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!

2nd Big Wheel Deal in JAX

What a great game Friday night! The BLUE team won this year 34-20 but the MVP came from the GREEN team so things balanced out. The free throw contestants including a group from Hope Haven (after they were welcomed into the concert next door for an hour) really displayed both determination and heart in the half-time competition, too.

From the many volunteers who helped in so many areas and the Christ’s Church staff who gracious hosted us to the players from Brooks REHAB, Christ’s Church, Raiford Road Church, etc. and the many free throw contestants, God graciously blessed all of us who attended. We really missed not having any cheerleaders this year and could have used a few more fans in the stands but the ICAN-GAROO and CFA Cow mascots added some great sideline fun as did ICAN-Woman, Jenette.

Also, RPM Automotive, CFA and Moon Pie were awesome sponsors providing great prizes for folks as well as some nutritious water and delicious food and assuming all the pledges are honored we’ll have raised $2,349 which is almost double what was brought in last year. PTL, as this was the purpose of the event and will help us reach more folks living with disabilities in JAX with the love and Gospel of Jesus at the Expo in April!

Leanne and I so appreciate the support so many of you all have provided through your prayers, giving, networking and service and hope you know that you are being the hands and feet of Jesus helping Him touch and change lives as only He can.

Hope you enjoy the photo collage!


ETN Spring Fling

Our 1st ETN Outpost activity of the year hosted by Shady Grove was a blessing to many with 70 total folks attending including participants and volunteers.

The snack jars were particularly popular as was the food but everyone enjoyed the crafts and games, too. A neat addition this year was a performance by their children’s choir which really helped engage folks in many new ways.

Below is a picture of the participants watch the choir so you can see a few of the faces.


Crafting a Community in ETN


I wanted to share what great banquet we had last April 21st! The food was great, the decorations were beautiful, the performances were fun, the auction items were awesome and the testimonies were encouraging. There were lots of new church and volunteer connections, too. What I liked most was the fact that so many people with disabilities were given an opportunity to be included and shine at the event. It was definitely a God blessed success! 

On the financial end of things we were down quite a bit from last year but we know God will be faithful to provide all that is needed. Overall the gifts were down by about $3,000 and the auction purchases were down by about $1,000. Our matching gift was up by about $2,000 though so overall we were  just $2,000 down from last year.

All in all, please know that Leanne and I so appreciate each of you and all you did to make things happen. We know God is faithful and will provide all we need!

Big Wheels Roll in CFL

We had our 3rd annual Big Wheel Deal wheelchair basketball fundraiser in CFL this past Saturday and for the 1st time it was a not just a game but a tournament. In fact, we we had nearly 50 players in all including those who normally use wheelchairs and those who don’t mixed on each of the 4 teams!

We were also blessed with nearly 40 volunteers who served popcorn, pizza, cotton candy and snow cones, took pictures, sold AL apparel and manned our ministry INFO and pledge table as well as helped things run smoothly on the administration side of things. There was even an appearance by the AL mascot “I Kan” garoo keeping the fans, MC and referees on their toes.

The championship game featured the presentation of the colors by the Edgwater High School ROTC following our opening prayer and then our national anthem was sung by Detective Duane Hunt from the Ocoee Police. Homemade trophies and prize baskets were awarded afterwards including special items for those who participated in the halftime free throw contest for folks living with disabilities.

A photo collage is below so you can see the smiles and some of the action. :)


A New Friend Named Eli by Nanette Ryan

During one of our team conference calls before we went to Belize, one of the women with Hearts of Christ in East Tennessee told us about Eli, a man who had been in a wheelchair for several years due to an accident, and had become a Christian this past December. He was mentioned as someone to pray for as we prepared for the trip and to let us know that he would be one of the people we’d be building a ramp for while we were in Belize.

On Tuesday morning of our trip, we headed out to the village of Ontario to meet Eli and to distribute packets of rice and beans to the people in the village. When we drove up, Eli was on the porch working on someone’s bicycle tire (he repairs bikes for a living). After they finished, Korie made the introductions and the builders got to work removing the old ramp (the porch remained, but was reinforced). We saw some frogs that lived under the ramp and uncovered the hiding place of a tarantula, which caused some excitement, especially when the tarantula appeared again later in the process!

While the ramp was being built, Eli and Doug, who has also been living with a disability for many years, were able to spend time talking and getting to know each other, sharing their stories. Eli told Doug, “I’ve lived for 13 years since my accident and have never met another person in a wheelchair.” Eli was able to see how God has worked in Doug’s life despite his disability, and that he can be used by God to encourage others as well.

