One Wheelchair’s Journey

Snapshot #1: “not so good”

1- Wheelchairs of Hope volunteers picked up some wheelchairs, and though we don’t want to accept too many large wooden institutional chairs, and definitely not ones involving electricity, one of the chairs was just that. A very large, wooden institutional chair with electric controls. (Over 25 kg, 228 linear cm.–most airlines only allow up to 23 kg and 135 linear cm. to be checked in as personal luggage, making these chairs difficult to transport overseas.)

2- The electric wire was shredded in parts, making the chair dangerous, if not unusable.

3- We are spending a fair amount of time taking apart and disposing of unusable chairs

4- Even if we could repair the chair, this next container going to Manila is for a group of churches who do not want any institutional chairs, so these large chairs take up precious room in our storage area.

The Big Chair

Snapshot #2: “concerned”

1- Mr. Hatakeyama (a volunteer who was an electrician) offered to try and fix the electric control and said he’d go to Akihabara (Japan’s “electric town”) to find the part. Everyone was skeptical that the very part necessary would be found.

2- We prayed (I heard some snickers while I prayed so specifically).

Snapshot #3 “good!”

1- Mr. Hatakeyama did find the part. Many were surprised he even went to Akihabara by himself, let alone found the right part. Thank you God for answering prayer! No one made a comment when I thanked God for Mr. Hatakeyama finding the part.

2- Mr. Hiraide and Mr. Kobayashi helped to get the chair in safe and working order.

Snapshot #4 “very good”

1- A foundation in Manila asked for four wheelchairs, and said they would take two wooden chairs, including the one with electric controls.

2- They had passengers flying from Tokyo to Manila 5/18 (today) who agreed to transport four wheelchairs if the airline gave gratis excess baggage allowance.

Snapshot #5 “confusion”

1- There were at least 42 emails going back and forth between the many parties involved about the transporting and receiving of the wheelchairs.

2- Even yesterday when the Foundation in the Philippines, the Tokyo airport airline station manager, the airline’s main Tokyo office, Manila customs office, and we, had all exchanged necessary information and documents to clear the chair to go today for free from Tokyo to Manila, one link crucial link was not in place.

3- This morning two Wheelchairs of Hope volunteers left their homes around 5 am to drive the wheelchairs to the Tokyo airport. I left on a 5 am train to meet them at the airport. There was still the one link that was not connecting.

4-The Foundation donating the chairs asked we go ahead and deliver the chairs to the airport hoping everything would come together.

Snapshot #6 “We serve an amazing God!”

1- At 7 am this morning the airport airline station manager found me in the airport (I was not even near that airline’s check in counter) and assured me that they had a way to transport the chairs even with the one link “missing.”

2- After working on this for the past 10 days, at 7:30 am this morning, two hours before the plane was to depart, the last link fell into place and we were able to send the wheelchairs smoothly.

Praise to our amazing God!!

This afternoon over lunch with the two volunteers I thanked God for His care. We serve an amazing God! Thank you for sharing the Wheelchairs of Hope vision together!

PS. Two wheelchairs will go to chosen patients at the Philippine Orthopedic Center, and the two children’s wheelchairs will go to a facility caring for disabled children who are abandoned.


About Mark and Mary Esther Penner

Mark works as an adviser and resource to a Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project that plays a key role in the worldwide sign language Bible translation movement. Mary Esther founded a non-profit organization that partners with local communities and organizations to collect, refurbish and send wheelchairs throughout Asia.
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