Following the Dream

I ripped the heads off of fish today. In case you didn’t read that right…


Want proof?

I sat next to Moses, digging my hands into a basket of dried fish and tearing the heads off one by one. He does this every day so I figured I could conjure up the courage to do it just this once. (Conjure. That’s a great word. We should use it more…)

Moses has been sponsored in the Compassion program for one year but, unfortunately, he has never received a letter from his sponsors. He doesn’t know who they are, but it hasn’t diminished the gratefulness he and his family feel for their gift.

Sponsorship means that Moses can go to school now and so much more. He can play soccer with his friends in a spunky red uniform. He can learn songs and scripture and he has hope for the future. When times were tough and famine hit, his family received much needed assisstance. It’s amazing what $38 a month can do.

While sitting with Moses and his mom, we asked what she hoped for her son, the youngest of four children all living with her and her husband inside a mud house no bigger than my kitchen.

“I hope that one day Moses will grow to be a great and wise man who knows God and follows the dreams God places in his heart.”

I wish the same thing for my children. Two mothers, worlds apart, but really not all that different.

We walked with Moses to buy water so we could help him wash dishes – a chore that he performs every single day for his mother. He is a shy, sweet boy who rarely smiles, until…

His older brother, Lousobya, pulls out a beautiful Butterfly sewing machine. Their father used to be a tailor before the work disappeared. And now Moses learns the trade of his father and big brother. Lousobya helps Moses thread the needle, tongue peeking through the teeth in fierce concentration.

And as the sewing machine whirs to life it happens. A smile spreads slowly across his face. Pride. He is participating in the trade of his father, the skill of his brother. He’s happy to show us that he, too, is learning these skills.

Hope is alive, friends. It may be slow, but it’s alive. It’s alive in the smiles and laughter and the joy of the boys and girls at the Evangelistic Assembly of God Church, which hosts a Compassion program serving 238 children. 42 of those children are still awaiting sponsorship.

They’re waiting for you.

But it’s more than just sending money. They want a relationship. These kids are just like my kids – like your kids. They need to be told they are worth something. These children are not defined by where they live or the circumstances that surround them. They are more than that.

They are smart.

They are joyful.

They are happy.

They are hard working and full of life.

When you sponsor a child you have the opportunity to speak wisdom and grace and encouragement into their lives. You have the ability to build in them the confidence to look beyond where they are and reach for the dreams God has placed in their hearts.

Letters mean the world to these children. Don’t forget that component.

Do you want to see who it is you are writing to? Trust me. Your answer to that question is a resounding yes.



If you are on the fence about sponsoring a child, let me encourage you that it is a decision that you will never regret. It is the best investment of time, prayers and finances that you could possibly make. If you at all feel a tug of the heart, then click the picture below and sponsor a child from Tanzania today.


Follow the journeys of the other amazing bloggers on this trip here.


  1. What a beautiful smile! It breaks my heart to hear he has never received a letter. There are so many advocates who have really taken this problem to heart and spend so much time and energy encouraging sponsors to correspond with their sponsored children.

    I like to point out to potential sponsors that the children they see waiting for sponsorship are already benefiting from Compassion’s program – it’s not a financial thing to them at all. To the child, sponsorship means that they have been chosen and now have a new friend. Imagine the excitement of hearing you’ve been chosen – sponsored – but then never hearing a word from your “friend”. It must be so confusing for them to understand.

    One of my goals as an advocate is to help people understand this. Yes there is a financial obligation to sponsorship, but that’s such a small part of what sponsorship means. It’s about relationship, which is built through letters.

    Thank you for this post, Kelli, and for the reminder that sponsorship is about more than $38 a month.

    • Thank you for this comment, Jill. You are exactly right! Thanks for the work you are doing on behalf of Compassion. 🙂

  2. My heart breaks to read of these missed opportunities to minister to and encourage these children! You know me, I am BIG on helping sponsors with letter writing. I know it isn’t easy for some people…. But, our letters have the power to do so much in the lives of these children.

    Thank you for sharing a message so near and dear to my heart.

    • Thanks, Michelle. I think that maybe sometimes people don’t know how easy it is to write the children now. You can get online at Compassion and compose an entire letter with pictures in less than ten minutes. Maybe I will talk about that in my next post. 🙂

  3. ha! that last clip of the little boy dancing looks just like eli when he is dancing…love it!

    • That kid was killing me! He was just hilarious. 🙂 Our boys would have had a ball at this school. The kids were loaded with personality.

  4. Ok! I am not sure about that pulling fish heads off, Eeek, but what an amazing experience. The video is priceless too. Thanks for sharing your heart this week!

