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Awesomeness: In a Faded Brown Envelope

Joined: 8/30/2013
Posts: 1
Grace Masback

Awesomeness: In a Faded Brown Envelope

Grace started as an idea. A face on a computer screen. Small, scrawny and hopeful. Christmas was approaching and the usual holiday buzz was in the air. School hallway chatter was about the inevitable and the expected -- Christmas gifts. When it was my turn to spill, I went blank. “What did I want?” I had an iPhone, a laptop, too many clothes, and enough nail polish to keep me busy for years.

In the moment, I brushed off my friends with a laugh, but my stomach was churning. I, the girl who had everything, was so spoiled that I was going to spend another Christmas accumulating meaningless “stuff.” The bell rang, and I hurried to class.

Late that night, I found Grace on a website. She was one among many, waiting patiently next to other children in impoverished nations hoping to be sponsored by families such as mine. Though we were literally and figuratively worlds apart, I sensed immediate kinship. We shared the same name, “Grace,” a name epitomizing elegance and beauty. And, she was beautiful, in an 8-year-old kind of way, with deep, muddy skin, short, stubbly hair, and long, playful legs. Like me, she evinced a passion for reading, writing, soccer, and languages.

But, beyond the superficial details, there was something in her eyes, something that captured my attention. It was a look of hope and dogged determination. It spoke to me, telling me that though things were tough for Grace, she believed they would get better. I knew that look in different contexts. It was the one I donned for soccer games and important tests, the little battles in my easy life.

The look touched me. I clicked on the button labeled “sponsor,” opting for the gift of giving.

I didn’t meet Grace for several weeks. She arrived in a faded brown envelope postmarked “Kenya.” With some trepidation, I tore quickly at the seal. Grace tumbled out, a dog-eared photo and a yellowing piece of lined paper. She was the musty smell wafting from the envelope and the crinkly sound as I unfolded her letter. She was the scraggly penmanship that spelled out her message and the crayon drawing of her mud hut. No, she wasn’t standing next to me, but in her first letter she shook my hand and gave me a hug.

In that moment, I realized what it actually meant to be the “girl who had everything.”
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Comment by NicoleLVMullis

Joined: 5/9/2012
Posts: 34
Wonderful story wonderfully told. Great job!

Nicole L.V. Mullis
Raising a Family Editor
Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013 7:16:23 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
Thanks for entering your inspiring story into our August writing contest: Moments of Awesomeness. I want to inform you that you are a finalist for the contest. The editors are voting for their top choices for the final results, and we will contact you again if you are selected as one of our winners.

Congratulations on being a finalist.

- Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013 10:46:11 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of's editorial team, I would like to congratulate you on being selected as our August writing contest: Moments of Awesomeness 1st place winner! Here is the link to the results page:


We will be contacting you via your registration email address.

Thank you again for contributing your inspiring words to help us with our mission: "Changing the World, One Story at a Time"

- Rebecca A. Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 3:10:43 PM
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Comment by rights

Joined: 10/21/2013
Posts: 1
Felt my shoulders drop at the last sentence. I had a whole movie playing in my head. Great piece of work, so keep it going:)
Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013 5:45:07 AM
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