In 2008 Lucy Ayala and her 12 year old son, Eric were standing at the side of the road in Techiman, Ghana when they were hit by a passing car. Lucy’s leg was seriously injured, leaving her in constant pain and unable to walk for any great distance. Eric suffered severe spinal injuries and is confined to a wheelchair.
Lucy and her husband Joseph have seven children. Eric, who is now 20, is the eldest child, followed by Queen Elizabeth 17, Linda 14, Eugene 10, Kate 8, Josephine 3, and Emmanuel is 5 months. Joseph works six days a week at a hospital where he earns about three cedi an hour. Queen Elizabeth and Linda help their mother with Eric’s needs and assist with their younger siblings. They do not attend school because they have no money for books or uniforms.
In April of this year, Elder and Sister Wood, Member Leadership Support (MLS) missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in the Ghana Kumasi Mission, visited Lucy with Sister Nafuna and Sister Peprah, who were concerned about the Ayala family. Sister Peprah was able to translate Twi to English and share the Ayala family story with Elder and Sister Wood.
Sister Wood later related, “Eric developed ‘pressure sores’ and visits the hospital frequently for treatment. He peddles 10 kilometres on his trike to the hospital. ”Because of the rough roads, Eric’s trike was badly damaged from wear and tear. The seat padding was worn down and damaged. All three wheels were different with little tread on the tires. The frame and steering column were broken. The hand-brake operated only one of the wheels.
With his engineering background, Elder Wood knew immediately that he could help. With Eric’s permission, he loaded the trike on to his truck with a promise that it would be returned just three days later.
“When we returned with the trike,” Sister Wood said, “Eric’s sisters ran to examine it and squealed in delight. Their faces beamed and they clapped their hands.” The trike looked as if it was brand-new. Eric and his mother Lucy were left speechless at this miraculous gift from Elder Wood. Then, to their further amazement, Elder Wood also took Eric’s wheelchair for the same invaluable refurbishment work, and later returned it to him in mint condition.
When Lucy was baptized in 2015, Eric wanted to be baptized along with his mother. He was advised against it because of a perceived risk of infection in his pressure sores. Although Eric was discouraged, he still felt the ‘light of the gospel’ and had hoped someday to be baptized. When Elder Wood learned of this, he consulted with the Accra Kumasi Mission President, Michael Cosgrave, who is a doctor by profession, and learned there was no reason why Eric couldn’t be baptized if well protected. He got to work figuring out a way he could make Eric’s hope for baptism become a reality.
Elder Wood devised a plan. After cleaning, preparing and securing each of Eric pressure sores, he place Eric in a pair of waterproof plastic trousers, taping his legs and waist so no water could get into the wounds. The font was covered in plastic and filled with disinfected water. One of the young Elder missionaries brought a chair for Eric to sit on while in the font, and also assisted during the immersion while Elder Wood performed the ordinance.
On June 26, 2016, Eric’s desire to be baptised a member of the Church was fulfilled. Elder Wood said, “It was a very touching moment for all who witnessed this occasion.” Since then Eric’s sisters, Linda and Queen Elizabeth, have also become members.
Thousands of senior couples, like Elder and Sister Wood, are serving as missionaries around the world. They find people to help, get to work, and in the process, teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through their love and selfless service.