Walking on her hands and knees meant 18-year old Katrina Riklong took a long time to reach . . . well . . . everywhere! And as you can imagine, it was physically tiring trying to get from place to place.
Unlike some of the dryer atolls in the Marshall Islands (there’s 29 in all), Majuro receives abundant rainfall – as much as 30-38 cm every month. It is one of the southernmost atolls and this flat piece of land with beach sand everywhere, is only 3 meters above sea level at its highest point. The water can’t ‘run-off’, so huge rain puddles remain outside homes and business operations and can take days to evaporate. The islanders often struggle with all the water and wet sand.
Too frequently the puddles don’t get a chance to dissipate before another downpour adds to the problem.
But God knows all the lilies in His valley, and He is aware of His daughter, Katrina Riklong. Katrina was born with a physical disability; her legs are completely without feeling from the knees down.
Over the years Katrina has needed several surgeries to help her body function better. And—although life has been tough for the young Marshallese woman with her beautiful smile, soft voice and gentle heart, Katrina acknowledges her life has been especially blessed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On the 1st August 2019, Katrina received a new wheelchair from the humanitarian department of the Church.
Receiving a wheelchair is a big deal – the people who assemble the chairs must make sure it is properly fitted for each individual. For example, no more space than the size of a horizontal hand should be on either side of the chair owner – this helps to prevent body sores forming; and the height of the chair needs to be correct, etc.
Even before she received her wheelchair, Katrina was never one for just sitting at home with her aunty, who she lives with. However, Katrina said she’s so grateful for the independence the wheelchair offers her, and it is one of many great blessings she’s received since joining the Church in July 2018. Some of her most treasured blessings also include:
- Knowing that she is a daughter of God
- Knowing that her Heavenly Father loves her perfectly
- Having her prayers heard and answered, and
- Having more friends now – ones who come to her home and visit her.
Katrina is a pioneer in her family; she is the only person in her family to join the Church . . . so far.
Last year, a special vehicle collected Katrina to take her to school – she loves to learn. She also had the opportunity to attend seminary classes.
When I asked Katrina what she’d like to do when she graduates from high school, she said she wants “to be a sister missionary and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”