Joni and Friends
We move our ongoing partnership with Joni and Friends to the Middle East this year, sending a Wheels team from Grace to Jordan to serve with our Jordanian hosts and show Christ’s love to the disabled and their families in Amman.
Updated Tuesday, November 29
We are safely back home from our Middle Eastern adventures, but there
are more events that we wish to share via updates, so I invite you to rejoice
along with us as I send a few more details today and in the next few days to
November 18 Thursday morning November 18, our team loaded into vans and
followed a truck full of 40 wheelchairs as we made the journey to the Jordan
Valley village of Jofeh for a distribution of the chairs at a
Rehabilitation/Vocational Training Center for the Disabled. We were welcomed by Yousef, the Center
Manager, who gave us a quick tour of their facility where they provide courses
in weaving, embroidery, sewing, recycled paper-making and wood working.
At the end of the week of distributions, it can become
challenging to find the “right chair” in the chairs we have left over from the
previous days…by now all but one or two pediatric chairs had been given out…and
we had a number of mothers waiting with their little ones who needed
chairs. This meant more support cushions
and hip bolsters needed to be created to “cuddle” the little ones in larger
chairs, so my partner, Susie, and I were busy at the custom cushion and
upholstery table. One young boy with
cerebral palsy waited quite a while as a seat cushion, hip bolsters and then a
neck support was custom made for his chair.
Seating Specialist David, kept remarking about what a “precious” boy
this is, and together we crafted the neck cushion to support his head. With each fitting, David guided me to place
my hands on the boy's cheeks and carefully position his head to where it should
be, and after a few shaves to the foam, we had the right fit. As I held his sweet face in my
hands, I smiled into his dancing brown eyes and he would light up
with an enormous smile back.
I agreed with David that indeed, this is a precious
His mother and brother were there,
watching the entire process, and I am certain that they could see the care even
though communication was limited by our separate languages…love is the universal
Sad to say that at this center, a number of their charges
are children that were not there with their parents – considered more of a
burden, their families do not put effort into caring for these young ones…they
may have a roof over their heads at night, but they are abandoned to the center
each day. Our therapists discovered a
few who may be able to walk if they received therapy and exercise with a proper
walker, but their families had never given such nurturing care to them. It is understandable that when a family is
struggling to survive, the energy and resources required to care for a child
with special needs could end up at the bottom of a family’s list of
priorities. The vocational training at
the center has helped many youths and young adults gain skills that have given
them the opportunity to gain dignity as productive members of their
Gene and I were delighted to be at this center and discover
that they could be another great partner for future wheelchair distributions.
Our hosts will look for ways to work together in future events.
Updated Wednesday, November 16
distribution had a large number of children again, and all four stations were
busy custom-fitting chairs throughout the day. It was a joy for me to see a
beautiful little girl with her twin sister and grandmother again this year, as
she has grown and in need of adjustments to her chair. And this time I had more
opportunity to talk with them while they waited for the fitting. The little
girls' smiles and the smiling eyes of their grandmother communicate their
gratefulness for the assistance, and their return to us indicates their trust in
It is a privilege to work
side-by-side with Jordanians, and hopefully spread the vision of good care for
those with special needs. It was also a joy to see a young assistant pastor,
Abu Matisse (from East Amman that I met last summer), who brought a number of
disabled people from his neighborhood. As we help him help his neighbors with
these gifts to enable better mobility, it is good to know that he will continue
to see them and encourage them throughout the year, long after we have returned
On Tuesday, a visiting team from SAT 7 (Arabic Christian Broadcasting) came to
film our distribution, interviewing the men, women and children as they waited
for their fitting, during customization of their chairs, and also talking with
our staff of volunteers. They were amazed
at the wonderful things they saw and heard as they moved among us. They will
prepare a 15-minute feature on the Wheels for
the World to share throughout this region!
Thank you for remembering us before the Father as we continue with another day
of distribution on Thursday in a village to the west of Amman, and also provide
training on Disability Ministry Awareness on Friday. The team remains eager and
united, just as you have prayed. Now we ask for endurance, as the week wears
Blessings and Salam,
Monique and Gene
Updated Sunday, November 13
Saba’a alKair – Good Morning! As you are ending your Sunday, we are waking up on Monday
morning and starting our second day distributing wheelchairs in Amman. Let me catch you up on the past two
Saturday in Amman is a regular work day, and last Saturday
in particular was the conclusion of the 6-day Eid Holiday, or Festival of
Sacrifice. Businesses and shops returned
to their regular working schedule that morning, and we opened the doors of the
warehouse to those who applied to receive wheelchairs – our first day of
distribution. We were just putting finishing touches on
electric power sources for our tools and our four fitting stations were soon
busy assessing patients and fitting their chairs. One of the first recipients
was a young boy who came with his father.
