for the World and Luanne Graulich
This year, our own Luanne Graulich again traveled with Wheels
for the World. In March the group traveled to Cuba with wheel chairs.
As they arrived and began to unpack their shipment of wheelchairs, they
knew God was about to astound them. Not only did they have a room full
of adult wheelchairs, there was another room packed with some extraordinary,
specialized pediatric chairs. God had plans for them.
The government-sponsored disability association had done its homework.
They had located many people for the chairs.
On the first day of distribution in Havana, eleven of the fifteen recipients
were severely disabled children. It would be their first wheelchair.
The second day, their first child was eight year old Yoel. He was blind
and almost completely deaf, and he had cerebral palsy. From the day he
was born, his mother had carried him everywhere.
Yoel's was a complex fitting, with two of the therapists, Luanne and
Mary Kay, consulting on it and giving modification instructions to Jim,
their mechanic. Working on other cases as well, the modifications went
slowly. Each time the chair came back, Yoel's mother Saili gently placed
him in the chair. The team would scrutinize the fit once more - a little
more support here - less there - move the foot rest here - attach a headrest
- a waist belt - a harness - hmmm, what if we… The process repeated
itself again and again. The morning wore into afternoon. Each time Saili's
eyes were filled with wonder when they brought the chair back, then her
eyes welled as they took the chair away yet again. Each time the chair
came back, she could see it fit better than before; and each time they
took it away, she knew it was to make it better yet. She couldn't believe
these strangers from America could love her precious Yoel so much that
they would spend such time making his chair fit perfectly. Finally, late
in the day, long after others had come and gone, Yoel's chair was completed
- a handmade miracle right before his mother' tear-filled eyes.
There were many tears in the eyes of mothers that day. The message of
Jesus Christ was shared with them, but the words were strengthened by
the hearts and hands of the Christians who had traveled there with Christ's
(Notes from Cuba:Where Are the Children? Joni and Friends Newsletter,
Vol 24, Number 5, May 2003.)
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