Tag Archives: Hope

Joel’s Health Update and My Musing

It is about time for an update. In the past few weeks, if you follow my Facebook, you would have seen several pictures of Joel and I inside an ambulance, at a hospital waiting room or in the emergency. Well, let me explain.

It was April 11, our 2-year wedding anniversary, that Joel was scheduled to have a cysts removal surgery in his anus. Yes. Looking back now, it seems pretty comical to have celebrated our anniversary at the hospital…talking about anesthetic and bottoms. I had thought long and hard whether this would be too much information for you, readers; but since my husband does not care, I hope you grit your teeth and read along.

Two hours passed after Joel went inside, a nurse came out and said, “You could go see Joel now.” I was greeted by this suspiciously jolly husband, who I learned later was still high from whatever drugs they gave him. It was not long, though, before the medication wore off, and the surgical pain rolled in. This was to be expected. The doctor gave instructions on what to do and discharged him. Our friend picked us up and took us home. At that moment, we both thought Joel would recover soon; that within a few days, he would be able to sit and go back to work as usual.


We play this game called “What’s your pain level?” The rule is simple. I ask, he answers. The level is scaled from 1-10. One being the lowest, barely noticeable pain; and ten being the most excruciating, I am going to die kind of pain. The first two nights, his answer was always 8-9. We rarely slept because Joel had to move around every few minutes or so. When he was awake, I was pretty much awake.


Our day at the hospital full of fancy gown and waiting around


Pizza to celebrate our 2-year anniversary? Why not?!

Anyway, three days after Joel’s surgery, I went to work as usual. Everything seemed normal. Since the Easter weekend was starting the next day, and everything would be closed, I thought I would grab a few necessary items from the shop. Just before I walked out of the house, Joel showed a sign of mild pain, but I thought it was the usual stuff. So I left, thinking whether I should buy extra ingredients to make hot cross buns over the weekend.

It was a glorious walk. I could see the sun setting over the mountains range and smell smoke coming from chimneys. I was listening and singing to the song “And Can It Be”, a powerful hymn that talks about how undeserving we are, how amazing God’s grace is and the victory that we get to share in Christ’s blood as I trudged down the hill. In no time, I was lost among the aisles. The shop was bustling with last-minute shoppers and I was just looking at gelatin when my phone rang.

“Mink, I have got a chest pain. I just called the ambulance. They are on their way,” Joel spoke shakily.

I could feel blood seep out of my face. I quickly dropped the gelatin, and ran as fast as I could back up the hill. Though it is just one kilometer away, I could not run fast enough because of its steep road and my short legs. I asked Joel to be on the phone with me so I could keep myself sane, being assured that he was still alive (I know, I am such a drama queen). I could hear him panting and drawing short shaky breath. Fear gripped my heart. When you realized that death is just only one breath away, nothing else in the world matters. Thankfully, the ambulance had arrived; and I breathed sigh of relief. The paramedic gave him some painkillers and took both of us to the hospital.


Inside the ambulance for the first time


All wired up, waiting to find out what was wrong

The results from that day showed no sign of heart disease (thank God), but the doctor suspected it could be his inflamed pancreas or gallstone. However, the result of his ultrasound around his torso revealed nothing remarkable either. So the general surgeon, whom we saw yesterday, suspected that it could be post-op side effect with some clots in his lungs.

With all that said, Joel’s current condition is improving, if ever so slowly to my liking. These two major events; the surgery and the mysterious chest pain, had thrown us some curve balls. In the past 20 days, we have been to the hospital five times, three of those were in the emergency room; paid a few visits to the GP (general practitioner); had a home doctor come over once; and purchased several pre-scripted drugs. When I was at the chemist yesterday, a staff member said, “You are only 15 points away from receiving a voucher.” Reluctantly, I replied, “I am not sure if I should be happy about this, because it means we have spent too much money on medication.” And guess what, I have to go to the chemist again…tomorrow.

Around the same time we were in and out of the hospital, three people whom we knew passed away. I was forced to deal with my fear of pain and death, which I had always tried to avoid dwelling my thoughts on. When dad died, I was only 14. The image of him writhing in agony in bed and lying still in his business suit all pale and stiff after he died have haunted me. His death left a big wound in my heart. Even after so many years, I had never been able to escape from this emergency room that smelled like death.

Strangely enough, God used the memory of a beautiful old grandma, Nan Raine, who is now with him, to help me make peace with dying. I was in her hospital room, in Tauranga, New Zealand; with a few of her direct families and my classmates. I remembered how frail she looked, yet still remained witty and kept a sense of humor. We sang to her a few songs; one of them was “Soon and Very Soon”.

As we sang “soon and very soon, we are going to see the King,” it hit me how this was becoming a reality for Nan Raine. In the midst of our tears and futile effort to hold on to her a little bit longer, the image of her taking off her “earthly body” and putting on “the heavenly body” standing before our God the King in all His glory overwhelmed me. The picture accelerated my vision past the blurry, soggy, muddled bits of life; and placed me at the foot of His throne. It is so hard to explain, but in this room with the smell of death approaching, I was released from the cage of fear I had been imprisoned in since 14 years ago. Nan Raine had managed to give me a gift of hope and a glimpse of eternity on her last day on earth. This glimpse, however small, is something I will hold on tight when my heart is filled with despair, when the day I will have to deal with grief so immense comes again.

