‘Illuminating hope’: how one ordinary couple is saving lives one ultrasound at a time
TACOMA, Washington, June 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ultrasound machines can really change hearts when placed in the right hands. No one knows this better than Diego and Kimberly Wendt. Eight years ago while on a military deployment overseas a colleague asked the Catholic married couple what they were “doing about the issue of abortion”.
“We give money to the local crisis pregnancy center and we vote for pro-life politicians,” Diego remembers telling his colleague.
“Yes,” the colleague responded, “but what are you personally doing about abortion?” The question weighed on Diego and Kim, even after returning from deployment.
Military training had taught Diego, an air force pilot by trade, that battles are won by strategy and effective action. He learned that in any battle, you first have to know what you are fighting for. The Wendts realized that ‘doing something about abortion’ could only mean personally fighting for the lives of unborn babies.
Pro-life political activity did not appeal to Diego and his wife as they wanted to do something that would make an immediate difference for the unborn. Picketing abortion clinics also did not appeal to them since they wanted to help a pregnant mother somehow connect to the life she carried within.
It was then that the Wendts stumbled across information about ultrasound technology. They learned that when a pregnant mother sees images of her baby in a positive environment that is both friendly and supportive, a huge number of them choose life. They also learned that just one ultrasound machine, in the course of its expected 10 year lifespan in a pregnancy center, will result in at least 2,000 choices for life.
The Wendts now knew what they were going to do about abortion.
Diego called a local crisis pregnancy center to ascertain just how much an ultrasound machine costs. “At the time, it looked to me like a laptop computer and a mouse that you rub over a woman’s tummy. So, I guessed maybe four or five thousand dollars.”
The couple was shocked to discover that the real cost of an ultrasound machine was 10 times more than they had anticipated.
“We realized that much more was needed than our own personal contribution,” he said. “Our mission was now to get people involved in raising money for purchasing ultrasound machines for pregnancy centers.”
To get people involved in their mission, the Wendts founded 4US in 2005, a local all-volunteer charity to raise funds for purchasing ultrasound machines for pregnancy centers. “4US stands for ‘For UltraSound’, but it also stands for the mother and her baby,” Diego said.
In its beginning years, 4US hosted charity events to raise money by means of outdoor activities that included a Ride4US, a Run4US, and a Walk4US. A motorcycle rally, music festival, and children-oriented events were later added.
In March, 2007, Diego and Kim were thrilled to deliver the first ultrasound machine to Care Net of Pierce County, Washington, a pregnancy center that provided entirely free services to their clients.
Diego explained the “beautiful way” in which Care Net centers help pregnant women.
He said that many pregnant women entering a pregnancy center feel like abortion is the “only way” out of a difficult situation. It is common for women in this situation to lack psychological support. They also may lack social support from a husband or a boyfriend and might even suffer alienation from their family. They may lack economic support. Many of them, he said, are absolutely terrified at the prospect of raising a child as a single mother.
“A woman walks into that center believing that she really has ‘no choice,’” Diego pointed out. “She feels like ‘it’s all about me. How am I going to get out of this?’”
He explained that this is where Care Net pregnancy centers do their “most important work” to help women.
They work to “eliminate fear”.
“They don’t judge the woman. They love her. They ask her what her needs are. Then they ask her if she would like to see an ultrasound of her baby,” he said.
“What is amazing is that the moment when that woman connects with her baby through the ultrasound — seeing the little tiny fingers, the tiny toes, and the beating heart — her attitude changes from ‘how am I going to get out of this’ to ‘we are going to get through this together.’”
The strategy is simple, Diego explained: “The pregnancy centers eliminate fear, the ultrasound machines illuminate hope. The ultrasound connects the woman to the life within her. Seeing the image of her baby gives her the freedom to love.”
4US not only delivers state-of-the-art ultrasound machines to pregnancy centers, but they also provide funding to train two sonographers for each center. They also make sure that each machine is hooked-up to a large 24-inch monitor.
“The extra screen is not for the mother, who can see her baby perfectly well on the ultrasound screen,” Diego explained. “It’s for the boyfriend or unsupportive family member who is looking-on with his arms crossed.”
Diego related one story that highlights just how effectively the large screen can change a heart. He said that a pregnant woman’s boyfriend once stood in a pregnancy center apprehensively watching the large screen. Suddenly, the image of the nine-week old baby started bouncing up and down on the screen.
“Oh my goodness, what’s wrong,” the young man exclaimed.
“Nothing’s wrong,” the sonographer explained. “Your baby just has hiccups.”
“Oh wow!” replied the boyfriend. “My mom said that I had hiccups all the time when she was carrying me.”
“That was the moment,” said Diego, “when the whole situation went from ‘about him’ to ‘about us.’”
Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle hailed the work of 4US as “praiseworthy” for bringing to life a passage of scripture that affirms God’s love for unborn babies.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you,” quoted the archbishop from the ancient prophet Jeremiah in a April 2012 letter that endorsed the charitable organization.
“We often see in this passage and reflect on how much God loves us each as individuals and that He created us unique and special in His divine plan for the world,” wrote the archbishop.
“This is a beautiful reality of our faith” he continued, “that underscores the profound dignity of each person and in a particular way calls us to have concerns for those who are yet unborn.”
Sartain went on to praise ultrasound technology for allowing parents to “literally ‘see’ their children in new ways and as a result are falling ever deeper in love with them.”
To help more mothers and fathers fall in love with their unborn children, Diego and Kim are eager to place an ultrasound machine in every pregnancy center, not only in their home state of Washington, but across the country.
Diego pointed out that Care Net’s 1,200 centers across the United States administer to an astounding 350,000 women each year. But because of the prohibitive cost of purchasing and operating an ultrasound machine, less than 400 centers have one.
But this does not discourage the Wendts. It makes them more determined than ever to spread their mission on a national level. They believe that as long as they do their part, God will do the rest. “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called,” Diego often reminds himself.
And God appears to have faithfully equipped the called. In the last seven years 4US has delivered 20 new ultrasound machines and provided staff-training to Pregnancy Centers throughout Washington state. In the lifespan of these machines collectively, as many as 40,000 women will choose life because they were given the opportunity to connect with the hidden life of their baby in the womb.
Kim and Diego are no longer troubled over the question concerning what they are doing about abortion. For them, the answer is simple: “We’re illuminating hope through ultrasounds so that mothers and children will know the joy of life.”
Note: Material for this article was taken from a LifeSiteNews interview with Diego Wendt, founder of 4US and from material published on the 4US website.
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