A Beaufort-area teenager is earning a laundry list of achievements and deserves a real good pat-on-the-back. She recently claimed second place in a national Christian speech contest.
But there’s something much more wowing about the story: three years ago she couldn’t even speak a word of English. It’s a stride the 14-year-old credits to faith, family, and community.
There is something about the faces of the three sisters and their brother that touched Sharon Mansell and her husband just over three years ago.
Fourteeen-year-old Maddie knows the story.
“God put us in their heart to adopt us,” she said.
The siblings made four of six the Mansells would adopt from Ethiopia. When they set foot on US ground — learning the English language was one of the things to do.
“She didn’t know how to pronounce. It took us a week and half to learn how to pronounce “peculiar,” “bewilderment” and “wreath,” Sharon said.
But she got that down and a whole lot more! So much she impressed judge after judge.
“They told me I was breaking to semi-finals and I was in shock. Then I break to finals and I was like, “oh my goodness” and then all the kids were like, “you’re going to nationals in your first year!” Maddie said.
She didn’t just go, she placed second in the Dramatic Interpretation category for the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association- a feat far past what they ever imagined.
“We set a goal,” Sharon said. “Because it’s always fun when you embark on something to have a goal so we decided, “hey we’re going to set a goal for regionals,” which seemed like the unreachable goal.”
Surpassing their goal by leaps and bounds, a very mature Maddie believes first and foremost it’s faith that got her there.
“I think it’s what God wants me to do that I do for him and he does everything for me,” Maddie said.
And also the love and support of their church and their community.
“All goes into tide to this Beaufort area that has just backed us all the way,” Sharon said.
Besides the support for Maddie’s speech endeavors, Mom Sharon says their community really stood behind them through the whole process in adopting the children out of the orphanage in Ethiopia.