By Nancy Cruz
I never thought that God could use me the way that He did! After being around some frequent Africa travelers (i.e.: Cross family), my daughter began to have a burden in her heart for the work that was going on in Uganda. When she asked if she could go, I thought it was amazing. I just knew she and her dad would have a great time; I was partly correct. The trip to Uganda ended up being Melina, my daughter, and myself. We spent the weeks prior to the trip sewing, crafting, and getting things ready for the kids who would be attending our activities. I had been praying for and planning on spending so much time with these little kiddos. I was looking forward to loving on them! However, after a few days in Kampala, I was starting to question my purpose here in Uganda. I was feeling like I wasn’t connecting with the children.
I felt like something was wrong the morning we headed out to Redeemer House. I asked a few of my friends to pray for me because I didn’t feel like I was connecting with the kids. When we got to Redeemer House, I ended up having to stay inside due to a sunburn. So again, I was missing my chance to connect with these kiddos! When I was brought into the kitchen to help the ladies I met Auntie Eva; this is where things began to head in a direction that I did not foresee. I spent the day shadowing Auntie Eva. We made juice, did laundry, ate American snacks and talked. I got to know about her 5 kids, her husband with a disability, her love for Jesus and her skills. Upon noticing the condition of some of the children’s clothing, I asked her if she knew how to sew, to which she answered with a cheerful YES! She told me that, if she had a machine, she would sew clothes and sell them in the market. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a machine. This got my wheels turning. This could be a source of income for her and her family. After speaking with Wendi, we decided that we were going to get her a sewing machine. The next few days I spent in the house with the ladies, getting to know them and doing chores with them; Auntie Eva was always the first to greet me with her big smile. She had no idea about the plan for the sewing machine and had zero expectations of me. She just loves Jesus and His people. Then I hit a snag in my plans. We learned that Auntie Eva’s house was in dire condition. It was decided that we needed to direct our attention toward that before anything else.
Unfortunately, we discovered that she and her family were living on government property and could be removed at any time. Spending money to fix their tiny little “house” was just not going to work. At lunch, Wendi showed me a picture of Auntie Eva’s little “house.” Honestly, I wouldn’t even call it that. I immediately lost my appetite and my heart was deeply grieved. This joyful, loving, Mama of 5, was living in shack that was literally falling apart. After some discussion, we decided that we were going to need to raise money to build them a small home on the Redeemer House Property. During casual conversation with Auntie Eva, I learned that it was her desire to live near the property so that she could be doing more. After a few phone calls to our American friends, we raised enough money to not only build the house but provide a sewing machine as well!
The excitement I felt as I headed home was more than I could express. I was just baffled that I got to be a part of changing the lives of this little family of 7. What an honor! But it didn’t end there. No! God wasn’t done. He still had more to show me.
A few days after returning we received an email with a video that had been made on a previous mission trip. It was a little documentary of Auntie Eva, her husband Moses, and their children. It was about 10-minutes long as they shared about how they lived, where they came from, how Moses baked bread to earn money and how they work with Moses’ disability. He spoke of his love for Jesus, His love for his wife and his thankfulness that God has provided for them. All of this, he spoke, while sitting outside of their little shack, which is also where he bakes. At the end of the video, when asked, Moses said that one of the things he was most fearful of was being kicked out of their home because they were living there illegally. He was afraid of not having a home for his family.
Oh, now I got it! Now I knew why I was there! Just for this. This one thing. Something that I got to be a part of. Something that was prayed for before I had even thought of going. Something that many hands had a part in and God had a plan for. I got to be a part of that plan. A plan to answer this one prayer! A home for this beautiful family of 7.
I am beyond humbled by God’s grace. By His willingness to use me, even though I had my own little plan. God faithfully directed to me to a country that I had never wanted to visit, to hang out with people I thought I would never meet and be there just to help fill the last few pieces in this beautifully orchestrated design.