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A Totally New Girl

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, September 30.

By Andrew McChesney


gnese was a very unhappy girl. Some days, she was sad and crying. Other days, she was upset, shouting and refusing to eat.

Agnese was a very unhappy girl because she was paralyzed and lived in a hospital in Latvia.

Agnese had been a normal little girl who could walk and skip and run with her feet. She once was able to write and draw and wave with her hands. But she had a tragic accident when she was 7 years old.

Now, she could no longer walk and skip and run with her feet. She could no longer write and draw and wave with her hands. She couldn’t do anything by herself. Nurses fed and cared for her. Teachers came to the hospital to teach her math, language, and other subjects.

Agnese didn’t like living in the hospital. She didn’t like not being able to do anything by herself. So, she often was sad or upset.

One day, a new teacher showed up at Agnese’s bed. Agnese quickly saw that Teacher Vineta was different from her other teachers. This teacher liked to talk about heaven.

Agnese listened with great interest as Teacher Vineta described heaven as a place where she would have many friends and play with many animals. She didn’t have any friends or pets.

“My dream is to swim with crocodiles,” Teacher Vineta said.

Agnese smiled with delight at the thought of Teacher Vineta doing the backstroke beside a green, wrinkly crocodile.

But then Agnese heard the sound of children running and laughing outside her open window. Her smile dissolved into a sad frown.

“They’re running, but I’ll never be able to run,” she said.

Teacher Vineta shook her head firmly.

“You’re wrong,” she said. “These children are running now, but who knows what will happen to them later. If they do not accept God, maybe some of them will not be in heaven. But you — if you believe in God — will have eternal life. You will never die, and you will never have pain and illness again. You will be able to run — and to run for all eternity with God.”

Agnese cheered up. She liked the thought of running with God forever.

Teacher Vineta visited Agnese more and more often in the hospital. She also taught children at a school, and she tried to visit Agnese during her lunchbreak. Nearly every time she visited, she brought drawings that the children had made for Agnese. Agnese liked the pictures. She liked listening to Teacher Vineta talk about heaven. Every time Teacher Vineta visited, she prayed.

On Agnese’s birthday, Teacher Vineta surprised her with a party. Cheerful flowers filled the hospital room. A big cake stood on a table. Children from Teacher Vineta’s school crowded into the room, and each presented Agnese with a bright birthday card. The children were all dressed up, and they performed a special birthday skit. Agnese’s doctors and nurses and other teachers also came to the party. Even the hospital director stopped by to wish Agnese a happy day. Agnese was as pleased as could be. She couldn’t stop smiling. It was the best birthday ever!

That night, Latvian television broadcast a report about the birthday, and Agnese saw herself on television. Agnese’s picture also appeared on the front page of the newspaper.

Agnese was overwhelmed by all of the attention. When she was alone with Teacher Vineta, tears began running down her cheeks.

“It was worth living just to have this birthday party,” she said.

But Agnese still struggled with her negative emotions. Some days were good, and others were bad. Sometimes when Teacher Vineta arrived at the hospital, the nurses warned her that Agnese was in a bad mood, shouting and refusing to eat.

When summer came, Teacher Vineta left for vacation and could not visit Agnese for many weeks. But when the school year started again in the fall, she returned to the hospital. As she walked in, a nurse stopped her near the door. Teacher Vineta wondered if Agnese was in a bad mood. But the nurse said everything was fine. In fact, she said, Agnese was not the same girl as before.

“What happened to Agnese?” the nurse asked. “She is a totally new girl. This is not the old Agnese. Now, she is always happy. She is never rude to us. She is always grateful. She allows us to wash her hair and feed her. She is always polite. She is not like before. What happened?”

Teacher Vineta didn’t know. When she entered Agnese’s room, she was amazed to see the girl smiling all over. She was beaming as brightly as the noonday sun.

“Agnese, what happened to you?” Teacher Vineta asked.

Agnese waited until the nurse had left to speak. She said that after Teacher Vineta had left for summer vacation, she had started to pray to Jesus.

“Because you were not here, I decided to start praying by myself,” she said. “Jesus is so good. He always answers my prayers. He is always here for me. Now I am so happy in Jesus!”

After that, Agnese was a very happy girl. She always smiled, she was always polite, and she was always grateful. Why? Because she knew Jesus.

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help other children in Latvia know Jesus. The offering will help construct a building in Latvia’s capital, Riga, where children can learn about Jesus and His heaven filled with friends and animals and no pain or illnesses. Thank you for planning a generous offering for this project and another children’s project, a new Pathfinder camp, in Montenegro.