Author Archives: rfultonmission

Uganda (part4). A little Africa fun

Uganda (part 4). A little Africa fun

Our travel time  to Africa was long!

Cedar Rapids to Chicago:   1 hour

Chicago to Amsterdam:  8 hours

( fun fact….the Amsterdam airport has a huge area that is a library with all types and styles of chairs, and a baby grand piano.  All for weary travelers to pass the time during layovers) .  (this would be a bad thing for my daughter….she would never make her connection…..it would pretty much be heaven to her!….books and a piano!)

Amsterdam to Kigali Rwanda:  9 hours .

(fun fact…..the flight attendants told us at the layover in Rwanda,  “plastic bags are illegal here!  If you have plastic bags,  please dispose of them before leaving the airplane.  You will be fined at customs if you have any plastic bags!”

                                                                                  Rwanda layover

 

Kigali to Entebbe Uganda:  1 hour

————————————————————————————————————————————-

We had a wonderful week interacting with the locals and experiencing the projects that OHP supports.     My previous posts focused on the things God wanted us to experience, ministry related.   HE also allowed us the opportunity to see a few touristy things in the area.

OVERALL IMPRESSION :

Uganda is not much different than what I have experienced in Guatemala.    Although the poverty is immense,  the people are AWESOME!     We were always greeted with warm smiles and fun handshakes.   The general handshake we learned quickly…..it was a 3 step handshake…..pretty much impossible to describe in words!

One thing that really SURPRISED me was that I could READ every sign along the road!    Uganda was once a British commonwealth,  so the primary language is English!   With that all the road signs and business signs….everything was printed in English!     WIth that nearly everyone spoke English as well.    Quite the opposite of my many trips to Guatemala….where i can basically smile in Spanish.

                                                                            Random Cow photo

Motorcycles and Bikes:

If I had a dollar for every motorcycle and bike I saw, I could make  a HUGE donation to On His Path!     Motorcycles are everywhere….used as taxis!     They were also used as delivery trucks.    The bikes were also extensively used…..hauling big loads.

 

The Equator:

Uganda is located on the Equator.      We had lunch one day at a restaurant where the equator literally ran through the dining room!    They had a line painted on the floor!    Of course the area was filled with souvenir shops!

Everyone visiting this location had to get a pic in the big landmark!

My favorite was the display where the attendant would put water in basins.   The water would drain from a hole in the bottom of the basin.     There were 3 basins.    One ON the equator,  one in the Northern Hemisphere,  and one in the Southern Hemisphere.      It was fun to observe the rotational difference from each.    Each of the basins were about 6 feet from the one ON the equator.   (some say this is a scam…..who cares….it was cool!)

Southern Hemisphere Basin

 

Northern Hemisphere Basin

 

Equator Basin

The source of the Nile river.

This was pretty amazing!    We went to the northeast corner of Lake Victoria where the lake meets the Nile River source.    Lake Victoria is the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the world….behind Lake Superior.

We rode boats out to a little island at the point where the lake and the river meet.    70% of the river in the Nile comes out of Lake Victoria.  30% came from an underwater spring that we could see boiling up in the river!     Once again….on that tiny little island…..we experienced another souvenir shop!

Where we loaded onto the boats,  there was a park.  at this park was a big display with a Statue of Mohandas Gandhi, with a story.   Gandhi requested that when he died,  he wanted to have his ashes spread at the head of the Nile….so his ashes could spread all through north Africa as it travelled 4000 miles to Egypt.   His belief was that this would create peace throughout North Africa.

One extremely powerful thing i witnessed was on the flight TO Africa.    On the leg between Amsterdam and Kigali,  we flew over North Africa.    Thankfully it was daylight!  (our return flight was at night) .   I happened to open the window shade and noticed we were over the       SAHARA desert.    This REDEFINED the word IMMENSE to me.    For as far as you could see was SAND!   And MORE SAND!

Literally the northern half of AFRICA is desert!    Some would have looked at that and be reminded of movies like “Flight of the Phoenix” where a plane goes down and the passengers must survive the elements.    Yes, I thought of the movie,  but not in a fearful way.    What my mind kept going to was THERE IS SO MUCH SAND!      With that,  I told John…..”see all that sand……God knows exactly how many grains of sand is out there!”     That’s a big God!

Psalm 139:17

How precious to me are your thoughts, o God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

 

The Market:

The last morning,  Bob and I went for a walk in the local market.    I love the experience of being among everyday life when traveling.   No tourists,  no  souvenir  shops.   Just normal life!

