Category Archives: Healing

An inspiring journey

It’s already one month since my discharge from the hospital due to intense abdominal pain. I was supposed to undergo gallbladder surgery based on the ultra sound result. Since there was a cyst in the tail end of pancreas, my doctor recommended CT scan in order  to be included  in the operation should there be a mass. However, result of the CT scan revealed no gallstones, only sludge and the mass measuring 5 x 4 cm is found in the pancreatic head not tail with nodules and cysts in liver and intestine.

sickOther findings were atherosclerotic aorta, prostatomegaly and hypertrophic degenerative osteoarthritis, lumbar spine. The doctor tried to make us understand these medical terms with the advise for exploratory laparotomy – a diagnostic surgery also to determine if the mass is malignant and the recommendation for subsequent chemotherapy. After discussing pros and cons and the possible costs, I decided to go home to rest for awhile as I already feel drained in all aspects after 5 day stay in hospital. Had it not been for social worker friends and masteral students who volunteered to facilitate with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the City Congressman’s office for some assistance, my family would have incurred again debt for my hospitalization and laboratories. Gifts from colleagues in the academe, pastors, social work masteral students,classmate in high school and townmates plus contribution from my siblings and my wife’s family have also helped us in cashing out for the bills.Some well meaning friends and colleagues continue to send gifts which we appreciate.

family

Yes, finances affected my decision. After weighing all things including the worst i.e. my case is terminal and days are already numbered. I have said to myself, if ever I die, I would no longer burden my family for the debts to be incurred for the chemotherapy. Our experience in 2009, when I was seriously ill forcing us to loan from various sources, is more than enough. I cannot bear the thought of my family especially the children to suffer deprivation again because of me. Relatively, my wife and I have already lived our lives. But our kids are just starting to live their own lives. And they have their struggles, too. I consoled myself with the thought that in 1975-1976 during my first critical condition, I bargained to God for only one year to live so that I could serve him well since I was still in the seminary and too young to die. Indeed, upon recovery right after graduation I worked full time in a church, giving my all, thinking for only one year. And God has extended it for over 30 years already.

Of course, like any other human being, I wish to live longer because I have many unfinished tasks yet. I still want to see my children finished their respective courses and establish their family. I want to put in place the distance education program of the department before my retirement. And to publish the dream book– consolidation of our life’s experiences in life highlighting God’s faithfulness, mercy and grace in transforming my life into a productive one. How God has helped me survived more than 3 serious illnesses , accidents and threats to my life and security especially when I joined the people’s struggle during the dark years of dictatorial rule in the Philippines. And probably write other inspirational books and references that can be used in the academe and ministry.

Untitled

Thus my one month journey is a mixture of ambivalence greatly affected by my health condition. When I feel good my spirit is high, contented with my decision. But when the abdominal pain/inconvenience recurs, I am tempted to reconsider my decision. More so, when I read the Discharge Summary  indicating in the Final Diagnosis: Advanced intraabdominal malignancy; Etiology undetermined. I tried to search the web on pancreatic disease, cyst, or cancer and alternative medicines and their consequences. I started using some of those herbs/vegetables that are familiar to me like the turmeric, ginger, lemon grass, babana. Until a friend, whom I helped formulated the vision-mission-goals of his Dreamers Valley some years, invited me in one thanksgiving of the success of his ministry.

dreameRS.

The place has been wonderfully developed,  according to the brochure I made for him. It can accommodate now 300 participants for seminar using organic products for food. He let me try his fermented 3 C composed of carrots, cucumber and celery which are believed to kill cancer cells. These are my natural resources in faith journey, taken daily with faith and prayers that they come from God and the power of God works through them, at times trying imagery as culled from the testimony of some survivors. Of course, with the hundreds prayer partners who signified their commitment to join me in prayers for healing. Yes, throughout the month’s journey, I internalized the acrostics I used in my sermon on THANKSgiving.

Prayer

So far, my faith journey works well and has been inspiring. Except for some days of inconveniences, especially when I consumed sea foods and weeds for my viand for consecutive days, the intensity of abdominal pain did not occur. I become cautious with my food intake. Admittedly, I do not know the real happening inside my body –whether medically the situation has minimized or worsened, whether the mass is malignant or not, whether the cancer cells were eliminated or compounded. But deep within me is a peace of mind, a healthy disposition, an undying hope and faith that I will survive, a resolve that whatever happens, I will continue to internalize THANKS: Trust God, Hope that never ends, Accept realities, Never give up, Keep the faith and Shift the focus. I discipline my self to look for good things my illness or each day brings rather than entertaining pain, suffering, fear and negative thoughts. The journey goes on. Hope you will continue to be our prayer partner in this journey towards healing.

