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.

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. :)

2017 Spring Fling in ETN

Leanne and I were so privileged to be in town for this year’s “Spring Fling” held by Shady Grove Methodist on Saturday. This was the 4th year they have hosted this Access-Life Outpost event and while the weather was cold and rainy outside, the warm presence of the Lord blessed all who attended inside.

It such a blessing seeing folks participate in the carefully thought out, planned and executed crafts like rock painting, leather work, foam cross  and prayer bead activities and of course the variety of games and snack activities including ice cream were popular with everyone. However the group singing time was definitely a highlight for me. It was particularly inspiring seeing the participants sing “Jesus Loves Me” as they learned the sign language motions to go along with the words.

All of these things may seem small and even mundane to many but to God they were important as they encouraged, blessed and fill the lives of those attending with the good and wholesome gifts that He longs to give us all. This fact was brought to my attention in a unique way as at the closing of the activities a mom who had brought her daughter came up to Leanne and I with tears of joy in her eyes saying what a God blessed experience they had in just two short hours there. Our exchange was capped off as her daughter spontaneously sang “Jesus Loves Me” while signing out the words she had just learned.

You know, so many time we are looking for the big, serious or cutting edge things in life to make us feel we are doing something important but make no mistake God shines brightest in the simplest and most basic moments of life. Hopefully, the pictures included here will be a reminder of this humbling truth and encourage each of us to look for God’s presence and working in the wholesome and holy blessings He gives each day.

Crafting a Community in ETN: 2017 Update

What a great time of blessing God gave us Saturday night at our 4th annual ETN Crafting a Community banquet!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the fun Expo challenge icebreaker game and the inspiring Sunshine Ambassadors dancing as well as the tasty food from chef Luke and the friendly fellowshipping all around.

We are especially excited that $9,315 was pledged and/or given at the event giving us just enough to surpass the $9,250 matching gift fund that was offered. Overall this means that $18,565 was raised through the banquet this year.

Please know Leanne and I are so appreciative of everyone who prayed, gave, invited guests, came out, shared, served and had a part in this fundraiser and hope you all with join us in thanking he Lord for all the good things He has done!

Big Wheel Deal Rolls into CFL

What a great Big Wheel Deal it was Saturday!

All three games were close with Live Oaks beating First Baptist Windermere 28-20 in Game 1, UCF topping the defending champions, the Ocoee Police 23-21 in Game 2 and Live Oaks winning it all 28-22 in the final game. There were lots of fans on hand to root on the teams and our free throw contestants, too.

We also, passed last year’s fundraising by quite a bit thanks to some very generous donors! In fact, to date $8,887.00 has been given and/or pledged giving us a great start on raising all that will be needed for the CFL Expo this fall.

From the players who gave it all on the court and free throw participants who to inspired us as the tried to beat the clock to the fans who cheered from the stands and the volunteers who served before, during and after the event, Leanne and I say THANK YOU!

Above is a photo collage for everyone to see and share and THANK YOU again as it is great seeing the good God does working through the hearts and minds of His people.

Belize Outreach Diary by Nanette Ryan

collage-2017-1-ale-blz-outAccess-Life Belize 2017, Day One (Tues.):

On our first full day in Belize, the day started out very wet. The team stayed at the Hearts of Christ mission and started organizing supplies and cleaning equipment that had been shipped. Korie and some of the guys went to buy lumber and materials for the first ramp that would be built. After lunch, the rain stopped and we all loaded up and headed to the work site.

Ciara and Wilson:

The ramp was for a family with several children, one of whom has Cerebral Palsy. Ciara is almost 10 years old and has a smile that lights up her face. We met her mom, Kimone, and her cousin Taylor and baby brother Will. Their house was up on stilts, so the ramp needed to be “double decker” with a landing in between. The building team had put together the larger pieces before we went to the site, so when we arrived they got to work building the framework and finishing out the ramp.

While the building team worked, others on the A-L team walked around the village neighborhood to hand out hygiene packs and candy to the children and families who were walking home from school. The activity attracted a lot of attention and one family came by asking for some kind of wheelchair for their son, Wilson, who was born with deformities in all four limbs.

Leanne and John had gone back to the Hearts of Christ mission to get a wheelchair for Ciara and at the last minute decided to put an extra mobility stroller in the van to see if Ciara could use it, too. When they got back to the job site, Wilson and his family were there and it was very evident that God had intended the mobility stroller to go to him. So, Ciara got her weelchair and Wilson got his stroller – double blessings!

Doug’s morning devotion had reminded us that God is with us and goes before us, so this was affirmation that God was at work and had gone before us to help us to be prepared for the families we met that day.

Access-Life Belize 2017, Day Two (Wed.):

The plan for the day was to build two ramps for families who live not too far from Roaring Creek Village. Our team was divided up to send some out to build and to leave others at Hearts of Christ to clean and sort and organize medical equipment and supplies.

Ms. Sonia:

The first ramp of the day was for Ms. Sonia, a woman who had one of her legs amputated below the knee last October. She had been staying with her sister during the recovery and was excited to be able to move back to her own house and to have a ramp built so that she could come and go more easily. She was surprised when we drove up, as she didn’t know what day we were coming. We also were able to give her a motorized wheelchair to help her to get around.

Several of Ms. Sonia’s siblings live nearby, so our team was also able to meet them and see about some of their needs. One brother, Roy, needed colostomy supplies, and one of the sisters, Matilda, has stage four cancer and was blessed to receive a scripture blanket and a wooded cross carved with the words, “Amazing Grace.” Our team was blessed by all of the interactions with Ms. Sonia and her family.

Ms. Laverne:

The second ramp was built for Ms. Laverne, a woman suffering from arthritis in her knees and arms. She needed a ramp to get out of her house and we also were able to give her a motorized wheelchair. Her daughters, Desiree and Haley and son, Leon, were thankful that we could help their mom. The family was also blessed to receive a Bible, scripture blanket and a wooden cross. When Ms Laverne commented she could not read the Bible do to her poor sight, her daughter excitedly offered to read to her capping off the day with a great reminder that God provides in big and small ways.

Jingling and Mingling in ETN and CFL

img_20161217_121053As it is the season for celebrating, our Access-Life Outposts in ETN and CFL recently each held Jingle and Mingle Christmas parties for individual and families with disabilities in their local communities.

img_1249The ETN activity was held on December 10th at the Jefferson City Christian Church and was attended by 50-60 participants and volunteers who shared a light lunch, made a few crafts and fellowshipped through the singing of Christmas carols. It was the 3rd year in a row for the Jingle and Mingle there and folks were definitely in the Christmas mood!

wgk_8694In CFL, while several Outpost Christmas activities have been held in the past, it was the first time an official Jingle and Mingle was held in the Sunshine state. In turn, this more intimate group gathered at the home of Doug and Leanne Goddard this this past Saturday, December 17th but similar to the ETN event, they made a snow flake craft, decorated cookies, shared a light lunch and sang carols. While only numbering about 30-40 attendees, these folks were just as festive and in fact, carried on the party for several hours. :)

img_1252All in all, it is such a privilege to see folks with disabilities active during this great season celebrating the birth of Jesus just like many other typical families and we hope this fact as well as the pictures included encourage you and bring you a special Christmas smile!