 

On the flight over the Atlantic,  we passed over Greenland.    That was cool.  (pun intended)

That does it for the Uganda trip.    What an amazing opportunity to see and experience it all!    I am thankful for the Blessing to meet and experience so many great ministries on our adventure!      What a Blessing to experience, first hand, some of the projects that On His Path supports!

Uganda (part 3) An African Surprise: wheelchair distribution

Uganda (part 3).  An African Surprise: wheelchair distribution

February 18-25, We were in Uganda visiting On His Path projects.

The first morning at the hotel, as usual I was up well ahead of the others, I was in the dining area enjoying my coffee.    A group came in and sat at the big table next to me.    They were young Ugandan men and women.  Many were wearing t shirts that said “it’s not about the wheels”.    I knew instantly that this was a “Joni and friends Wheels for the World” shirt.   I have one.   (JAF is a HUGE wheelchair ministry that topports wheelchair Ministries across the globe…including our friends at Bethel in Guatemala.) Moments later, the leader of this group entered the room…in his wheelchair.

Not knowing a stranger, I initiated conversation with the group.  The team had arrived the night before, as we did.   They actually saw us as we checked in, with 2 wheelchairs that we had brought to give to Dr, Lucy’s clinic.

They wondered “what’s up with them.”  They were in the area for the week to prepare for a wheelchair distribution!    REALLY??!!   They were doing several days of preparation, training local volunteers in wheelchair assembly, fitting and more importantly how to share the Gospel in the process of fitting the wheelchair.  Needless to say, I was excited!

As the week progressed, we visited with Francis and his team at breakfast and again in the evenings.   We learned more about their ministry.  Father’s Heart Mobility Ministry.

I especially appreciate Francis’ story….from their website.

 http://www.fathersheartmobility.org/about-us/mugwanyas/?view=mobile

FRANCIS MUGWANYA – founder & director

I was born in the central area of Uganda in 1978. I am the 2nd born of my parents; I come from a “small” family of 9! I have been very blessed to have both of my parents and they have always loved me and cared for me.

In 2010 the Lord gave me the wonderful gift of Adrienne to be my wife. We now serve together along with our children.

When I was 3 years old I got polio and have been unable to walk since that time. My parents tried to seek medical help for me but Uganda in those days was very unstable and good health care was not available. I was forced to crawl on my hands and knees to get around. I hated always being dirty. In Uganda people with disabilities are mocked and considered to be 2nd class or cursed. I hated the names they called me and stayed close to home where I was safe.

When I was 8 years old my parents and my extended relatives tried to figure out what to do with me. Most 8 year olds should be in school but it was so far for me to crawl there and back. Some people did not think I was even worth educating since “cripples don’t amount to anything”. I am thankful that my parents loved me enough to decide that I could go to school. My father bought a bicycle, which was a luxury item in those days, for my older brother to use to take me to school and back.

I am forever grateful to my older brother Fred. He tirelessly and selflessly struggled so I could have an education. Every morning he would take me to school on the back of the bicycle then after dropping me off he would ride it back home and walk himself to his school. We had to leave the bicycle at home during the day so no one would steal it. At mid-day my classes ended so he would leave his school, go home, pick up the bicycle, ride to my school, pick me up and take me home then he would walk back to his school for afternoon classes. He did this every day without complaining. We had fun riding a bike and also had our share of spills as the bike was so big Fred could hardly ride it!

Meanwhile my dad made several trips with me to the capital city of Kampala looking for a wheelchair. These trips would take all day on the bad roads and there was a terrible post-war fuel shortage which made the trip very expensive as well. Many times my dad and I would go to yet another place he had heard might have a wheelchair. He would carry me on his back through town to get to some of the places. We inquired and knocked and asked and tried but we always came back disappointed. We tried for years to find a wheelchair but there didn’t seem to be any in Uganda!

Finally our prayers were answered! One day when I was 11 years old an organization that helps kids with disabilities miraculously gave me a wheelchair! My life dramatically changed that day! Now I have my freedom to move around! Now I can participate in society like everyone else. I could go to school. I could go watch football games. I could go to church. This gift began to change my identity.

Growing up I started to believe what everyone said about me. I believed I was useless and crippled. But then with my new wheelchair I began to go to church and my life dramatically changed again! I asked my youth pastor why he always was smiling. He told me it was “this Jesus of mine” and I told him I wanted Jesus too then! I wanted the joy that he had. I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour when I was 12 years old and God gave me my smile! Throughout the next several years the Lord blessed me with discipleship from a godly man who taught me what the Bible has to say about my true identity. God knit all the parts of my body together and created me wonderfully (PS139); He made me in His image (Gen1:27); and best of all He has planned for me to be His very own son. I am a child of God! He is my Father.

