Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Receiving Letters from a Child

It is what we ALL hope for.

To receive a note back from the child who receives the shoebox. It is a rare treat. Most of the children who get a shoebox can not afford to send mail back. But it DOES happen. Some children have more opportunities to mail back.... a child in a hospital, school, or orphanage may get help writing back. Others have the means to send back a letter. Now it is growing more common to receive an email from the child.

So when you send your shoebox... DO include a photo and a note. And do include your address and your email. You might be blessed with a letter back. But no matter what, know that you will always have a tie to the child... for you have been used by God in their lives... through your gift the child has felt the love of Christ.

And don't forget you can track your package by paying online and printing out a tracking label. If you do that, you will receive an email telling you what country your box went to.

The following story about a letter and a friendship is from http://www.samaritan.org/index.php/articles/letters_from_eduardo/

March 16, 2011

Letters from Eduardo

A shoe box gift sparks correspondence and a long-time friendship between a Honduran boy and a Colorado woman
“Mom Juleen!” the handsome young man exclaimed as he caught sight of the American woman wearing a green Operation Christmas Child polo shirt. “It’s really you!”

Juleen Edwards had just stepped out of the elevator, on the lookout for him. The smiling faces that greeted hers with such warmth and affection caused her to stop in her tracks.

Here she was standing in the hotel lobby in San Pedro Sula with people she considered her Honduran family—the boy and his parents whom she had come to know and love but had never met until this moment.

Tears flowed freely as Juleen introduced herself with handshakes and hugs to Eduardo’s parents, his sister, and his girlfriend. Lastly she came to him.

“Eduardo, this is a miracle!” she said, as they gave each other a warm embrace. The eyes of the Operation Christmas Child onlookers were brimming with tears of joy too.

“Many times we wrote about our dream to one day meet each other in person, how wonderful that would be,” Juleen said. “But neither one of us thought it would ever happen.”

The God-orchestrated opportunity took place last month when Juleen, a year-round volunteer for Operation Christmas Child, was on a shoe box distribution trip in Honduras.

It was a meeting 10 years in the making, and it all started with a simple shoe box gift and a heartfelt letter of gratitude.

Penning a Friendship

This long-awaited day was the culmination of events that began in February 2001 when Juleen, a mother of four from Pueblo, Colorado, received a thank you letter in the mail from Honduras. A 9-year-old boy who lived in San Pedro Sula wanted Juleen to know how much he appreciated her shoe box gift.

In his letter he wrote: “Hello: My name is Eduardo, 9 years old, and 4th grade in school. Thank you for the gifts. I liked them a lot. I like to paint and draw. My family is big. There are 7 siblings. I am the youngest and we all live happily because we have Jesus in our hearts. Well, these are my few words, but here I send you a picture. I hope you like it.”

Eduardo used the crayons from Juleen’s box to draw pictures at the bottom of his letter. Some of the drawings included items he received in his box—a kite, a toy car, a notebook. He also enclosed a photo of himself and his father.

Juleen wrote back a few days later, and included a family photo of she and her husband Bill and their four children. The seeds of a beautiful friendship had begun to grow.

“There was something special about Eduardo,” Juleen said. “He was just a sweet little boy. You could see that in his first letter. He wasn’t asking for anything. He was grateful he got the box and wanted to say thank you. He wanted to be my friend.”

Over the past decade, Juleen and Eduardo have exchanged dozens of letters, photographs, and e-mails. Juleen has also corresponded with his parents, Julio and Trinidad, and his sister, Jazmina.

The letter that Juleen received from Eduardo in 2001 was her first response from a shoe box recipient. She continues to make it a habit to include a self-addressed envelope and a blank sheet of paper in the boxes she fills.

During the past several years, she has received letters from 16 children in Chile, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Thailand. She has exchanged letters with all of them, but it is Eduardo and his family who have remained close to her heart.

The Ties That Bind

Through their ongoing correspondence, the friends have shared news of joyful events in their lives and encouraged each other during times of adversity and sadness.

When both of Juleen’s daughters got engaged in 2001, Eduardo’s mother hand-sewed tortilla holders as wedding gifts and mailed them to Colorado. The gifts became an instant treasure to the Edwards family.

On September 11 that year, Eduardo’s family reacted with shock and horror at the news of the terrorist attacks and collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City.

“I am very sad about what happened in your country. I am praying for peace in the United States,” Eduardo wrote.

In 2003, Eduardo’s father, a pastor, sent pictures of their church in its early stages of construction. Joleen and her husband later gave them money to help purchase a computer for the church office.

