22941_000_016The wheelchair doesn’t hold Dusti back. It just helps her move forward to serve others.
At first glance, Dusti Bills appears to be an average, confident 19-year-old who loves animals and Chinese food. You’d never suspect that she wasn’t expected to walk. Or that she didn’t cry until she was one. Or that she didn’t talk until she was three. Or that she has a disability that leaves her in almost constant pain.
Dusti was born with cerebral palsy, but she doesn’t let that stop her from doing the things she enjoys. And one thing Dusti loves is serving others.
Service is something Dusti, a member of the Riverton Utah First Ward, strongly believes in. When her brother was on his mission in Peru, he mentioned in one of his letters that some of the newly baptized members lacked appropriate clothing to wear to church. Dusti decided to help.
For one of her Value Projects, Dusti asked her friends to donate dresses that the Peruvian Saints could wear to church. When others found out what she was doing, clothing of all kinds began pouring in to the Bills’s home. After collecting and sorting, Dusti filled several suitcases to take with her family when they traveled to Peru to pick up her brother. The bags were crammed with everything from white baptismal clothes to suits for potential missionaries.
Dusti’s help didn’t stop there. Her new wheelchair had arrived a few days before she left Utah, so Dusti was more than willing to leave her old chair at the mission home in Lima. It would go to a woman who recently had a stroke and was no longer able to walk.
“I was just glad someone who needed it got to use it,” Dusti says.
Along with finding grateful Saints who were thrilled with their new clothes, Dusti found a little bit of herself, too.
“You could tell that the members were humble and they really believed in the Church and Jesus Christ. That made me think, I do know that the Church is the right one,” says Dusti. “I believe that Jesus Christ has a plan for everybody.”
Apparently Dusti thinks a big part of her plan includes service, as it is often the basis of what she does. For another Value Project, Dusti made arrangements for her ward’s Young Women group to volunteer at an elementary school for severely disabled children. Dusti had already spent countless hours there as a volunteer, and she wanted her friends to have the experience as well. Dusti feels a special connection with the children she works with, and is sensitive and understanding of their needs.
“I know the children are smart, and they’re thinking of stuff. They just can’t tell people,” Dusti explains.
Dusti’s first thought is to serve, but when she’s not organizing clothing drives or working with disabled preschoolers, she likes playing with her dog, Puck, and her bird, Kiwi. She also has two horses, two cats, a hamster, and a goat. She enjoys acting and playing bass clarinet, and she places high priority on getting things done.
Yet in the background, the surgeries, operations, and medication are a very real part of Dusti’s life. She tries hard to maintain a positive attitude.
Dusti remembers a time when she was 13 and came to terms with her condition. “I thought, Why am I in so much pain? Why does this have to happen to me? I just thought that it was part of the plan for me, and that I am going to know why some day.”
Dusti may not know now why she has to attend therapy sessions every week, or why she can’t go to the mall without her wheelchair. But she does know God has a plan for her life, and she knows that serving others is what brings her true happiness. She lives a life full of faith, determination, and service. And that’s anything but average.
If you want to help provide clothing for those in need, you are encouraged to contribute to Deseret Industries where available or to other established relief agencies in your community. Much of the clothing donated to Deseret Industries is sent by Church Humanitarian Service to needy people worldwide.