Cycles of Life: A Dream Re-Purposed

By Alice Teisan, His Wheels International

In 1992, at the age of 30, only days prior to a 1,000-mile bicycle trip, I was struck with a flu-like illness. Months later the diagnosis came, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which doctors say feels much like having AIDS. My symptoms included severe pain, a fever, post-exertional malaise, and heat intolerance.

As a nurse I knew medicine lacked answers, leaving me devastated. Unreliable health equated with the inability to continue practicing nursing. “Why me?” I depressively pondered. Does my life still have a purpose? Yes, it did. I just didn’t know it yet. I had to choose to allow God to restructure my dreams.

His Wheels International Empowers Disability Community in Developing Countries

I was still struggling eight years later, physically and emotionally crushed. I was even ready to get rid of my bicycle when a friend intervened, saying, “You can’t sell your bicycle. Selling your bicycle means you are giving up hope.” She was right! I kept my bicycle—which became a turning point in living within my limitations. I clung to Scripture, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Unexpectedly, I lost my private disability income for CFS three years later. Despondent though I was, I invited a Tanzanian couple, the Lutembekas, over for dinner one evening. That changed everything! From them I learned $100 would buy a bicycle, allowing a health care worker and others to travel from one African village to another faster than the six-hour walking time.

My bicycling passions, buried since the onset of CFS, rushed to mind as the Lutembekas shared. They were unaware that cycling was woven into the matrix of my life. By the time I was 30, I had bicycled 10,000 miles on four continents—riding “coast to coast” across America twice, around England and Scotland, in Zimbabwe, Africa, and through Israel. Afterwards God challenged me to provide $1,200 for the Lutembekas to buy bicycles in Tanzania. Due to my financial crisis I wrestled with God’s challenge. He won, but I did too.

It ignited a new life vision, His Wheels International (HWI) a not-for-profit faith-based cycling organization began in 2005. In the 11 years since, we have distributed over 1,700 bikes. In 2013, we turned our undivided attention to the research and development of a hand-pedaled three-wheeler we affectionately call a trike.

The trikes are for those with disabilities caused by landmines, polio or other birth deformities. After designing 22 trike prototypes and a manufacturing process, our mission is to share our trike building process, empowering people with disabilities through mobility in developing countries. Our designs are available as free downloads at www.hiswheels.org. As we prepare for our fourth production run, more than 100 trikes have been built and/or assembled on five continents.

When CFS struck, I wondered whether my life still had a purpose. Through HWI, I have gone further around the world than I could ever have imagined before I was stricken.

About the author:

Read the rest of the story in my memoir, Riding on Faith: Keeping Your Balance When the Wheels Fall Off, available on Amazon.

 

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