Today I am compelled to share the love of the Father with those who do not know Him yet. God alone can change their lives! And I am compelled to give mobility to those who are right now still crawling in the dirt. I cannot sit idly by, I must use whatever the Lord has given me to be a blessing to someone. There are over 2.5 million people with disabilities in Uganda still living in the mud, still thinking they are cursed, still hopeless. We have been given the wonderful opportunity of making a difference in their lives! Will you join us?

This is from their Facebook page…….”Thanks to 2 donors in the UK this family now has a brighter future! The    3 sets of twins will be going to school for the first time this year!”

 

Francis told me that their ministry hosts 1 distribution each month all over the country.    They provide a free wheelchair to the needy.   Last year their ministry fitted 2000 wheelchairs!  Their ministry is supported my many churches in the US and Canada.    They receive a few wheelchairs from Wheels for the World, and receive the majority of their chairs from Free Wheelchair Mission, based in California.  FWM manufacturers wheelchairs (in Chin) for international distribution.    Molly from FWM was at the event to represent the company and help with the event.    John and I exchanged alot of ideas and discussed wheelchair designs with Molly.

There are no coincidences in life.   Some may say,  “that was really a lucky coincidence that you met them,”.   No way!    God had this planned all along!     Friday we actually had a free day for doing a few touristy things.    This opened the door for us to attend the wheelchair distribution, that was 10 minutes from our hotel!

When I arrived, what I saw was oddly familiar.    Families were arriving, carrying their loved ones.

There was a truck that backed in…..the back filled with people coming to receive their wheelchairs!  I helped unload and carry the kids to their seats.

Inside the building the team was setting up their fitting stations.  Outside, a tent was set up to shield the recipients from the sun, as they waited.

 

 

Francis then gave a message to the people.   He told them what was to happen today and also how God was to receive the Glory for their new wheelchair.      The people then would be called inside to be fitted in their free wheelchair.    After fitting, they had the opportunity to meet with local pastors, where they could receive a Bible and hear more about the Gospel.   MANY accepted the Lord at this, and all, events.  Again….,this was soooo familiar!

That evening, I spoke with Francis about his format….the message, the fitting, the pastors.   I asked if he got this format idea from Joni and friends.   No, he said from the beginning, this was how he did it.    God provided this format. What was an AWESOME revelation was…. this format is EXACTLY the same as Bethel Ministries International’s at at the distributions in Guatemala!

From the moment I met Francis I could tell he was also very genuine in his mission.    HE told me a story that truly confirmed this!    Francis told me a big company liked what they were doing in providing mobility to the needy.    He said they offered to provide significant financial support and send teams down to support his team in fittings at the distributions.    They had one stipulation…..That when they came to help,  he must omit the Gospel focus.    Francis said he told them,   “We need the support, and the people need the chairs….but they need the Gospel as much or more.   No thank you!”      AMEN!

Corinthians 15:58

So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! 

Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord,

knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

 

 

 

 

Uganda (part 2) Dr. Lucy’s Clinic

Uganda (part 2) Dr Lucy

We were blessed this week to meet with another On His Path project.

Dr Lucy is 30 years old.     She is a very special lady.   Her giant smile and crushing hugs warmly welcomed us to Uganda!

She was an orphan.  Her dad died when she was little.  Her mom when she was 13.  She however, was a gifted student, who every year in school was #1 in her class.  This provided the benefit of receiving full tuition for school!

She then, through scholarship, was able to attend medical school.

After graduating, Lucy  went to work for the national hospital doing general practice.

While working she learned of a leadership fellowship that led her to the University of Iowa for a few weeks.    God had a side trip planned for her.   Through people she met, she travelled to meet John at MD.   A wonderful partnership began at that point!    Seeing Lucy’s deep faith and hearing her vision, OHP was on board immediately.

                            We brought 2 wheelchairs and 5 canes for her to use at the clinic.

Her vision was a clinic she had started in her little “town” where she lived.   Not a town really…..a few storefronts surrounded by many shacks and more shacks scattered in the hills around the town.   She wanted to provide medical service to the needy.   Initially, it was a 2 room clinic.   OHP provided funding for her to rent and renovate the building.  Although still very small, her space tripled in size.   She has a small lab, 2 tiny rooms with beds for overnight patients, a consultation room, and an examination room.   The front counter is stocked with medicines for walk in needs.

