Our good friend Brandon Redwine took footage from goody bag stuffing, set-up, the North Texas Expo itself and even tear-down and put together a great beginning to end video of the outreach there on June 8th [Leanne and my 28th anniversary, too!]. I hope you enjoy seeing the great things God did. :)
Well, God was so faithful in giving us another great Expo in NTX on Saturday! He did amazing things as always working through the hearts and minds of His people to bless others in His name. And to think 3 weeks ago we did not even have a site due to the flooding!
The smiles and joy of the Lord seen on so many of the 808 participant, volunteer and even exhibitor faces was clear evidence of God’s presence and working to touch lives as only He can. From the horse painting, zip line and delicious food to the rock wall, petting zoo and gracious welcoming cheers, we heard lots of thank yous from attendees through out the day and afterwards. :)
As one mom of three boys including one with a disability put it, “Thank you so much for all the work you do to pull this event together. My boys attended this year and last year and really had a wonderful time.” Just as importantly, she went on to say, “Your event really helps give true perspective about life to all 3 of my boys.”
Please know that Leanne and I so appreciate everyone who prayed, gave, networked and served! It is always encouraging to see the awesome blessings God pours out when His people come together as the body of Christ to be the hand and feet of Jesus here on earth! So thank you for all everyone did to make this Expo another God blessed success and a special call out to our super intern, Julia [who is a “get’r done: gal], our host, Valley Ranch Baptist [who graciously opened up our facility for our use], the Venture Church youth [who worked tirelessly all day for set-up as well as serving during the event and even staying to help tear down and load the equipment trailer] and of course Gateway church [who provided over 100 buddies], too!
If you’d like to see more photos you can follow the link to NTX Expo photo gallery on our website: https://access-life.org/ntxexpo and we even have a video of the zip line at: https://videopress.com/v/ESwBWhMi.
We hope to be back at the lake next year so be ready for the boat rides, kayaking and fishing again!
On Saturday, May 11, Shady Grove Methodist Church hosted its eighth Access-Life East Tennessee Outpost “Spring Fling”. The theme for this year’s event was “Celebrating Birthdays” complete with balloons, birthday cake, and ice cream to honor the 80th birthday of key volunteer, Barbara Suttles.
The annual “Spring Fling” is a recreational opportunity for individuals with special challenges and their family members to experience fun activities in a safe and loving environment.
After playing a variety of games (bowling, Connect4, BINGO, and custom-made games), the participants enjoyed crafts including decorating mini-tote bags, making a take-home flower pot arrangement, and making a caterpillar on a leaf. Easel painting was a big hit, too. The Sunshine Ambassadors entertained with their dance routines and everyone enjoyed group singing.
All in all there were twenty-three participants, twenty-four family members, and twenty-eight volunteers making this another God blessed success!
Just as joyful as Christmas is in hope, encouragement and love, Easter is in victory, power and finality. Jesus’ journey is complete. He has risen and lives in eternal victory. The reward for His triumph is the free gift of eternal life for all people who will but choose Him. What a Savior and what a gift! Abundant, overcoming and victorious life on earth and an eternal home with Him in heaven forever.
What is even more amazing is that He continues to work everyday through the Holy Spirit seeking out His lost sheep. I love the way Jesus says it in John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” Wow, how glorious a Savior to pursue us moment by moment!
God is so faithful despite the fact that each of us has chosen to go our own way like it says in Isaiah 53:6 “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” How great it is to serve our risen Savior, Jesus.
His Victory is complete, His work is ongoing and our home in Heaven is secure. Amen!
Well, both the Belize outreach trip and the West Palm Beach Expo are in the books for 2019 and we are pooped. It is always a fast paced, packed and rewarding first two months of each year but afterwards Leanne and I need some down time. And yes I mean “need”. :)
Rest is not just a want and desire we have from time to time but it is a vital need we have as humans. We are finite, mortal, weak and even frail and cannot maintain a high energy work pace indefinitely. Even Jesus took time to get away and rest. And as a genuine need, God always provides for us each a time and place to rest if we will take advantage of it.
God’s provision for rest is always safe, secure, holy and wholesome to restore, refresh and rejuvenate us as only He can on every level of our being. So today take time to rest. Enjoy God’s presence, the blessings He provides and maybe even take a nap. It is a great gift He offers us everyday.
Here are a couple of verses to encourage you as you take step back, shift into a lower gear and rest in the tender caring arms of Jesus. And as the old hymn “Leaning on Jesus” says you’ll be “safe and secure from all alarms”.
My presence will go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exodus 23:14
I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
Wow, what a great day God gave us for the 9th Expo in West Palm Beach! Set-up on Friday was long but the rewards were sweet on Saturday as God blessed us with 1,235 attendees this year. This was a bit below last year’s count of 1,307 but still an outstanding turnout. The weather was beautiful with temperatures in the low 80s and a good breeze to keep folks refreshed, too. PTL!
