by Team Leader, Rick Fulton
G2 Day 6: Wheelchair Day #2
Monday, we had the opportunity to be able to do a second wheelchair distribution. We got up early because we had a 2 ½ hour drive ahead of us to travel high into the mountains. Our destination: Santa Cruze del Quiche.
We travelled north and west along winding mountain roads, fun for some, for others, not so much. We saw God’s beauty in Guatemala. In the distance we could see Lake Atitlan. It is a beautiful lake surrounded by dormant volcanoes. It was a real blessing to experience this drive.
This was my second time at Quiche. In January 2015, I was here with a men’s mission trip. We participated in a wheelchair distribution at the same location. (The same location where we filmed the Mission: Mobility video that was shown at church and is on the Mission: Mobility website). The town was familiar, but it was great to see one change. At the community center where we held the distribution, they had cut out some of the steep cement steps, and installed a cement wheelchair ramp! It was fantastic! It made it easier on the families who were carrying the disabled to the event. Also, for them to roll down to the street after the event.
As we arrived, Jorge Vasquez and his son, Alejandro, from Bethel had already unloaded the 50+ wheelchairs and assorted canes, crutches and walkers. They also had all of the tools and equipment that we would need to make any modifications in the fitting process.
The team next prepared the chairs by cutting them out of the shrinkwrap from shipping, then arranging them according to size. We had many 16, 18 and 20 inch chairs. There were a few smaller chairs and some specialty chairs as well.
We brought 200 pairs of new reading glasses with us from Iowa. Annette and Megan set up shop for the G2 optical shop! Megan has really stepped up as a great help with her Spanish skills! She led the station with talking to the people and Annette fitted them with glasses until the right ones were found. The “eyechart” used was a Spanish bible. Megan would ask them barosso(blurry), or claro(clear)?
We were high in the mountains of Guatemala where not everyone spoke Spanish! Many of the Mayans speak Kaqchikel, a native language that is very different than Spanish. Megan made a friend in Cesar, a guy from the local Mayor’s office. Cesar was able to help her in secondary translations from Spanish to Kaqchikel. He was a blessing to the eye clinic!
Glasses were fit to recipients of the chairs and even their families, if needed. Now, this was a makeshift eye clinic. It was not a perfect optometric exam, but for someone who couldn’t see to read or sew, this was a huge blessing! We saw old ladies who had given up their craft of sewing the beautiful Mayan clothing given the second chance at their craft! They were so happy! Thanks Annette and Megan for your patience in doing this clinic!
Our team had split into five different teams for fitting, six counting Aaron helping Saul with fitting the specialty chairs. This team did an amazing job at our first distribution! They learned the process very quickly and were eager to help in any way possible. They had great confidence at this second event! Chris had done such a good job of telling the team how to fit at the first event. As each team would fit the chairs, Chris and Brittany would double check to see how things looked.
These distributions carry such a wide array of emotions. Some recipients are in a lot of pain and don’t say much. Others are full of life and ornery and fun. It is fun to look across the stations and watch as each team would interact with their “patients”. You can see team members and their recipients, praying together, crying together and some belly laughing together! The team was very blessed at the event! They “rolled” through this fitting event quickly. Their experience from earlier in the week increased their confidence and speed in the process.
We saw people carry their family members into this event on their backs. I had one family where the 3 sons carried their mother on an old wooden chair. (see the chair in the foreground)
One particularly part that blessed me was recognizing people from the distribution 1 ½ years ago.
The first one was Freddy. I recognized him from the Mission: Mobility video. When I am talking in the video, and I get whacked in the head with the wheelchair, there is a disabled guy who “climbed the stairs” to the event. He was quite noticeable, because he had very rigid arms and legs, but could walk. Today, scanning the crowd of recipients, I saw Freddy with his family. He was now in a wheelchair, that he had gotten previously. He was now confined to this chair. His body was giving out. He was back to this event to be blessed with a newer chair. Tom had fun fitting Freddy, Freddy smiled and laughed with Tom!
I then looking across the crowd, I also saw a tiny little guy. Benhamine was fitted in a specialty chair in 2015. He was also in the video, the feature of a few closeups. I recalled his face and he had aged a lot in the 1 ½ years, and his health was also much worse. His chair was in rough shape. Saul and Aaron fitted him into his new specialty chair.
At every Bethel Ministries wheelchair distribution, after being fitted with a wheelchair, the recipient and their family are welcomed to visit with the local pastors, who had found them and submitted their request for the wheelchair. They receive a Bible and pray with the local pastors. At these events recipients and their families often accept the Lord, or rededicate their lives to the Lord. At our first event, we had seven accept! Today, we had fourteen! Praise the Lord!
THIS is what the event is all about.
It’s not about the wheels!
Another familiar face was Ricky. Ricky was the Communications Director for the local Mayor’s office.
Back in 2015, he bounced around the event taking photos. He helped us with translations when needed. Tom and Ricky connected that event. It was great to see Ricky again, and he again helped when needed. Again, he bounced around with his camera to get some good shots for the Mayor’s office who welcomed our Gringo crew who was helping the needy in their community. As in 2015, after the event, we were invited to the City government building and were fed lunch in a conference room.
The spokesman for the Mayor thanked the team and Bethel ministries for their help. We were also surprised to see the results of Ricky’s bouncing around. He had taken those photos to compile a video slideshow.
Take four minutes to experience the distribution by watching this video:
Ricky had a great eye and captured the event wonderfully. Thank you Ricky, this video will be a great momento of the mission trip for the team, and a great way for us to share the experience.
We finished lunch and loaded up and headed back to Tecpan. Agian, we marveled at the beauty of the mountains, valleys and volcanoes as we cruised home.
Another day has passed. We knew we would bless many people this day. But again, we came out blessed, again. Blessed by experiencing the joy and faith on the beautiful people of Guatemala. Blessed to experience the mission of Bethel Ministries as they help transform lives for the Lord through their wheelchair ministry.