The two families exchange Christmas cards every year. And Eduardo, who calls his American friend “Mom Juleen,” sends her a card for Mother’s Day.

Their correspondence also has encouraged the Honduran boy to believe in his dreams. His love of drawing, evident in the very first letter, is a gift that Juleen has tried to nurture within him.

She had no idea that the crayons, colored pencils, and paper she packed in a shoe box in Colorado would end up in the hands of a child in Honduras who wanted to be an artist.

“That was all God,” she said. “When I later learned of his interest in art, I mailed him a complete art kit.”

Eduardo has mailed Juleen numerous samples of his work, usually sketches drawn with colored pencils. One of her favorites is a picture of Daffy Duck that he drew when he was 12 or 13. Underneath the drawing was the Bible verse from Psalm 23:1: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Juleen felt like a proud parent when Eduardo wrote her at Christmas with the news that he is a freshman at the university in San Pedro Sula. She was even more thrilled to hear that his major is graphic design.

The Miracle Meeting

Juleen has served in various volunteer roles with Operation Christmas Child for over 15 years, and has been the Area Coordinator for southern Colorado since 2009. In late October last year, she received an invitation to go on a shoe box distribution in Honduras.

“My first thought was, "Wow, that’s where Eduardo lives,'” Juleen said. “I wrote him a letter in November, letting his family know I was coming in February.”

The good news was welcomed with equal excitement when the letter arrived at Eduardo’s house on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Eduardo was still in bed asleep. His parents woke him up and told him he had received a letter from Mom Juleen. They couldn’t read the English-written letter, so they handed it to their son. As he read it aloud, translating it into Spanish as he went along, his mother began to cry.

“She told me later, ‘That was our Christmas present, to know that we were going to see you after all these years,’” Juleen said.

Once Juleen arrived in Honduras, arrangements were made to meet at the hotel where the Operation Christmas Child group was staying. The drive back from that day’s afternoon distribution took longer than expected. Juleen raced up to her room to clean up and change clothes. By the time she made it back downstairs, Eduardo and his family had already arrived and were anxiously awaiting her entrance.

“Eduardo was polite and gracious and soft-spoken,” Juleen said. “It was the first time I heard his voice.”

Juleen wanted to surprise him and pulled out a scrapbook filled with every letter, photograph, and drawing he had ever sent her. Chuckling, Eduardo displayed his scrapbook containing all of the letters and pictures he had received from Juleen.

They exchanged gifts during dinner. Eduardo handed Juleen nine souvenir T-shirts, one for each of her grandchildren. Then all eyes were on the small box that Juleen presented to him.

“Our friendship started with a shoe box 10 years ago, and now that we are meeting in person for the first time, I have a second shoe box for you,” she announced.

The box was wrapped and had a green Operation Christmas Child boy label on the top. Inside was a note taped to the lid, a matchbox car, a keychain, and a wallet with some cash.

Eduardo looked at the car and grinned, while tears formed in his parents’ eyes. Juleen explained that her family and friends had collected money to help him toward the purchase of a used car.

Before leaving Honduras, Juleen was able to visit with Eduardo two more times. She hopes that their next reunion will be in Colorado, where she can take him to the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Denver.

God has already delivered one miracle in bringing the pen pals together, and she is sure He can do it again.

“Everything about this experience has been a gift from God," she said. "It has been neat to have a friend in another part of the world, someone that I could pray for and send little gifts to as an encouragement to him. It has been fun to be a part of his life. Now he’s 19, and he’s all grown up.

“And I told him I am so proud of him.”


  1. After about 14 years of sending shoeboxes, imagine my surprise when an very strange phone number appeared on my caller ID at 6am. Something happened and the connection was lost. A few hours later that same number came up and I answered. It was a man in Zimbabwae whose daughter had received one of our shoeboxes! He was so thankful, and though it was hard to understand him we did speak for several minutes and exchanged email addresses. We emailed a few times but I haven't heard back since. I think he had to walk somewhere to get to a computer and it wasn't easily accessible. Then, I got a letter from another little girl in the same town who had one of our other boxes! It was so fun to hear from the recipients, and it was further encouragement to continue sending letters.

    1. WOW that is AWESOME!!! I have never thought to put on a phone number. :)

  2. The crazy thing is, I didn't put my phone number!! The guy walked to someone's house and looked it up on the internet because he wanted to call in person. I was totally shocked. The other strange thing was that his daughter got our shoe box in July of this year. The letter he had was from 2010, so the boxes got stuck somewhere for a year and a half. I emailed Samaritan's Purse but didn't really get an informative response from them about that.