I was driving home dodging the potholes and mud along the way. People were out on their bikes and traveling by foot, doing their daily tasks, as they do in Uganda. I was almost home when I saw her. She was walking along the side of the road, slow but graceful. On her back was her baby. On her head was a bundle of firewood for cooking. She stood out to me more than the others. Probably because I too am a new mother. Probably because I cannot imagine walking this road carrying a baby on my back; much less with a whole bonfire of wood bundled on my head. How in the world do they balance that much wood on their heads anyway? Before I knew it, I was pulling my car over. I sat there. Then, I got out and stood along the road. “What am I doing?” I wondered. “Here she comes.” I looked up and my eyes made contact with hers. She began to speak.
“Something something something, boda, something something.” She was asking for money for a boda (motorcycle taxi). “Oh ok. Wait here,” I told her. I went to my car and got some money to give to this lady. As I returned, two more ladies were standing there and they thanked me for helping this woman. “No problem. I am glad to help,” I said. But, my heart was not allowing me to leave. I found myself with the strong desire to help this lady right there in that moment. But how? What am I to do? That’s when I realized one of these ladies was speaking to me in English. She can translate!
So our conversation began. I asked for her name. She dropped her load of wood to the ground for a rest. Her name was Carolyn and her son was Samuel. As we began talking, I walked her to my car to show her my daughter Kaliyah. “See, I am a mother too,” I told her. “Can I help you take your load of wood somewhere?” Carolyn looked puzzled. She wiped the sweat running down her face. The other two ladies smiled with joy. I asked, “Where are you going? Are you passing this way? I can put your sticks on top of my car.
Carolyn agreed. “Ch-Karamoja,” she said. That was were she needed to go. The other two ladies began putting the load on top of my car while I showed Carolyn to the passengers seat. She held her son and rested in the seat. “I have a second bundle of wood to pick just up the hill,” she told me. “How in the world was she going to carry all of this wood?” I wondered. “And to Ch-Karamoja? That’s more than a mile away and mostly uphill.” The two ladies peaked into the car and asked, “Can we also come? We are traveling that way.” I replied, “Of course you can come.”
So my three new friends, Kaliyah and I started up the hill toward Ch-Karamoja. We stopped along the way to pick up her second bundle of wood and then continued. “So, are you born again?” I asked my English speaking friend. She smiles. “Yes, I am! Even her!” she replied as she motioned toward her sidekick. “Oh that’s very good. How about Carolyn?” I asked. She began talking to Carolyn. After a bit I found out that Carolyn is not saved. But she thought it was a “good thing” to be saved. My heart started beating a bit faster. “Lord, are you going to save this lady today?” I wondered. So I asked Carolyn to tell me about Jesus. What has she heard? What does she know?
My translating friend began to laugh. She was so happy. She said, “This is a very good testimony. She says this very morning she woke up and asked God to show her the real way. The real truth. And then she began her work. She didn’t know how she was going to carry this wood on her own, and with her baby. But God has brought you to help her. And she sees that God is real, and you are showing her the real truth.”
I was praising God in my spirit! We continued talking and praising the Lord together because we both knew this is God at work. I told Carolyn about God’s grace. I told her about His death, His resurrection, and His great love for us. Carolyn told me she was ready to be saved. We arrived in Ch-Karamoja. Carolyn pointed toward her house but we could not reach there by car. So I got as close as I could and stopped the car. Kaliyah began to cry so I picked her up out of her carseat to console her. We all sat there, handling our goodbyes, and I asked Carolyn to pray with me. There, with puzzled onlookers, we began to pray in our multiple languages as we breastfed our babies and held each others’ hands. “…Lord, Save me. Help me to follow you every day…”
As I opened my eyes, her son Samuel smiled and my friends in the backseat were full of joy. Carolyn was quiet and peaceful. She was so thankful. We got out of the car and the ladies began unloading the firewood while I placed Kaliyah back in her carseat. I took Carolyn by the hand to say goodbye. She smiled. As I was saying goodbye to the other ladies, my English speaking friend joyfully said, “This is God. That’s the only way this can be explained. This is God.” I joyfully agreed with her. We shook hands and smiled.
As I drove away, my heart was so full. I serve a Great God. Even as I set aside my ministry “job” to be a full-time mom in our Jinja home, He has seen me and used me. He knew, even before I did, that I would be willing to share in Carolyn’s load. And so He ordained that moment. He allowed me, chose me, ME, to bring this daughter to the Father. So humbling. I am reminded, right here and now, I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And my obedience in my day-to-day is my ministry, whether at our home in Jinja, in a village, or even driving home on a hot, African afternoon.