submitted by Mission: Mobility Partner Kim Moody Crouch
It’s been six years since our first mission trip; a trip I anticipated would be a short lived adventure. Little did I know, God would continue to call us again and again to return to Guatemala and turn this experience into a passion. It’s a ministry I’m grateful to be a part of and have had the immense pleasure of watching grow because of people like YOU. Our dearest donors and supporters, thank YOU for allowing us to be the hands and feet of Christ through YOUR giving, prayer, donations, and incredible generosity.
After that first trip, I was convicted on so many levels of how I’d been living my selfish, so-called Christian life. The following verse from Proverbs 24:12 cut deep and made an incredible impact on me. “Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act.” It was a trip that completely wrecked me, and I mean that in the greatest of intentions. Returning home, I knew change was necessary.
Every summer, this trip always put my life in perspective. I think about everything differently, from the way we spend our money, eating leftovers, to realizing our house will always be big enough (regardless of the size of our family), and how we give and who we give to. These moments have taught me the importance of being intentional in every aspect of my life. I make an honest effort of thanking God daily for the little things. I appreciate our children more (even on their worst days). It’s opened my eyes to recycling, planting a garden, collecting memories instead of stuff and loving our neighbors. My eyes have been opened to loving God by loving all of His people and His earth.
I am grateful for the chance to step away briefly each year and work in Guatemala with Bethel Ministries, International and the Mooney Family. They have been instrumental in shaping my spiritual life. Serving there can feel like a vacation, when given the chance to turn your back on the mess that often accompanies our everyday lives we often create ourselves. It’s an opportunity to walk away from the meaningless distractions ofphones, email, meetings, TV, and the over-scheduling we are all guilty of. It’s an opportunity to truly LIVE in His will. From the fundraising efforts leading up to the trip and being touched by the generosity of our family, friends and community, to the second we serve in Guatemala, we receive love, give love and are so BLESSED by the richness this journey entails!
These trips are always humbling and make my life. They are a favorite part of every summer, yet, I waver through such a roller coaster of emotions from anger and sadness, to gratitude. My heart is so full while I’m there, but so shattered at the same time. I see God everywhere, but struggle with so many questions. Why do we have so much and they have so little? Why do my children always have full tummies and they don’t know the next time they’ll eat? Why don’t more people help? How can I motivate others to give up some of their abundance and give to those who have so little?
This July we served in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. It’s an area deeply rooted in Mayan culture with over 27 dialects just in this region alone. The people are dark brown with beautiful long, shiny black hair and the darkest of eyes. They are warm and kind. They look at least 10 years older than they actually are. They’ve lived hard and been kissed by the sun far too many times working in the fields and trying to survive this difficult life. They dress in “typical” Mayan attire of handmade embroidered blouses and wrapped fabric skirts. The fabric is so beautiful and vibrant with stitching so intricate you can’t fathom how long it took them to create these amazing ropas (clothes) by hand.
The town is located in a rugged region, full of mountains, deep ravines, and volcanoes smoking in the distance. It sits at 6,000 feet above sea level with breathtaking landscapes from every direction. The climate is ideal and tropical. Today is 70 degrees and perfect. Every time I’m in this country, I’m convinced the Garden of Eden looked like this. There are apple trees in every direction and flowers of every color growing wild. It’s one of the most beautiful places on this earth, despite the sight of poverty everywhere.
We held a wheelchair distribution today. It sounds so simple, meaningless almost. When we first started these missions, I didn’t realize the impact a single wheelchair could have on a person’s life, especially when I thought about the lack of other resources like shelter, food, clean water and money. After the first distribution, it’s now always one of my favorite days.
The crowd is trickling in. Road protests have slowed the people from getting to the clinic where we’re distributing free chairs. Some of these people have been on a waiting list for 6 months to years to receive a wheelchair. A 30 year old man comes crawling in like a crab, his only method of moving around. There’s a gentleman carrying his 85 year old mother on his back in a plastic chair tied to his waist because she’s too weak to walk. He carried her for miles and paid what little money he had to get her through the protesters so he could get her wheelchair.
