Not long after Mia’s son, Miyante, was born, he was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. As he grew, Mia noticed that Miyante couldn’t control the movements of his hands, feet, arms, and legs. By the time Miyante turned ten, he lost all ability to walk and had to use a wheelchair.
Mia articulates the struggle found deep within many special needs mothers’ hearts as she describes her experience caring for her son and watching him suffer:
“My faith in God is constantly tested by the daily care Miyante requires, and as a single mother, I’ve felt utterly alone and exhausted. Not only was I desperate for community, but I was also overwhelmed by the outrageous costs of medical care, and I wanted to just give up.
And what about my other children and their needs? Where was God in my suffering? I was desperate for a place to belong. I searched endlessly for programs that accepted the whole family but was unsuccessful.”
Mia was desperate for a place where she and her family could find help, respite, and belonging. Thankfully, that’s when she learned about Joni and Friends.
“Finally, a friend shared some remarkable stories with me about Joni and Friends Family Retreats, and I eagerly registered that same day. It would be our first family outing since Miyante was born.”
Through Joni and Friends, Mia rediscovered that God is ever faithful and close to the brokenhearted. When she and her children arrived at Family Retreat for the first time they were blown away by the sacrificial love and acceptance that poured through the volunteers, staff, and fellow participants.
She recalls their first impression of Family Retreat:
“We all vividly remember arriving and hearing the joyful shouts and seeing the waving banners with our names. We remember feeling loved and accepted for the first time by all those around us.”
Far beyond the initial welcome, Mia, Miyante, and their whole family found a deep sense of peace and connection within our Joni and Friends community.
For Mia, joining a group of mothers who understood her experience made a life-changing difference. She said, “I had an instant bond with other single moms who were walking a similar path as me, and we were inseparable all week. I made life-long friends who got my world.”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
Even after Family Retreat ended, hope and renewal followed Mia’s family home. They have a lasting new perspective and new lease on life. As Mia put it:
“My vision has changed because of Family Retreat. I no longer try to keep Miyante’s disability hidden. Now we go out into our community and share the love of God wherever we go.
God used Joni and Friends to show me the special calling he placed on my life as Miyante’s mom, and the privilege I have in displaying his love and faithfulness through the trials of suffering.”
Joni and Friends Bay Area serves families like Mia’s at Family Retreat, but also throughout the year. With your generous support, more families living with disability will experience the transformation of new hope that comes through Christ.