Autumn 2010 Vital Link
Our Autumn Vital Link - now in full colour! - is now available in PDF format. Download it here, and please let us know if you'd like to be alerted about each new issue by email.
The Sharon Award 2010
On Saturday 20th November, Janet Wade travelled to her Disabled Christians Fellowship group meeting unaware that she was to be awarded the 2010 Sharon Award Crystal Key. It was also her birthday, so the day was a double celebration! On hearing that she had been awarded the Key, Janet’s response was to say that she just was just Janet and did not do anything for any reward. Janet truly displayed all of the attributes of faith, courage and cheerfulness also shown by Sharon during her lifetime, and was a worthy recipient.
The Sharon award is an annual award given to those who display the 'attributes of faith, courage and cheerfulness shown by Sharon Key during her lifetime'. We'll be posting details of how you can nominate someone for the award in the new year.
Nyeri, Kenya 2010 - The final day
Our thanks to Phil Green for his inspiring blogs from the Wheels trip to Kenya - Here's 'Day 9 - packing up and flying home.'.
Day started about 6:30 for me... Couldn't sleep so I got up.
Glenda, Chris and I headed down to the hospice to sort out the last chairs whilst the rest of the team headed off to Nairobi. We had two people turning up even today today wanting chairs and crutches. We did manage to provide for both of them.
We sorted out the rest of the chairs which were destined for various hospitals and the hospice. The children's chairs were also headed off to the place Glenda had visited on Monday.
We said our goodbyes and headed off to Nairobi to meet up with the rest of the team. A spot of lunch later and a visit to the place where they make Kuzuri beads. Apparently they sell them in Harrods for exorbitant prices. I got a few for some loved ones. All the beads are made by single mothers and we got a tour of how they are made.
Then we headed off to the airport where I am currently writing this. We have a 6 hour wait or so till we fly.
So it's time to reflect I guess and I have mixed emotions really, well more confused really.
Combination of sadness, nervousness, elation and probably mixed with other stuff as well.
Personally it's been a rough ride but worth while. I lost a loved one at home and so going home is going to be a challenge. Glenda has been such a blessing to me.
I have lots of things I need to work on with Gods help, some self confidence issues and learning to believe that my sins are and have been forgiven. I tend to struggle with guilt.
Even seeing the people coming for chairs has made me feel guilty sometimes. I am so blessed with what I have in life and seeing the things I have seen leaves a lasting impression. It should make me more grateful to God but I sometimes end up with feelings of guilt, the 'why me' question pops up now and again.
Glenda reminded me that while we have been here that about 50 people were born again making a commitment to God. At that point I realised why we were here. To share the gospel and God's love through wheelchairs. Being a techie or an OT you don't see that bit, we leave that to Pam ( well God really). It's great to be able to help and show love in such a way, in fact I feel privileged to be here. It's a strange feeling for me, I guess I never thought I was helping doing God's will, I just wanted to help where I could but again Glenda reminded me what we were here for. The side effect of hopefully improving someone's day to day life is also great but if I'll see them in heaven well that's much better !
I have a special place in my heart for Pip though. I hope she doesn't mind me writing about her here. I think she openly says she is an atheist and that surprised me. I am not saying Christians are somehow more compassionate or anything like that but coming out on the trips and the compassion she shows and coming to church with us etc. Well it just surprised me.
I was upset the other night and both Glenda and Pip had their arms around me ( what a lucky guy you may think). That said, Pip was upset that I was upset. That made me even more upset ....catch 22.
But she has made a big impression on me.
Pip if you read this you would make a great (amazing if we use team speak see below) Christian and I'll be praying for you. I'll be really sad if you're not in heaven.
Every night Glenda or Chris would say the team have done an amazing job or may be it was awesome, I'd have to agree. It's been a tough trip with some long days and yet no one stopped.
God's been so good to us and often people would say God bless you and I know we have been. Maureen was good to go the next day after she had been ill so our prayers were answered there. We have been able to do some more creative things with the chairs also with Roy's woodworking skills, Brian's clamps and rasp and a little help from my cordless drill, all came together in the technical department. The way the OTs would bounce ideas of each other. The way Glenda and Chris organised things and Glenda would multiple task fitting crutches and chairs. The way Jane made sandwiches for lunch (as well as other things of course). The way Ian, Christine, Naymbura, Warui, Wakani (sorry if I spelt these wrong), Tess, and those others would help translate and of course the way Pam would preach the Gospel. That's what makes a team.
There are a lot more helpers behind the scene of course - those at the hospice for example. Those at home praying for us etc. All I can say is thank you to them from me and thank God for all of them.
It's been a interesting and as mentioned an emotional time for me being able to write the blog for the trip and sharing some of my experiences of a wheels trip.