Fitted by Luke, a physical therapist, along with Gene as the mechanic,
the father couldn’t keep from smiling as he watched the process and then saw his
son in his new chair! By the time they
reached the final station where they received instruction on how to safely
navigate steps and curbs and how to negotiate transfers in and out of the chair,
Dad told our host that he was eager to read Joni, the biography of the founder of Joni and Friends, parent organization of
Wheels for the World! (The books are offered as a gift to those who
would like to take the story home with them.) He said he was so touched by the kindness of
Christians and wanted to know more about the Person who inspires Joni and the
compassion that he had experienced amongst us.
In the afternoon, another young boy, with a strong upper
body but under developed legs due to spinal cord injury, came for a new chair
after repeatedly breaking the small front wheels on his previous chairs. He received instruction from our mechanic,
Jessica on, how to do a controlled wheelie in his new chair in order to get over
rocks and small obstructions, to help reduce wear on his front wheels. Jessica is an athletic wheelchair-user since
she was hurt in an auto accident just a few years ago. She demonstrated how she can tilt back and
lift the small front wheels off the ground and was able to move forward or back
in the wheelie position. Achmed gave it
a try and instantly had command of his new chair, demonstrating his ability to
propel himself forward 6 feet while in the wheelie, navigate a turn, and then
return to his starting position.
Everyone who saw it was amazed and applauded!
We’ve been enjoying working side-by-side with our neat
mixture of wheels trip-veterans, some first-timers and yet all
internationally-traveled team members, and it is delightful to see their hearts
of compassion in action here!
Sunday gave us a day of worship and refreshment as we had a
day off from distribution and attended a local church here. Jessica shared her spiritual journey since
her accident and touched many hearts. We
enjoyed a lunch in Madeba and saw the sun setting over the holy land from a
lookout at the top of Mount Nebo (where Moses had this same view just before his
death on the east side of the Jordan River).
However, Gene had a different kind of a day of rest as he has been
fighting a flu bug (24 hour kind, we hope!) and spent the day in bed back at the
hotel. Thankfully, he was feeling much
better in the evening.
Updated Thursday, November 10
|Ahalan - Hello!
After meeting up with a total of 8 other Wheels for the World team
members in Chicago, we all boarded a Royal Jordanian direct flight to Amman.
The 11+ hours flight went smoothly - I slept for 8 hours and woke to see the
brilliant full moon rise over cotton candy pink clouds over the Mediterranean
Sea as we neared our destination at sun down - gorgeous! We arrived safely
with all our bags, except for Kim's (we pray hers will arrive tomorrow or we
will be going
clothes shopping with her in downtown Amman - something we may do
anyway for some cultural interactions! 4 team members were already here and are
adjusted to the time, and now that we're all together, we're eager to get
started tomorrow. Had some sweet opportunities to get acquainted over a tasty
dinner tonight. Thanks for your prayers - we soared safely and now rest on the
strength of our great Master - soaring is resting while flying! Isaiah 40:31
Many are tired from the journey, a few are feeling a little sick, so we pray a
good night's rest will refresh and invigorate them especially. Tomorrow we
prepare and categorize the wheelchairs and enjoy some helpful orientation from
our local partners.
Updated Wednesday, November 9
E-mail from Monique
Greetings! Gene and I are excited about heading out to the Jordan
Wheelchair distribution with Wheels for the World! We are looking forward to
meeting up with the team in Chicago and flying together to Amman. If you'd like
to pray along with us, there are some updates in the attached ENews...and you
can start by thanking God that we are fully supported as we depart mid-day
Going to a Muslim country to share the love and compassion
that we have experienced from God is an exciting and challenging thing. Even
though we will be cautious in our communication from Jordan, you can know that
we will be eager to find opportunities to not only distribute wheelchairs but
also share eternal hope. We will do our best to connect to the internet and
send updates when we can.
Thank you for being our "home team," with your
gifts and prayers to encourage us on our way to meet the people in Jordan!
Every chair we distribute, each smile we exchange,
each heart that receives hope and encouragement, we will do "together" with you
as our partners!
Grace to you,
Monique and Gene
Updated Wednesday, November 9
donated wheelchairs from Joni and Friend's Wheels for the World program
are waiting in Jordan to be matched to their new recipients! Please
pray for two of our Grace members as they travel to not only distribute
wheelchairs but to also share eternal hope.
News of a Postponement
The Jordan Wheels mission trip has been postponed to November. Check back here then for updates of how the Lord uses this unique ministry.