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Let your tears flow

Guest blog post by Arlyn Liling Tagakapis*

Let your tears flow,
Why be ashamed of them?
They are not signs of weaknesses, but power;
Allow that salty water to stream down your cheek.
Stick out your tongue and lick that bitter taste of salt that fell into your lips.
It’s the mark of your oneness with the oceans and seas.

Let your tears flow,
Why do you have to wipe them off with paper or cloth?
Allow the wind and the sun to dry your face;
The storm is not your enemy.
They must exist to keep the planet earth alive.
Let all the elements of the earth to work with you as you re-build your lives – restoring your hopes and dreams with your loved ones.

Let your tears flow,
Why so anxious of having a “clean” face?
Let tears collect into your palm and draw stain at the cloth that covers your body;
Then, open your arms and fly; and plunge into the water.
The rivers must know of your own story, loud and clear.
Let your tears flow,
Why be afraid of your vulnerabilities?
They tell you that you are human; embrace your pain and perplexities; they are holy:
Your tears of uncertainty remind you that you belong to a family, relatives, friends, and neighbors and the world.

Let your tears flow,
Why hide them with a smile?
Do you know that mermaids don’t cry and so the most unhappy specie on earth?
Have you had a chance to see mermaid? I hadn’t either.
And we fret over so many things we don’t know about?
Take things one at a time… moment by moment.

Let your tears flow,
Why fear to be blinded by tears?
Your tears are rain upon the blinding dust of the earth that hardens your soul.
As tears cover the eyes, it uncovers the heart.
And, in this blindness, prepares the way for a different kind of seeing: sight through the “eyes of faith.”

_________________

*Arlyn is a US based friend and partner in volunteerism and advocacy for change and development. A versatile fellow, she wrote this poem in solidarity with all the people in the Philippines who face harsh realities and must re-build their dreams around the “catastrophic damage” left by the strongest ever tropical cyclone (dubbed in the country as Yolanda, internationally known as Haiyan) that made a series of landfall in the Island.

Is experience still the best teacher?

Since time immemorial, experience has been acclaimed as the best teacher. Nobody dares argue. Not until somebody claims, it is the worst. I don’t want to join the debate because I already found the best teacher, i.e. life itself. A timeless, tireless, relentless and irresistible teacher, as well. Giving me lessons, despite my unwillingness to learn.

The year 2009 will long be forgotten by my family as it marks my 55th birthday. At the peak of service, I felt relatively stable and fulfilled in my achievements. The ups and downs of life’s experiences have increased my knowledge and honed my skills in living and serving. Unsophisticated, my direction was to receive less and give more. Beaming with confidence I have learned much from life, my motivation was to teach and share with others the riches of knowledge and experiences in service.

At that time, my successful leadership as national president of the Baptist pastors affiliated with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches was wrapping up. Five years earlier, I was awarded as one of the ten outstanding social workers of the Philippines. I could not have asked for more except longer life to continue my service. And to consolidate my life’s experiences and service into a dream book/publication on spirituality for future references.

All of the sudden, the ecstasy was shattered by a chronic heart ailment, compounded with unusual nerve disorder in the last quarter of the aforementioned year. A matter of three months away from our national assembly to cap my six years of service and leadership. It was a devastating experience for me and my family. The worst we ever encountered so far. Such condition has constrained my active life of service. Adding pain was the realization that we have given all in service without saving for ourselves in times of crisis.

Since then, most of my time has been spent at home due to limited mobility, making me vulnerable to discouragement and depression. This condition goes on for more than a year. An on-going wrestle with the nagging issues of pain and suffering and search for the meaning of all these experiences in life. Still, I manage (should I say, force) to maintain my teaching employment, after 8 months of sick leave.

The healing process has been very slow with intervals of critical interlude due to heat and humidity or every time I overstretch my limits. During lucid times, I almost forget my condition, especially when missing my traditional diversion at home –carpentry, gardening and yard cleaning. Hence, I end up either with strained heart or hypertensive condition which require more medication and time to recover. It is here where experience is no longer best teacher.

However, my attitude has dramatically changed. Instead of lingering on endless questions and debates, alluding to God or blaming self and circumstances, I take everything as part of the process. Assured that sooner or later, I will learn lessons and find the meaning to any circumstance in life. For, indeed, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” He will never allow all of life – experiences, pains and gains, sorrows and joys in service, and more to come to naught. For after all, He is with us now and in eternity. Reflecting on the totality of life – both here and thereafter, I have discovered the real best teacher. LIFE itself.

_______________________

The article was posted two years ago on my PADAYON  blog. I decided to repost it today because of its relevance.

