By Rachel Lawson

Sitting in Dr. Lisa LaGeorge’s office, one’s eyes are immediately drawn to a small painting above her desk. The scene pictures twelve men seated at a long white table, and the arms of the man in the middle are stretched out wide. He is beckoning the others to join him, to partake in something wonderful and magnificent.

Her office is filled with other artifacts, books and memorabilia from the more than 30 countries she’s visited. The Journals of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot is prominent, as well as a small Hun figurine standing erect on top of her bookshelf. The artifacts speak to LaGeorge’s passion for travel. But more to the point, they reflect her heart and her passion to love people.

They point to her desire for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed among the nations.

It is because of this passion and desire that LaGeorge embarked on a three-week expedition to the Mt. Everest Base Camp in Nepal between March 1-22. The team of nine Americans she joined completed the trek as a fundraiser for The Elisha Foundation (TEF), which exists to provide encouragement and refreshment to families caring for children with special needs.

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Each team member paid his/her own way and then raised $10,000 to help support TEF. The Foundation’s mission is to equip these families with an intimate faith in Christ and a love for Him.

According to the American Community Survey (ACS) there are approximately 24 million people with sensory, physical, mental and/or self-care disabilities. Of that number, approximately 2.78 million are children between the ages of 5 and 15.

The children affected with special needs are the reason LaGeorge decided to join The Elisha Foundation trek, after becoming very close with families affected with disability. LaGeorge explains how she became involved this way:

“While I was in Alaska, the family who took me under their wing had their first granddaughter, a little girl named Joy. Joy's birth was hard, and her struggle for life was harder. I watched while my friends tenderly cared for Joy, in and out of the hospital, fighting feeding tubes, cleaning breathing every 15 minutes 24 hours a day. I watched as they held her, sang to her, prayed for her, and I grew to love her, not just because I loved her parents, but because she reminded me that her heavenly Father doesn't waste any pain or sorrow. Her life was not a mistake, her physical problems not a defect, and all who knew her and cared for her were able to thank the Lord for His abundant goodness. She lived just 2 and 1/2 years before the Lord took her home, and none of us will ever be the same after we met Joy.”

This little girl named Joy, along with other children with disability have come to share a special place in LaGeorge’s heart. Elisha, a 15-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome whom the foundation is named after, made the trek along with the others. His presence made the journey even more special, just as LaGeorge expected it would.

“I am looking forward to the bond of a shared experience like this, and the sense of community that comes when believers gather together for a common cause,” LaGeorge said before the trip.

LaGeorge also spent time in the capital city of Kathmandu, ministering to orphans and widows before starting the trek. She was also able to meet with fellow colleagues and missionaries and arrange Global Outreach trips for coming summers.

Even before she left, LaGeorge understood that the challenge would be grueling mentally and physically, which is why she started training in August.

“I am already seeing how the Lord is enabling me to push myself beyond what I thought capable, and I’m sure there will be more of that once we start the trek,” she said last month.

LaGeorge and her team made the ascent because they desired to make much of God and His greatness. She desired families with disabled and special needs children to know that even though they may feel as if they are climbing Mt. Everest on a hard day, our God is far bigger than the largest mountain on earth.

Upon her return, she has not hesitated to claim that the trip was a success.

Rachel Lawson is a TMC communications major.