“Grandpapa will like them,” Melianne told herself, checking on the sweet potatoes cooking over the fire. She glanced anxiously at the sky. The sun was dipping nearer the African mountains.
I wonder what’s taking him so long, Melianne wondered, starting to get worried.
Since her parents had died when she was little, it had been just the two of them. But while she had been away at school for a year, it seemed that Grandpapa had grown much older. His eyes didn’t see as well as they once had. And his steps weren’t as firm as she remembered from before.
But Grandpapa remained eager to help with her schooling. She knew he felt proud that she’d been chosen to attend the Adventist secondary school. In fact, she’d been one of very few accepted at both the Adventist and the government schools.
“Go to the government school,” her friends had urged. “It’ll be a lot cheaper there. Your grandfather doesn’t have the money to send you to the Adventist school.”
Melianne had listened politely. She knew that they were right about the money, but she replied, “I can’t go to the government school.”
“Why not?” they asked.
“You know they expect everyone to go to class on Saturday. I can’t go to school on my Sabbath.”
“But it’d be just for a few years,” they reasoned. “Then after you finish school, you’ll get a good job, you’ll be rich, and you can go to church any day you want.”
Melianne shook her head. “It’s more important for me to learn about God’s ways than to be rich. If I don’t have enough money to go to the Adventist school, I’ll just stay home.”
Her friends looked at her with unbelieving eyes.
But Melianne’s grandfather supported her decision and helped her raise the money she needed to begin the school year. “You must have faith,” he counseled her. “You must trust in God.”
Each market day Melianne bought beans at the local commercial center, then returned to sell them at a profit. They also sold extra bananas from their garden. Gradually her savings mounted, and she joyfully went off to school.
Now Melianne was working to raise more money for the next school year. In fact, her grandfather was out collecting money from one of their banana customers.
The sudden sound of footsteps and voices at the opening of their enclosure startled her. She looked up to see three young cowherds.
“Melianne, you must come quickly! Your grandfather!”
“Grandpapa? What’s happened?”
“The bridge. He’s fallen. We can’t lift him.” In their excitement their words tumbled out in jumbled bits. “His leg is stuck tight between the logs. He’s hurt badly.”
Fear spurred her into action. “Call some neighbor men,” she commanded. “Tell them to hurry.”
Hesitating just long enough to set the sweet potatoes off the fire, she raced after the boys. “Oh, God,” she prayed as she ran, “please take care of Grandpapa.”
At the bridge she could see her grandfather crumpled sideways across the logs. She could tell something was very wrong with his leg.
The men were right behind her. They rushed to lift the old man from where he was trapped, but his leg would not budge. Melianne stood to the side and watched helplessly as they took their machetes and hacked away at the solid logs.
“It won’t take long, Grandpapa,” she said, as much to calm her own fears as to reassure him.
At last the men managed to chip away enough wood. They gently placed her grandfather on the woven stretcher someone had brought. Then they lifted the carrying poles to their shoulders.
Night had fallen by the time they started on their way, but the big tropical moon had risen. Melianne followed silently behind the men, praying for her grandfather. At last they reached the clinic.
“It’s very bad,” the nurse told her after they had bandaged his leg. “The thighbone is badly broken. He’ll have to be here for a long time for it to heal properly.”
Melianne listened silently. The news seemed to fall on her shoulders with a heavy weight. I’m the only one that Grandpapa has, she thought to herself. He needs me here to help him. I must bring him food and care for him.
“I’ll go now,” Melianne said simply, looking up at the nurse. “When it is day, I will return with the things that my grandfather needs. And I will bring the money to pay.” Then she turned and hurried out into the night.
With the worry of her grandfather, Melianne hardly felt her own tiredness as she plodded homeward. When daylight came again, she gathered up a few things for her grandfather. Then she got her box and took out her school savings’the only money they had. It was hardly enough to pay for the treatment he’d already had.
“I don’t care if it takes every bit of my money,” she told herself. “The important thing is that Grandpapa gets better.”
