Maria lives in a small village in Brazil. [Locate Brazil on the map.] Her parents are farmers. They work hard growing rice, white beans, and bananas. The family’s little house is made of sticks covered with mud. At night Maria and her brothers and sisters sleep on hammocks hung from pegs in the walls in the family room. Hammocks are cooler than beds in the hot weather.
One day Maria walked past the Seventh-day Adventist church near her home. A white-haired man was painting the church. Maria stopped to watch him. The man hummed a song as his paintbrush swished over the cement walls.
“Hello!” the man smiled when he saw Maria watching him.
“Hello, señor [sehn-yor],” she responded. “Why are you painting the church?”
“We’re having a special children’s program on Sabbath,” he replied. “Would you like to come? We’ll have stories and lots of singing. I think you’d like it.”
“Maybe I will,” Maria said, waving goodbye.
Maybe the program would be fun, Maria thought. She told her mother about the program, and Mother agreed that she could go. On Sabbath morning Maria dressed and walked down the dirt road to the little church.
The church looked so pretty with its fresh coat of paint. Her new friend, the white-haired man, greeted her. “I’m glad you came!” he smiled. “Feliz Sabado! [Feh-LEEZ SAH-bah-doh] Happy Sabbath! Just follow the other children to your class.”
Maria sat down with the other children, and tried to join them as they sang happy songs about Jesus. Then the teacher invited the children to pray by repeating her words. Maria had never prayed before. She felt something special knowing she could pray to God.
The teacher told such nice stories from the Bible. I want to come back again, Maria thought.
And she did. For the next three weeks Maria went to Sabbath School. The next Sabbath Maria awoke to her mother calling her.
“What’s wrong?” Maria asked as she found her mother lying in bed.
“I’m sick, Mother replied. “I can’t get out of bed. Please stay home from church today and take care of your sisters.”
“OK, Mother,” Maria said. “You just rest.” Maria was worried. Her mother looked really sick. She thought of what her Sabbath School teacher had told the children. Talk to Jesus as you do your friend. Maria had never prayed alone before, but she bowed her head and said, “Dear Jesus, please make my mother well. I promise that I will follow You always.”
Maria felt better. She knew that Jesus had heard her prayer. She went inside the house and helped her little sisters get dressed. She made them breakfast and took her mother some water to drink.
“Are you feeling better?” Maria asked softly. Mother shook her head no. “I prayed for you,” Maria said. “I asked Jesus to make you well again. And I promised that I will follow Him always.”
“Thank you, Maria,” Mother smiled.
The next day Mother was still sick. The doctor said she might be sick for a long time, so Maria and her sisters went to stay with their grandmother. Maria loved her grandmother, but she missed her mother. Every day she prayed that Jesus would make her mother well.
Maria and her sisters stayed with Grandmother for several months. Then one day they went home. Maria was so glad to see her mother standing at the door waiting for them.
“You’re well!” Maria squealed as she hugged her mother. “I knew that Jesus would make you well again!”
“I’ve missed you girls,” Mother said, hugging Maria. “I have a surprise for you. When I felt better, I remembered your prayers and knew that Jesus had made me well because you were praying for me. I went to the Adventist church to thank God. A woman there studied the Bible with me, and now I’m an Adventist. So are your brothers!”
“Oh, Mother, that’s the best answer to my prayer ever!” Maria exclaimed, giving Mother another hug. “I’m so glad.”