2012 in review: An inspiring development

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

From therapy to ministry: The wonders of blogging

Almost two years ago, I started my first blog, courtesy of a  pastor friend, Jonan Castillon.  He encouraged me to blog as part of my healing process. I was at the peak of leadership and  service  when attacked by chronic heart ailment, compounded by unusual nerve disorder. Such condition had constrained my active life of service. Most of my time was spent at home due to limited mobility, making me vulnerable to discouragement and depression.

Pastor Jonan’s  successful journey in on line niche was contagious that despite my skepticism, I  entertained the idea. However, I did not know how to start. Thus, despite his hectic schedule, Pastor Jonan took time to tutor me hands on blogging. Thereafter, I  experienced the gradual process of growth comparable to my healing process.

PadayonDubbed PADAYON: Our Life Journey, my first journal blog was an attempt  to inspire readers to continue the commitment in service, no matter what. PADAYON is an Ilonggo term which means continue. In deeper sense, it connotes moving/going on (or never give up) despite adversaries or adversities.

Social WorkMy friend’s advice worked. I found  joy in blogging. My interest in writing was revived. Rather than fretting over my limited mobility, I made use of my time in blogging. I poured out my thoughts and emotion into the blog and found relief.  Hence, I opened another blog to ventilate my suppressed commitment to the service of the people towards development. Its first name was  Networking-for-holistic-development. Later,  I changed the name to Development concepts, issues and concerns to broaden its coverage. Recently, however, it was renamed  Social Work and Development to give it a focus.

The inspiration continued. Hence, I created a sharing blog, Faith Journey,  serving  as forum for life and faith experiences of people who have survived the test of times and circumstances. Likewise, a venue for sharing and learning from one another  so that others would also find inspiration in their faith journey.

Faith Journey

Learning and enjoying the blogging world, I decided to maximize the beauty of web linkages and networking. Hence, another blog to provide an opportunity for others to share their resources. Dubbed Resource Sharing for Development, this blog is an attempt to widen my services to humanity through linkages and networking of developmental and service-oriented blogs and bloggers.

LarizaWith four blogs to maintain, my mind had been busy. Slowly, my focus was diverted. Instead of spending most of my time observing my seemingly deteriorating condition, I was obliged to give time to my blogs. My vulnerability to depression caused by the delay in healing process started to diminish. There was a paradigm shift in my mind and heart. The delay of complete healing became an opportunity to evaluate my life and faith. I have more time for self and family. More time to read the bible, pray, meditate, reflect, put faith into action in almost all aspects of life. All the wonderful things previously deprived of me due to very hectic schedule prior to ailment.

By  creating  a family blog i.e. Lariza. Website,  I tried to consolidate all my other blogs to continue my service and ministry. Hopefully,  to give  inspiration and restoration of self-confidence for those who are devastated by harsh realities of life in various forms.

NETS

But my blogging exodus did not end there. Before the resumption of my hectic schedule, I succeeded to create three more blogs.

Both are official web sites of the organizations my ICONwife and I helped put up. NETSnews  for   an independent inter-denominational  seminary based in Escalante City, Negros Occidental.   ICON Network, official website of the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs- a network of non-government Catalyzerorganizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) in Iloilo. And CPU Catalyzer, publication of the Department of Social Work, Central Philippine University.

The development in blogging and subsequent inspiration to me has been reflective in my health condition. While I have not mastered yet all the blogging technology, I feel contented to see the progress. Likewise, although I have not fully recovered  as far as my health condition is concerned, I appreciate any progress big or small.

Padayon KatipanHowever, my hectic schedule, especially when I resumed my work,  constrained me to update all my blogs. It’s good that  Christmas break has given me time to visit my blogs, review and evaluate them. Subsequently, I have decided to give each blog a  focus or niche and transfer respective posts to where they belong.  More so, that the alarming trend in our religious organizations has inspired me to create another blog that will focus on the Convention Baptist Ministers Association and Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.  PADAYON KATIPAN  serves as reminder to  keep up the covenant, to continue the good things we have started, especially for the development of our pastors.

Henceforth, blogging will  be a ministry.

Antipodes

On the occasion of the global celebration of Earth Day on April 22, 2012, I reblog my post first published on July 7, 2011. This year’s theme is Mobilize the Earth.

God, the Supreme Being (known in various names to diverse tongues and context), gave man and woman the power to have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds on the air, and every living things that moves upon the earth.

But humanity used such power to dominate their fellow human beings.

The Creator put man and woman in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it.

But men and women plunder, pollute and waste the natural resources. To ensure their domain, they cut a tree, hanged God and built a sanctuary. Confining Him on the four walls of the church, they nailed his hands and feet so that they continue destroying the earth.

Jesus the Christ came to give assurance of eternal life to the dead.

