Long Lost Pen Pals Restart their Relationship through Child Sponsorship


Jonathan Lindell has one regret. He should have reached out and made that connection when he had the chance. 

When a parent from Jonathan’s elementary school went on a COTN Venture trip in 2009, she took letters from the students to give to COTN children. When she returned, Jonathan received a letter and photo back from Yessah, a boy from Banta, Sierra Leone.
                                                                    Yessah's letter to Jonathan
                                              Yessah's photo which was included in the letter to Jonathan
But as childhood goes, the letter was treasured for the moment and then packed away. Nothing further happened. Until now.
Earlier this year, when Jonathan, now 17, was cleaning his room, to his surprise, he rediscovered the letter. 
                         Jonathan found Yessah's letter when cleaning his room. Soon, the quest to find him began.
“When I first found the letter, I immediately hoped I would be able to find him. After all, he was a boy across the globe whom I hadn’t heard from in years, so I was somewhat scared I wouldn’t be able to [find him],” he says.
A quick Google search immediately brought Jonathan to the COTN website, directly to a sponsorship page for one Yessah Tommy. Sure enough, he looked like the boy in the photo Jonathan received in 2009, only a few years older.
              Yessah's photo today, which was on the sponsorship page Jonathan found in his Google search
So Jonathan reached out to COTN to find out how he could resume this pen pal connection, albeit seven years after the original letter. Unfortunately, COTN doesn’t have a pen pal program, but those who sponsor a child can send letters every month to the child they sponsor. 
That was all Jonathan needed to know.
“I explained to my mom about how I found the letter and really wanted to be able to help him and become his friend,” he says. “When I asked her if she was willing to sponsor him for $43 a month, she said yes and was delighted to help.”
They started sponsoring Yessah immediately.
Jonathan's mom, Joan; younger sister, Sara; older brother, Ryan; and Jonathan are excited to sponsor Yessah and establish a connection with him.
Now, the pen pal journey can resume.
When asked what he plans to say in that first letter, Jonathan’s answer was immediate and thorough. He wants to tell Yessah that he loves him and prays for him. He wants to tell him about their letter exchange and the story that brought him to today. He wants to fill him in on where he’s at in life and ask questions to find out Yessah’s hopes and dreams. He also plans to surprise him by letting him know he plans to go on a Venture trip to Sierra Leone in 2017 to visit.
Jonathan prays this is the start of a life-long friendship. “What I look forward to the most in this relationship is simply becoming great friends. I want him to know I think about him every day, care about how he’s doing, and always pray the best for him. I am very excited to get to know him.”
Yessah doesn’t yet know this connection has been reestablished, but soon he’ll get that letter to rekindle the brief, childhood connection. 
“It makes me realize how small the world is and how it is possible to get to know someone from anywhere on earth,” Jonathan shares. “I am so thankful for everyone at COTN, as something like this would not be possible without them … it is truly a gift from God.” 
Sponsor a child like Yessah today at cotni.org/children.