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In God's Service

Andrea Canale


Andrea is choosing a career that focuses on service for others. You may make a similar choice. But no matter what career you choose, remember to think in terms of serving God by helping others. Consider these Bible verses:
“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. . . . I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10: 31-33, NIV).*
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40, NIV).
“Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all’” (Mark 9:35, NIV).
*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright  1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. 

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An Unsung Hero

by Andrea Canale

The horrors of orphanage life inspired a great career choice

 When I was a baby, I was abandoned in an orphanage in Romania. Thankfully, I don’t remember that, but the pictures I’ve seen tell a heart-wrenching story. Most children left in Romanian orphanages are forgotten, and it doesn’t take long for their muscles to deteriorate.

I was no exception. During the first year of my life I wasn’t given any actual food. My life was barely sustained by weak chamomile tea and occasional amounts of diluted baby formula. There were no toys to stimulate my development, no one to talk to me or hold or love me. It was a cold, dark, bleak environment. The only good thing that happened to me during my first year of life was getting chosen to be one of the six lucky infants to be adopted into an American family in 1993.
When I look at the tiny passport photo my parents used to bring me into the United States, I wonder what they were thinking. How did they have the courage to spend borrowed money to bring such a sickly looking child into their home? My skinny arms and legs were useless. I couldn’t even clap my hands! 
My parents believed in me. Mom quit her job and worked relentlessly with scores of therapists. I considered myself special because of countless “play” sessions I had each day. I didn’t know it was work. I eagerly anticipated the many therapists who entered my home every day to entertain me with their bag of tricks and treasures. I remember crying when the “play ladies” had to leave for the day, but Mom gladly carried on where they left off. Dad converted the basement into a giant play land where my sister, Juliana, and I could roller-skate, swing, or swim in a pool of Styrofoam peanuts. We had the coolest house on the block!
When I entered kindergarten, my therapy stopped. My parents continued to work with me, especially during times when I went backward in my development, which inevitably happened after each surgery I had to have. Today there are no visible signs that I had such a rough start in life. Yes, I had devoted parents who taught me the depths of my own courage and strength. But equally important were the therapists who worked with me each day. They were the unsung heroes.
In sifting through my childhood photographs that mark the progress of my growth and development, I’m in awe. I overcame every obstacle, no matter how great it was or how many I had. But I didn’t do it alone. I achieved enormous goals partly because of the dedicated team of therapists who had nerves of steel and the patience of a saint. 
Why was I selected out of the thousands of orphans to leave Romania in 1993? I truly believe God chose me because I have a very important work to do with my life. Because I learned firsthand what it’s like to struggle through the quagmire of therapies and overcome those obstacles, I can understand the importance of it all so that I can help others.
I want to be a “play lady” that some anxious child waits for, peering out the window of their home as I once did. I want to be a physical therapist so that I can spend the rest of my life coaching people to work through the physical challenges they face. I want to be a cheerleader to them. And my greatest reward will be to watch them leave as “whole” and “healed” persons.
I want to be that unsung hero, and in order to fulfill my goal, I must reach deep within and really apply myself each day at school. I need to get the highest possible grades in order to be accepted into one of the best colleges for physical therapy. Education is an important key to my success.
I feel blessed. I know what I want to do in life and how to make that happen. Though I had an unfortunate beginning, I’ve found a way to ensure that the rest of my days will be positive. Going to school will never be boring to me, because I see it as a stepping-stone to the future I want—a life of service to others.
Andrea Canale recently graduated from high school. Her home is in New York.

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