God has always had a plan, and I love seeing His plans unfold in a beautiful way. I had been planning to meet Ronaldho, a 17-year-old teenager from Mexico for quite some time. However, I never thought that God would take me out of my routine and ordinary life quite the way that He did.

When I first began sponsoring this wonderful young man, I noticed that he was a 15-year-old living in a broken world. His father, who was once a fisherman, was now chronically ill and unable to support the family, and Ronal was seemingly forced to grow up much too fast. At 15, he was not in school. I did an inquiry as to why this might be. You could not have prepared me for what I learned.

Compassion contacted me a couple of weeks later to let me know that he had some medical issues that made it difficult for him to be in school on a regular basis. He was born with a cleft lip and palate.

I was more than amazed because without knowing it, I was sponsoring a teenager who was born with a similar medical condition as my own. I was born with a cleft lip. In fact, it is a rare form that is often referred to as “big mouth” – HA! I appreciate the doctors that came up with that term – as if I didn’t already have zero self-confidence. Now, go ahead and insult me some more with some unflattering term.

No one really knows why children are born with this, but I am beginning to believe that while Ronal and I may have been teased as children, God had a beautiful plan all along. He connected us. Two people that might not otherwise have met. And what we have discovered to be true in so many ways is captured quite well in God’s infallible word:

“…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

One of the reasons that he was not regularly in school was because he was being teased. We connected through letters and I told him that I had been teased and I knew how difficult it could be. We bonded in the midst of our brokenness and became much stronger. We are not alone. He probably needed to know that just as much as I needed to remember it. I am proud to say that he began going back to an adult school for students at the elementary level. One more test and he will be able to get into the next level, so we are waiting on his upcoming results!

As a sponsor of many children, I am always amazed at the connections that are made that are not revealed in a child’s smile or even in a child’s profile. The connections come alive through letters. And they are revealed in marvelous ways when you actually get to hug your child or teen.

I saw that on this trip too. Sponsor after sponsor told of the way that they just thought they were picking up a child’s packet. Yet, God had a plan for that child and sponsor. A plan that seemed to unfold in beautiful ways for both the child and the sponsor in a million ways on that special visit day. These are real children, and the joy comes alive when you get to spend a day with them.

When I met Ronal, the beauty of that moment became 1 million and 1 reasons why I can say God loves us. Even in our broken world. Even with our broken looks, there is so much beauty that is captured in an embrace. It really is true that God has every intention of looking right into our hearts and answering our needs and desires in surprising and beautiful ways.