I will hopefully be doing some more trips (if I am allowed and haven't caused too much trouble this time) in the future and I'd encourage others to do at least one.
So I'll end my story here. I hope I have managed to share some of the experience of a wheels trip with those reading and not sent you all to sleep.
By the time you read this we should be home and going back to our normal jobs etc. Those praying for us please don't stop as I know for me at least it can be tough trying to fit back in to the UK way of life. I'll have to remember what day it is for starters...
Till next time, thanks for supporting us.
PS Thanks God ... You're a great God.
Ashtead Charity Fair 2010
While the Wheels team were busily fitting wheelchairs in Nyeri, Kenya, the Ashtead fundraising team were raising money, this year totalling £643.09, at the Worldwide Charities Fair at St George’s Christian Centre. Michael from the TTR office manned the awareness stand while the team of faithful volunteers encouraged people to spend their money on the enticing chocolate, soft toy and bottle tombolas. “There is always a great atmosphere at the Fair”, says Karen Goodridge, Ashtead Churches Representative for Wheels for the World, “it’s a place to come together to support many great charities – support for ‘Wheels’ continues to grow stronger each year.
Nyeri, Kenya 2010 - Day 8
By Wheels team member, Phil Green...
The longest day !
Where do I start... Eeek. I have been heartbroken today several times for various reasons, but the day started at the now normal time of 8:30 and there were people already lined up waiting for chairs.
We were constantly busy through the morning but things got even busier in the afternoon as more and more people turned up. It seemed like the message had just got out that we had arrived and you can almost picture a car boot sale type environment. Through the week many of those that didn't register which is a real shame, but for those who didn't register there were at least 2 people that turned up anyway.
We eventually did run out of children's chairs and eventually had to turn some away. That was heartbreaking. It's also heartbreaking some of the children that we did give chairs too. I often hold back the tears and just get on with the job but it's after when I reflect on it that I am often overcome with sadness.
I feel helpless really, I know I am reminded that we are making a difference but for me and the person I am it's often hard for me to see that no matter how hard I work or how many chairs I fix or modify.
Maureen had a lad that was almost stretched out like a board we presume with cerebral palsy. In the UK Maureen said to me that it wouldn't ever get that bad as we had so many more medical options. Wilson was his name and he often would smile at us. We did what we could with fitting him in a chair it wasn't idea but it was the best we could do. His neck was almost 90 degrees to his body so he would spend many a day looking at the sky. Prayer again was the only other thing we can and could do.
It's not just the children and one chap who came in, well I should say crawled in, pulled a heart string. He was looking for a 3 wheeler chair which is chain driven. Imagine bike pedals on a bike's handle bar which drives the front wheel and steers. I have seen a few he and also also last year in Ghana. We don't have those however and he didn't want a normal chair. He asked if we could do anything to help his knees.
His knees were hard and calloused and he wondered if we could do anything to help. I couldn't imagine crawling round the UK on my knees let alone here where there are no pavements or in many cases roads but there are many rocks and stones.
We looked at various things but we struggled to find a way of fixing anything to his legs. I had so kneepads on and would have loved to give them to him but they didn't fit. In the end all we could suggest was he try and find some old car tyres and use them in combination with the straps and foam we gave him. He had asked if we had anything for his hands and so I was able to give away a pair of work gloves I had. I still felt again helpless. In my heart I was desperate to do more. In the end I did what I should do more and prayed for him. God's a much better wheelchair and people fixer than I'll ever be and I am grateful for that. Perhaps it's a lesson for me in faith. i.e. Must have more !
I went on to help another chap with some callipers. Those who don't know what they are they are essentially braces used on the legs like a skeletal metal frame. I'm not an expert of course. I did what I could to help fix them but as some of the metal was broken we had nothing to repair it as we don't have welding equipment. Again prayer was my only answer here. He did say he may be able to find a place who could weld so I explained what I think could be done to repair it.
As the day went on the queue seemed to get longer and longer and at about 4/5 pm there were still about 30 people in line from what I understand.
The sun went down and yet still we carried on. Finding wheel chairs in the dark isn't easy !
In the end as the last people left strapping wheelchairs to the tops of cars, Brian, Roy and myself were the last of the team there and we stood looking at the stars waiting for Jane to return to take us back to the guest house. It was 8:35 when we checked our watches on the way back.
We reflected in the day over dinner and our evening meeting. Lots if things came into my head .... Too many really and I was exhausted and overwhelmed. At the same time I have been heartbroken with something at home and I felt broken. But maybe that's what God wanted (I'm fairly sure of it now) I need to rely on him and not on myself.
