EL SALVADOR — Yolo didn’t know Family Retreat could bless her family. She first got involved with Joni and Friends by encouraging another family to attend Family Retreat. After hearing the story of Alex’s family and the challenges they face navigating life with his autism, she decided to help raise funds to give them the gift of attending retreat.
Shortly after, Yolo got to know a Joni and Friends employee who learned that she had three children of her own, two with disabilities. and encouraged her to attend as well.
Through blessing Alex’s family, Yolo and her family discovered love and support through Joni and Friends too! Their story embodies the promise: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38.
I met this mom who told me that she hadn’t had a vacation in eight years. She just had her son. I was just shocked that she had said that. I was familiar with Joni and her ministry ever since I was in Mexico. And then I saw they had a retreat. And then I read about it. And I said, I think we’re going to send you there. It just seemed like they would help her.
The dad was like, “I don’t know.” And I said, “Well, I’ll drive you.” And we got them here, and I think from the moment I saw them walking in the entrance, he was just changed. Just to see that, it was just an amazing experience. And ever since they, we’ve tried to raise funds so their whole family can come.
I don’t, I never really talk about my life. Nobody really never knew. Joel, my 17 year old, is diagnosed with a language processing disorder and dyslexia. My youngest one is diagnosed with autism. I have my middle child is a neurotypical daughter. We navigate life in both worlds, the learning disability world and the autism spectrum world.
I was at a conference and I was with someone that was in a wheelchair and we were just talking and she said, “I work for Joni and Friends.” I sent a friend there and I said, you know, we have helps in another family. And I said, yeah, it’s nice. I said, I understand because I have some kids with problems and issues and I understand the challenge. And this girl said, your kids should go.
I would have to say that I failed, that I didn’t deserve it. I felt that other people have it harder than me. And she said, no, I think you will like it. And they would go.
To us, family retreat is a place where you feel welcome and loved for who you are. You can see that everyone has a purpose here. And sometimes it’s those people who have disabilities who bring us closer to Christ.
Family retreat is when you get to hang out and do fun things.
Family retreat is an exciting and memorable experience. It’s my kind of place to be. Having fun, meeting people with many types of disabilities, just praise Jesus that he paid the price of my sin.
The specialist community, it’s a tough community to reach about God. A lot of them are angry at God for the situation that they’re in and maybe they don’t say it or maybe it’s like deep. So I think this family retreat offers people that healing process. The healing process that God doesn’t make mistakes. He knows about you, and He knows your kid, and He has a purpose for all of them. I think as humans, we have to give each other that chance to be helpful and get help. And Joni and Friends does that.
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, The Adam’s Family: Give, and It Shall Be Given Unto You
- Joni and Friends, Official Website