    • Thanks Patricia. 🙂 This week has been lifechanging for me so far. I’m honored to get to share this journey.

  5. In the past year I have met several people who were blessed to have traveled to meet their sponsored children. And every single one of them said that child had kept every single letter they had received. WOW. That alone says it all. And now Compassion makes it so easy by allowing you to send emails and even upload photos.
    Kelli, you look a bit “sun-kissed.” Please tell Keely I want to be her when I grow up.

    • If by “sun-kissed” you mean “sun-fried” then yes, what you say is correct. Being this close to the equator is tough on skin like mine. 🙂

      The kids CHERISH the letters. Every bit of communication is a thrill and gives them a sense of worth. They realize that someone else in this big wide world loves them and it’s amazing what that does for their confidence!

  6. yes, what Michelle & Jill said….. letter writing is their lifeline…. what a blessing they are missing out on by not writing their sponsored child. Wonder if we could check with Compassion and see if he can be assigned a correspondence….

    Praying for all of you!


  7. ooh and we LOVED the video! Thank you for sharing!

    • The kids at the school yesterday were a hoot. They were just too much fun to be around. Thanks, Teena!

  8. I had coffee today with a young lady who cannot afford to sponsor a child, but she loves to write and is now an “official” letter writer to 2 Compassion kiddos who have not received letters from their sponsors. She is SO excited!

    • Thanks great, Karen! I think letter writers are just as valuable as sponsors. Tell her we all said thank you!

  9. Love it! Keep sharing your heart!

    • Thanks for reading and being so encouraging Steve. I fell like I know you from the stories I’ve heard. 😉

  10. Love all the sweet faces in that video! Oh, and we will be praying for Moses. I pray that his sponsor realizes the importance of writing to this young boy.

    • I find myself just cupping their sweet little cheeks with my hands when I’m with them. They are so very precious and so honored to be touched and loved. And yes, Moses is a remarkable little boy. I pray he starts receiving letters soon because he’s just the sweetest little guy! He could really use the encouragement.

  11. Laura Devaisher says

    Are you guys coming to Dar? We’d love to host you for a meal if you’d like. 🙂

  12. may God bless you for the wonderful work you’ve been involved in. I work in Arusha, actually our office is in the same building with Compassion offices. I wish i can meet you. i love reading your blog. for how long will you be in Arusha?

  13. Hi Kelli…. Thanks for sharing with us. We are choosing a child from Tanz tonight. Excited to see who the Lord will allow us to bless.

    • Awesome! Thanks, Suzanne, for being willing to change a child’s life.

      • James Sisiti Syrivester in the Oldean Lutheran Karatu Student Center and Bertha Saidi Saimoni in the AICT Kahama Mjini Student Center are our two children the kids chose to sponsor. Only sharing this because if for some reason you bump into these two little ones, please hug them for us! Let them know we are already prying for them and letters and drawing will be in the mail as soon as we know where to send it. We read every word from your blog. The kids enjoyed it. We laughed with you (it was great to hear your voice, friend) and we are saddened (deeply) for what we’ve never known.

  14. Ooh little Moses, what a beautiful smile. I wish I could write him a letter to let him know.

    My husband and I are praying this week on making a decision about sponsoring a Compassion child. It has been something I have wanted to do for a while now.

    This post was great! You make me laugh, Kelli. And I’m jealous of your pretty shoulders, haha!! I look forward to the updates each and everyday. I’m so thankful you were able to put a face to Compassion for little Moses and his family.

  15. The little boy in the video dancing in the pinstripe suit is the BEST!!! How cute is he??

  16. So I did it, my husband Josh and I (and our little girl Elin) are now the sponsors of little Beatrice in TZ. This post and Nesters with the blue nail polish made me go today and do it. Thank you!!

    • Oh Ashley, thank you!!! Thank you so much for doing that and for telling me! I’ve got tears in my eyes and gratefulness in my heart. Enjoy your sweet Beatrice. 🙂

  17. I am so glad we could do it, but THANK YOU for sacrificing your time and family to go to TZ and spread the word to thousands. I’m a new reader to you blog and have already read enough I feel like I know you, haha! I hope the rest of the trip is amazing, travel safe!

  18. Praying for Moses to receive letters very very soon!!! We could never imagine not even writing one letter to our Compassion children!!! I wasn’t so sure about the fish heads at first, but I think you were very brave and courageous! 🙂 Letters are soooo very important to these precious children! We second the comments from Michelle and Jill!!!!!! We’re also rejoicing about the new sponsors and their new Compassion family members!


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