Maria and Leslie

  • Feb. 11, 2013
  • #8031

When Maria set eyes on little Leslie, she fell in love. Listen to this powerful story of how one woman’s love for God and his children changed the life of a disabled child.

Maria and Leslie

Hi, I’m Joni and let me describe a certain day with Wheels for the World.

Everyone was at work: translators speaking to the families, pointing at wheelchair parts; mothers were chatting, photos being taken, pastors praying, and physical therapists and mechanics diligently at work—screwing this bolt to that, cutting foam and placing it there—all to bring custom-fit wheelchairs and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to kids and adults with disabilities. Our Wheels for the World team was in El Salvador. It was another very busy distribution by our Wheels for the World team, and yet, in a quiet corner sat Maria, peacefully holding in her arms, her 15-year-old daughter, Leslie.

You see, Maria has always had a heart for kids with special needs. Many years ago, she began volunteering among disabled children in orphanages. And it was in doing so, that she met Leslie. As Maria explained:

“Most people drawn to children with disabilities go for the ones who can at least talk or walk, or who do cute things, but when I saw little Leslie, only a toddler then, covered in drool in her bed, barely aware of her surroundings, I fell in love. I thought, ‘Her life will be different.’”

And so, from that day on, Maria visited Leslie at the orphanage every day she could—changing her clothes, wiping her drool, feeding her and singing to her. Finally the day came when, almost six year later, Maria and her husband adopted Leslie and brought her into their home.

Leslie’s life took a huge change. No longer neglected and ignored in the orphanage, Leslie had a mommy and a daddy who cared for her needs and loved her as their own. What’s more, Leslie now had a brother, because as Maria went on to explain, this wasn’t their first adoption. One day while walking down the street, Maria came upon a black trash bag—and in it was a baby, barely responsive. Because this child had been born with a seizure disorder, his parents had considered him worthless. But to Maria he was a child of God—just like Leslie. And now, they were a full house!

So while Maria and Leslie waited at our wheelchair distribution for their name to be called, Maria kept hugging her daughter, rocking her, gently kissing her wet cheeks and wiping the drool on her face.

With a big smile and tears in her eyes, Maria whispered, “Es lo maximo cuidarla,” saying, “to care for her is the best feeling in the world.”

Wow, oh friend you have to see the picture of this mother and child. I’ve got it posted right here on my radio page at

You know, we’ve got a Wheels for the World team right now in El Salvador, reaching out to children like Leslie—children who have for years been neglected or abused in orphanages, at home, and on the streets—waiting for someone to extend a hand of mercy. And that someone—that someone could be you. We’ve got many Wheels for the World outreaches going on this year, and it’s not too late to sign-up. You don’t have to be a physical therapist or translator to help (although we’d love it if you are!). So take a moment today to stop by and learn more about Wheels for the World. Oh, and while you’re on my radio page, be sure to ask for the booklet “Why Bad Things Happen—I wrote it specifically for the sorts of questions kids often have about so much suffering in the world. But you know what? Adults would benefit from the insights, too. So today, visit and ask for this special booklet—and be praying for our Wheels team in El Salvador.

© Joni and Friends


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