Dr Lucy works Monday through Friday at the big national hospital until 3 .    She makes only $250/month!   Yes, no typo.. $250 a month!   We figured that’s around $1.60 an hour.  Thats not the end of the day…..

Every day Dr Lucy goes home to her little clinic and sees patients Monday through Friday from 4-8 or 9pm!  And All day Saturday!  This work is donated mission work.   Not a paying job.

She does general medicine, family planning, and through all her work, she provides biblical counseling!

Her vision now is to further serve her local,and surrounding communities by having remote,  2 day, FREE clinics.   They would set up tents, doctors from the hospital would donate their time and they would treat the people far from town.  The VERY poor!   Malaria treatment is the big item here.   This and other general medical treatment.   Her vision is to treat 1,000 patients per clinic;  2-3 clinics per year.

Needs uncovered at this visit.

1  A refrigerator, so she can store basic medicines at the clinic.

2  Possible financial assistance with the proposed clinics

3.  We brought her 2 wheelchairs and 5 canes to use and distribute

After our visit,  Lucy and her landlord of the clinic served us a meal!   The landlady cooked it herself.

We ate at her home adjacent to the clinic.  They wanted us to experience an authentic Ugandan meal.   Did we ever!   Fried chicken, Chipatti -a tortilla type bread, Matoke – a boiled green banana staple that resembled mashed potatoes, a goat stew, boiled kale, and a few other things I don’t recall.   We were humbled by their generosity.  The food was very good!

Lucy then took us deep in the hills to show one site where she wanted to do her first clinic.   Extreme poverty was seen on that drive!    The community desperately needs her!

 

 

 

She then proudly showed us her home, where we met her 7 year old daughter Hailey.    (What a doll!).  Lucy is a single mom who shares a remote home with another single mom with 2 kids.   It was a very humble home without electricity or running water, but it was her home and she was very proud of It!    We were very blessed to be welcomed into her home.

Although we never asked, we do want to follow up regarding Hailey.   Dr Lucy works so hard serving the community and makes very little.     But she SERVES with the most generous heart!    We assume Haily is in school.   We feel that we would like to find a sponsor for Hailey’s school expenses, just to bless her and Lucy!

We will always remember Dr Lucy and Hailey.  We will continue to pray for her.  We also pray she finds a good man for a husband who can help her in life and her mission!

Uganda (part 1)

Uganda (part 1)

by Rick Fulton

February 18- 25, Bob Meyer and I had a fantastic opportunity to travel to Kampala, Uganda Africa with John Mitchell founder of  On His Path.  (Mission: Mobility operates as a part of OHP).  Our mission was to meet with Pastor Francis Makoha and to experience the many projects in his ministry that OHP supports.

Pastor Francis

Francis made a great impression on me when I met him a few years ago when he was in Iowa to speak at the OHP banquet.    From that point I felt he was genuine.    After spending the week with him, I KNEW HE IS THE REAL DEAL!

 Pastor Francis Mokoha and his wife Topista

After meeting him in Iowa and HEARING about his various projects his simple approach to ministry and supporting those in need, I felt his mission embodied James 1:27

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

After this week, seeing and touching his ministry firsthand confirmed my initial thoughts!    This Godly man and his ministry is a perfect fit for On His Path!

We visited projects that were mainly visions that pastor Francis had years ago.   With the grant help of OHP, these visions have become reality.  All with a two fold goal.

  1. To help socially and economically  transform the lives of those in need.
  2.  To share the Gospel at ALL times in the process.

The carpentry shop.

This is the newest venture.    The shop consists of several men whomake doors and small pieces of furniture.    Their work is very solid and done very well!    No power tools here!    Hand sanding,  hand saws,  hammers!    No Dewalt power sanders, no Craftsman circular saws!  This provides jobs, and it also serves as vocational training for men to go out and get jobs at carpentry shops in the future.

The sewing center.

This tiny shop was busy!    We experienced 7 women at the shop.  One was operating a mechanical knitting machine.   She was knitting sweaters when we were there.   There were also scarves for sale, that she had made.  The sweater panels were then sewn together by a Singer foot-powered sewing machine.   The sewing machine was operated with a HUGE smile, by Topista – Pastor Francis’ wife.  She manages the sewing center.     The other ladies were doing beading Work.   They made bracelets, and purses (large and small).  There were also many colorful sewn dresses for sale.

The sewing center is providing opportunities for local widows.   They are taught the trade, so they can eventually branch out on their own and sew for themselves to make a living.   We read the permit that the shop was granted by the City.   It read, (get exact wording). “To socially and economically help to transform…..”

