Can I tell you about the day I met Elvis?
Elvis entered with a bit of an entourage. He had a boyish smile and an infectious laugh. He was dressed like everyone else: jeans and blue buffalo plaid shirt. Elvis was 28 years old when I met him, but I thought he looked like a teenager.
His dad and his brothers were on either side of him, supporting the weight of his body as he stepped forward with his left foot, dragged his right foot forward and took another step. It was a slow and intentional process for them to reach us.
Our team of Lutheran Christians from across the USA were in the municipal auditorium of San Pedro Carchá, Guatemala to seat people in custom-fitted wheelchairs.
Elvis had been injured during birth and his ability to control movements on his right side was limited. Up until that day, he had been assisted by family members or used crutches to achieve some mobility. But it was clear that Elvis wanted to be more independent and that he wanted to move faster. After some discussion and measuring, our team was able to fit him with a wheelchair for family excursions. We adjusted a walker to the proper size so that he could get about on his own.
Elvis practiced with the walker. He maintained control with the hand brakes when it moved faster than he liked. He smiled and joked about how he would be able to go to the market and keep his money in the secret zippered pocket under the seat of the walker. The smiles on his brothers’ faces and the gratitude from his father were a blessing to the team.
There is no doubt in my mind that these two pieces of equipment changed his life and the lives of his family members. We talked about how these valuable gifts* are a physical sign of the free gift of God’s Grace. (*For the majority of Guatemalans, a wheelchair costs a whole year’s salary.)
Pastor Ted shared about the incredible love that Jesus has for Elvis. We prayed together about tough times and cruel people and that precious gift of salvation. We prayed about a hope-filled future on earth and the certainty of life eternal through Jesus. As the words of the prayer were being translated, Elvis looked Pastor Ted straight in the eye. It was clear that Ted’s healing words had touched a broken and hurting place.
What an amazing God! He drew ten different organizations together in partnership to send equipment and people to a mid-size town in Guatemala and put the right words in the heart and mouth of one of His servants to reach this man and tell him, “You are loved!” God invites us to participate in His mission to the world and deliver this message to those who need it most. What a privilege!
In His service and yours,
Director of Mission Advancement
P.S. Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building…using his new walker!