South Africa: Teaching math, learning about God

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“Marina, why do we have to do math? My brain can’t handle too much math,” Atlehang whined. “We always do math.”

Atlehang is 13 years old, and she has been living in Restoring Hope Village more than six years. This young lady is one of the people who has impacted me the most during my time in South Africa. Knowing her past and seeing where she is right now, I can see how God is working in her. When she arrived, she was in very bad condition. But with care and love, now she is a healthy young girl with new vision and purpose for life.

She was one of the first girls who came to me and asked me questions about my life when I arrived at Restoring Hope Village. She asked me if I came from India. Even though I told her “no” several times, she still asked me if I know how to speak Hindi and dance.

Soon after I arrived, I was talking with a friend back home in Spanish. Atlehang came by and overheard our conversation. Her face registered amazement. She was intrigued at how I was speaking to my friend, and she stayed to listen to my whole conversation. Then she asked my friend to sing to her in Spanish. I’ve been praying to have more opportunities with kids to get to to know them better, and God has given me more opportunities to know Atlehang.

About two weeks ago, I learned Atlehang’s story. If you met this young and beautiful girl, you would realize she is full of life, joy and the Spirit of God. You would never imagine what she went through, based on the way she is living her life right now. Any time I see her, she has a big smile on her face, trying to make others smile and see the good side of life.

I’m working with her, helping with her homework in math and reading—especially with math, because she has been struggling a lot with math. She is in fifth grade, but her math skills are at a second-grade level. There are times she makes me laugh with all the comments she makes, because she is tired of doing math. We work with other things too, but we focus more on math.

God not only gave me the opportunity to help with her with her schoolwork, but also to spend more time with her, and I’m praying God will use me to guide her closer to him. The more I know her the more I admire this girl. She wants to travel the world and become a missionary. I believe she would be a great missionary. I’m really excited about what God has for her.

If she hadn’t let Jesus Christ enter on her heart, there would be a different Atlehang—a very grumpy, cold-hearted troublemaker. I would be so worried about her, and my prayers for her would be so different.

Right now, Atlehang is challenging me to depend more on God and try to see things from a different perspective. I’m so thankful God put this amazing young girl in my life. Thanks to her, I started to see that our God is bigger that I imagined, and I’m in falling more in love with him.

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Marina Vega, a student at Texas A&M University, is serving as a semester missionary in South Africa with Go Now Missions.

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