Wheelchair day. Always a favorite of mine on these Bethel mission trips!
This week it is on our final day. This has been an amazing week of following God’s call and following his lead as we served the people of Guatemala.
As mentioned in Full Circle, http://sendgotell.org/full-circle-2/2019-guatemala/ Tom, Brian and I came to Guatemala on Thursday ahead of the rest of the team, on Saturday. We worked in the wheelchair shop to help the Bethel team refurbish wheelchairs.
The first chair I worked on was one I brought down with me on the plane. This Fall, a neighbor called and offered a wheelchair. It had belonged to her aging mother. After her mother’s passing, they donated the chair. When I went to pick it up, I told the family that I would personally take the chair with me, rather than sending down on a container. For many years now, I and other Mission:Mobility volunteers will check a chair to donate to Bethel. The cool thing is, the airlines can’t charge for the wheelchair as a checked bag. So it is a freebie! If each team took 1 chair, that would be 40 more chairs for Bethel to refurbish and distribute.
So Friday, I found a spot on a workbench next to Marcos, a 20 year veteran at the Bethel shop!
As per Bethel procedure, I removed all the wheels, then removed all the bearings from the wheels and spindles. Trivia: there are 12 bearings in each chair. The chair then gets wiped down and cleaned.
The seat had a small rip in it. So Sheny, the Bethel seamstress created a new custom seat to replace the original. Good to go.
Fast forward to today. Thursday, our last day. Wheelchair day.
We arrive at the church in Chimaltenango for the event. The church is next door to the Bethel wheelchair shop. So the team proceeded to roll the 50+ chairs plus many walkers and crutches to the event. As we approach we see the steady stream of people arriving to receive their new wheelchairs. Some are carried, others arrive in borrowed or beat up old wheelchairs. It is a powerful thing to witness!
The next order of business, Ben Mooney of Bethel spoke to the crowd, telling them what would take place shortly. A number is called, the recipient goes to a station where we waited to fit them in their free wheelchair. One special guest today was Hugo. See Brad’s post http://sendgotell.org/well-done-my-good-and-faithful-servant/2019-guatemala/. We met Hugo yesterday on a home visit.
He was desperately in need of a wheelchair that fit. He has Cerebral Palsy and had a borrowed chair that just was totally wrong for him. At our visit we arranged for Hugo and his mom to come get a free, custom fit wheelchair. We were so excited to see them patiently waiting. Eventually when their number was called, Ben went through the careful process of lovingly fitting him into the perfect chair! It was a beautiful thing to see this unexpected little story come Full Circle!
So I tagged the Iowa chair I had refurbished. Then the perfect woman came to Tom and my station. Maria. A tiny woman, full of smiles.
Tom and I sat her in the chair. We adjusted her footrests, installed a foot strap and a seat belt. She was good to go. I then called one of the interpreters over so I could tell Maria the story of how God gave me the chair through a neighbor. How it served a sweet old woman in Iowa. And how God brought it here just for her. She was all smiles and tears! Tom and I hugged her and told her “Dios te Bendiga”. God bless you! She then moved on to visit with the pastors to get her new bible and discuss the gospel.
It was another beautiful thing to experience when God let’s us see another thing go Full Circle!