As Carla Passed the mud brick building, she heard singing and stopped to listen.
Carla is ten years old. She lives in Bolivia, a beautiful country with tall mountains, high plains and even rain forests, Carla lives on the Altiplano (ahl-tee-PLAH-no) a large flat area in the Andes Mountains.
What is it like to live on the Altiplano? If you have ever climbed a mountain, you know the farther up you climb, the thinner the air becomes. And when the air is thin, you can get tired faster and have to stop to rest. It is warm when the sun shines, but when the sun goes behind the clouds or when it sets behind the mountains in the evening, it gets cold fast. The people who live there carry blankets with them. Then if they get cold, they can wrap up in their blankets to keep warm.
Carla has always lived on the Altiplano. She has never been to a big city or seen the ocean. But in many ways her life is like yours. She is in the fifth grade and enjoys science and math. She is a curious girl and likes to learn what makes things work.
When Carla is not in school, she often helps her mother sell biscuits and cookies at a little stand in the town’s marketplace. Carla’s father made her a flat wooden tray that she can use to carry some of her mother’s cookies and biscuits. She walks along the street selling them to people. Carla likes to help her Mother, and her mother is glad she is such a good helper.
One Saturday morning as Carla walked down the road near her home, she passed by a little church. The door was open, and Carla could hear singing inside the building. She walked slowly past the door and tried to peek inside to see what was happening.
She saw children sitting on low benches and a woman standing in front of them. I wonder what the children are doing in the church on Saturday? Carla thought to herself as she continued walking down the dirt road. She wanted to stay and listen, but she was afraid that someone might yell at her for peeking into the church.
The sound of the children’s voices made her want to know what was happening inside the church. So a few minutes later, Carla walked slowly back up the hill and past the church’s open door. This time she saw a woman talking to the children. The woman was holding a picture for the children to see. Carla wished she could see the picture, but the woman wasn’t facing the door.
Several times Carla walked up the hill then back down the hill, passing just outside the church door to hear and see what was going on inside. She wished she could go inside and sit down and listen with the other children. But she had not been invited, and she did not want to get into trouble.
But someone had seen Carla at the doorway. The woman watches as Carla walked back and forth past the doorway, looking in each time. Quietly the woman went to the doorway. When Carla neared the church doorway once more, the woman stepped out to talk to her. “Would you like to come in and join the children?” the woman asked.
Carla looked at the woman’s smiling face and decided it was OK to go into the church now that the woman had invited her. She sat down on the bench with the other children and listened as the teacher told a story about Moses. Then the children sang some songs about Jesus. Carla had never been inside a church before, so the songs and stories were new to her. But she liked it.
After church Carla hurried home and told her mother where she had been. She repeated the Bible story she had heard. Then she asked, “Mother may I go to church again next Saturday? The woman said I could come.” Mother said it was OK.
The next Saturday Carla returned to the little church. This time she did not stand at the door and listen. She walked in and sat down. She listened to the stories and tried to sing along with the children.
When Carla arrived home she told her mother what she had learned. Carla’s little sister Janet heard what she said and wanted to go to Sabbath School too. “May I take Janet next week?” Carla asked.
Janet did go to Sabbath School with Carla, and she liked Sabbath School too. After that the two girls went to church together every week.
For four months Janet and Carla went to the little Adventist church. Every week they told their mother the stories they had heard and sang the songs that they had learned. Mother liked to hear her girls sing the happy song. And every week they asked mother to help them learn their Bible verses so they could get a star by their names on the chart at church.
One day the pastor urged everyone to invite their friends and family members to come to some special meetings at the church. Carla hurried home and invited her mother to go to church with her. Mother agreed and began attending church with the girls. Soon Father began attending with the family too. Father and Mother began studying the Bible with a member of the church so they could know more about God.
I am glad that I was curious when I heard the children singing through the open church door,” Carla says. “I am happy that the teacher invited me in. Now I love Jesus and I want everyone to love Him.” Carla has another piece of advice for us. “Don’t be afraid to invite your friends to church. You might be surprised which of your friends would enjoy Sabbath School too.”
Carla has invited some of her school friends and her cousins to church. Some of them have come to church with her. Carla is doing just what Jesus wants her to do. She is being a missionary. Let’s pray that Carla—and all the children in the Seventh Day Adventist church in her own town in Bolivia—will continue to be missionaries for Jesus.