I can't believe it. There stands six-year-old Candi in her new designer dress of pink chiffon and ivory lace, giving her speech in front of the whole church. Her face beaming, her head held high, her shoulders straight and looking like the angel I know her to be. A mother's pride could not be greater than mine is today.
It all began a couple of months ago when a man and wife team, missionaries from Sierra Leone, came to our church to hold a revival. Peter and Mandera Hope were an older couple who had been on the African mission field for over 20 years. When they visited the United States to seek help to further their ministry in Sierra Leone, they always seemed anxious to get back to their home in Africa. But they frequently left their mark on the hearts of the people they ministered to while in their native land.
Sister Mandera, as she asked us to call her, was a guest in our home, but she never acted the part. She became one of the family and a precious mentor to this young pastor's wife. We talked for hours while the men were gone doing what preachers do. I was young and green trying to deal with the business of being a good pastor's wife. Finances were slim, leaving very little money available to feed and clothe my husband, our six-year-old Candi and me.
Sister Mandera could tell I was disturbed about something and never once considered not asking about it. I was glad to talk about it.
"Candi, has a part in the Easter Program, and I would like so much to be able to get her a new dress. She's been wearing hand-me-downs almost since she was born. What makes it worse, they're usually hand-me-downs from the congregation's children. I've never questioned God, but I would really like to put a smile on Candi's face by giving her a dress that hasn't been worn before," I said, holding back the tears in my eyes, but not the ones in my voice. "I know you can't help, because your finances are limited too, but you can help me pray."
"My finances are limited, but God's arm is not shortened," stated Sister Mandera. "I just might have the solution." She headed toward the room she and her husband were sharing and came back with a portable sewing machine. "God has instructed me to give this to you," she said. "And if you don't already know how, I'm to teach you to sew."
The next two weeks were filled with sewing lessons. Measuring, laying a pattern, pinning and cutting, not to mention ripping and re-sewing. The final result is standing before me now, worn by a sweet little girl who is proudly saying her Easter piece. The designer dress she wears has a tag in the back that says "Made by Mommy".
As I sit and watch Candi complete her flawless performance, I can't help but thank God for his intervention. It all happened because one of his children made a choice to give from the heart.
I have since learned that this is something Sister Mandera does often. And God always sees to it that she gets another sewing machine before heading back to Sierra Leone.
Jacquelyn Horne is a former newspaper reporter who has won various awards including two Delaware School Bell awards. She has poems and articles published in magazines and Christian publications. She moved from Delaware to central Georgia 13 years ago.
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