Melianne spent most of the next two weeks at the dispensary. Despite the treatment and gentle care, his leg didn’t get better.
One morning the dispensary director took her aside. “There are problems with your grandfather’s leg,” he said. “He needs to go to the hospital for an operation.”
Melianne took a deep breath. “It is as you say, but I have only a little money left. I must go home to see if there is any way of getting more.”
“Do your best,” the director urged her. “We’ll see that your grandfather is taken to the hospital.”
“Grandpapa,” Melianne said, going to him, “they have decided that you need hospital treatment. I must go home to get more food and . . .”
“The money,” her grandfather said, forcing a weak smile. “The extra garden plot. I’ve been saving it, thinking that someday we’d sell it for your school money.”
Melianne nodded. “I will find someone to buy it,” she told him. “When that is done, I will come to the hospital.”
There were many people who wanted more garden space. But those who had the money to pay were few. Melianne prayed and went to her community adviser to explain her problems. The next day the garden was sold. With a thankful heart and the money safely hidden away, she went to find her grandfather at the hospital.
The operation was successful. Bit by bit her grandfather’s strength returned. But the doctor warned her that it would be many weeks before he was strong enough to start walking with crutches. In the meantime the new school year drew steadily nearer.
“Grandpapa, what should I do about school this year?” Melianne asked. She was sitting by his hospital bed, working on a tablecloth she was embroidering. She had promised Mrs. Bryant, her principal’s wife, to make it during their vacation. Sold, it would add to her school earnings.
“One thing is certain,” her grandfather replied. “You must go to school. You must take the tablecloth to the principal’s wife as you promised.” He lapsed into silence. It was some minutes before he spoke again.
“I had hoped that I would live to see you become a well-educated young woman, that one day you would be the wife of a prosperous Christian gentleman. Now the future looks very dark. The garden is gone, and the hospital has taken almost all of that money.”
“You’ve always said to have faith in God,” Melianne replied. “If it’s His will, He will provide some way for me to remain in school. He helped us find a buyer for the garden. We have the money for your care . . .” Her voice trailed off.
“You are right,” her grandfather admitted. “You must go to school with faith. But if you stay, it will be only by a miracle of God.”
When the time came to return to school, Melianne packed all her things as though she’d be staying for the full term. After paying the doctor for her grandfather’s continued treatment, she had just enough money to buy a bus ticket to the school. Arriving at the school, she took the tablecloth to Mrs. Bryant.
“What careful work!” Mrs. Bryant exclaimed, examining the colorful design and the tiny stitches. “It’s beautiful! Did you have a good vacation?”
“It was a good vacation,” Melianne began, “except . . .” And then the story started tumbling out.
“Do you mean,” asked Mrs. Bryant, “that all the money you have for this school year is what you’ve earned by making this cloth for me?”
“But’but that is hardly enough to pay for your books!”
Melianne lowered her head. “Grandpapa says that I will be able to stay only by a miracle of God,” she admitted.
Mrs. Bryant looked thoughtful. “I know the scholarship money is all gone, and the school doesn’t expect to have any more for this year.” She paused. “But God has many ways we don’t know about. Let’s ask God for His miracle.”
The two of them knelt right then. After prayer Melianne felt stronger.
“I’ll ask the office to give you one week’s grace,” Mrs. Bryant said. “If there’s no solution by then, we’ll have to accept that God has a different plan for your life, that you should go home.”
After attending classes for a week, Melianne went back to see Mrs. Bryant, who met her with a smile.
“Good news, Melianne!” she exclaimed. “We just received a letter from America asking us to choose two students. There’ll be a full scholarship for each. You will be one of them, so your fees will be paid for the entire year. Just think,” she added, “the letter was in the mail even before we prayed.”
Melianne could hardly believe her ears. “God has sent His miracle,” she said reverently. And to herself she was thinking, Just wait until Grandpapa hears!
Reprinted from the August 15, 1984, issue of Guide.
Written by Corrine Vanderwerff
Illustrated by Marcus Mashburn