Monthly Archives: February 2019

Full Circle part 2

Full Circle – Part Dos

Posted on February 1, 2019

From Rick:

Wheelchair day.  Always a favorite of mine on these Bethel mission trips!
This week it is on our final day.    This has been an amazing week of following God’s call and following his lead as we served the people of Guatemala.

As mentioned in Full Circle, Tom, Brian and I came to Guatemala on Thursday ahead of the rest of the team, on Saturday.   We worked in the wheelchair shop to help the Bethel team refurbish wheelchairs.

The first chair I worked on was one I brought down with me on the plane.  This Fall, a neighbor called and offered a wheelchair.   It had belonged to her aging mother.   After her mother’s passing, they donated the chair.   When I went to pick it up, I told the family that I would personally take the chair with me, rather than sending down on a container.   For many years now, I and other Mission:Mobility volunteers will check a chair to donate to Bethel.   The cool thing is, the airlines can’t charge for the wheelchair as a checked bag.  So it is a freebie!   If each team took 1 chair, that would be 40 more chairs for Bethel to refurbish and distribute.

So Friday, I found a spot on a workbench next to Marcos, a 20 year veteran at the Bethel shop!

As per Bethel procedure, I removed all the wheels, then removed all the bearings from the wheels and spindles.    Trivia:  there are 12 bearings in each chair.    The chair then gets wiped down and cleaned.    (see last years blogpost )

The seat had a small rip in it. So Sheny, the Bethel seamstress created a new custom seat to replace the original.  Good to go.

Fast forward to today.   Thursday, our last day.  Wheelchair day.
We arrive at the church in Chimaltenango for the event.   The church is next door to the Bethel wheelchair shop.    So the team proceeded to roll the 50+ chairs plus many walkers and crutches to the event.   As we approach we see the steady stream of people arriving to receive their new wheelchairs.    Some are carried, others arrive in borrowed or beat up old wheelchairs.  It is a powerful thing to witness!

The next order of business, Ben Mooney of Bethel spoke to the crowd, telling them what would take place shortly.   A number is called, the recipient goes to a station where we waited to fit them in their free wheelchair. One special guest today was Hugo.   See Brad’s post   We met Hugo yesterday on a home visit.

He was desperately in need of a wheelchair that fit.  He has Cerebral Palsy and had a borrowed chair that just was totally wrong for him.   At our visit we arranged for Hugo and his mom to come get a free, custom fit wheelchair.    We were so excited to see them patiently waiting.   Eventually when their number was called, Ben went through the careful process of lovingly fitting him into the perfect chair!   It was a beautiful thing to see this unexpected little story come Full Circle!

So I tagged the Iowa chair I had refurbished.    Then the perfect woman came to Tom and my station.  Maria.    A tiny woman, full of smiles.
Tom and I sat her in the chair.    We adjusted her footrests, installed a foot strap and a seat belt.   She was good to go.     I then called one of the interpreters over so I could tell Maria the story of how God gave me the chair through a neighbor.   How it served a sweet old woman in Iowa.   And how God brought it here just for her.     She was all smiles and tears!    Tearfully, she was praising Tom and I and thanking us for the chair! We quickly comforted her and reminded her that the chair was a Gift from God, not from us! God just allowed us to be a part of his Blessing her with the chair. Tom and I hugged her and told her “Dios te Bendiga”.  God bless you!    She then moved on to visit with the pastors to get her new bible and discuss the gospel.   

It was another beautiful thing to experience when God let’s us see another thing go Full Circle!

Full Circle

Originally Posted at during my winter men’s mission trip on January 29, 2019

By Rick:

God gives us some great blessings when we can see things move full circle…and that we can see His hand in making it happen!

Rewind to November 2018.  Tom Ballinger from Wisconsin delivered a load of wheelchairs he had collected to the Wayland Iowa Mission:Mobility warehouse.  This was one of several deliveries he made in 2018.   Tom is a good friend of many years, and a 3 time January Guatemala mission tripper. (Soon to be 4)

Then on December 11, 2018, a group of volunteers from the area helped inventory and load a 40 ft container that would be sent to Bethel Ministries in Guatemala.   The load included around 165 wheelchairs, many crutches and walkers, medical supplies, and around 300 boxes of donated clothing, shoes and supplies.  

As always we had more donations to send than the container had space.   We had the entire container packed floor to ceiling on all 40ft.   We locked it up and sent it on it’s way.   
The (Iowa) route….
by truck to Chicago.  256 miles
By rail to New Orleans. 925 miles
By ship to Guatemala. 1367 miles 
By truck to its destination in Chimaltenango, Guatemala.  343 miles
The process can take a month or more. Often times the headaches begin at customs in Guatemala.  Occasionally they get a random “red light”.  They are pulled aside and emptied to see if the inventory manifest is legit.    Now, I always figured they maybe pulled out a few boxes and looked at the packing nightmare we created and then would close it up and call it good.  More later….

January 24 arrives and Tom and I and his son-in-law Brian arrived in Guatemala for the winter men’s mission trip.  As last year we planned to bless the Bethel crew with a meal where Tom and I would man the grill!    We were looking forward to it and really planning on it!!

God had a different plan! The Iowa container unexpectedly arrived late the morning of Janurary 25! So, we and many of the Bethel crew went to the warehouse site to unload!

This container had gotten a random red light and was partially emptied.   If not for that, it would have arrived a few days prior to our arrival!    God wanted to provide us with a special bonus for the trip!

45 days of travel (and sitting in ports and customs) and approximately 2891 miles!

What a special day to spend with our brothers from Guatemala.  
It was an extra special day for me.    This was the 31st container that Mission: Mobility has shipped since our start!    It was the first that I personally had loaded AND unloaded!

Nick Frey and his wife and son are living in Guatemala, working along side Bethel right now.   Nick was there helping.     As we were unloading, Nick said.   “There is a very small fraternity in this world.   I looked at him, puzzled.  He continued. “It is a brotherhood of 2.   Those who have loaded containers of wheelchairs in the states for Mission:Mobility and unloaded in Guatemala!  You and I, brother!” 
I think we can add a 3rd to the brotherhood.  Tom delivered chairs that would be loaded on this container and helped unload as well.    The 3 amigos!

Truly full circle.  I feel totally BLESSED to have experienced this!
Loading the containers are always a joy to me.  A JOY because I know that the chairs, equipment will bless so many.   It is a beginning of a journey for the equipment .   The journey began with someone in the states who needed the chair for their own needs.     Then the chairs were collected by an awesome group of volunteers across the country with a heart for the Lord and helping our missionary friends in Guatemala.