JACKSON, MS — Reyna is a mother to four children in Jackson, Mississippi. Her oldest kids, Belen (19) and Leonardo (16), have disabilities that require the use of wheelchairs and around-the-clock care. Even with the help of her 10-year-old son, Yahir, to feed and change his siblings, Reyna lives in a state of mental and physical exhaustion.It’s difficult for her to even leave her home. Reyna also struggles to balance caregiving and providing activities and community for her younger children. At Joni and Friends Family Retreat, Reyna discovered that she is not alone. Family Retreat provides connection, friendship, and help for families who struggle with the daily challenges of life with disability.
Reyna Magana – Jackson, Mississippi:
I’ve had so many challenges because of the disabilities as well as with myself. God gave me the ability to give my children a head start in life.
My name is Reyna. I have four children. Belen is 19, Leonardo is 16, Yahir is 10 and the baby, Mia Victoria is 7 months.
It’s not easy to have your mind in several places, like in the school, the other kid at home, the baby. It’s physically and mentally stressful because I have to be alert to everything, my mind is everywhere.
It’s not easy for me because I have to play two roles with the disabled kids and with Yahir. I have to work with Yahir and get him involved in other things so he doesn’t feel sad. We can’t get out too often because of his siblings, so I try to give him his own space and take him out so he can also enjoy his life, his childhood.
I help them, feed them, change them. I’ve been doing this my whole life.
I have to work for them, for Belen and Leo, and for him too.
Joni and Friends means a lot to me because I think it’s helped me a lot in the emotional aspect not only because of the activities but they’ve been with my family in these difficult times.
As a parent of people with disabilities because it’s hard doing stuff. But actually here you can do fun stuff.
I recommend family retreat because it’s help me to reflect. I think here I found the purpose that God may have for me.
Christine Wendorf – Volunteer, Family Retreat:
There’s just a lot of need for relationship for those with special needs. It’s a constant burden on the family but it’s interesting in God’s grace they realize how hard they have it because to them it’s their normal every day life. And I think every family gets to a point where they realize, I do need help. And it’s good when they have that support and community around them and can step in and help them. This is an amazing opportunity for them to have rest. And even Reyna herself was telling me how much she loved being here and that sense of community and just having a friendship and connection and help. Because she does it day in and day out.
It’s good to hang out and meet new people and helping. I like being here and helping. It’s so much fun. It’s helpful to us and we get to meet people who help us.
I can see Jesus in my own children. In all the love they have, and in all the volunteers who are always smiling, in the smile of everyone, in the morning when we haven’t got up and the volunteers are already there. As a mom, that is a gift for me. It’s a gift from God from Jesus because that people have done that with so much love and I think He’s telling me that I’m not alone and He is there to give me what I need, when I need it.
About Joni and Friends
For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided the hope of the Gospel and practical resources to people affected by disability around the globe. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on Disability, and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also delivers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio program and podcasts. To find out more, please visit www.joniandfriends.org.
- Global News Alliance, From Exhaustion to Rest at Joni and Friends Family Retreat
- Joni and Friends, Official Website