Day 6 – Posted by Brad
What a way to end the week. Today was the culmination of all the efforts leading up to the trip. God has allowed us to impact so many lives over the past 6 days, but we touched more in 3 hours than all the other days combined. Why? Because 50 people received the gift of mobility that in many cases never had it before. I know it is hard to imagine that a wheelchair could make that kind of difference. But, that is because most of us have never had our mobility taken away.
We traveled back to Chimaltenango this morning to set up the wheelchairs that Bethel would distribute. The guys had a brief chance to see the wheelchair shop, which is where Bethel receives all the chairs and refurbishes them. I think it was especially helpful to the men who have never been to Guatemala before. Fortunately for us, the wheelchair distribution was literally 100 feet from the shop. So, we just made a bunch of trips back and forth to get the equipment in place.
Our role today was to support Bethel in the distribution. Today was the completion of a long process for Bethel. They get applications, prepare equipment and carry out the event with amazing precision. When we arrived, there were already people waiting. People with one leg missing or no legs at all. Elderly people who could not walk. Children who had limited mobility. All waiting for the day to begin. Bethel had everything organized like clockwork. Chris began by preparing the people’s hearts. I love one of the things he said to them, “There may be a lot of things you don’t understand about God, but if you’ll open your heart to Him today, you will never doubt His love again!” Amen!
These people were so excited to be there. They live in a culture that in some places still teaches that people with disabilities have been cursed, or is a result of sin. They have been praying for years to receive a wheelchair, with no financial hope of getting it. They are sometimes told that God doesn’t hear your prayers unless you are in a particular church building. It builds and builds in their lives…until today! All of that changed in 3 hours.
We had 4 stations set up to fit people with chairs. Each person would be called, and our team would go pick out the chair that was perfect for them. It wasn’t by chance that the right chair was there, but a result of Bethel making sure they had the correct one. Once we picked the chair, we would custom fit the chair as necessary. Some needed special foot rests. Some needed foam cushion seat padding.
There was one woman who had an incredible open wound on her leg. Donna gave her some medicine, bandages and supplies to take home to help it heal. Bethel says that there are so many disabled people who die from simple pressure wounds like I saw today. They can’t shift themselves around. They often times have no sensation to tell that they have a wound. Their physical conditions are difficult to keep it clean. Infection sets in and the rest is history. What would be easy to treat in America, becomes a death sentence for a person. It doesn’t need to be that way, but it is.
I was working along side John Mitchell today at our station. Every time someone would get their chair, they wanted to thank you and give praise and glory to God. Sometimes they wanted to tell you a lot. I found myself asking Donna Mooney many times to come translate. She was a saint! One special woman was Facunda. Guess how old she was. 80, 90, 100? Nope, 103 years old. I even got a picture of her birth information. Can you imagine what that woman has endured in 103 years of Guatemalan life? Incredible! She was so very sweet. Though she was unable to open her eyes, she was still hearing what was going on. I also had the chance to meet the Governor’s wife from El Tejar, the city that Juana will now live in. She was very nice. I knew something was different, because they took pictures of her with many different people. I made sure I said hello while I worked on one of the people she brought.
Once a person received their chair, they went to an area where a local pastor or a young person from a Guatemalan group called “Todo Por amor a ti” would talk with them, pray and give them a Bible. Today, 11 people gave their lives to Christ. This may have been the person who received the chair, or a family member who accompanied them. Amazing!!! What an opportunity to share the love of Christ. This is what it is all about. This is why we fund raise for projects. This is why we come. Our goal is to provide the opportunity for people like Bethel to speak the Truth of Christ into these people’s lives. Many of the 50 were already Christians, but many were not. All glory to God!!!
