2018 Belize Expo Update

What a great day of ministry God gave us Saturday in Belize! He put so many smiles on the faces of both the young and old at the Expo that the joy of His presence blessed everyone attending.

From our estimates, God brought out about 200 folks to the outreach there including the 28 of us and 15 other in country volunteers which is pretty much identical numbers to the turn out last time we held the Expo at the Hearts of Christ facility in Roaring Creek in 2016.

While we had already given out over 12 wheelchairs and various other mobility items and medical supplies during the days leading up to the big event through visits to schools and homes as well as to those who came to the mission facility earlier, the over 40 wheelchairs and countless walkers, crutches, canes and medical supplies distributed that day kept everyone busy well before, during and after the posted Expo times.

The art, craft, prayer, picture and game activities also greatly blessed folks that day as they hopefully were able to take a deep breath and relax a bit enjoying the good gifts of fellowship and fun God brought in some unique ways. However, the best gift, both given and received, was the one little girl who prayed to receive Jesus as Savior on Expo day!

We’ll be sharing more Belize Expo and outreach stories on Ms Fani, Elmer and Wilson among others soon in our newsletter but pray you enjoy the above collage and pictures here until then. :)

2018 Belize Outreach Days Diary by Nanette Ryan

Tuesday: Wilson and Neymi

One of the joys of coming to Belize year after year is getting to see people who we helped and find out how they are doing. This year on Tuesday, the team went to Cotton Tree School with plans to meet up with Wilson and Sierra, two children we met in 2017. Both of them attend the school and needed ramps to make their classrooms wheelchair accessible.

When we arrived at the school, children were arriving for the day and were excited to see a group coming to visit. At first, it seemed that neither Wilson nor Sierra was coming to school that day, so our team spread out visiting classrooms as they did their morning devotions. After a few minutes, Wilson’s parents came, carrying Wilson in their arms. The wheels on the stroller we had given him last year had broken due to the rough gravel roads. We heard from Sierra’s mom that she was not going to be at school for the day.

Once Wilson was settled in his classroom, Korie and some of the guys on the team began working on the ramp into his classroom. The original plan was for a simple ramp that would be attached to the sidewalk with concrete screws that could be removed and moved with him to other classrooms each year. After seeing the layout of the school and the sidewalks, the plans were enhanced to make a “three-way” ramp so that Wilson could go all directions coming out of his classroom.

While the ramp was being built, Nancy, the team PT and Pam, an OT on the team, evaluated Wilson in his classroom how to make the chair work best for him. Helen and Tiffanie helped Nancy and Pam to get the chair cleaned up and adjusted, and then the real fun began!

 

We brought Wilson to a picnic pavilion near his classroom and let him try out the chair. The look that spread across Wilson’s face when he realized that he could propel the chair on his own was priceless! Nancy and Pam made slight adjustments and showed Wilson’s parents how the chair worked, and then Wilson was off! He wanted to race with Doug and the two of them had fun wheeling down the sidewalks.

Others on the team were also able to adapt a desk for Wilson to be able to roll right under it and got it moved into his classroom. All of the teachers and staff at school were so helpful and it was great to see how they and the children all loved Wilson and were happy that he was able to get a chair!

In the aftenoon, the team went to visit Armenia Government School to bring a chair to a girl named, Neymi. She had come to the Access-Life Expo in 2015 and received a chair, but it was getting too small for her and it was not in good shape after three years of use. We found Neymi in her classroom and asked if she’d like a new chair. Her face lit up and she was excited to get fitted for the chair that had been chosen for her.

Korie and the guys got to work on building a simple ramp for Neymi to be able to get to her classroom. Things went quickly with that ramp and it was completed just as school was getting out for the day. Neymi tried it out in the chair and her brother and cousin were there to help take her home.

While the ramp was being built, some of our team put together packets of rice and beans and Bibles to distribute to the school families at dismissal. Many families came to get the packets and were thankful to receive the food. All capping off a great 1st full day in Belize.

Wednesday: Mr. Roland and Ms. Marcelina

The plan for the day was to build a tiered ramp for Edward Roland, who had recently had his right leg amputated. He and his family live in Roaring Creek Village, not far from the Hearts of Christ mission, so Korie and the building guys went to get the materials and headed to the house to get started. Alicia brought Nancy and Nanette over to meet Mr. Roland and to access his need for crutches, walker, wheelchair or a combination of the three. Edward’s wife, Juanita, also cares for their eleven year old granddaughter, Sherise, who has hydrocephalus and his blind.

After meeting the Rolands, Alicia brought Nancy and Nanette to visit Ms. Marcelina to see if she might have a need for a new cane. We found her in a neighbor’s house where she goes during the day, and Nancy talked with her about what would work best for her. Later in the afternoon, we were able to bring her a new cane that had pretty designs on it, which Nancy picked out after seeing some of Ms. Marcelina’s beautiful embroidery work. She loved her new cane and was happy to get it!

After lunch, the team all went back to the Roland’s to deliver a wheelchair, walker and cane, as well as some supplies to help with the care of Sherise. Nancy and Pam showed Edward how to use the equipment to get around in his house and then rolled him to the other side of the house so he could see the ramp that was being finished up. While the guys finished the ramp, Leanne and Sally spent time visiting with the Rolands, while the rest of the team walked around the neighborhood to give out rice. It was great to come back and see the finished ramp and to take a team picture with Edward and Juanita on the ramp.

