In August 2005, my husband Kevin went on a Wheels for the World trip to Nairobi, Kenya with Joni and Friends. He and a handful of other people went to deliver used wheelchairs, refurbished by prisoners here in the US, to people who would never otherwise receive one. This is a little paper he wrote to send to our family and friends who supported him with finances and prayer. Kevin is not a writer, but his heart shines through each word written.
DIS BE JESUS
I went to Africa with the purpose to fit wheelchairs and walkers to Kenyans who were in great need, with the gospel of Christ in my heart.
When I arrived, I experienced DBA, “dis be Africa”. We were on Africa time. When your transportation is late, when your plans have to change, when you shower in your hotel room, which you are looking forward to after a long day, is only cold water, DBA…when the first two days are fitting adult wheelchairs and your recipients are all children, when they serve fruits and vegetables which look good but you cannot eat because of bacteria, DBA…when you go to a safari to see wild life and you notice there are no lions because they mauled two rangers and had to be removed…DBA.
As time went on, I started noticing other things. I noticed two OTs, Heidi and Michelle, who brought their skills from Nebraska, lead two teams of workers, and with compassion and expertise fitted many adults and children with wheelchairs and walkers.
I noticed a Baptist pastor, David, whose job assignment was mechanic, but as time went on grew to include social director. Looking like an offensive tackle for the Panthers, he had a natural ability to greet the recipients and their caretakers with a warm smile, demeanor, and love.
I noticed another member of our team, Doris, who says she is a retired nurse. I think she fibbed to me. I believe she simply changed her job location. At 70 years young and on her first mission trip, her life just started. She hit it off with the nurses at Kenyatta Hospital with her wit and encouragement. She also showed her nurturing talents when the infants came. She made sure the little ones were laid down in the shade while waiting for strollers, singing songs for comfort. Retired? I don’t think so.
I noticed two people with disabilities and their caretakers. In spite of their own difficulties and struggles, Byron, Scarlett, Jean and Karen went to speak to the recipients and their caretakers, armed with Bibles, the Jesus film in Swahili and their own personal stories. Byron also took on the task of leading our trip. A huge task when you take into account people in our group came from California, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, as well as planning with people from Joni and friends to get the wheelchairs all the way to Nairobi and through the red tape.
I noticed Anthony helping Byron all week with his personal needs, so Byron could minister. I watched him as he went around during the week emptying urine bags. I saw such humility.
I noticed Phyllis and her diligence and hard work; whether it was making pads out of foam rubber, cutting vinyl and stapling or anything that was needed. She just kept on working and helping everyone.
I noticed Cheri, who, for the last three years has been through an awful lot. With kidney failure and then cancer, she definitely knows about hardship. She took her experiences and hope with her, sharing her victories and strength found in Jesus Christ with those she was helping.
I noticed John, from Joni and friends, who oversaw all of our efforts. He came with his organizing experience, having distributed wheelchairs for years. He personally gave up a career to become a full time staff member with Joni and friends. What possesses people to make illogical decisions like this? It is called compassion and love.
I noticed my own daughter, Angela, the editor, interviewing recipients and their caretakers about their personal stories. I noticed her hold one of the little babies who was orphaned because of AIDS, or maybe just thrown away by his parents. She wanted to comfort the helpless.
Finally, I noticed through my teammates that who I really saw was Jesus…compassion, love, selflessness, humility, comfort, all of Christ’s attributes right before my eyes. It was an honor to be part of this great work in Christ. I could say a lot more but I think you get the picture. What I noticed was not DBA, but DBJ…dis be Jesus.