3rd place || 2016
3rd through 4th grade


by Caleb Oppelt


The women sat silently on the bench, praying for hours, waiting for someone to come and tell them God had saved their grandpa. Robert Miller was a very generous grandpa, always sharing his money with those in need. This is not why he was loved, but it certainly was a quality that made him easy to love. He was a kind man; putting his own work aside to play with his grandkids and tell them stories.

Luke, his son, was working hard to find a new job. He was once a successful farmer, but hard times had come. Luke lost his wife and mother and now was about to lose his dad. Grandpa had supported Luke and his two children when they needed help by gladly providing them with money for food.

Grandpa was the manager of a big store in the middle of the old town just up the road from their aging farmstead. He was recently diagnosed with cancer, for which there was no cure. John, a very good friend of the Miller family, gave them the heartbreaking news. Grandpa was dead.

Mary was one of the women sitting on the bench and was Grandpa’s youngest granddaughter. She was eighteen years old and the daughter of Luke. She was a short girl with deep blue eyes and black hair and she burst into tears, remembering her grandpa’s blue eyes and kind smile, knowing that she would never see his smile again. Grace, Mary’s older cousin, sat beside her, also heartbroken. Grace was a tall woman with blond hair and had tears rolling down her face as memories came to mind. She thought of the time grandpa had given her a new yellow comb for her hair, which was her favorite color, and the time he helped her with her chores and they had to chase the cows back in the fence.

John and Tim, good friends of the family came over to comfort them, but Mary did not like the comforting. It was a constant reminder of her loss. John and Tim owned a huge farm right next to Luke’s farm. They were neighbors. Luke had sold them all his livestock a short while back when Grandpa’s health had gotten worse because they needed money for doctor bills. Mary’s family would always find one gallon of milk and a loaf of bread by the door each morning and it did not take the Millers long to figure out it was John and Tim’s doing. In past years, it was usually the Millers who were always helping out their neighbors, but now they found themselves needing the help.

Several years ago, Grandpa and Grandma moved to town when Grandma had gotten sick with pneumonia, leaving the farm with Luke and his two children, Mary and her younger brother Peter. They loved the farm and Mary and Peter would play in the barn from morning until night, running up the stairs to the loft to hold the chickens. When Grandma passed away, Grandpa moved back to the farm to live with his son and grandkids. He kept his job at the store in town and helped with the chores on the farm. The demand and price for corn and beef kept going down, making them dependent on Grandpa’s paycheck.

Now with Grandpa gone, Luke wondered how he would provide for his children. When he started to lose hope, Mary reminded her dad of the many times God had helped them through other rough times. It was then that Luke received a call from the store owner asking if he would be willing to take his father’s place managing the store. The store owner also asked if Mary would be willing to work there as well. They both accepted the jobs, so grateful to God for saving them from losing everything.

Mary loved being at the store. She cleaned and restocked the shelves and especially liked the days they got a shipment of new dresses in the store. Luke liked working with the kind people at the store and serving the customers. Peter was happy too since he got to spend his days with John and Tim on their farm riding horses, feeding the cows and sometimes fishing in the creek down in the valley behind the barn.

When John and Tim saw the faith of the Miller family, they began thinking about the God they never knew. They weren’t always drawn to the Millers’ faith in God during all the years life had been good for them, but when times changed and the family faced many hardships and lost loved ones, they realized how real their love for God was and wondered how it was possible. John and Tim asked Luke if they could borrow his Bible and they read it and believed. They found the answer in the borrowed Bible. It was God’s doing. John and Tim started feeling happier and decided to go to church with the Miller family. The faith of one family had turned into two.

Caleb loves writing poetry and excels in math. He is an avid Lego builder and enjoys raising farm animals at home in a little acreage out in the country.