There’s also the lovely hermanas (sisters) with their 88 year old father. He lost his wife just 17 days ago. He has no legs because both were amputated due to cancer. They show me his wrist, badly bruised with a deep cut. He fell while trying to scoot around the house when his daughters weren’t home. A sweet mama walks in and lays her daughter on the ground. She’s tired from the journey. She’s carried this child in a sling on her back. For 13 years, she’s carried this paralyzed child everywhere. Today, this child gets a chair and mama gets a new freedom of walking alone and using her arms again.
Whether it’s a 38 year old who has never left the house because of cerebral palsy or the opportunity to give a mother her arms back to work again because she’s carried her child since birth, a wheelchair is LIFE in so many ways for these people. Some of them will come for miles, for days on a bus to receive this free gift. To us, it’s just a chair someone threw out to the dump, to them; it’s the gift of mobility!
On this day, we meet young and old with difficult stories. There is one in particular that affects me profoundly. He’s a 7 year old boy who I love at first sight because hereminds me so much of my boys. His smile is infectious and lights up his entire face. His cheeks are round and rosy and he illuminates happiness. Today, he is receiving his first wheelchair. I look down and grab his little hand to hold and hug him, but am immediately taken back at the sight of his hands. I well up with tears. His tiny hands are broken and battered. They are so severely calloused and swollen two times the size they should be. Where there should be knuckles, there are cracks and deep cuts to the bone that are black with dirt.
He’s been dragging this little body on the rugged earth since he was mobile, using his fists to crawl. His hands have literally been his feet. These precious hands are so filthy and probably have never been washed or cared for. These darling hands have never seen a Band-Aid or an ounce of Neosporin. I’m physically sick; not that he’s so dirty and cut up, but that these precious 7 year old hands have endured so much in his young life. He’s been crawling on rocky roads and dirty floors, and then using those same broken, achy hands to put food in his mouth when it is available. I once saw a sign that read, “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.” I will not forget this moment; it has cut me to the core.
I hug him again and I don’t want to let go. How is he smiling when I can see the bones in his hands? How is he giggling when his hands are so infected, calloused and broken? We put him in his new chair and his expression says it all. He knows this is his first set of “legs.” I exhale, hoping his hands may finally heal. He grins from ear to ear, excited about his new wheels!
10 minutes later we sit down to eat and I can barely move food from my plate to my mouth. I’m still shaken, devastated by the wounds of this child. I long to take him home and bandage up his sweet little fists. I’m saddened that I’ll never know if those wounds actually heal or if he will lose his fingers or hands. I’m troubled that a child has to live in this sort of pain. I ache for his uncertain future.
In my frustration, one of my favorite songs comes to mind. It’s by Matthew West, called “Do Something.” The lyrics say, “I shook my fist at heaven and said, God, why don’t you do something? He said, ‘I did. I created you!’” And it is in this moment that I am grateful, so very grateful for this little boy who keeps a smile on his face despite his circumstances. This physically broken child is an incredible reminder that we are all broken. We have broken pasts, broken relationships, broken hearts, broken marriages, we are spiritually broken. We. Are. Broken.
This child is a reminder that we have a God who aches to have a relationship with us. We too, can smile despite our circumstances in this fleeting life, knowing we are promised eternity if we would just accept Him. We serve a God that aches to use us, if only we’d listen to His purpose for our life. I’m humbled all over again. God can use ME, despite all my brokenness to give hope where it’s needed most. He uses a sinner like me, to bring comfort to those in need. I pick my head up with tears in my eyes and go back to my “check out” post at the clinic. It’s the last stop for those who receive a wheelchair and have met with the pastor, to get last minute information. A man grabsme and wraps his arms around my neck and hugs me tightly. With big tears in his eyes he says, “Muchas gracias. Dios es tan grande!” (Thank you very much. God is so big!)
Kim and her husband Stephen live in Murray, KY and are veterans at serving with Bethel Ministries. They lead mission groups independently every summer to serve with BMI. They have two young boys, Collier who is 9 and Kellen who is 6 years old. Their oldest son, Collier has served with them in Guatemala for two years. They love serving the people of Guatemala and love serving The Lord. Along with serving with Bethel in Guatemala, they collect wheelchairs that have been shipped to Guatemala. The Crouches have huge hearts and are an integral spoke in the wheels of Mission:Mobility!
Thank you Kim for submitting your story. And many thanks to you and Stephen for all you do! Dios te Bendiga!