Just when we think Chris' speaking requests have slowed down, they pick back up at the exact time that we need them! Chris spoke at the University of Wisconsin Plattville and at a nearby high school in April. Since I only work on the weekends now I'm able to travel with him, which is such a fun treat.....it's been 6 years since I've been able to do that - thank you Lord for such a gift!!
We left our 80 degree weather and thought we were headed to 30 degrees, but that turned out to only be the temperature at night.....they had a heat wave so it was actually in the 60's the entire time we were there - yet another gift from God.
Now, when it comes to traveling, both Chris and I have come to expect bumps in the road so to speak. It just comes with the territory. Even if it's a local speaking engagement 10 minutes from our home we know to expect the unexpected - little gliches that keep us on our toes and keep our attitudes in check. So this trip was par for the course.
Three days before we left for Wisconsin Chris' wheelchair charger broke. Since it's battery powered, this presents a problem. We ordered a new one but it would take a few weeks. After a few days I remembered and was able to locate a back-up charger that we had hiding in our closet - perfect! So we packed our bags and our back-up charger and away we went! We got to the hotel very late (I can't even remember when but it was after midnight for sure), unpacked our bags in a daze, and collapsed into bed!
Considering Chris was speaking at 1:00 and 7:00 the next day it was quite disappointing to wake up the day of the speaking to a dead wheelchair. Our back-up charger didn't work!! It worked at home the day before of course! So fortunately we had our computer and the internet. We had several hours in the morning to solve this dilemma which turned out to be exactly the right amount of time! After probably 15 phone calls I was directed to a gentleman in Iowa (who knew we were so close!) who owns a wheelchair company. In 11 years of being paralyzed Chris has never had a wheelchair vendor allow him to borrow a charger outside of their office. At this point we only had about an hour before we had to leave for the speaking engagement so we had to get a charger, use the time before the speaking to charge it, then be able to charge again afterwards to have enough juice for the nighttime engagement. Before I was able to tell any of these details, the gentlman on the other end of the phone offered to let us borrow his charger and then just leave it at the front desk of the hotel when we finished using it!
15 minutes later there was a knock at the door and there was the charger!! The funniest part of the whole ordeal is that the gentleman is the exact spitting image of Chris' dad. Seriously.....he had the beard, hair, hat, glasses, body, stance, and smile.....it was almost eery......he even walked exactly like Wayne does!!!! We had a nice visit with him and were off for the day!
The first high school was having a lot of activities that day to address drinking, drugs, tobacco, and wreckless decisions. Chris' presentation was scheduled to be the grand finale of the day.
It's amazing how God knows exactly what Chris and I need as well as what the students and staff at different schools need - even if they're in an entirely different area of the country! I love to watch Chris on stage and listen to him while the kids laugh and begin to like him, begin to be entertained, begin to relate to him......and then BAM! Before you know it the ICU pictures are on the screen and the kids are crying. It's real life. Unfortunately a lot of people have similar stories to Chris.....but the hope is that the people who hear him speak won't be one of those stories. That is Chris' prayer and my prayer when he speaks.....and it's all we can do - to pray. God is the only One who knows what words will make an impact in another person's life enough to turn them around and steer them in a different direction. Let's pray that's what happened this day.
That night at the University Chris spoke to the fraternities and sororities - one of his favorite types of audiences!