Mission Trip Reflections: It’s the Little Things that Matter

I lost both of my parents in my early 20s – my father to complications from type 1 diabetes, then my mother to metastatic colon cancer. The process of being a family caregiver motivated me to help other families in similarly difficult situations.

Shortly after I lost my mother, I decided to go to school and pursue a degree in health science. I joined Right at Home in Bellingham, Washington after my graduation. As the Care Services Administrator, I perform intakes and initial consultation, answer calls, supervise client’s care, and occasionally take caregiving shifts when needed.

Delivering a Gift of Mobility in Ecuador with Free Wheelchair Mission

Earlier this year, my boss Steve asked if I wanted to take his place to go on a vision trip with the Free Wheelchair Mission. I said yes and in the fall of 2019, I joined nine other members of Right at Home to deliver wheelchairs in Ecuador.

We met the recipients at a gymnasium on the second day of our trip. A woman brought her mom who is living with severe dementia there. The older woman was very nervous. She had not been out of her house for years and was very scared about getting into a new wheelchair.

I locked eyes with this older woman from across the room. I went up to her and got down to her level, and she immediately grabbed my hand. Although we did not speak the same language, we both appreciated each other and the connection (we shared) at that moment just went further than words.

free wheelchair mission rob kraus hands

Moments that Build Trust

The few moments I spent with this woman really broke down my fears about being in a foreign place where I didn’t understand the language or culture – and I think our connection helped break down her fears of being in an unfamiliar situation, as well.

We formed an unspoken bond and were able to connect on a level that did not require words. When she grabbed my hand, I knew that she was putting her full trust in our team to help her. It was a powerful moment.

What I experienced through this vision trip put me in the shoes of our caregivers. Caregivers go to people’s homes where they do not always know what to expect. Because of this new perspective, I will seek to help caregivers even more.

We always talk about improving the lives of those we serve. This vision trip inspired me to realize that the little things you do can also improve someone’s quality of life. It does not have to be something big. Just take a moment to help someone make a memory or share a moment with that person.


*This story has been republished in a Free Wheelchair Mission newsletter, as well.

Rob Kraus
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