But humans ensure the living of their death by the coverage of insurance companies bearing the religious terms like Eternal Life, Ascension, Resurrection and the like

Jesus invites the weary and heavy laden to come to him and find rest and peace.

But humanity invents destructive weapons to make their fellow humans quickly rest in peace.

Jesus exhorts his followers to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, invite strangers to their homes.

But humans find it pleasurable to visit the naked, sprinkle water and gas to the hungry, invite the thirsty to prison, sell to the strangers their homes.

As it was in the beginning men and women are fond of making reversals. No wonder Bernard Backman was inspired to write the Reverse Creation – a gloomy picture of what will happen in the end should these antipodes continue.

REVERSE CREATION
by Bernard Backman

In the end, we destroyed the heaven that was called Earth. The Earth had been beautiful until our spirit movedover it and destroyed all things.

And we said

Let there be darkness… and there was darkness. And we liked the darkness; so we called the darkness, Security.And we divided ourselves into races and religions and classes of society. And there was no morning and no evening on the seventh day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be a strong government to control us in our darkness. Let there be armies to control our bodies so thatwe may learn to kill one another neatly and efficiently in our darkness. And there was no evening and nomorning on the sixth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be rockets and bombs to kill faster and easier; let there be gas chambers and furnaces to be morethorough. And there was no evening and no morning on the fifth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be drugs and other forms of escape, for there is this constant annoyance – Reality – which is disturbingour comfort. And there was no evening and no morning on the fourth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be divisions among the nations, so that we may know who is our common enemy. And there was no evening and no morning on the third day before the end.

And finally we said…

Let us create God in our image. Let some other God compete with us. Let us say that God thinks as we think,hates as we hate, and kills as we kill. And there was no morning and no evening on the second day before the end.

On the last day, there was a great noise on the face of the Earth. Fire consumed the beautiful globe, and therewas silence. The blackened Earth now rested to worship the one true God; and God saw all that we had done,and in the silence over the smoldering ruins… God wept.

You may mobilize and share the Earth Video to join in the celebration of Earth Day

Antipodes

On the occasion of the global celebration of Earth Day on April 22, 2012, I reblog my post published on July 7, 2011. This year’s theme is Mobilize the Earth.

God, the Supreme Being (known in various names to diverse tongues and context), gave man and woman the power to have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds on the air, and every living things that moves upon the earth.

But humanity used such power to dominate their fellow human beings.

The Creator put man and woman in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it.

But men and women plunder, pollute and waste the natural resources. To ensure their domain, they cut a tree, hanged God and built a sanctuary. Confining Him on the four walls of the church, they nailed his hands and feet so that they continue destroying the earth.

Jesus the Christ came to give assurance of eternal life to the dead.

But humans ensure the living of their death by the coverage of insurance companies bearing the religious terms like Eternal Life, Ascension, Resurrection and the like

Jesus invites the weary and heavy laden to come to him and find rest and peace.

But humanity invents destructive weapons to make their fellow humans quickly rest in peace.

Jesus exhorts his followers to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, invite strangers to their homes.

But humans find it pleasurable to visit the naked, sprinkle water and gas to the hungry, invite the thirsty to prison, sell to the strangers their homes.

As it was in the beginning men and women are fond of making reversals. No wonder Bernard Backman wasinspired to write the Reverse Creation – a gloomy picture of what will happen in the end should these antipodes continue.

REVERSE CREATION
by Bernard Backman

In the end, we destroyed the heaven that was called Earth. The Earth had been beautiful until our spirit movedover it and destroyed all things.

And we said

Let there be darkness… and there was darkness. And we liked the darkness; so we called the darkness, Security.And we divided ourselves into races and religions and classes of society. And there was no morning and no evening on the seventh day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be a strong government to control us in our darkness. Let there be armies to control our bodies so thatwe may learn to kill one another neatly and efficiently in our darkness. And there was no evening and nomorning on the sixth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be rockets and bombs to kill faster and easier; let there be gas chambers and furnaces to be morethorough. And there was no evening and no morning on the fifth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be drugs and other forms of escape, for there is this constant annoyance – Reality – which is disturbingour comfort. And there was no evening and no morning on the fourth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be divisions among the nations, so that we may know who is our common enemy. And there was no evening and no morning on the third day before the end.

And finally we said…

Let us create God in our image. Let some other God compete with us. Let us say that God thinks as we think,hates as we hate, and kills as we kill. And there was no morning and no evening on the second day before the end.

On the last day, there was a great noise on the face of the Earth. Fire consumed the beautiful globe, and therewas silence. The blackened Earth now rested to worship the one true God; and God saw all that we had done,and in the silence over the smoldering ruins… God wept.

You may mobilize and share the Earth Video to join in the celebration of Earth Day