen for my hubby to check out and I was ecstatic to see one was already taken today. More children with sponsors=awesome! I think it’s great that you snatched the one you were feeling drawn to up though, clearly that’s how someone felt about this young lady too : )

        We already sponsor a young child and now would like to sponsor an older child also. I’m really looking forward to corresponding with a teen, it will be so different from my sweet 7 year old who can spend an entire letter telling me all about playing cars (sooo cute!).

  14. Stephanie

    I have appreciated these thoughtful posts and a broader glimpse of Compassion’s ministry. We are missionaries to Chile and reading these stories causes me to look at the children around me with a new and deeper perspective.

  15. Nancy

    Our family sponsors kids through Compassion. Some employers will match your Compassion donation so every dollar given is doubled – what a great deal! All that my husband’s employer requires is filling out a short form that’s mailed in with your monthly check.

    • Princess Leia

      It never occurred to me to see if my or my husband’s employer would match a monthly Compassion check! What an AWESOME idea! I knew I was reading through these comments for a reason!

  16. Danielle

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Recently I decided to sponsor a child, with a different organization out of Canada. Reading your posts just reaffirmed my choice to sponsor a child. I have to go write a letter to our child now!

  17. Emily

    Honestly, until we move out into the boonies and start really homesteading, we almost can’t live any more frugally than we do now.

    This is one reason I am working on a biz, so that we can give more. We sponsor 2 kids via another ministry, and I never feel like we give enough…

  18. Mandy

    Thank you, Tsh! I love this list. I’m excited to get started letter writing to my sponsored kids. I’m one of those sponsors who has never made it a priority. Now I’m justly convicted! I have someone holding me accountable to take action and those letters are going out before then end of the month. THANK YOU!

  19. Vicki Childs

    Hi Tsh
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s so important to remember that there’s more out there than just our own day-to-day worries!
    After an amazing experience traveling around Ghana I sponsored a child through World Vision for several years. I had to cancel my sponsorship when we moved from England to the US and the day after I cancelled I received a phone call from World Vision. I thought they’d called to try and get me to re-sponsor, but actually they were just thanking me for all my contributions over the years. I was so touched that they did that!
    I’ve been meaning to sponsor a child again and your posts have prompted me to finally sort this out! Thanks 😉

  20. Lisa Browning

    I have been reading your blog since sometime after the first of the year. I have been struggling to declutter since I retired last October, and there are a few blogs I have been reading in connection with my decluttering efforts (with the goal to live simpler – less is more!). This week, beginning with your post “An Opulent Ability to Give” – and following all the links in that post, including how Compassion International is financially accountable…and then seeing the extremely small homes that Denise and other children like her live in…I signed up to sponsor a child in the Philippines. The day I went to the site, there were 924 children just in the Philippines waiting for sponsor. I had no idea how to choose (I have since read more information on the subject)…but not wanting to pick (or discount) based on looks or convenience (like a child on the first page) necessarily, I simply used a random number generator and came up with 303. I scrolled through the pages until I found her–a 6-year-old girl named Kate Mansueto. In her brief bio, it says that she is one of 5 children, and somehow that makes me even more happy that I chose a number and that she was the child who was #303 that day. Is she a middle child? The oldest? The youngest? I can’t wait to find out more about her. I may have chosen her using a random number, but I like to think instead that #303 was meant to be the child I sponsor. Also, many times over the years, I have seen advertisements and such about sponsoring children in other countries, and I’ve thought I’d like to do it but then forgotten about it. In the back of mind, I think I wondered if the money sent would really get to the child; was this a racket, etc., etc. This week, after reading the the “Opulent Ability” post, I was inspired to sponsor in a way that I have never been before. I didn’t realize either that it involved doing more than just sending a check, like writing letters and sending birthday gifts, and that even little amounts you send for such things could make such an amazing difference. I signed up for little Kate and have continued to read the blogs, and I just get more and more excited about my decision the more I read. I am excited to be sponsoring a child at last and I am glad that it is with Compassion International. I didn’t do a lot of research, but for me…the way it happened was the right time and the right organization, I do believe. Thank you Tsh for your blogs this week. Your post was “THE ONE” that struck a chord with me.

  21. Brian

    What precious children! Thanks so much for sharing this post and for encouraging others to help these little ones!

  22. Jorge Silvestrini

    Wow – just happen to get to your blog via the Thesis webpage (theme)… Great article – agree with suggestion 1 about the monthly budget. I follow Dave Ramsey and it’s one of the things I have learned I really need to change to get ahead… Switching from cable to netflix will also be huge, and I know it is more than $30… You can even get a new HD antenna for about $40 and watch all the HD channels over the air making the cost of TV lower than $4 a month for a year!