The metal shop.

The shop was quite impressive!   There were two men who were in charge of shop.  They were the vocational teachers of this shop/school.

Stanley is the primary leader here.   He is a member of Francis’ church.   He also is completely deaf.   Being deaf, many see him as “useless” to society.    But God brought him (and many other deaf men) to Francis to prove they can be functional in society, gifted with their trade.   Driving up and down the road, there are metal shops everywhere.  Tiny shops, like the school, that make iron doors and gates, bunk beds, metal window frames, and small charcoal stoves.

This was but a vision prior to OHP grants.   Through the benefit of OHP, they have tools.    The welder purchased with the grant provides the primary tool for their craft.    We were actually surprised they cut the rerod and tube steel and flat steel with a hand hacksaw!    When asked why not use an electric chopsaw.    a.  They didn’t have one.    b.  They decided not to buy one because the erratic electricity is a problem.   They often go a day without power.   “We can always cut metal with the handsaw….power or no power”

We at first laughed at the saw.   It wasn’t a saw like we might buy at a Walmart or Menards.    This was homemade!  From Rerod!    It was HEAVY!    Stanley had made it!   We told them we would buy them good light ones like we have in America.   They laughed.  “Those are junk…..we break them.   We like ours!”  Once again, we Americans think we have it all figured out.  NOT!

We decided this saw was made by STANLEY Tools -Uganda division!   When home we are going to find him a Stanley tools hat and shirt!

We were all humbled and impressed by these men.  Especially Stanley.

We also watched Stanley take recycled steel and fabricate a small charcoal grill/stove.     EVERYONE uses these.    Stanley can personally fabricate 3-4 of these each day.   We were amazed!

Since it began in 2012, 120 men have been taught the trade by Stanley, and have moved on to metal shops and are providing for their families.

The school and orphanage.

The WORST part of the trip was that the morning we were to travel 4 hours by car to visit the school and orphanage, JOHN WAS SICK!    He sadly said there was no way he could make the drive.    It killed us, and John as well!   This school/orphanage is the pinnacle of the projects in Uganda for OHP.   So, Bob and I were the Ambassadors for OHP today.

We took the long road, east to Busia.  This is on the eastern border with Kenya.  This is a MAJOR highway.   It was very busy with semi traffic hauling fuel and goods from the ports in Kenya to central Africa.   I especially enjoyed the drive to see the thousands of acres of sugarcane and tea fields.    All done with hand labor!

When we neared Busia, we stopped along the road and saw wild baboons.    Pretty much the extent of our roadside safari.    We were excited to see them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I have heard much about the God’s Mercy  school and orphanage over the years, but until I got to see it and experience it, I truly didn’t understand.    WOW!

The school consists of 200 children.   70 are true orphans.  Most of the others are from families who simply can’t afford to feed and educate them.   At this school they are provided an opportunity to learn and succeed in life.

There are 10 teachers and 8 support staff at the school, including cooks, house mothers for the dorms and workers.

The kids have breakfast (porridge) at 10 am, after some class.  They have lunch at 1 (beans and posho) (posho is boiled corn meal that is like thick oatmeal, but almost the consistency of a wet cake.  It is a staple of all Ugandans) and supper at 6.(posho and beans again)

Praise God for Francis and his vision.

When OHP first came to Busia, the school had 3 classrooms, 60 students and 1 dorm, where the kids all slept on the floor.

Following John’s first visit back in 2012, needs were identified, and as the years progressed, this facility has grown beautifully.  Thanks to God for putting Pastor Francis and OHP together.

Since this partnership began:

Additional classrooms have been added.

2 dorms have been built.   One for the boys and one for the girls.

Triple bunk beds in each so the kiddos don’t have to sleep on the floor!

A large building that is the dining hall and church for the kids and staff.

A brick wall has been built to provide security for the school.

A housing unit has been built to provide living quarters for the 18 staff members.  (1 room  apartments that are quite nice!   A very nice benefit to help retain the teachers)

An expansion project on the kitchen building.

An out building that has a grain mill.    Here they grind the corn to make the posho which is a staple in their diet.  They also grind corn for people in the community for a fee to help with school expenses.

Solar panels have been mounted on some of the buildings to provide a little electricity.   Otherwise, there is no electricity.

Bob and I were awestruck by what we saw and experienced!  Such a beautiful facility nestled back in the middle of nowhere.   So peaceful.  A true Godly sanctuary for these kids!     We entered each classroom where the bright smiling faces greeted us.    We watched them do their work, and sing songs.

