Tag 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.

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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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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.

Even without receiving my birthday gift, I still thank the Lord

I had been expecting much for my 57th Birthday on 27th of May last year. Having been under medication due to vulnerable health condition for more than a year, I had high hopes of receiving my long requested gift from God – full recovery on my birthday. Such expectation was not without basis. Conditions were favorable for its realization. There was considerable progress no matter how slow. I have been faithful to medication, except on occasional drained resources. Religiously I watched my diet, doing regular daily walking exercise and other health-related activities with few light lapses.

What more, my inner self was subdued to wait patiently to the Lord. Negative thoughts have been controllable, other mental baggage and emotions unloaded, liberally forgiving even the seemingly unforgivable. Like a student trying hard to maintain the passing grades until graduation, I had been expecting to get the reward on my birthday. For me, it was a fair deal.

But two weeks before the expected day, the progress was reversed. First, my computer bogged down, followed by my own body. Although not necessarily related (but who really knows?), both pointed to my vulnerability. The laptop which had been my partner through thick and thin for more than three years just turned off. Having no resources for immediate replacement of expensive part, I had to squeeze my schedule with the kids for family computer until my sister-in-law lent me her own for a particular time.

However, it did not bridge the gap, right away. Having been attached to the previous laptop, adjustment was not easy for me. All blogging drafts and ideas were stored in it. Despite the gradual transfer of necessary files to alternate computer, I could not take off in blogging and idea generation. I realized the old laptop ceased to be a mere static electronic device. It had become a personal partner which assisted me even in generating ideas and plans. It seemed to have a mind of its own, hastening the formulation of plans and project completion.

For more than a year of bout with chronic ailment, aside from the bible, the laptop had been my constant companion especially when bedridden. No matter how they wished to be always at my side during those moments, my wife and kids had to attend to work and studies related activities, respectively. But the bible and the laptop were constant companions 24/7. Hence, the significant gap with its loss.

As if to make matters worse, when I was about to adjust with an alternative computer, my body bogged down. With limited time for computer, I found another interest – gardening and yard cleaning. Hence, after 30 minutes of morning walking exercises, I extended some minutes in cultivating a plot with spade and digging canals in preparation for rainy season. The new-found diversion enhanced my sweat glands which I felt beneficial for my nerve disorder. However, one day, I might have overstretched my capacity. Subsequently, my blood pressure shot up. Thereafter, it was not stabilized until two weeks of rest.

Feeling bad about the situation, the temptation to shoot endless questions alluding to God or blame oneself dominated my thoughts. Early morning, on my birthday, I was about to start argument with God. However, flashbacks of past memories dominated my thoughts. The pictures of mother’s story concerning the circumstances of my birth played the scene, followed by my father’s image. Then my brothers and our only sister. Soon my wife, kids and significant people that have influenced my life. Until my mind was flooded with beautiful memories of the past events, and people I have worked with in development work, pastoral ministry, my colleagues in social work profession. Even those people I hurt and those who have wronged me, sans the ill feelings.

Overwhelmed by the grace of God for making me survive any storm in life, I almost cried. Subdued, I lost my argument. The only words I uttered was “sorry for my unbelief, for my doubt, for complaining, for failing to fully appreciate what you have done to me. At times, blaming you. I am sorry dear God and thank you for everything. If complete healing would please you as my birthday gift, you know very well how happy I will be. If not, I know you will give it to me in the fullness of time.”

After my prayer, the scenario had changed. I found peace and assurance that all things would work out for good in due time, no matter how long. But the story did not end there. In the afternoon of my birthday, my wife arrived from Bacolod City bringing with her a new Acer Aspire One Notebook. Her birthday gift for me. I really love it. I did not get what I wanted. Still, I thanked God for providing me my need: my wife’s gift to record and blog my faith journey.

(Article first published June 23, 2011 on Faith Journey)

Do I have to move mountains to prove my faith?

Article first published  March 22, 2011 on Faith Journey. This is first of the series of transfer of selected posts from my other blogs.

My sickness has given me sufficient time to rest, pray, meditate, read the bible, reflect and write. All the wonderful experiences my previous hectic schedule deprived me. Among other things, I have been grateful to God for the subsequent inner renewal taking place in my life. My faith has been strengthened every day.

During those extreme moments when I was bed ridden, the bible became my constant companion. It continues to be, providing new insights and inspiration, no matter how many times I go over the books, chapters and verses. Literally or symbolically, the scripture has provided me relief, guidance, assurance, and strength.

I cannot count the times I revisit the Gospel. So much so, at times, I find myself on the actual scene of the encounters of Jesus with harsh realities of life. It is not difficult for me to realize his frustration with established, exclusivist religious structure and leadership and the skirmishes that follow. Likewise, the consequent effect of stirring the hornet of exploitative system which takes its toll on his life and ministry. I understand the jubilation of his followers and the tensions created by the triumphant entry leading to his crucifixion. The inevitable price of advocating and standing for the way, the truth and the life. I can easily identify with his concern for the poor, the deprived, the oppressed. My social work experience and involvement in the people’s struggle during the dark years of dictatorial rule in our country make me sensitive to the situation.

Literally, I follow his teachings on forgiveness and love even the enemies. Though difficult it may be, I enjoy its soothing effect to my soul. Even his exhortation concerning worries about the cares of the world including the daily needs is feasible. Although the expected provision does not always come on time, still I continue to follow his teachings. Whereas before, skipping daily maintenance due to lack of resources made me panic. Now, I take it as part of my healing process. Of course, at times my heart complains when deprived for weeks of the medicine. But I have to assure it that all things will work together for good and wait for the provision.

Yes, I can attest that the teachings of Jesus are relevant, feasible and worthwhile. But I stumbled on some things. Foremost, is his teachings on faith as recorded in Mark 11:22-24.’’Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Its realization appears to be elusive. Many times, I try but fail. I cannot not even move my health condition into another level, no matter how I apply suggestions on the power of faith or power of mind or a combination of both. But always, I find refuge on the belief that the fullness of time will soon come. The delay is part of God’s preparation for ministry. At times, I reflect: Do I have to move mountains to prove my faith?