The first time my husband stepped on a plane as part of a team bringing wheelchairs to Uganda, our daughter Ruth had been gone just five months, her own wheelchair stowed in the hold as cargo. We both wanted to go to the country of our daughter’s birth, but it would have been too difficult on our family.
So, I stayed behind, waiting and praying while Dana delivered Ruth’s chair to a six-year-old girl with a giant smile whose body, like Ruth’s, was imprisoned by cerebral palsy. Over the following two weeks, Dana and other Wheels for the World team members distributed more than one-hundred wheelchairs, lifting people with broken and twisted bodies from the dirt and giving them a safe, comfortable way to get around.
Children cheered and raced their new chairs like they were at the Indy 500. Adults who’d spent their lives dragging themselves in and around their small dirt homes or carried on the backs of neighbors and relatives, felt the dignity of independence for the first time. I’d seen first hand how much our daughter had relied on her own sporty chair. Now, in her memory, we were blessed to share that gift with others.
And that was it, I thought. When Dana stepped off the plane that August looking weary and ragged, I was ready to pack up our shattered hearts and broken dreams and leave the next wheelchair trip to someone else.
Only on the hot, tired drive home Dana turned to me and said, “I’m going back.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Next year,” my husband said. “The team leader asked me to train as the lead wheelchair mechanic.”
Despite my reservations, he did, helping to deliver more than two hundred wheelchairs last summer.
Again, Dana felt called to go back, this time as the one in charge of wheelchair distribution. Only, everything seemed against it. First, I found out we were expecting a baby in July about the same time the team was set to depart.
“How will you go?” I asked.
“Didn’t I tell you?” Dana said with a sly smile. “They moved the trip to August.”
“But how will you get time off work when the baby comes if you use all your vacation time in Uganda?” I pressed.
A few weeks later, Dana lost his job, giving him all the vacation time in the world, just not the kind I’d been expecting.
Unemployment posed another difficulty. If Dana got a job, who would give him two weeks off to go on the trip? A Christian engineer it turned out. Dana began his new job one week after the arrival of our baby, giving him time at home with me as well as two weeks off to go to Uganda a month later.
I’d still rather have my husband here instead of on the other side of the world. But I didn’t ask him to stay.
Sometimes you sacrifice by going. Sometimes you sacrifice by staying. But no challenge I have ever faced compares to that of living in a third-world country with disabilities and no means of getting around. On this trip, Dana and the other team members will distribute more than 250 wheelchairs plus countless walkers, canes, and crutches. That’s the kind of work God is into.
“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along,” Psalm 40:2.
And the best part is that he invites us to participate. Not just by providing a wheelchair, but by sharing his love.
Thank you to all who have joined with us!!!