These kids are learning what is important!  God first, then the basics of school.    They are taught primarily in English!

Many of the kids wore sweaters that we saw being knit in the sewing center.  I didn’t ask, bit I would assume the uniforms were made at the sewing center as well.

We were blessed to have an assembly in the courtyard where we were serenaded by a few groups of kids.    Bible songs and some recited Scripture.

                                           “We are the Mountain Movers”       CLICK on photo FOR VIDEO

 

 

                                                              Psalm 91:1 click on photo for video

 

The whole forum and setting was beautiful.    If only John (and Jean) were here!    I know John’s face would HURT from the giant smile that he would have on his face.   Not his normal smile, but a smile that I’ve seen all week….a smile that comes from deep inside.   A smile of humility that God is using he, Jean and OHP to further HIS kingdom in such beautiful ways.    A smile, seeing and knowing that Pastor Francis and his ministry are sincere and good stewards of the grants OHP has provided!

Pastor Francis next showed us that he had purchased property behind the existing school grounds.   Property not funded by OHP directly.   This property was purchased from the profits  generated through the metal shop, the carpentry shop, the sewing center and grinding mill.

Bob and I agreed that this was proof that the seed scattered by OHP had truly blossomed beautifully!

Where do we go from here?    The purpose of this trip was to visit and evaluate and see how God has used the donations of OHP to help the ministry of Pastor Francis.     Secondarily, to identify future needs.  Needs uncovered for future growth of Pastor Francis’ Uganda projects.

  1. A well inside the compound, complete with electric pump.  Currently, they must hand pump water from a well outside the property at a community well.
  2. More solar to provide light and power the future well pump.
  3. Funding to help with teacher salaries to retain the teachers.
  4. Additional funding to supplement the nutritional needs of the kids.
  5. Funding to establish a small chicken production operation at the site.  They could provide eggs for the kids meals.   The grinding mill already is on site to produce the feed for the chickens.   Bob’s expertise was instrumental in this project.
  6. Funding for additional sewing machines to possibly open another sewing center
  7.  Funding for tools at the carpenter shop.
  8.    Funding for additional tools at the metal shop.

I will never forget my time in Uganda!    I am blessed to have had the opportunity to experience what God is doing in Uganda through OHP.  My life has been blessed to have met Pastor Francis and to see his selfless, Godly leadership.

One my favorite reoccurring memories of this week will always be that John and Francis make quite an amazing pair!  Throughout the week, while we drove between projects, John would regularly shout “PRAISE THE LORD!”   This was ALWAYS, without hesitation, followed by Francis, enthusiastically, and emphatically shouting “AMEN!”

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17

                  “Thank you John. Thank you Jean. Thank you On HIS Path!”    Click on photo for video

Cojinetes – bearings

 

Cojinetes  – bearings

reposted from j127.org blog January 28, 2018

Today Tom Ballinger and I had the unique privilege to spend the day working in the Bethel Ministries International wheelchair shop. What a Blessing! We set up stations with the seasoned wheelchair technicians. Tom with Marcos and me with Ruby.  Now Tom and I have had our hands on a lot of wheelchairs in recent years as we collect for Mission: Mobility, but we “send em as we find em”. We welcome the chairs that are “seasoned” or even broken. Many of the chairs we find are in great shape, ready for someone to use with out any work needed…….or so we thought.

 

Today we learned that the chairs are all thoroughly inspected and refurbished! Just because they look good, they may have underlying problems. (Kinda like many people’s lives) We were taught the process by these amazing men. The main shop room is staffed by 5 people. Ruby, Marcos, Chito and Juanito, who refurbish the manual chairs and Sheny who fabricates custom cushions for the chairs. An important point to note. All of these folks are in wheelchairs themselves. 3 had polio that confined them to their chairs. The other two were in accidents. But in this shop Tom and I were the ones who had the handicap! One of the true blessings of working with this crew was that we would literally look past their mobility issues……because it didn’t handicap them at all! They all were masters at their craft and worked joyfully and steadily. They often would chuckle as we fumbled along learning their trade. (Especially after Tom informed them of my Guatemalan nickname Pollo Loco meaning crazy chicken)
Although we who collect know that these chairs will benefit someone in need……these guys REALLY know that the BLESSING of a wheelchair can allow them to continue a productive life along God’s Path! We could work along side them knowing that the chairs we were fixing were going to TRANSFORM lives…..the chairs providing physical mobility while also providing Bethel the opportunity to share the Gospel and the recipients clearly know hat their new blessing came from God, not man.  It is not just about the wheels folks!
The process was to first put the Chair on the workbench.  We then would remove the wheels and castor wheels. The frame is then inspected and cleaned. Shined up, looking good as new! The seat and seat back were also inspected, and replaced if necessary.  Next the COJINETES….(ko-hin-etes). Bearings. Fun fact. Most wheelchairs have 12 bearings! 2 in each of the 4 wheels and two in each of the castle wheel spindles.


