“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40
This past week I had the privilege of hanging out with the Sabraw family at Joni & Friends Family Retreat. (more info) Along with 2 other volunteers we were paired up to be buddies to this family for all the activities of the week.
Dawn is a loving mother that has cared for her son affected by disability for 24 years. She has the arm muscles of a weightlifter and the heart of a lion – courageous and tenacious in her love and care for her son as well as three other children. She treats her son Keaton with utmost respect and is able to balance his need to be treated like a young adult with having to do all of his daily care. She has a cheerful smile and a "can do" attitude that has been such an example to me.
Keaton is a super intelligent 24-year-old affected by cerebral palsy. He is in a wheelchair and is unable to feed himself or do any self-care tasks. Although he is sharp as a tack, he can't speak and communicates through gestures and facial expressions. His mother Dawn never has trouble knowing what he needs. Before this week if I were introduced to Keaton I would have smiled awkwardly and maybe said a few kind words in a condescending tone before hurrying out of the way. What a treasure I would have been missing out on. Although it takes a bit more time to know someone with a disability, it is so worth it! Over the last week I have truly gotten to know Keaton's personality and heart. Although he is fed with a feeding tube he also loves to taste things like mustard and ranch dressing. He loves The Dodgers and the Dallas Cowboys. He has a wicked sense of humor and loves hanging out with other young adults his age. He has an eye for pretty girls and his buddy Daniel was able to be sure he got lots of time with them at camp. He was even willing to go back into a shivering cold swimming pool to hang out with a few of them. He has a smile that will light up a room and a laugh that is infectious. He faces life with cheerfulness. It has been a gift to spend time with him and see the amazing treasure he is to the world!
Anais is a super smart little sister to Keaton. This past week was a chance for siblings to get lots of TLC and not have to care for their family members with disabilities. She loves to play with "Pet Shop" toys and make crafts at camp. She loved being there and getting some special time with her buddy Sofia. She sees people with disabilities as normal and is super comfortable caring and playing with others. She gives the best hugs!
Please take time to consider the people around you who are affected by disability and the treasures you may be missing by not getting to know them. Volunteering at a Joni & Friends Family Retreat is a truly life changing experience. Of all the ways I have served Jesus throughout my life this experience felt like the most authentic and genuine way to live out Jesus words that we are to serve "the least of these." Taking the time to know and love these amazing people truly feels like you are touching the heart of God and taking one step into the joy of Eternity!
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