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Nerly Macias Figueroa, 32, is the teacher in this story. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Apology Made in Heaven

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, April 14. Click here for photos to share while telling the mission story.

By Andrew McChesney,

Arno* was one of the best fifth-grade students at the Ebeye Seventh-day Adventist School in the Marshall Islands. [Find Ebeye—pronounced EE-by—on the map.]

He always did his homework, he liked to learn about God, and he listened attentively to his teacher, Nerly, a missionary from Mexico. He had top marks in his class.

A month before the school year ended, Teacher handed out a quiz to the students, and Arno didn’t want to take it. An angry scowl replaced his usually friendly face. He crumpled up the quiz paper into a tight ball and threw it straight at Teacher’s face.

Teacher was shocked and disappointed.

“Arno!” she exclaimed. “You have treated me disrespectfully, and I need to take you to the principal’s office.”

The boy didn’t wait for Teacher to come over to his desk. He jumped up and ran out the door. Then he climbed up the fence surrounding the school.

“Arno, come back,” Teacher called after him.

But the boy didn’t return—and he skipped classes for the rest of the year. Teacher called Arno’s parents to tell them about what had happened and to invite them to come to the school to discuss the situation. But his parents never showed up.

Teacher sadly told the principal that she would have to give Arno a failing grade for the last quarter of the school year because he had missed homework and his final exams. But Arno’s good grades for the rest of the year meant that he still passed the fifth grade.

One morning just after school ended, Teacher prayed, “What happened to Arno? Lord, please be with him.” Later that day, Teacher was packing her books into boxes in the classroom when suddenly she sensed someone standing quietly behind her. It was Arno.

“Hi, Teacher,” the boy said, softly.

“Hi, Arno,” she replied.

“Teacher, I just came to you to thank you for everything,” Arno said. “Thank you for your teaching.”

He paused and looked down. “I’m sorry for my behavior,” he said. “My father said I should come and tell you how much I appreciate you and to say thank you for everything. I do want to thank you for your teaching and your kindness and love toward me.”

Arno stretched out his arms and gave Teacher a big hug. Teacher gladly hugged him back.

“I forgive you,” she said.

Teacher had felt sad for the past month. Arno had been one of her best students, and she couldn’t understand why he had behaved disrespectfully and then disappeared. But she was sure of one thing: The Holy Spirit had worked on his heart during the month that he had skipped school and had prompted him to come back and ask forgiveness.

“I felt that God sent him back because I could see the change in him,” Teacher said. “He showed sorrow and regret for his behavior.”

After the apology, Teacher was no longer sad. This was why she had left her job and her home far away in Mexico to spend a year as a missionary in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. She wanted to teach children about God—the God who loves us, and the God who forgives us when we ask. Five of Arno’s fifth-grade classmates were baptized that year.

You may not be able to go to Ebeye as a missionary, but you can help the children at Arno’s school learn about God. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help the school make urgent repairs to the classrooms so it can keep teaching children about our loving, forgiving Heavenly Father. Thank you for your mission offering.

Nerly Macias Figueroa says she has no doubt that God will provide when she follow’s His leading. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

*The boy’s name has been changed.

Read more about Nerly and how she became a missionary here

For photos to share with this and other mission stories, visit the Facebook page for the Mission quarterlies

For this and other stories, download the Children’s Mission quarterly (PDF)

Download high-resolution photos from ADAMS