Each bearing was removed, and soaked in diesel fluid to clean them. We then took each individual bearing, partially dismantled them to remove any hair or dirt on the ball bearings. Then packed them with grease, reassembled it and moved on to the next one! If beyond repair the bearing was scrapped and replaced with a new one. For a Farm boy who has wrenched on tractors and implements for the past 30 years…..this was a unique opportunity!  These bearings were so much smaller than any wheel bearing I had ever worked on!
Once the bearings were refreshed, we would install them and reassemble the wheels, mount the footrests, then move on to the next one.
One of the chairs I worked on had seen some action. It had some surface rust on the chrome frame that a little elbow grease and cleaning fluid and a touch with sandpaper, it was shining again. The one spindle had two bearings that I thought needed replaced. So I set them aside, and grabbed replacements from the shelf. I then struggled to reseat the two bearings into the spindle, to no avail. Ultimately, Ruby and I realized the outside diameter of the new bearings were a fraction of an inch bigger and wouldn’t fit. No matter how hard we worked, it wouldn’t work. And without these bearings the chair would never roll straight and true. So we took the original bearings and completely cleaned them and restored them to working condition!
God showed me a small lesson in this.

Webster’s defines Cojinete….Bearing with several meanings.
1. In our primary context today it is defined as “a machine part in which another part (such as a journal or pin) turns or slides”.
But BEARING also means
2. The manner in which one behaves
3.  The act or power of bringing forth fruit
4.  The direction in which one is heading.
WOW! (Several lessons in that one word!)

That original bearing had been neglected and wasn’t working well. It had rust and dirt and didn’t allow the wheelchair to roll in the intended direction as well. We tried to replace it with something different and it simply wouldn’t work. Our lives are like that. If we have the Lord in our lives, he can keep that bearing….guiding us in the right direction…..and on that on HIS path fruit is produced! However if, like that bearing, some junk gets in the center and impedes how you are operating, we sometimes try to replace it. It still doesn’t work. But is we return to God and clean the sin out of our lives (like the rust and gunk in that bearing)and cleaning up and getting refreshed in HIM….we can get back on track.

Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Sometime when we have sent broken wheelchairs, I felt bad.  But after spending the day working along side the folks in the shop, it is great knowing they are up to the challenge of restoring the broken chairs. They even restore the good ones! We can all take great comfort that in our collecting equipment we are providing good meaningful employment to an amazing group of people.   And I only mentioned the 5 wheelchair bound technicians. There are many others who work in the wheelchair shop. The Bethel headquarters is there also, There are many administrative people, social workers and other amazing people who make this ministry operate.  Although this is my 8th trip to serve with Bethel, it was my first opportunity to experience the day to day operations of the headquarters. What a Blessing!
We also had a fun opportunity today to bless the whole Bethel crew. We sponsored a meal for them! We catered in a meal. Rice, picante, guacamole, frijoles (the good Guatemalan kind, not the runny pinto bean ones we get back home), a mountain of fresh tortillas, a carne asada (grilled beef). The fun part is that Tom and I love to grill. So we grilled the meat to BLESS everyone. We even grilled a bunch of the tortillas! YUM!

What an awesome day! Saturday the rest of the team arrives. We will join them in Tecpan to begin the “regular” mission trip. I am so thankful that I have been blessed with such amazing opportunities and to recognize the great power of God’s hand in it all!

2nd wheelchair distribution June/July 2017

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.

 

Chris and Saul then addressed our guests for the day. He introduced the team and we explained that these chairs came from God, not the team.

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:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yS_WJXbKET8

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.

Thoughts on wheelchair day….

By Team Member, Vanessa

It’s hard to put into words how a wheelchair can change lives. Not just the life of the one receiving it, but the whole family.  Every time I come to Guatemala, I feel at home and my heart feels peace. Being a part of this distribution and the joy that comes from gratefulness and experiencing this God ordained gift of grace and provision is overwhelming.  I feel like this is the tiniest taste of how Heaven will feel.