It was such an encouraging sight to see the joy of the Lord on many faces and the smiles abounding as God brought heaven to earth in so many ways all day long. Our cheerline was again an awesome event welcome for each participant but the two people who prayed to receive Christ that day had all of heaven rejoicing even more!
We also served 1,352 hamburgers and gave boat rides to over 400 attendees on top of having the Ice Cream Club serving FREE ice cream all day. The rockwall was a big first time bonus for many participants, too.
All in all, it another God blessed Expo with His presence graciously there working in each persons life. In case you missed the event or would like to see all the smiles again, here is a link to the West Palm Beach photo gallery page: https://access-life.com/wpbexpo. Hope you enjoy the collage and pics here, too. :)
Preparing for the Expo:
Throughout the week in Belize, the team spent many hours sorting equipment and getting it ready for the Expo. After spending many hours in the shipping container, all of the wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and bedside commodes needed a good cleaning and some also needed repair. Team members pitched in with rags and spray cleaner to wipe down every piece of equipment that would be given out later in the week.
Norm, Korie, Nancy, Janet, and Tiffanie did some repairs on the various chairs. The dynamic duo, Nancy and Kaila, along with Tiffanie, assembled four manual chairs that were purchased from another ministry. Some may have doubted their ability, but they persevered and showed that they had what it took to get the job done!
The team also sorted through the supplies for the activities for the Expo, such as Arts, Crafts, Games and Prayer/Care. Sand crosses, gospel bracelets and picture frames were prepared for assembly by participants. There were also items to sort and prepare to put in the goody bags that each participant received when they arrived. Everyone came to the team with unique gifts and talents and all were used for God good work in the preparation for the Expo event.
All tallied, we had the following equipment available to distribute: 90 wheelchairs, including manual chairs, power chairs, and scooters – 90 walkers (plus 7 pediatric walkers) = 29 rollators (plus 5 3-wheel rollators) – 70 pairs of crutches – 4 knee scooters – 17 bedside commodes – 6 shower chairs – Misc: adult diapers, bed pads
2019 Belize Expo Stories:
Edwin Chavez, Jr., is a boy who needed a chair so that he could go to school. He has a birth defect that disabled his arms. We were able to give him a manual chair with wheels that he could propel on his own.
Ryan Foster, a three-year-old boy born with Spina Bifida. He captured the hearts of those who were helping him get fitted with a chair and his smile would light up his face. He received a pediatric manual chair that he was able to propel on his own almost immediately, as well as a pediatric walker that would help him move around by himself.
Sherlene Cal, a patient referred by Dr. Mike, who lives in remote southern Belize. She was severely paralyzed from being given a wrong medication as a baby and was not able to move on her own. Her family drove several hours to come to the Expo, arriving before sunrise on Saturday. She was able to go home with a pediatric chair with tilt function to help her parents care for her.
Jacquine Welby, a 37-year-old woman, with severe disabilities, who had never had a wheelchair. After Jacquine was fitted with a manual chair, her mother Serita was so moved and thankful to be able to have some of her burden lifted. Serita also had suffered a mini-stroke and diabetes and was able to get a cane to help her get around easier. Debbie was able to offer hugs of comfort to Serita when she was overwhelmed with emotion.
Carnie Hyde, a woman who had suffered a stroke and had her left leg amputated. She is a mom of three daughters and received a power chair that would help her to have greater mobility. Carnie was also overwhelmed with the generosity of Access-Life and the help she was able to receive.
Wallace Tillett, a man who waited over five hours to have his turn in the wheelchair distribution area. He told Leanne that he kept watching people come out of the door with a manual or power chair and thought that there wouldn’t be any left for him. When his name was called and he was able to receive a chair power chair, he was overwhelmed with gratitude to the team and also recognized that God was at work at the Expo. He said, “I didn’t know you would have one for me!” He also was able to get a new cushion to help to relieve pressure causing a sore. His new chair also tilts, which will help him to change positions more often while he is using the chair.
Jesslyn is a girl with CP who has severe mobility issues. We were first able to help her in 2017 with giving her a pediatric gait trainer and then in 2018, she received a stroller. This year, she has grown and brought the stroller back in good condition to trade in for a larger one that fits her better. As God had worked out in advance, the very next girl who came in needed a stroller the exact size that Jesslyn had brought back.
Another example of God’s divine intervention was told by team member, Norm Clark. In working to repair a power chair, he had broken a part and was frustrated. On the Expo day, a man came in with a power chair to be fixed and we were able to give him a different chair. His old chair had the exact part that Norm needed to complete the repair on the chair that he had been working on earlier.
PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GRACIOUS BLESSINGS ON US AND OTHERS. :)