With the number of letters we've received, as well as the length, we couldn't possibly share them all here, but we'd like to take the time to share bits and pieces of the 15 pages we received from him last week.
My friend and fellow Compassion Advocate Michelle (BloggingFromTheBoonies) has a Mail Call Monday feature on her blog. I will be adding this letter to it tomorrow, but thought I better start typing now...
Prayer Requests: Pray for some of the children in the project who have experienced sponsor cancellations.
Memory Verse: Joshua 1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given to you just as I promised to Moses.
Ato says, he becomes happy whenever he is writing you a letter. Ato Sam says that there is no other way to talk to you except through letter. He says his dear mother, how are you and how is his father Terry, together with his siblings, Jillian, Joshua and Brandon too?
Sam says he was surprised to hear that "it is with great joy that we take part in this blessing" (I had written this about how I feel about writing and sponsoring him).
Sam says he wanted to tell you that you are also a blessing to him more than he himself can think of. Ato says he owes you a lot of gratitude and sometimes he does not know how to show it. He says he has received three letters from you and he says he is so excited! He says your letters make him feel your presence.
Ato says he was very amazed that the whole world is looking at him and his letters. He says he thanks God for letting people know him and also touching other's hearts to sponsor many children. (I had explained to him that I share his letters on this website.)
The experience that a dear friend of mine, Tanya, has with correspondence with her Compassion child was shared with Ato Sam, and he had this message for Tanya: He says he realized that some of the sponsors were not happy about the way their letters are responded (impersonal, no answers to questions asked, etc), and he says to tell them that they should not lose heart but as time goes on, God will let them be happy.
Ato says you said you are grateful that his mother and his family let you share him with them. Ato says that he and his family did nothing to God that let you come into their lives. He says he has more to talk about you and he together with his family owes you a lot. He says he always thanks God for letting you sponsor him. He says you are truly his mother and even wishes to see your face some days to come. He says your books that you sent him has helped him a lot. He says his brother helps him to read them every evening. he says you also sent him gift money to buy soccer ball and other items to help play the soccer well, so you are his mother and you care about his future.
He says he heard that Joshua was amazed to hear that he has not seen (American) football before. He says in Ghana, football is not played here, only the soccer ball is played. he says that he also heard that someday, Joshua will teach him how to play the football, and Ato says he is also ready to teach Joshua about the soccer too. He says he agrees to what you said, that Joshua and him will become best friends. He says he wishes that the friends should be brothers.
He says that [since] the letters came in late (postal strike), he would like to know if the adoption worker was able to meet with us?
He says the same Sam was given to him by his father and he says he has asked his father for the meaning but he says the name was given to him by his father (Sam's grandpa). He says his father said it is their surname and does not understand it since it is ancient name. (I have since written to him about the meaning of his name)
Ato says do you know that you are special? He says you are special because you are a blessing to him and his family.
He says for their studies, they are preparing for their promotion examinations so he says their studies are going on well as his elderly brother has been helping him. He says he is trying to study hard so that he can write the exams.
He says how is the weather now? He says says you wrote that you were experiencing the snow again. He says he knows that the snow will not allow anyone to do anything. (This made me laugh out loud! Love this boy!) He says he remembers from your letters that one time, the rain did not permit his siblings in Canada to go to school! Ato Sam says that over two weeks now, it has been raining often.
Ato says he was sad at first when he heard that (M) couldn't come to be his next sister (our adoption match fell through). He says he was hoping that all his dreams will come to pass. He says you encouraged him again that a new one has been found for you. He says what is her name? He says the scripture that you gave was powerful. Ato says he prays that God should not deny you this new one that has come into your and his life. He says he praises the Lord for this precious offer.
Ato says he has seen the good work that you are doing.
Ato says you asked him concerning his father's understanding of the English language and he says that his father is literate. He says his father attended school and completed form four in the olden days. He says his father learned the English language. He says his father continued his education in a technical school at Kukurantumi (Saint Paul Technical School). He says his father had opportunity to teach in one of the newly established second cycle institutions as a volunteer (casual) teacher. He says now, due to the changes in the country, his father lost his job as a volunteer teacher. He says now his father is a farmer, but at times, also used to support their church building as a voluntary (casual) worker. He says his father can read and write.
(This next part gets a little funny... I had told him I'd been studying the Akan culture and had learned that I should not use my left hand when in Ghana, as it is considered "unclean".)
Ato says according to his father, he says that to Akan elders, it was known that the left hand is used to clean their bodies after visiting the nature call (toilet). He says they also used their left hand to touch things that were unclean, so it is considered that the left is unclean. He says in Akan land one must not use his unclean hand (left hand) to greet or even to direct an elderly person. He says what you heard was true. He says one must not use his left hand to eat so that the person may not contract diseases or germs. (How many of you use their left hands after a nature call?)
Ato says it is also true that people take their words seriously. Please, Ato's father says he wants to assist him in giving more explanation to the issues being discussed. Ato's father says that there are some issues that someone will take seriously. The father says especially when someone is quarrelling with another person, whatever is said during that time will be taken seriously. The Akan (meaning anyone that speaks similar language like the Fante language is Akan) believes that, whatever is said during the quarrel shall come to pass. Ato's father says that, the Fantes tease themselves and also make more fun too. (Whew!!) His father says, do not be afraid because the Fantes love receiving visitors and do not harm any visitor. (Sweet!)
The father said, concerning the customs and cultures of Ghana, he has found you a piece of document that contains some of the customs and cultural practices of Ghana. The attached is the piece of that document. (It was quite interesting!)
Ato says concerning his life, he says he fetches water early in the morning and also assists his father at the farm. He says he does not like many friends but says he tries to keep the few friends for long. Ato also adds that he becomes happy when doing something like having fun with friends and also playing soccer. He says last two months, he was part of the singing competition team and he was not picking up the part he was given to sing. He says he tried his best to do it and his project center took third position of the nine projects that competed. he says, in his life, he tried to do something that he is not good at. He says he became happy that his center became third because he was part of the team.
Ato adds that he was much happy of having a wonderful and healthy family. He says God has done another wonderful thing in his family. He says that his parents always correct them whenever they go wrong. (Proverbs!) He says now his family has found another person who is supporting them both physically and spiritually. Ato says that that person goes the extra mile to encourage and advise Ato. He says his family is hospitable to everyone and that person too has that characteristic. He says that person has added value to his family and also to him personally. Ato says his family has developed when that person came into his family. Ato and his father say that God should bless that person and give her all the favor and the strength that she needs. Ato's father says that may God bless the family in terms of their studies and their business too. Ato says that he believes that you will shout a big AMEN because all the statement above refers to you. He says you have changed his world and says that is what he can say about his life, family and his world.
He says that, thanks to all the sponsors and also Compassion as a whole. He says thanks to God for meeting you. He says he loves you so much and always prays for you.
He says the attached is the photograph after the singing competition. (Names everyone in photo). (If anyone sponsors at GH316, let me know, as this photo may include your sponsor child).
He says that he loves you so much...
End of Message
His letter was so long, that I chose to respond to it over the course of four separate letters to him, each no more than 2 pages as to not overwhelm him or the Compassion workers. OK, the other reason for splitting up the response was so that I could send a book with each letter, increasing his collection of resources. Perhaps he can work as an unofficial librarian as he makes his way through school :D