Later, some of the Hearts of Christ team told us about when they met Eli and shared Christ with him. Eli didn’t think that he could become a Christian because he didn’t know anything about God. They told him that he only had to repent and believe and that he could learn more as he spent time with the Lord. Eli said, “I finally decided it was better to live for God than live for nothing.”

Our team was also able to bring Eli a new manual wheelchair to use while he works and also repaired a motorized wheelchair that Eli had already owned, but needed updating. Eli was appreciative of the new “wheels” as well as the ramp and porch and the other practical items that the team brought him. There was also some places in the flooring in his house that needed to be repaired and the team was able to take care of that to make it easier for Eli to maneuver around inside.

Eli was another person we met who told us that he had prayed for God to send help and that we were an answer to his prayer. Thankfully, we have a Good Father who sees our need, and hears and answers our cries for help!


A Visit to Ms. Mary’s House by Nanette Ryan

On Tuesday morning, we headed into Belmopan to the home of Ms. Mary. She had come home from the hospital the day before, after having her second leg amputated below the knee due to diabetes. When we drove up to her house, her sister greeted us and we explained that we had come to build a ramp for Ms. Mary’s house and visit with her, if she was feeling up to it.

After a few minutes, we were shown inside to visit with Ms. Mary in her room (not everyone went in at once). She was sitting up on her bed and greeted us with a smile and was so excited to hear about the new ramp. We learned that her pastor and friends had made the arrangements with Korie, so it was a surprise to Ms. Mary. 

One of our team members, John Deeds, who owns a medical supply store and is experienced with fitting people with wheelchairs, talked with Ms. Mary and then he and a couple of team members went back to the Hearts of Christ mission to see what we had that would be a good fit for Ms. Mary. The rest of us stayed and prayed with Ms. Mary and heard a little of her story and the ramp-building began.

Ms. Mary’s faith and trust in God was evident and she told us that she believed that she had lost her legs for a reason and that God is good. Ms. Mary said that she had been praying for God to send her help and she knew He would come through. What a blessing she was to us and we had gone in thinking we needed to encourage her! 

With it being our first ramp of the week, there was a little trial and error, and one minor injury, but soon the workers were in their groove and the platform and ramp began to take shape. As it was getting completed, John and the others came back with a motorized wheelchair for Ms. Mary and got it cleaned up and looking good for her. Also, Nancy (our team Physical Therapist) and Ashley (our nurse) were able to spend time with Ms. Mary, showing her some strengthening exercises and gave her some medical supplies.

When the ramp was finished, we all went back to see Ms. Mary and brought her the chair. She was so thrilled and surprised that she was going to be able to leave her bed and her house with the help of the chair! John and Nancy helped Ms. Mary get into the chair and gave her some “driving” lessons. Then we asked her if she would like to go outside. She wanted to go check out her new ramp! 

As she wheeled through the door and out onto the porch, she was so excited to get out in the sunshine and said that she wanted to sit outside the rest of the afternoon and wave at everyone passing by! She had originally thought that she wouldn’t be able to get outside until her legs had healed and she got her prostheses. Being able to have a wheelchair and leave her house gave her freedom to even go to the store in her neighborhood by herself. 

Ms. Mary was able to come to the Expo on Saturday and enjoy the activities and being out among her friends. She told Alicia, “Some people want the blessing, but not the Blesser. I have both!”

God used our team to bless Ms. Mary and she blessed us above and beyond our expectations!


Jingle and Mingle in East Tennessee

2015-12 ETN (3)Well, the ministry’s final activity of 2015 was our annual East Tennessee Outpost Christmas Jingle and Mingle and this year God blessed us with over 90 participants and 40 volunteers! Folks enjoyed good food, a fun craft, Christmas carols, participant gifts and fun fellowship that night and many in the community with disabilities experience the love of God through Christmas in a new and special way.

Below are a few picture so everyone can see the smiles. :)

2015-12 ETN (1)

2015-12 ETN (33)2015-12 ETN (16)

Jacksonville Big Wheel Deal

Well, we held our 1st ever Big Wheel Deal wheelchair basketball game in JAX and from the players, contestants, dance team and cheerleaders to the fans, blue/green girl and kangaroo, it was a God blessed success full of fun and fellowship!

The scoring was a little slim with the GREEN TEAM winning 16-8 over the BLUE TEAM but wow, what hustle and heart they all showed on the court even getting up again and again and again from flips, falls and wheels falling off. 

Below is a photo collage highlighting some of the action and I hope you enjoy the smiles.