The love between the two of them was apparent. His eyes twinkled when he spoke about meeting her for the first time 15 years ago. She blushed slightly and leaned in to gently touch his arm as he spoke. A love story. A love story of tragedy and perseverance.
Seven years into their marriage, Manuel, then in his late twenties, was in a terrible accident. He almost died. When he regained consciousness, he was told that he would be a full quadriplegic. At the time of the accident, Evelyn was navigating how to manage her epilepsy, only able to obtain anti-seizure medications periodically. Their daughter, Estephanie, was seven years old. Over the next several months, languishing in the hospital, he regained some movement and feeling.
Manuel was discharged, a spastic quadriplegic with sensitivities to heat and chronic pain. He was discharged without a wheelchair or any other services available to him. In the past seven years, he only had one broken-down, ill-fitting wheelchair that did not last long. Most recently, a neighbor has been loaning him a wheelchair periodically. The rest of the time, Manuel is at home. All of the time, Evelyn dedicates her life to caring for her husband, raising their child, and trying to manage her own seizures. Through it all, it is quite apparent, that their love has deepened in spite of the challenges they face each day. Theirs is a story of incredible love, faith, and perseverance.
On May 17, Faith In Practice, Free Wheelchair Mission, and Health Talents were blessed to become of part of that story, for on May 17, Manuel received his very first wheelchair. Faith In Practice had coordinated with three municipalities to bring patients to the clinic at Health Talents, a Faith In Practice partner. Luisa had worked with the mayor, who provided transportation and food, and the San Tomas bus pulled up carrying Manuel, Evelyn, and twenty more patients. Then, Manuel received a medical check, a physical therapy consult, some medicines for his pain, and then, a wheelchair. His first wheelchair. At the beginning of the day, both Manuel and Evelyn were anxious that something would prevent them from receiving the gift they had awaited for seven long years. But at the end of the day, they gave God thanks. Their gratitude and joy was gentle and genuine. All of us present were grateful as well to be able to give this support, this gift, to this loving couple in the name of the One who sustains them each day.
The Faith In Practice Mobility Clinic held at Health Talents in Chicacao distributed pediatric specialty chairs constructed by Hope Haven, wheelchairs donated by Free Wheelchair Mission, and canes and walkers. Medical care was provided by Health Talent physicians and nurses. These partnerships allow all of us to serve more patients than any one of us could do alone.