Wheelchair distribution #1 June/July 2017

A post written by Team Leader Rick Fulton

Wheelchair day is an extra special day when working with Bethel Ministries International. Their mission began around 20 years ago and was primarily focused on fitting the disabled with wheelchairs. In Guatemala,  there is no safety net. There is no medicare,  no health insurance. If you can’t buy the wheelchair you need, you do without.   Their wheelchair ministry has grown to where they’ve provided over 1700 wheelchairs to the disabled just in 2016! As they host teams like ours over the next two and a half months, they will distribute over 600 wheelchairs!

Today we participated in a wheelchair distribution at a church hall right next to the Bethel Ministries shop. The morning started with the team moving the wheelchairs and walkers and crutches to the hall. We then organized the chairs, the tools and supplies for the day.

Next, Chris Mooney gave the team a demonstration of how and why we are fitting the people. He explained the proper way to seat the person,  and to check for proper size, and how to install a seatbelt.   He also reminded us that this process is not about the wheels. It is about sharing the Gospel with these people, showing them how the Lord is providing them with that wheelchair.

We prayed for the team,  we prayed for the equipment we were about to provide and we prayed for the folks we were about to interact with.

Chris then called the team to the front of the auditorium. He proceed to explain that we were a team from Iowa and that God sent us here today to help provide them with a free wheelchair! We were here today to Bless them.

Chris asked me to address the crowd.  I told them that as we collect the wheelchairs up in the states with Mission: Mobility,   we collected for the people of Guatemala. I explained that when our volunteers load the equipment on the shipping container, we always pray for the equipment and for the people who will receive it. I told them that we did not send these wheelchairs to them, but I reminded them that God sent the this equipment to blessthem. Throughout the event,  the recipients and their families would thank Dios (God), not us!

After dinner,  the team had debriefing time. “Where did you see Jesus today?” Even the quietest on the team had stories to tell. Stories of how they saw God moving through the interaction with the recipients and their families. Many were moved when the older Guatemalan ladies and men would lay hands on us and pray for us!

Others told stories of how they can’t imagine the new found independence the families will now have. That a child now can have an independence because of this new gift of mobility. The parent, the new gift of independence from not being burdened with carrying that child, and seeing them gain some independence. 55 wheelchairs were distributed today. Seven people became our brothers and sisters, accepting the Lord!

Tom summed up today very well when he paraphrased the Matthew 25: 35 says,   “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

” I was disabled and you gave me a wheelchair!”

Thank you Lord!   It was a good day.

Before we headed back to the hotel,  we loaded the three homes we will build the next three days into the truck.  Everyone pitched in to load the metal for the homes,  the stoves, the bunk beds, blankets, tools and other supplies.

Tomorrow we put on our work gloves.  We will break into three teams.  Team #1 will be hand mixing cement for a floor and foundation for a home. Team #2 will be building a home on a pre-poured slab. Team #3 will be visiting families to provide clothing and shoes and food.

We are in the rainy season in Guatemala. We have seen alot of rain the last two days!   We ask for prayers that it doesn’t rain the next three days as we will be working on these projects… rain or shine!

“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118.24

Dios te bendiga,

Rick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wheelchair day

A post written by Team Member by Megan Lehman

Since learning I would be traveling to Guatemala, God has been inserting constant and supportive messages throughout my days. One that I have found particularly comforting and encouraging comes through a song: “God is on The Move” by 7eventh Time Down.

I wake up at 4:30 every morning, get dressed, and drive into Iowa City to pick my sister up for our boxing class. I take that drive, that first hour of my day, to pray, thank the Lord for what He is doing in my life and ask for guidance throughout the day. Every day that I have done this since learning I would be traveling to Guatemala, I have heard the same song, “God is on The Move” by 7eventh Time Down. The chorus of the song repeats the words “God is on the move, on the move, hallelujah! God is on the move in very mighty ways.” I have never felt more like God was giving me a direct message, and after our first wheelchair distribution today, I now understand more fully what God was telling me.

We stood in front of a room of nearly two hundred people who had traveled many miles and hours by bus to get to the church and receive their first wheelchair. There were women crying, men walking around trying to help and learn what we were doing. We heard stories of women who had carried their disabled children for 19 years because they were unable to get a wheelchair. There were stories of women who were abandoned by their husbands and left to raise two healthy and one disabled child on their own. As we gathered in groups of three to talk with and help these people, I watched God use my teammates to do amazing things. It was as if God gave us all the talents we needed for the very moment, and the very person we were serving.

These words will never be enough to explain how much this day meant to our team and how much it meant to those God enabled us to serve. God is truly on the move here in Guatemala. And I know he is going to use the rest of this week to do even more.

 

Check out the song here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPB9ENSd1Xc