Letters That Change Lives

by | May 14, 2023

Many MSI donors and their sponsored students build life-long relationships. In many ways, these relationships become a major part of their lives and help shape their spiritual journeys. Let’s hear how correspondence between Mary and Bob Thiessen and their sponsored students, Siela and Neva, has impacted their lives.


How did your relationship begin?
Mary: I heard Lillian Dickson’s stories and read her books. She always inspired me and set an example to be a sponsor.

Siela: Mary and Bob became my sponsors the first year I was in the TransformNation (TfN) program. Through my 8 years of study and internship, we wrote to each other.

Neva: Mary and Bob have been my sponsors since I was 15 living at Slippery Rock Children’s Home until now, in my second year of the TfN program.

What motivates you to faithfully write to them?
Mary: Knowing that they look forward to letters and wanting to be a good influence on them, so they don’t just think of us as a donor but as real people.

How did you feel when you received their letters?
Siela: I felt loved and like I was part of the Thiessen’s family because she told me about her everyday life. I looked forward to reading the Bible verses they wrote.

Neva: Their letters motivate me to stay positive. It’s like having best friends.

What have you learned as a result of being in each other’s lives?
Mary: It doesn’t matter where people are; God is able and willing to use them for His kingdom.

Siela: Through the letters I have received from Mary and Bob, I have seen how they adore and remain fully committed to God. That inspires me to have total trust in God. Last year was a tough time and I almost gave up, but I remembered when they wrote about Luke 1 that reminded me nothing is impossible for God and He is the source of my strength.

Neva: They have taught me to use all God has given me to help others. The Thiessens are multi-talented, they know how to farm, sew, and bless people with their talents. They encourage me to share about Jesus and be courageous to serve.

Siela & Neva, what would you say about the Thiessens?
Siela: Not only did they sponsor me to get a degree in education, but their prayers and letters guided me to grow in my faith in God. I see how they are always eager to have a deeper relationship with God. I thank God that He sent this family into my life and they have been a big part of my faith and spiritual journey.

Neva: They love God and people. They are not afraid to lose anything in giving their best to glorify God. They show me what happiness is by loving God through sharing their lives. They made me realize that as a teacher I can share about Jesus and I’m capable of changing lives.

Mary, you have been like a mother to Siela and Neva, what would you wish for their future?
Mary: For them to experience and have Jesus as their guide and friend in every moment, through every twist and turn of life. Knowing that God is their loving Father and rock to stand on, no matter what trials or experiences they have.

What would you like to say to each other?
Mary: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to see every child as Jesus sees them. Each child is God’s unique creation with a plan and a purpose as part of His amazing creation.

Siela: I give thanks to God every time I think about you. Thank you for supporting me in so many aspects of my life. I pray for your health and the many opportunities God will open for you to be a blessing to many more people.

Neva: I pray that God will fill you with joy and peace. That everything you do will be multiplied. That God will be your help and hope in every circumstance. I’m grateful to have “met” you through letters and words. Please keep in mind that God loves you dearly, just like I do!