Working Hard and Loving It
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” Ecclesiastes 9:10
Fourteen-year-old Maleya is a walking attitude adjustment. To spend just a few minutes with her is to walk away encouraged and mindful of the blessings you might have taken for granted just a short time before. A busy schedule, homework, shifts in infrastructure, drama, Maleya takes all of these things and more in stride with a smile that rarely vanishes, her faith and perspective intact.
“Well, God keeps sending people to encourage me,” Maleya explains. “I have a bunch of friends who are Christians. That’s good for me.”
This spring, Maleya will participate in the Special Olympics and hopes that some of her friends will be able to watch her compete. “I’m not worried,” she confesses. “I’m not even practicing right now because I’m always busy in my room or doing something for school. I do bocce, and I already won second, third, and first place before, so no big deal.”
Maleya is just as confident in her singing ability. “I can totally sing the high part,” says Maleya, convinced, “and I feel very lucky about it. Music is my favorite class. Dr. Jones is like a mother or grandmother to me. When I don’t have my family with me, my choir is like a family to me. Dr. Jones says that’s because what we do in choir is share ourselves to cheer other people up. I like that!”
This past summer, Maleya had a chance to attend Camp Perfect Wings for the second time. She sang there as well. “I was frightened, but I sang anyway. All the people looked at me and were like, ‘Wow! She can sing!’” Maleya smiles.
Maleya puts just as much effort into her schoolwork as she does her music. “I think I’m doing very well,” she says, puffing her chest out a bit.
When asked if she likes school, Maleya responds, “Why would someone not like school? It’s interesting to work hard and learn things and get to use computers and make presentations and important things like that. Today, I used an iPad and a computer in the same day. I have a project that is due. I did some here and some there.” Maleya types and swivels and types in pantomime for a few moments, lost in imagined industry, before remembering my presence. When she does, she giggles. “Hard work feels good, doesn’t it?”
Maleya doesn’t mind the hard work of spiritual growth either. In the two years that she has been attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church with the rest of her cottage, Maleya has learned much that will serve her well in the future. “We have been talking about character traits,” says Maleya, “like how you should treat someone. It’s good because when I say or do things around people, I remember what they said at church and know what I should be acting like. It helps. I’m being good.”
Maleya’s houseparents reinforce everything that Maleya is learning at church in practical ways. “We have seven girls in the cottage right now,” Maleya announces, eyes big. “That’s like opening the door and saying, ‘Come in, Mr. Drama!’” Maleya giggles at her own joke. “We get along good. Well, sometimes we get along bad, but that’s just because we are all girls!” Maleya shrugs. “They help us figure it out and talk through it. It helps because I figure out some things that I shouldn’t do so I can stop doing them.”
Maleya is serious about growing as a Christian. “Did you know that Satan can control you without you knowing it?” she asks. “It’s real, but you can stop that by accepting Jesus into your heart and trying to know Him more. You just pray what you feel all the time, tell Him your emotions. If you are afraid, you can pray about that. If you want knowledge, you can pray about that, but you have to read your Bible, too, so you can learn from it. That’s how it works.”
Maleya is thriving at OBHC and blessing everyone with whom she comes in contact. To those who have freed her to do so by supporting OBHC financially, Maleya says with her biggest smile yet, “Thank you for my home!”