    Keep up the great work!

  23. Kim

    Thank you for letting us know how important it is to write to our sponsored child. We sponsored our first child just a few months ago. A little boy from Rwanda. I was gathering some small items to send him recently and wondered if it would really matter to him. I have no doubt now that it will matter.

    Thanks again for the encouragement .

  24. Julie

    Your stories touched my heart. My five year old daughter and I signed up to sponsor a little boy in Bangladesh. I searched for children who have been waiting the longest, with the same birth month and day as my daughter. Tis sweet little nine year old face popped up and that was it. We have agreed to give up one Sunday brunch out each month and I will have one less coffee out each week.

    Thank you.

  25. oh amanda {impress your kids}

    I love this not only b/c of the frugality and purposefulness but also because it’s such an example to your children. They see you NOT stopping at Starbucks, having meatless meals, etc. It’s an easy way to show your kids how your daily life CAN be intertwined with another around the world.

    Thank you again!

    • Tsh

      Thank you, friend.

  26. Lissy

    We joined Compassion in the last 6 months & sponsor a girl from Haiti. She is an absolutely sweetheart! I think it blesses us more than her…

  27. Becki McAuley

    Thank you for your posts about your trip. My daughter and I just returned from a similar trip from Ethiopia. In fact she traveled with anoter team mbr to meet her Compassion child. My daughter sponsors a child with her boyfriend. She’s hopeful to one day meet her Efram. Since my trip we’ve been talking about international adoption. What was your sense of the need for that in the Philippians? This is an area we had not thought aboutbuntil reading your posts and viewing your pictures. Thanks and I’m praying for your team and your reintegration in to your new “normal”.

  28. Kara at The Chuppies

    I loved this post Tsh.
    Very convicting–
    Because many of the changes are things we can/could/should easily do…that would make a difference.

    You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…
    ~William Wilberforce

    • Tsh

      One of my favorite quotes.

  29. Sarah Creighton

    I love all the attention you’ve brought to Compassion! Our family has enjoyed sponsoring our child for some time now and love sending letters and what-not. It’s so exciting when we receive a letter back too! I’ve been giving Compassion gifts to family and friends too-they get to sponsor a child for a month on us but usually (actually always) they continue the sponsorship themselves after that point. Such a great organization. Thanks for posting!!

  30. Beth

    My five-year-old son and I picked out a five-year-old boy in the Philippines who likes art and cars, just like him. Thanks for your posts this week, I’ve always thought about sponsoring a child but I didn’t know how much the money truly helps them until now.

    • Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies

      Beth, if you get a minute, stop by my blog. A few days back I posted something titled New Compassion Sponsors. I have a Family Sponsorship Pack I’d like to send you!

  31. Jessica

    Wow. Great post, Tsh. Thank you.

  32. Jennifer

    Sponsoring a child is an amazing way to make a difference not only in that child’s life, but for a whole community. I used to work for another worldwide Christian charity that funds community development projects through Child Sponsorship (and other means). One concern that so many people have is “does the money really get there”. The answer is – YES. Of course there are administration costs – and Compassion is known being in the top three (if not the top one) of least admin costs per $100 brought in, but yes, yes, yes. The money gets to the field, it gets to these children and it makes a HUGE difference in their lives and the lives of their communities.

    Not only are you sponsoring a child and developing a relationship with them, but you’re helping out an entire community.

  33. Lisa Littlewood

    What an incredible opportunity to meet these kids and share these stories…I’m so moved by the thoughts, pictures, posts and stories of the team you traveled with– It’s so easy to get distracted by the day to day stuff (even the “important” stuff, like feeding our families as you mentioned in today’s post) that we forget that there is a much bigger world out there, and that there are things we can tangibly do to help…

    I’ve sponsored children in the past (when I was in college), but not in several years…I really appreciate your sharing how much the sponsorships mean to the children, and the correspondence…I didn’t realize it meant so much…going to look into this with my family this week.

  34. Stephanie

    I love your “live simply” necklace – such a powerful message in few words.

    Thanks for writing out your practical ideas here about how to put that concept into action.

  35. Janice

    I’m trying to find the origination of the quote, “Now that you know, what will you do.” I would appreciate any and all leads, info, you can supply. Thanks so much, Janice

  36. Val

    Hi Tsh
    Just thought I’d let you know that because of your recent trip and your posts about it my family are now sponsoring a child through Compassion. You’re writing really does make a difference, especially to one little six year old from Nicaragua.
    Thank you and God Bless You.
    Val in the UK

  37. Nicole

    Tsh, what if you aren’t Christian? Can you still write to the kids? I am a recent college grad, so I can’t afford to sponsor one yet but I would love to write to them.

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