I struggle to let go of things too so when I see such need my heart is always affected but I struggle with it and I guess feel guilty in some way. It's a fine balance to find for me being compassionate without feeling completely helpless or guilty.
Glenda and I were up till about 12 and as always she's great to me and really helped me with what I was feeling and struggling with. So the day was a long one.
I'll write a summary tomorrow of day 9 probably at the airport but please pray for our safe return to the UK.
Glenda and I will sort some chairs out in the morning and the rest of the team are off to Nairobi shopping where we will meet them later.
It's going to be another long day.
Nyeri, Kenya 2010 - Day 7
An emotional blog today, from Wheels team member Phil Green:
It's been really hard today both physically and emotionally for myself as well as others.
There were a lot of children today and it's a lot to deal with. I often found myself close to tears during the day but managed to keep going.
We finished at almost 7pm today and by that time I couldn't keep back the tears.
The combination of being exhausted and seeing those children was just too much for me. Some other things were also bothering me and it reminds us that even when you're out on a trip life doesn't stop at home and sometimes you have to deal with things from thousands of miles away.
I got even more upset when Glenda had explained about a little girl near the end of the day that Rachel was helping. She was tiny for her age and was HIV positive. From what I understand her mother had suggested she was going to leave the little girl as she couldn't cope. Thankfully she didn't but it blew my mind just thinking about the situation.
Rachel was obviously upset by this and it again reminds me of the needs of some of the people here in Kenya.
Sometimes it's really challenging for me as a Christian to deal with the things I see. Yes deep down I know God's in control but it makes me wonder and question what's gone wrong. Yes I know it's not God's fault, it's the sin of man but I hope you understand what i mean. I am just praying for that child and I want to see miracles.
We went out for dinner with the board of directors for the hospice and got back quite late so I'll try and keep this a short update:
The team really did an incredible job today. I believe there were about 71 people we saw today up on the average of around 50. Roy was mastering the art of wood work again and for the first time we had to recharge the cordless drill in the middle of the day, which shows how much we used it today.
It's a privilege to work with such a team who gets on with things as best they can with what they have available. The choice of wheelchairs is now very restricted as we only have certain sizes of chairs left. I am praying we won't have many children tomorrow as we don't have many children's chairs left.
Glenda had one gentleman who really needed a reclining chair and of course God provided that one chair (the only recliner we had) so I have to keep faith in Hhim. I need to think more about God's plan and will and less about mine.
Right it's 11:45pm so that's my update for today.
Our last day of the distribution tomorrow then Friday will be packing up and flying back home.
Thanks for those praying for the team... They are really appreciated.
Nyeri, Kenya 2010 -- Day 6
Day 6 already. Still not sure what day or time it is half the time but the time seems to fly by even though we are starting at about 8:30 and finishing after 6. We are so busy through the day that you lose track of time.
We have had around 51 wheel chairs out the door today. We are finding that some of those registered have not been turning up but others who haven't registered are turning up. I was thinking that it's such a shame for those that have registered if they miss out on a chair. There has been heavy rain in the area and we know that some people have struggled to get to the hospice where we are based, so that could well be one of the reasons.
Glenda returned today and was telling us about her time away. She had a variety of meetings and engagements and for one she had to wait for hours for one dignitary. That's seems to be African timekeeping again.
She mentioned at one event where she was speaking there was another group there called the jolly blind group, and even though its sad we had to smile at the name and I was hoping they were jolly and blind and not just jolly blind.
In all seriousness though I have been touched by lots of things that I see and hear. Whilst I may not show it that openly I have shed more than one tear here. ( and another few just now writing this ) Writing this blog reminds me of why I am here as even though my life is in a bit of a muddle at the moment back at home, I just want to help people who are less fortunate that me. I'm divorced and don't have children but I love kids and that's what really touches me the most.
We have been talking about why we are here, no not here on earth, but why we are on the trip. I have thought about why I am here quite deeply although I am still not 100% sure. Is there some selfishness in it... Maybe.. I like helping people. Some may say that's selflessness but if it gives you a buzz then maybe it's not.
For me being real about it, I love to help people if I can in a practical way. I was blessed in being born in the UK and having a good up bringing, is that just luck I don't know but I know that I am grateful to God for it ( I should thank him more though!). I'm not a preacher and far from being a saint but at least I can do something practical to help. That's what the team are doing bringing practical skills and doing what we can to help.
We see stuff about Africa and other other countries in need on the news quite often but when you see things for real it's different, you really believe it. Well I do anyway.
I know Glenda was saddened by what she saw yesterday and it's another thing about Wheels trips, you need to prepare for the emotional element. For me at least it's tough. Perhaps that's another reason to come, to humble yourself.
All but Gunn were brilliant again. Gunn on the other hand was amazing ( there's an in house joke in that so if you know Gunn you can ask her when she gets back).
