A Minute to Write a Letter, Part One

A Minute to Write a Letter is a fictional story written by Emalee Warner who was inspired to write it after learning about sponsored children who never receive letters from their sponsors.

Rendel followed the other children eagerly. Today was their child development center’s assigned letter-writing day. He was not nearly as excited as most of the group. They’d recently received letters from their sponsors and couldn’t wait to reply.

No, Rendel belonged to a smaller group of students at the center — children who had never received a letter from their far-away sponsors.

Rendel knew that his sponsor lived in the United States. He knew where that was, and that his sponsor’s name was Mary. Faithfully, he wrote a letter to Mary every time letter-writing day came.

Eagerly, he would write about his life, his friends, his family and his studies. He always asked how Mary was doing, and told her that he prayed for her often and hoped she was well. He liked to include a nice picture he had drawn.

crayon drawings hanging on wall

Rendel found himself imagining what Mary would look like, as he had many times before. Would her skin be as dark as his? Or lighter like some of the other children’s sponsors whose pictures he had seen? Did she have smiling eyes like his grandmother?

Did she have a big family too? Lots of brothers, sisters, a grandmother and grandfather? Did she have children?

He didn’t know. He didn’t have any answers to his questions.

As he walked into the building, Rendel hoped that maybe today his sponsor would send him something — just a few words, a picture, anything. Not that he wasn’t grateful for the support, for he never would have gotten to go to school if it weren’t for Mary.

It still hurt, though, when the letters came in and there was nothing for him.

Rendel didn’t even want the things that sometimes came in the letters: stickers, coloring books, fun stuff like that. All he wanted was one letter, something to tell him that his sponsor cared about him.

Did she regret sponsoring him? Had he done something wrong? Were his grades not good enough?

The adults at the center, and Rendel’s grandmother, assured him that it wasn’t his fault. But how could it not be? Why else would Mary not reply?

He sat down and stared at the paper on which he was to write his letter. Carefully and painstakingly he wrote each word, wanting Mary to see his very best. He told her how he and his brothers enjoyed playing ball outside when the weather was nice like today.

person writing a letter

He told her how he’d done in class, how he’d improved since he’d last written. He asked her to pray for him when he took the exams to move up a class, how he hoped he’d do well and make her proud. He told her he hoped she was doing well. He ended his letter with

Please write to me, I want to know you. — Rendel

Then he flipped the paper over and began his drawing.

This time he’d draw the tree by his house. It always had really pretty flowers in the spring. Rendel finished his letter and examined it critically. It looked good to him, but would it be good enough? As he handed the letter to his teacher he sent up a prayer,

“Please Lord, let this letter be the one. Please help her to write me back, Anything God. I’ll take anything she can give me. Amen.”

To be continued…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emalee Warner started writing to four children her youth group sponsors, as well as three additional children her youth pastor sponsors. Emalee recently began sponsoring her own child.

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22 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Michelle Rausch April 13, 2012

    Very well written!! Made my eyes tear up….. and I’ll be writing to my kids this weekend! 🙂

  2. Grandma Arliss April 12, 2012

    Emalee, grandpa and I are so proud of you. You have expressed to me how important it is for you to write the letters. I am sure the essay you wrote is true for so many of the kids.

  3. Darci April 12, 2012

    Emalee, so proud of you! Your passion about letter writing has keep me on task writing to the child we sponsor through Children’s Ministry. Love you!!!

    Just so you all know, Emalee is only 16, and has a deep passion for this children. Before she even had a job she told me she wanted to sponsor a child as soon as she got one. It didn’t take her long to sign up after she got the job!

  4. Debbie Beghetto April 11, 2012

    Beautiful Post! It’s wonderful to write letter to children…they just love it! Can’t wait to read part 2!

  5. Elizabeth Eshom April 11, 2012

    How do I write my child a letter on line?

    1. Jacquie Parella April 11, 2012

      Hi Elizabeth! Go here: https://www.compassion.com/letter-writing/write-my-child.htm and you can sign in, choose a letter template, add photos, etc. Have fun!!

  6. Allyson April 11, 2012

    I hope that many of the sponsors that don’t write to their child (or children) regularly will see this post. Your child would love to hear from you! I will definitely read part 2!

  7. Cris Ballenger April 11, 2012

    I would love to read some of the letters other sponsors have written to get inspiration when I am writing my child. Sometimes it is hard to think of what to say when we live such different lives.

    1. Linda T. April 11, 2012

      check out ourcompassion.org for lots of great of ideas from other sponsors.

    2. Deb L April 11, 2012

      Cris, have you thought about joining “OurCompassion” the online network for sponsors? Letter writing ideas are discussed on there all the time and I’ve been able to get HEAPS of great ideas from other “expert” letter writers.

    3. Ruth Macfarlane April 11, 2012

      Hi Cris! This blog article might help! https://blog.compassion.com/you-can-copy-these-sample-letters/

  8. Suzanne April 11, 2012

    ooh have just finished my sponsored girls letter now about to do my sponsored boys letter. (i only came on to get more letter writing paper!!)

  9. Yvonne April 11, 2012

    I know this is a fictional account, but can you imagine all of those kids out there that must be thinking some of these same thoughts? I plan to share this post and encourage many sponsors to write to their children!

  10. Marie Yates April 11, 2012

    I only signed up to sponsor my child last week and cannot wait to receive details through about how and where I can write to. I feel such a responsibility to little Kenny (he is a 4 1/2 year old boy from Haiti), his photo is already framed alongside pictures of my own 3 boys, to give him the best education available to him and support for his whole family. Let the communication begin……..

    1. Pam April 11, 2012

      Marie, just FYI, you don’t always have to wait for the information to come in. You can set up your account on Compassion by your email address and write a letter online to your child. God bless you!

  11. Mindi April 11, 2012

    I was once told by a Compassion rep that I write too many letters. I will never change. It’s much too important to my children.

    1. Paula Jeanne Damien September 6, 2012

      I was sorry to read that still shows up in Compassions interactions, My first sponsored child was back in 1974 and have sponsored many children since then thru several different organizations at one time. There has been many stages regarding child communication. It is very dishearting to see such comments as writiing the child too much. From comments such as this I got discouraged and loosing a children you have sponsored for many years with out receiving a letter of goodbye ….hurts! Thanks for “listening.”

    2. Jacquie Parella April 11, 2012

      Yes, please don’t change. I just got back from my first trip to the field and saw how much sponsors and their letters mean to the children! You are a very special person to your child!!

      1. Tammy March 31, 2013

        This is such wealth of information. I just sponsored my child and by all these comments made me wonder how often do they have these sessions to receive our letters? My child is young so wondering if we’re not to tell much about ourselves and our environment what do we tell them… Not sure that they will understand to much the younger kids.. Please advise. Thanks and god bless you all….

      2. Mindi April 11, 2012

        Thank you, Jacquie. 🙂

        1. Lea May 6, 2012

          I think so too. You’re great. How many do you write per month?

  12. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies April 11, 2012

    Wow, what a powerful post. While fictional, it very much could be true. I have heard, time and time again, how agonizing it is for many children who don’t receive letters.

    That is why my passion has been to do what I can to inspire sponsors to write.. If any sponsors are struggling with this, please visit my blog by clicking on my name in blue next to this post.

    I look forward to reading part two!

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