Saturday was Expo Day, the day we had been preparing for all week, and really for months prior to the trip. Access-Life organizes Expo events in several locations in the United States. These free community outreach events provide a time of Christ-centered encouragement, support and fun for individuals and families living with disabilities. The events in the States include activities like boat rides, bank fishing, archery, crafts, games, and a photo booth, as well as food for everyone who attends. One of the main purposes of our trip to Belize was to provide an Expo event at the Hearts of Christ mission, and we adapted it for the space and activities we could provide at that location (no water nearby, so fishing and boat rides were not available).
We started setting up early on Saturday morning and people started arriving at the gate a couple of hours before the publicized start time of 10:00am. Not wanting to turn anyone away, we let people wait in the shade until the event registration was ready and at 10:00, there was a steady flow of people who came to attend the Expo. Many came carrying loved ones who needed medical equipment and others came in using equipment that was in disrepair or not suitable for their need. The medical supply area was very organized and they took information from the people who came and gave them a number that would be called when it was their turn to be served.
There were many other activities to offer people during the day and I had the joy of walking around taking pictures of people enjoying the crafts and painting and games and archery. Participants could also get their photo taken by the Access-Life backdrop and the photo was printed for them to take home as a souvenir.
I also had the blessing of seeing the smiles of people who received medical equipment and supplies during the Expo. Nearly 50 wheelchairs, crutches, canes and walkers were fitted for people, and many other medical supplies were distributed. Some traveled from hours away and pooled their money to bring a loved one. Another group came together from Belize City, over an hour away.
Over and over, I heard people express gratitude for the help they received and they told how the equipment would improve their quality of life. One woman who received a walker with a seat attached said, "I can go anywhere now! If I get tired, I can sit down."
One father brought his son, Steven, arriving a couple of hours after the Expo had started. At the registration tent, they saw that a pediatric chair was needed for the boy, and Pat Tait began to pray that one would be available. Pat's husband, Doug, was working in the medical equipment area and Pat told him of the need she was praying for. When it was Steven's turn to be fitted, a pediatric chair was available and Pat and Doug were able to see how God had worked and answered their prayers.
The needs we saw at the Expo and during the rest of the week were overwhelming at times. God used everyone on the team to be Jesus' hands and feet. We all had a function and we all worked together as one body. Leanne summed it up well when she said, "We do what God gives us to do today and trust Him for the future."
By God's grace, we were able to help many people in Belize and by His grace, we will be able to return next year and once again join Him in the work He is doing there.