There were some challenging modifications for some chairs today but the wood that Roy procured the other day has really helped. The tools we have brought with us have really helped too.
At the end of the day one lady had an old wheel chair and we didn't have a chair that was ideal for her. However rather than being disheartened she simply said not to worry she would wait till next time. Even when we said that could be a year or two, she simply said she would be OK as she had faith. There was my lesson for today in faithfulness !
Right.. It's time for bed now as it's 10:15 here and we have the same early-ish start.
If you're praying for us, please pray for Maureen as she's a little under the weather and came home early to get some rest. I'm praying that she will be recovered for the morning.
Our Integr8 teams have been busy...
Two trips this year saw 'young disabled role models' take part in short term mission trips, alongside other team members, to help inspire a spirit of inclusion within schools and churches in Uganda and Guatemala.
Sixteen year old James has put together a great presentation of his experiences in Uganda which, along with 'Guatemala in words and pictures', gives a real flavour of what our Integr8 mission trips involve.
Both presentations may be found on our youth site.
Nyeri, Kenya 2010 - Day 5
Wheels team member Phil Green continues to blog despite lack of sleep!
Day 5 (well an addendum to day 4 also.)
Day 5 didn't start so well for me as a plumbing issue meant I was up till about 1am trying to fix a leaking toilet. With no one around and Roy asleep I did what I could with the only tools I had available. Duct tape and my hands!
I temporally sorted the issue then tried to sleep only to be woken by Roy who had woken up on day 5 and tried to fix the issue. In the end I managed to find the stopcock outside the building and stemmed the flow of water and the management of the guest house have managed to get it sorted I can report. I'll tell you something though - Chris and Pam have a nicer shower than Roy and I... They were kind enough to let me use it whilst ours was out of action.
Day 5 was a busy day though. It's hard work trying to remember what you have worked on but there were lots of children today. Lots of modifications to chairs and buggies. Roy worked his magic with some foam and also some chipboard we got to help some children who had cerebral palsy. ( I think that's how it's spelt - I'm ok with a screwdriver but spelling was never my strong point )
I remember cutting down a crutch for a gent who spent his life on his knees. I remember shortening some crutches in a similar way in Ghana last year so the experience paid off.
Brian did a great job fitting a makeshift headrest to a children's pushchair. He broke a few drill bits I believe and got a little frustrated with it but his persistence paid off. One of the things about wheels trips that I learned very quickly is that persistence usually pays off and if one way doesn't work then trying something else will usually get the job done in the end.
The OTs as always did a fantastic job and were often doing fittings for two people at once as we helped modify some of the chairs.
I didn't see much of Pam today but I am sure as always she was being a great blessing by ministering to those who got their chairs.
A late finish today at around 6:15 or so we headed back in the pouring rain. ( when it rains here it rains hard !)
I missed Glenda though - having her around is somewhat reassuring for me... Not sure why ( hope she doesn't read that bit!) but it will be nice to have her back tomorrow hopefully.
I had to hold back the tears today several times.. ( for those who know me I may look tough on the outside and I can be a little sarcastic with my dry sense of humour ) but seeing some of the children really just made me want to cry. I feel so fortunate yet I sort of feel helpless. Ok I can help fix their chairs but i feel like i want to do more. I'm glad God's in control since I'm certainly not... I must pray for them - something that I'll admit I am not great at.
For those reading this who haven't been on a trip if your heart isn't softened by some of the things you see you must be a rock. I remember last year my best friend suggested I go away again as it seemed to make me more humble.
Please pray for the team as I don't think I am alone with these feelings and it does take a lot out of you emotionally.
Anyway. Time for dinner now.
Then for me I'll try and get an early night as I need to catch up on some sleep.
Nyeri, Kenya 2010 - Day 4
Phil Green, Wheels team 'techie' writes:
Rest day... With a more leisurely start this morning we headed to Nanyuki for a church service at the Vineyard church there. The service was done in English but translated into Swahili. I met a new friend, about 3 years old I guess who sat on my lap for half the service and enjoyed pulling the hairs on my arms, since most Africans don't have long hair, so he thought it was fascinating.
After a great time of worship we embarked on a spot of Safari in the Sweetwaters conservancy. Being my first safari it was an amazing experience. We saw a multitude of animals including wild boar, buffalo, hyenas, water buck, all types of antelope and gazelles, a giraffe and elephants. Brian was keeping us all up to speed on the multitude of birds there also.
We were lucky enough to see a female lion catching some prey and before we left I even managed to feed and stroke a black rhino so a pretty good rest day I'd say.
Tomorrow it's back to work though and still plenty more wheel chairs to be fitted.