The eyeglass portion of The Luke Commission attracts those with big and small eye problems. What's so exciting is that many Emaswati walk away from the mobile clinics with new sight inwardly and outwardly.
Dr. Harry VanderWal tells the crowds: "It makes us happy to see you wearing your new eyeglasses."
Harry said, "If we do not instruct them, the Emaswati will put the glasses in their pocket to keep them safe. Once they wear their eyeglasses, they figure out how wonderful they are."
It makes no difference that an old man has rhinestones on the corners of his glasses or that a 16-year-old boy has prescription glasses that look like cat eyes.
"I can see that blade of grass," exclaimed the elderly man. "No more living in the shadows," the youth grinned.
"Receiving a pair of eyeglasses is a picture of salvation," Echo noted.
Yes, the blinders are being removed as hundreds watch The Passion, shown once or twice at every clinic, and pray to receive Jesus. Both the eyeglasses and Jesus are free to the recipients but costly to the givers.
Harry and Echo also have asked tribal leaders to help coordinate the bush clinics in their own areas. The response has been marvelous. One pastor coordinator offered to translate The Passion into SiSwati. "I heard about the film but never thought I'd get to see it," he said. "A revival started in me today!"
A retired university professor who assisted The Luke Commission all day and well into one night said, "We Emaswati do not help each other much. You're showing us how to do that. We will meet together in the days to come and discuss what has happened here today."
Meanwhile, God is expanding The Luke Commission's sight ministry. The growing inventory of more than 15,000 prescription eyeglasses, not to mention thousands of reading glasses, is much for which to be thankful.
"But we never knew what to do with people with cataracts," Echo said. "Now we do."
One morning at a clinic three hours from home base in Manzini, an elderly Liswati stood quietly in the medical line. "While cutting the bush for firewood, he stabbed his eye on a thorn," Harry explained. "It was infected and we knew he needed surgery for the traumatic cataract."
The VanderWals took Mkulu (Grandpa in SiSwati) back to the city "not sure how God was going to solve this problem." Echo drove Mkhulu to a faraway eye clinic. There she met Dr. Pons who works with Christian Blind Mission.
"It's a perfect match," Echo said. "Now when we find someone who needs cataract surgery, Dr. Pons' assistant drives out to the bush, takes the patient to the eye clinic for surgery, and returns him home in two days."
Already, several cataract patients have regained their sight, and a 7-year-old girl who has not seen since birth has been restored to her family with perfect vision.
This week at one clinic where 521 medical patients were treated, 268 eyeglasses fitted, and 86 tested for HIV, a mother stood at the end o the eyeglass line, holding the hands of three blind children. Each had cataracts.
"I shouted for joy when I looked at their eyes," Echo said. "I knew God had given the solution, and He would be glorified."
"I want to learn to read," shyly said the 8-year-old girl. "I want to see to play," bubbled her 6-year-old sister. The 2-year-old boy just stared dully in the direction of Echo's voice. But he'll understand it better by and by... for each child will be operated on March 7 free of charge.
Speaking of assistants, Luke at age 6 is becoming his mother's assistant in the medical line. "Luke helps me by handing me supplies and instruments from our medical box. His hands can be clean, but when I touch patients mine are not," Echo said.
In closing, here's Luke's analysis: "We see lots of hurt people with bad injuries. The baddest one was a woman with a hole in her neck. She went to the witchdoctor first. After my mom cleaned out the dirt, it looked okay. That hole was still big."
Our God is bigger, of course, and the "baddest" is overcome with His power and blessing upon The Luke Commission. As you pray, we'll gladly record the miracles He allows us to see and hear.
Thankfully, Janet Tuinstra for Harry, Echo, and the boys