She said her brothers would laugh at her and call her ugly. Her parents said she was worthless. They said she'd grow up to be a whore.

I listened to her words through tears, hers and mine. Heart breaking. Beyond comprehension. How could the ones meant to love, to affirm, to encourage feel such indifference? Such hate? 

Poverty will do that to a heart. Starved for life's basic needs a heart withers, hardens. Hates.

But then she spoke of another. One who would write her letters and tell her . . 

"You are beautiful."

"God made you and has wonderful plans for your life."

"He loves you."

"I love you."

And this stranger from another land reached across miles with words and healed her heart. Gave her hope. And she smiled.

I wept. That words scratched out once a month costing nothing but time and about a dollar a day could impact a heart so.

I'd prayed that weekend away at a women's retreat for some encouragement. Some direction and inspiration. Some hope for long, weary difficulties and hurts. For Em.

It's not an easy time to be a seventeen year old girl. Especially one who's trying to swim upstream against a roaring, white-capped tide of chaos and culture. Fear, failure, and discouragement seem ever present. Poverty of spirit can be crippling too.

It's been said the remedy for discouragement is to reach beyond the dark confines of one's own hurt into the pain of another with love and comfort.

Is thy cruse of comfort wasting?
Rise and share it with another,
And through all the years of famine,
It shall serve thee and thy brother.
Is thy burden hard and heavy?
Do they steps drag heavily?
Help to bear thy brother's burden'
God will bear both it and thee
~ Elizabeth Charles (Daily Strength for Daily Living)

As I listened to her story, I knew the answer to my prayer. 

I couldn't get to the Compassion table fast enough. It would be a girl for sure. Em had prayed for years for a sister, but God had other plans. A princess amongst five brothers, I knew she still sometimes longed for a sister. She loves little girls and everything girly. Even at seventeen, her favorite books are "Fancy Nancy."

The table that had been covered with photos was sparse now. Only a few girls left. I looked at each face with such excitement. It was if a conception, gestation, and delivery were all occurring in under an hour. 

"Which one? God, show me which one."

Her. Eyes pale. Innocent but serious. Tiny little body. Frail arms lay at her side blending into equally frail legs. She didn't smile.

Belinda from Asia would be Em's little sister.

Weeping again I told the worker I'd like this one. 

Someday soon little Belinda will receive a letter from a "big girl" far away. Who will tell her she's beautiful, and special, and loved.

And she'll smile.

Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

Hundreds of children like Belinda are waiting for someone to write them a letter too. Many have been waiting for a sponsor for over six months. Your words could impact a life for eternity.

You can see their photos here