We have had some very busy and very long days, but God’s active presence among us has been more than evident. My experience with my first patient of the day on Tuesday is proof!
As many of you know, it sometimes takes us as much as a full day to make the adaptations and adjustments for some of our recipients. Usually it is between two and six hours. Because the chairs are all second-hand chairs, finding exactly the right one and fitting the child in need without major adjustments is almost unheard of.
Well, today I went out and evaluated Axel for a chair. He was long and thin and had fixed club foot deformities in both feet. I expected to have difficulty because he needed a very deep, narrow wheelchair that would accommodate his feet. As I looked through the available wheelchairs I found one that looked to be the right size and also had an unusual foot rest system. I decided to try it for Axel. When I sat him in the wheelchair for the first time, it fit him exactly. Even the footrest accommodated his feet and helped to protect them, needing only some padding on it. It took only about 30 minutes and the chair was complete! I explained to his mom just what a miracle it was. When I said my goodbyes to this family, she was praising God for the gift she had been given!
Today is Wednesday, our final day of the distribution in San Salvador. We have been in this location for a total of 5 days. So far we have completed approximately 260 wheelchairs and over 150 people have accepted the invitation to invite Jesus into their lives. What an awesome privilege to serve our Lord in this place
We had a very long day on Tuesday, working from 7:30 AM until 8:00 PM. Today was a little slower paced and we were on our way back to our hotel by a little after 6:00 PM. That is a good thing because we will leave to travel to Santa Ana at 6:30 AM.
During our time in San Salvador, in addition to the wheelchair distribution we have been continuing to teach and mentor the therapists and mechanics here. They are becoming more skilled and are beginning to work on the more difficult and complex wheelchairs, with just some oversight from us. It is wonderful to see them gaining skills, knowledge, and confidence in their work. They will continue doing wheelchair repairs and distributing some of the chairs that are left over when our time here is completed.
I had a great day today of seating and playing with some of the children. One little girl in particular, captured my heart. Maria is a beautiful little 3 year old who has Cerebral Palsy. She received her first wheelchair today. She has a lot of stiffness in her body that makes it hard for her to bend her legs and hold up her head at the same time. By the time we completed the modifications to her chair, she was beginning to relax in the wheelchair and also hold her head up at the same time. Because she will have a good fitting wheelchair that will give her control of her body, she will be able to have a better opportunity to strengthen the muscles in her neck to develop better head control. The chair will also hold her body in good alignment and will help her to grow straight instead of developing deformities. I’m attaching a picture of her with a balloon she was given during the time we were working on her wheelchair.
Another child also made a lasting memory for me. His name is Jonathan and he is 11 years old. He came in looking for a sport chair, like the wheelchair basketball players use. After I evaluated him I had to explain to him and his mother that he really was not ready to use a sport chair for a number of reasons and Jonathan was really disappointed. I told him I would do my best to find him a chair he would like and as I looked through our dwindling supply of wheelchairs, I actually found two that could be adapted to meet his needs. I decided to bring out both wheelchairs and let him choose which he wanted. I hoped this would ease his disappointment in not getting the sports chair he wanted. When he saw the one with the lime green frame, his face lit up and he was excited to begin the process of making this chair his. After a couple of hours of work it was ready for him to try out. After positioning him I asked him “Te Gusta?” (do you like it?). His response said it all; a huge smile and a thumbs up sign.
Please continue to pray for our team. We are getting tired due to the combination of the long days and the heat. We have two more days of the distribution, but we will be traveling nearly 2 hours each direction in addition to the long hours of work. We are praising God for our good health this year. Last year nearly everyone on the team lost at least a day or two of work because we got so sick. So far this year, everyone has remained healthy.