Final Rays of Sonshine: Helen McClaren

Well, it’s been a good year of highlighting some of the ministry’s bright and shining hearts with our monthly Rays of Sonshne BLOG posts and today is our final highlighting post that features yet another very special volunteer: Helen McClaren.

Helen began serving with Access-Life at our first Expo in East Tennessee back in 2010. Since that time she has become a key member of the area outreach planning team spearheading the food service and volunteer recruiting at her church each year. She has also become an Area Outpost leader not only attending local ministry activities but seeing that her church hosts the annual Access-Life Spring Fling. To top off all of these accomplishments, Helen join the ministry’s board of directors this year. A real blessing for our leadership team. :)

Despite all her hard work and accomplishing so much for the ministry, Helen is a behind the scenes, low key kind of leader. She leads with actions and can definitely speak up about her passions of serving others, especially those with disabilities in Jesus’ name. But, Helen, does all this with a gracious smile and serving with a “however needed” kind of attitude. What a great reminder for us all about what God can accomplish as we work diligently for Him with the heart of a servant. That is what impresses us most about Helen and why she is December’s Ray of Sonshine.

Sweetest Name I Know

One of my favorite songs is the classic, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Sweetest Name I Know”. It goes on to say that “It fills my every longing and keeps me singing as I go”. Aren’t these words so true? What an amazing blessing Jesus gives to us: meeting our every need and giving us His joy to put a song in our heart.

Jesus alone can save. Amen. And only Jesus can satisfy and give abundant life. He alone is our source of happiness and hope. He alone is what we need to fill our lives with goodness, love and light. He is alone is what we thirst for in the highs and lows of life. And He alone is our sustainer when we are on top of mountains or in valleys so deep.

I’ve learned that keeping my focus on Jesus who is seated above at the right hand of God as it says in Colossians 3:2 is the only way for me to rise above the waves of life and experience the wonderful true of this encouraging song. It helps me think the best and believe the best as I stand on the promises He has given. Now that another great song [“Standing on the Promises”] but we’ll make that another post later. LOL :)

In any case, here is some word art that I pray will encourage and bless you as you seek to enjoy Jesus and all He gives.

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas

What a glorious celebration is Christmas. Such a blessed season of Emmanuel, when God came to be with us in human form. It is a time to enjoy God’s presence in a fresh way through His forgiveness, grace and mercy, through His protection, provision and power and through His shelter, upholding and tender care. The time is now and everyday of the year to walk in these comforting truths. God is with us always and like a shepherd leading us beside still waters and green pastures.

It is our hope and prayer at Access-Life that you not only know these truths but are experiencing them each day of this Christmas season. Despite the hustle and bustle of this time of year and the noise that may be louder than we all care to hear, God is whispering in an ever soft but unstoppable and penetrating way: “I am here”. So, please take a moment and enjoy that reality this Christmas and all year round for that matter as God is always closer than we think, hope and realize. :)

Merry Christmas and may God bless you richly in this great season of joy!

Jingling and Mingling From Texas to Tennessee and Florida

Well, the Christmas season is upon us and whether or not there is snow in your local forecast, it’s still the most wonderful time of the year! Now, this exciting truth is not because of shopping sales and bonanzas or even beautiful trees and decorations. This time of year is so special because it is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior and King. This is what brings the joy of Christmas to life and why we give gifts, put up lights, sing songs and carols and tend to smile everywhere we go. :)

The great joy from Christmas is also very contagious and so this year we at Access-Life wanted to spread a little “merry, merry, merry Christmas” to our ministry friends and volunteers through a new local Outpost activity called a Jingle and Mingle. Actually, the folks in our East Tennessee Outpost started doing these Christmas celebrations several years ago but this year we thought it would be nice to extend the party to North Texas and West Palm Beach, too.

As a result, through some great area leaders, we hosted three Jingle and Mingles recently that featured a seasonal ice breaker game with prizes, a holiday snowflake craft, festive food and Christmas carols with the nativity story. God brought out 108 attendees in North Texas, 75 people in West Palm Beach and 70 folks in East Tennessee to celebrate Jesus birthday and be refreshed by His presence this holiday season.

We were so thankful for these great turn outs and seeing people Jingling and Mingling for Jesus from TX to TN and FL and hope you enjoy the picture collage from all three areas below. :)

Rays of Sonshine: Ed and Wendy Nordine

Wow, what a busy month it has been with Thanksgiving and the pre-Christmas rush! However, even in the hurry of the season, I want to pause and reflect on the faithful behind the scenes service of two dear friends: Ed and Wendy Nordine.

These two folks have been involved with disability ministry since before we even arrived in Florida as Wendy volunteered for years as the Joni and Friends Wheels for the World Florida Collections Coordinator. This is actually how we met as Leanne and I both served on staff with Joni and Friends here in Florida from 2007 to 2010.

When Access-Life started in 2010, Ed and Wendy were some of the first to jump “on board”. The did so almost literally joining the ministry’s board of directors that same year. Since then they have been leaders on the West Palm Beach Expo team, traveled to help at the Jacksonville, Central Florida, North Texas and East Tennessee Expos and even rounding out their full participation by collecting mobility items for our annual Belize outreach.

From their support in praying, giving and serving, Ed and Wendy are such blessings in all they faithfully do for Access-Life which is why they are this month’s (November) Rays of Sunshine. :)