"I believe God chose me to be a child of blessing."
For the newest resident of Vision Nationals' campus in Kathmandu, Nepal, life is about perspective more than experience and the knowledge that joy, despite circumstance, can be found through life in Jesus Christ.
"I was six when I came to Kathmandu," said Bristi, a beautiful 17-year-old with a shy smile. "I moved into a children's hostel and I have lived here for 11 years - most of my life."
Bristi's life in Kathmandu began when her parents decided they wanted more for their daughter than the life offered by their rural Nepali village. Born in Humla, a rural, isolated district in the northwest corner of Nepal, Bristi did not have opportunities for education and health care in her home village.
"I am from a very remote place of Nepal. My parents decided to bring me here to study," Bristi said. "My village is undeveloped with no facilities and no electricity and no good schools."
With an older brother already living Kathmandu, Bristi's father made the decision to offer his daughter the opportunity to be educated in the nation's capital. The pair traveled for days from their village to reach Kathmandu, a journey that included many hours of hiking, multiple bus rides and a plane ride.
"It was scary, but I was thinking about where I was going and what it would mean, and I was excited," Bristi said.
For the past 11 years, Bristi has been a resident of a children's hostel in Kathmandu. Her life in Kathmandu has offered her the education she, and her parents, desperately wanted. She has thrived in her academic studies, never placing below 5th in her class. In her last placement test she scored exceptionally high, claiming second place in her class.
"I really love studying," she said, her face breaking into a huge smile. "From the time I was small I have been eager to study. I love doing math and accounts and I love English."
Though the change in location allowed Bristi to pursue education, it did not necessarily make life easier. There were many difficult days and hardships in her life at the hostel. Moments and days she wishes she could forget. But it was also at the hostel that Bristi first heard the Word of God. And it was at the hostel where she learned about Jesus Christ.
"There were many sufferings and problems (at the hostel)," Bristi said. "But I learned about Jesus there. I learned about the Bible and I became a Christian there."
For Bristi, the decision to follow Christ has come at great personal sacrifice.
"I am the only Christian in my family," she said, suddenly quiet. "My family is Hindu and they do not believe in Jesus. I tell my mother about the Bible, I have told her many things. But my father is against Christians and the Bible."
Her relationship with Christ and her decision to be baptized last year has set Bristi apart from her family and made a return to her village impossible.
"Right now I cannot go home," she said. "I desire to visit my village, but I cannot."
Upon entering 11th grade recently, Bristi was in need of a new living situation. The hostel she had lived at since she was six only allowed residency through the 10th grade. Desperately wanting to continue her studies, Bristi needed a new home.
She has found that home with Vision Nationals and has found joy in her new circumstances.
"Living here, I forget past days," she said. "Sometimes I remember and it hurts, but the people and children living here are loving and caring and kind and helpful and they are so encouraging. I have many chances to hear the Word of God. I didn't have many chances for that before. I have learned much more about the Bible and Jesus."
Bristi says throughout her life she can see the threads of God's grace and mercy have sustained herand brought her to a place of joy.
"I am amazed at how God is always carrying me," she said. "I believe God chose me to be a child of blessing and He gives me happiness even when life is hard."
Bristi knows her future is bright because her days are in the hands of God. She points to her favorite verse of Scripture as proof trust in the Lord is never misplaced.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"
"This verse suits me," Bristi said. "I feel God made that verse for me, to tell me no matter what I live through He holds me, forever."