Now it gets even better! After we cleaned up the site, Chris and I went and spoke with a young man named Tulio. He is the son of a woman named Luki, who we have been sponsoring the education of her children for the past few years. Tulio has been working in Bethel’s wheelchair shop for some time. I received an email from the Donna Mooney about the fact that Tulio wanted to be a pilot. My wife suggested that I email some pilots at UPS to see if they had any suggestions. Amazingly enough, I had met a pilot several years ago that married a Guatemalan woman, lived there for two years and still flies to Central America in the Military Reserves. When I posted on our union message board, this man read my post and contacted me. He said that while it is a great dream to be a pilot in Guatemala, the reality of that happening is next to zero. It is very difficult to break into that circle as the influential families mostly get those opportunities. He suggested I offer the idea of becoming an aircraft mechanic to Tulio. It is offered at the same Academy. When I emailed Donna, she said that Tulio was over joyed. It turns out that he is very mechanically inclined at this is a perfect fit. But, the program is costly. Holly and I want this young man to succeed. So we stepped out in faith by sponsoring this three year program. But, to have the best odds, he MUST learn English, which means another program that we need to pay for. It is my prayer that someone reading this blog feels led to help us with this sponsorship. We are very happy to do this, but as with all burdens, it is best shared when spread among many people. Maybe you have a group at work, a Bible study, possibly you are a mechanic by trade and can understand this young man’s passion. If you are in a position to help, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I wanted to have a conversation with Tulio before he got started on this program. I had him tell me in his own words (translated by Chris) why he wanted this. Not to tell me what he thought I wanted to hear, but from his heart. I just listened. He spoke from his heart, and it was good. I also told him that while what I was about to say sounded hard, it was the truth. That if he is not really committed to doing this, then I would rather him not waste his time. That we would find some other opportunity. He passionately said he wanted this. I also told him that he is being given an incredible gift by God. That when he is done, he bears huge responsibility to help his family. When he succeeds, so does his family. Finally, I told him that the single most important decision in all of this is his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That without truly seeing who God is, how Tulio (just like the rest of us) are separated from God by our sin. That not until we truly repent (turn from trusting in our own strength) and trust in the full payment of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the only hope we have of salvation, that whatever he hopes to do is ultimately meaningless. Once we have repented, we receive the forgiveness necessary to bring us back into fellowship with God. Once saved, God promises to give us the Holy Spirit which will go through life with us, lead us on the path that God desires for us, and make all things work together for the good of those who love him and call on His name. I asked Tulio point blank if this was a reality in his life. I will keep all that he said private, but he confirmed this was his only hope in life. Chris and I then prayed for Tulio, and he broke. He could not keep the tears inside. It was an incredibly special moment, that I was thankful for. Please consider helping us with Tulio’s new journey in life. He is a very special young man!
After an authentic Guatemalan “Domino’s Pizza” lunch, we then headed back to give Viviana and Maria each the 50 chickens for their coops. It was really cool seeing all those chickens. While there is much for each of the women to learn, they are both excited about the opportunity for them to have a small business raising chickens. In fact, one of Viviana’s chickens laid their first egg while we were there. Chris said it was still warm (I will let you use your imagination). I don’t think Maria’s will lay an egg for several days, as the bumpy car ride up the dirt road probably sent them into shock. In fact, after Scott pulled one of the chickens out of the container, it jumped right back in. It probably had no clue it was safer outside of that crate. Not only am I excited about the opportunity for these two women,but the other families that will hopefully get this same chance in the future. For a relatively small amount, you can provide the chance for a family to finally get ahead in life.
As we walked out, we saw the school teacher that will now work with the kids in this village. Her name is Sarah and she seems so sweet. She is teaching 10 kids wright now. Very cool.
We then headed back to the hotel, got cleaned up and went to church. A couple of the guys were not feeling well, and stayed back at the hotel. It has been a long week and I think our bodies are ready to get home. It was a special church service. Pastor Juan preached on goals, and we had the chance to say goodbye to our special friends. We will truly miss them. I pray that we have the chance to come back next year and see them again.
We fly out on Friday at 1:40 PM and fly to Atlanta. After a 3 hour layover, we get back to Louisville at 10:30 PM. Please pray for the men who are not feeling well. Please pray for our journey home.
We miss you all and can’t wait to be home with our families.
Dios te Bendiga,