by Rick Fulton
The Grace team did an amazing job of fitting wheelchairs this week!
Our first distribution (Friday) was west of Salama in the town of Rabinal. We had to drive about an hour west through the windy mountain roads to reach our destination. The Mayor of Rabinal was present to encourage the group and thank Bethel Ministries and our team for helping the disabled in his community.
When we first arrived the community center was filled with the recipients and their family and escorts. Many of these people traveled a great distance by bus or truck to receive their new, free wheelchair from Bethel.
First, the team unloaded the Bethel box truck that held the 50 wheelchairs, plus walkers canes and crutches to be given out.
Then we distributed chairs came from a couple of sources. Joni and Friends’ Wheels (as in Joni Erickson Tada) for the World, and our group Mission: Mobility.
Throughout the two distributions, we fit people in chairs that our Mission: Mobility teams collected and shipped from: Iowa, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin!
Before we ship the containers of chairs, each of our teams adheres a decal that says Mission: Mobility and the collection point. It is a real encouragement to the many teams throughout the year when they see chairs of the MM nationwide collection family. Once the chairs reach Guatemala, Bethel Ministries has a wheelchair shop where the chairs are all completely refurbished. It’s great to know the good and bad chairs we ship are all given new life before being distributed as a blessing to the new recipients!
At the first distribution, everyone received a lesson in fitting from Ben Mooney of Bethel. We then split into teams.
As we were organizing the equipment, Lydia and Gina went around with Donna Mooney of Bethel and gave each of the recipients a number to be called when it was their turn. Most of these folks had been there for quite a while and would be for a few more hours. So, our team went to the local store and bought many packages of cookies. Gina and Lydia had fun giving each person a package of cookies. I asked them if they ran short. They had only two packages more than they had people!
“For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
One group, Ken, and Megan, manned a station where they fitted folks with reading glasses. Megan (who is quite fluent in Spanish) was thrilled when one of the Mayor’s Office reps sat with her to help sub translate from the local Mayan dialect.
Everyone diligently worked to seat their new friends. They adjusted footrests, added seatbelts and calf straps to make the chairs more comfortable and safe. Lydia was a master at installing seatbelts!
She also enjoyed bouncing between stations to be sure all the little kiddos got a beanie baby or a toy car!
The morning was filled with our team being fluent in Spanish, that is giving out hugs and smiles in Spanish! We would pray for the recipients, often to be followed by long exuberant prayers of blessings upon us from our new friends! That is humbling!
The following link is a time-lapse video of our first distribution. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBpzkP0rMEY
In the end, the first distribution provided 52 wheelchairs. We were glad we transported two good chairs down with us on the plane. We ended up fitting those as well!
After the recipients received their chairs, they registered their new chairs with Bethel Ministries. Then they proceeded to meet with local pastors.
Here they received a new Bible and heard the gospel and received a salvation bracelet that was explained to them. At the end of the day, at the Rabinal event, 43 people Accepted the Lord. At these events it’s not just about the wheels.
After the distribution, the mayor’s office treated the team to lunch in appreciation for helping their Community.
Our second distribution was on Monday, three hours south of Salama at the town of Sanarate. This was the first time Bethel had ever distributed chairs in this town. The format was the same. We unpacked and organized the chairs and split into fitting teams and had a wonderful day of blessing folks with wheelchairs, hugs and prayers! Many accepted the Lord this day as well!
Following the distribution, the Mayor’s Office of Sanarate treated us to a fantastic meal to express their gratitude for helping the needy in their town.
It was a true joy to share this aspect of the Bethel / Mission: Mobility partnership with our Grace team! We could all see what a huge blessing these chairs would be to the recipients! Not only will their lives be transformed, but also the lives of their families as well!
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ~ Acts 20:35 NIV