Walking down the main street of Mount Barker one cool day in August 2008, I gathered my cardigan around me and walked toward my destination. Recently, I had been praying for God to direct me in the way He wanted me to go so I could be of service to Him.

Each time I prayed this prayer, I felt unafraid of where He would take me. I had learned to trust Him more as I got older. At 50, God could use me as much as when I was 20. What could I do to bring praise to Him? I had tried different things but nothing satisfied me enough to keep doing it. I wanted to do more.

While I walked, I was concentrating on what I had to do that day. All of a sudden a picture popped into my head. I was to work with my daughter in a shop serving people. I actually saw myself serving someone behind a counter. This pulled me up quickly. I had no desire at all to work in a shop, except maybe in the back sorting things or filling shelves, where I would not be noticed or have to talk to customers.

I tried to put it out of my mind and complete my business but the picture would not leave my mind. I couldn't blot it out, no matter how hard I tried. I told no-one, as I thought they would think me crazy.

The next day, it was still there and I could see myself in a uniform. I thought maybe I was meant to work at a department store where my daughter worked. But I didn't want to work there--I would have to meet people!

I had noticed a sign in the Salvation Army Op Shop advertising for volunteers the week before, so decided to apply for that position. When I got to the shop, I noticed the sign was no longer in the window. That was strange--often signs advertising for help would be in the window for at least two weeks, sometimes longer.

I walked away after making sure there was no help needed. I felt confused and continued to pray for guidance. Nothing came up, so I put the thought on hold and felt it might be my imagination after all.But one night in our small-group meeting, our minister began by saying we wanted to start an ADRA shop. I couldn't believe my ears as the whole picture fell into place. This was what it had been all the time--I was to work in an ADRA shop! No-one in my area had contemplated starting a shop, as there were already six other op shops in the main town of Mount Barker. However, the impression that this was what God wanted me to do was so strong I spoke up, telling everyone what had happened seven weeks before.

Immediately, confirmation came that I was to instigate this dream. The thought of serving people still overwhelmed me but I had no fear of getting this going. I could do this because, without a doubt, this was what God wanted me to do. We prayed earnestly about it and I got working on finding a shop to operate from. Forms had to be filled out and places checked out.

Hour after hour I searched the internet for the right shop. Each place I checked out had something I was not completely at ease with, be it the price of rent, the size or the position. Once I had a list of available sites, I gave them to ADRA. I felt they would have more expertise in what would be best. They were sceptical as to whether we could make a profit, as the rent was high and positions were not the best. They suggested we revamp our plans and start with something smaller.

After talking to the directors of ADRA and praying about it, we decided to start with garage sales.

The date for the first sale was printed incorrectly in the advertisement of the local paper. People came on the wrong day and were angry they had made the trip for nothing.

The night we were to set up the hall was rainy and wet, so some things became damp. Of those who were to help, only four people came to help set everything up. We worked until 1 am but were still unable to finish pricing everything. I decided I'd come back early and complete the setup.

The day of the garage sale, the weather was extremely windy and cold. It blew our signs over but God still blessed us abundantly. We made a profit of $750 toward starting a shop in the future.

God won that first battle for a shop. With His help, we will Vyrona Parker is a writer and mother who lives in Nairne, South Australia.