The Best Students
I noticed that even though Mariano never came to school on Saturdays, he always got the very best score on all of the exams.
My friend Mariano and I have gone to school together for many years. When we were younger, Mariano was very naughty. He was always getting into trouble and wasn’t friendly to anyone. But one year when we came back to school, Mariano had changed—something had happened to him! He now looked like a person with a kind heart.
Mariano and I always got the best grades in our class. Because of this, our teacher chose us to be the class leaders—Mariano was first leader, and I was the second. That meant that on the days when the teacher wasn’t able to be in class, we were the ones in charge.
Whenever that happened, Mariano always shared stories about God with the class. I liked these stories and always asked him to share Bible stories with us when the teacher was away.
But after a while I became jealous of Mariano. I noticed that even though he never came to school on Saturdays, he always got the very best score on all of the exams. I studied harder and always tried to do my best, but I was never able to beat Mariano—he always came in first!
My grandfather is a magic man, so one day I asked him to do something that would make me smarter. He gave me some magic medicine and told me that if I took this special magic medicine, it would help me beat Mariano and get the best score on tests. But even though I tried this, I still never came in first—it was always Mariano who got first place.
One day I decided to ask Mariano why he had changed and was now the smartest student in the class. He told me that it was because God helped him and that he studied the Bible. When I heard that I was very happy, because I knew that we had a Bible at our house—my mother’s Bible.
So I went back home and tried to read Genesis, chapter one. But I became tired of reading because I didn’t understand it. The next day I went back to school and asked Mariano how he could study the Bible. I told him that I tried reading it but didn’t understand what I was reading.
Mariano laughed and said, “If you really want to study the Bible, I’ll come to your house and we can study the Bible together.”
So after class we always went to my grandparents’ house where I was living and studied the Bible. Two weeks later, the neighbors asked what I was doing with my friend every day. “We’re studying the Bible together,” I told them. “If you want, you are welcome to come and join us.”
When they heard this, they became very angry. They told me to stop studying the Bible, but I kept studying anyway. During this time, my mother didn’t know about these Bible studies because she was away, working in the big city of Dili. When she heard that I had been studying the Bible and was even planning to be baptized, she became very angry.
I prayed a lot about this and asked the other Adventists in the church to pray for me. Then my grandparents told my mother that I had changed, and that I looked and acted better. My grandmother said that I had become a nice girl, with no more mean words in my mouth, and that I was no longer naughty. After my grandparents explained this to my mother, she was no longer angry with me.
Expelled From School
After I was baptized, my friends and classmates were mean to Mariano and me. And now, just like Mariano, I no longer came to school on Sabbath. Then the teachers decided to only give exams on Sabbath, and they wouldn’t let us take them on any other day. After that Mariano and I were expelled from school and were told that it was because we “didn’t follow the rules.”
But there was a nearby Muslim school where we were able to continue our studies without Sabbath problems because at this school there were no classes on Sabbath. Mariano and I were always the best students in the class—in fact, we even got higher scores than before!
After finishing high school I decided to become a volunteer missionary with the 1,000 Missionary Movement (see www.1000mm.info) and am working with a good partner from Indonesia. Please pray for me to always be a strong missionary, especially as we face challenges in the villages where we work.