Monthly Archives: July 2017

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:

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,








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:

Claudia’s new chair!

(followup to But then God….   by Annette Fulton)

A few weeks prior to this trip, we discovered a need for a special wheelchair. A mom we were building a home for had a 10 year old daughter who could not walk and is deaf. This Mama had carried this child, Claudia, everywhere. Also, due to the muscle condition in Claudia’s legs, it was often necessary to comfort her in a special position which often caused her mother to hold her for hours and hours a day. This prevented this single mom from finding work, and also required her older son to forgo his education so he could work in the fields to help the family. This dear child required lots of attention and this dear Mama provided it.

We recently posted a wheelchair need on Facebook. I had many doubts we could find a chair, but God didn’t. Within hours of my post, a chair was found and within days it was delivered to our home to be taken on our trip. Many faithful friends were part of this miracle. I was in awe of God this day! We not only received this speciality chair, but other small children’s chairs in the process.

Excitedly, we transported this chair and another through airports and customs. We couldn’t wait to show Chris (from Bethel Ministries) this amazing chair! Upon arrival, Chris examined the chair and agreed it was amazing, but then our hearts sank. He explained that this incredible chair was desperately needed in Guatemala, but it was unlikely to fit Claudia. This chair was made for a younger child. Disappointed, we consoled ourselves with the knowledge that the chair would certainly bless some child in Guatemala. Claudia would definitely get a chair at the wheelchair distribution, but they may not have the right size yet. We knew Claudia would eventually be given a chair that would suit her needs.

Our first full day in Guatemala was wheelchair distribution day. Chris began the day by praying with the crowd that had gathered in the large, tin-roofed auditorium on that rainy morning. I understood little of what was being said, (as I only know how to smile in Spanish), but it was clear that this was a faithful crowd. Old and young were there, and many had travelled hours to arrive on time. As we lifted our heads from prayer, tears could be seen on their faces, their hands still held together, lifted high as the continued to proclaim, “Dios, Dios”!

This day was not about a team from Iowa, or about a chair we lugged through customs for hours the day before. This day was about God. These people had not yet even received a chair but they were praising and thanking God. Tears began welling in my eyes as I scanned the crowd and spotted Claudia. Her precious mom was also praising the Lord.

This is the rainy season in Guatemala. It is not unusual to receive a downpour for an hour and then the sun returns. This was not that day. Rain continued throughout the morning and afternoon, providing a constant hum on the tin roof in that large building, sometimes loud, but often a low rumble.

Once the teams began the fitting process, the ‘hum’ of the room was not the rain, but the whirl of activity surrounding each fitting. Families gathered around as a team of three to four ensured each component fit the person properly. Seat belts were made and added to chairs, as the rough terrain could easily cause a person to be thrown from their chair. Foot rests were adjusted; seat pads were added to protect the person from sores; and ultimately the team was able to pray with the family. The families then met with a pastor to hear about the Lord and set out to make the journey home.

I anxiously awaited Claudia’s family being called up. Her dear mom, Angelica, along with a small friend, waited patiently with her – often shifting Claudia in their laps to make her more comfortable. It had been a long day for them, and being amongst a crowd in the city was not normal for this family. IMG_0587

The young girl who accompanied them watched cautiously all day as others around them received chairs. Her tentative look of concern rarely left her face. She was very sober. Angelica also sat with little expression, but would certainly return a gentle smile whenever engaged.

Claudia required a specialized chair, and Bethel had several amazing technicians to carefully fit these needs. These fittings often took a long time, and most other regular chairs had been distributed by the time she was called up. Bethel had a few small chairs that might work for her temporarily, but we also had the chair we brought so they could get an idea of her specific needs. We already knew it was unlikely to fit her, but it was important to get measurements so a perfect chair could be found.

Chris observed as Claudia was placed in this chair.

She was scared and did not want to leave her dear mama’s arms. As she wriggled around, Chris and Saul carefully walked around the chair checking her position from every angle. After a period of time, and a series of measurements and checks, Chris paused and stepped back to take a final look. He paused again and then said,

“You’re not going to believe this… this chair fits her perfectly! It is going to work for Claudia!”

What? What did we just hear? We couldn’t believe it!!! My arms began to tingle, and I had that feeling of awe again. The same feeling I had on the day this chair was discovered. I knew this had nothing to do with us, other than for God to reveal His presence. He is always around, but we often miss Him. I am so grateful He allowed us to witness this. Again, it’s not about us at all, but He does want us to know him. I stood back as Saul adjusted and transformed that chair for Claudia, for her mom and for her family. Their life’s were about to be changed, and so were all of ours who witnessed this.

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Once Claudia was finally placed in the chair and began to roll around her expression changed from fear to joy!! Oh, what a good God we serve!!!


Claudia and her family left the day changed; physically, emotionally and spiritually!


The story doesn’t end here. The very next day a team went to their home to prepare the ground for a new home for this family. We were fortunate to be on this ‘cement slab’ team.

But then….God!