Suddenly I found myself lying facedown in water. I tried to lift my head to breathe, but my neck muscles did not respond. Terrified, I tried to roll over, but my arms and legs refused to move. My lungs began to take in water. On that warm summer’s day in 1991, my life changed completely.
I WAS born in the city of Szerencs and grew up in the village of Tiszaladány in the northeast of Hungary. In June 1991, some friends and I went to an unfamiliar spot on the Tisza River. Thinking that the water was deep, I dived in. It was a big mistake! I broke three vertebrae in my neck and damaged my spinal cord. My friend saw that I was not moving and carefully raised me and pulled me out before I drowned.
I remained conscious and knew that something was seriously wrong. Someone called the emergency services, and a helicopter arrived and carried me to a hospital, where doctors stabilized my spine. Later, I was transferred to the capital city, Budapest, for rehabilitation. I stayed on my back for three months. Although I was able to move my head, I had no muscle control from my shoulders down. At 20 years of age, I had become completely dependent on others. I felt so discouraged that I wanted to die.
When at last I was able to go home, my parents received training so that they could care for me. But the work was hard on them physically and emotionally, and after about a year, I descended into depression. At that point, I received professional counseling, which helped me to change the way I viewed my disability.
I also started to think more deeply about life. Does it have a purpose? Why did this tragedy happen to me? I read magazines and books in a search for answers. I also tried reading the Bible, but I found it hard to understand. So it went back on the shelf. I even had a talk with a priest, but I found his comments unsatisfying.
Then, in the spring of 1994, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses visited my father, and he asked them to speak to me. I listened as they described God’s purpose to make the earth into a paradise and to eliminate sickness and suffering. It all sounded very good, but I was skeptical. Still, I accepted two Bible study aids. After I read the books, the Witnesses offered to study the Bible with me, and I consented. They also encouraged me to pray.
I became convinced that God really does care about me
As our discussions progressed, I received answers to my many questions straight from the Bible. I also became convinced that God really does care about me. Finally, on September 13, 1997, after studying the Bible for two years, I was baptized at home in a bathtub. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
In 2007, I moved permanently to Budapest to a home for the disabled. This move has given me many opportunities to share with others the wonderful things I have learned. In good weather, I can even go outside to talk to people, thanks to a specially adapted motorized wheelchair that I steer with my chin.
With the generous financial assistance of a family in my congregation, I was also able to obtain a laptop computer that operates by tracking my head movements. This device allows me to telephone people via the Internet and write letters to householders who were away when members of my congregation called on their homes. Helping others in this way has improved my communication skills considerably and has helped me to take my mind off myself.
I am even able to attend Christian meetings. When I arrive at the Kingdom Hall, my spiritual brothers carefully carry me in my wheelchair up one floor to the meeting location. During meetings, when the audience is invited to comment, the brother sitting next to me raises his hand for me. He then holds my Bible or study aid while I make my comment.
I am in constant pain and need others to do nearly everything for me. So I still feel emotionally down at times. But I find comfort in my friendship with Jehovah God, knowing that he listens when I pour out my concerns to him. I also gain strength through daily Bible reading and from my spiritual brothers and sisters. Their friendship, emotional support, and prayers in my behalf help me to maintain mental and emotional balance.
Jehovah gave me comfort just when I needed it most. He also gave me the hope of perfect health in a new world. Hence, I yearn for the time when I can ‘walk and leap and praise him’ for his extraordinary love and kindness.