To this day, Joel and I are thankful for our family and friends, who have been so kind to us. We have received all kinds of messages – from concerning to well-wishing to almost rebuking why we haven’t let them know what’s going on. We have also been blessed by our  church family and Canberra friend, who have given me ride to work at 5:30 in the morning, who have come by our house for a chat and brought food and treats with them. This is an amazing season in our lives. We are not quite sure why we have to go through this – the pain, the sleepless nights, the long wait at hospitals, the uncertainty, etc. But, I guess, why not? Perhaps there are other reasons, but one I know for sure – God is using this as an opportunity to refine our hearts and redefine our faith. Every moment is a chance for us to pray and to put our trust in Him.


All the goodies our friends brought us.



Someone Believes In You

this morning, feeling very down, i opened up my devotional book to the new chapter: “hope”. and i thought to myself, “i am so not in the mind to read about hope. i want to sink down into this despair, let tears wash me away in the sea of sorrow and soak into desperation. why does God have to talk about light and hope when i don’t want to hear about it now, for self-pitiness’ sake?!”

but i read on, half-heartedly. the scriptures given were in 1 peter 1:3-9:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

although convicted, i told God that i needed time to let the truth sink in – that Jesus is the TRUTH. and i needed to cast aside the feelings that don’t last to embrace the unchangeable – that God remains the same. the distance i’m feeling isn’t because He draws back. it is because of my struggle as a human.

christian’s faith is to choose to believe in the Lord no matter how we feel or whatever circumstances we are in.

my friend from church, po dah, said yesterday, “the struggles you are facing now will only help you grow and become more mature. so embrace it.”

to know that someone cares and believes in me fuels me to drive on with hope and faith despite the fact that i am in a desert.

In Any And Every Circumstance…

“i have learned in whatever state i am, to be content.” apostle paul

philippians is one of my most favorite books in the bible. every time i read it, there is encouragement. when i am down, these words uphold and assure me that i am not alone on the journey of faith. apostle paul wrote this letter while he was imprisoned in rome. i can only imagine how terrifying it must have been for him, especially with the prospect of being executed.

but his faith wasn’t shaken. he said, “in any and every circumstance, i have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. i can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (phil. 4:12-13)

as i pondered on this word, it came back to surrendering myself and yielding my will to Jesus again. if i held so much the things of this world to myself, where would be the space for the Holy Spirit?

thus, i am giving my longing to Him. in my emptiness of heart, i am letting myself open for the Spirit to fill me up…with joy, peace and hope that pass all understanding.

in any and every circumstance, the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Blood Donation

we got a phone call from taii, a father of toey, a child who is admitted into the hospital because of leukemia, this evening. toey is a 7-year-old karen boy who had a twin brother that died of the same disease a couple years ago. we don’t know how the boys got it since their parents or natural family members never have cancer.

i have visited teoy three times. i saw him first and second time in the icu and the third time in a children ward. his little body looked even more tiny when he lied on that big bed of white sheet. the last time when he was out of icu, he was so cranky and annoyed that even his parents couldn’t please him in any ways. it was understandable. a boy shouldn’t even be in the hospital at such age. he should be in school, play soccer with his friends, explore his neighborhood and enjoy life. yet…sickness is a curse that we’re all born with. it just depends on when it’s gonna happen to us.

teoy’s parents are people of faith. the first 2 weeks toey was transferred into the city hospital, they abandoned their farm work at home to be by their child’s side. being in a hospital is, honestly, tiring and depressing. and in my context, being in this hospital means waiting around in a white neon-light common area, using shared bathrooms with other patients’ relatives to clean and wash and sleeping on a wooden bench. no private room. no conveniences. they endured it because it was their  child. every time i went, they looked almost ready to collapse. but the father said to me once, “mink, i don’t know why God allowed this to happen but He has a good plan, including this too. i just have to trust Him.” then he quoted a verse from psalm…i think. you gotta see his face when he learned that his son got better. i haven’t seen any broader smile.

anyway, the phone call was to inform and ask for help. toey’s number of blood platelets got very low this morning, and his face got swollen. he is in desperate need of blood plasma. taii asked us if we could go to the hospital and donate blood, whatever type it may be because the hospital will make exchange with the “o” type later on.

when someone like this needs help, wouldn’t one respond in immediate willingness?

well, my dilemma is that to donate blood, it means i willfully allow a sharp and thick needle to go through my layers of skin and into my vein. and that…i am scared of. like many others, i have never liked shots. my 1st memory i can remember of getting  injections was when i was in g.3, in my buttock. ugh. that was painful.

this type of fear gives me a tight knot in my stomach and i feel like i can’t breathe and ready to pass out. that only comes from imagining myself in such situation. i haven’t even tried. 

the 1st time i visited teoy, i willed myself to go so far enough to fill out the blood donation form and got a blood test. but because of an hour lunch break, it got me more time to ponder on the pain…and as a result, i chickened out.

now, with desperate plea from the father, wouldn’t i at least give up a bit of my own comfort to release someone else’s pain?

tough call.

in a way, i’ve already made up my mind. i want to give blood for teoy. but fear still holds me back. i shouldn’t spend time pondering whether or not i should do it. i should just mindlessly walk into the hospital and get it over with.

yes. think of Jesus….He endured so much more…for my sake. how can i not do it to the least of these?

please pray for teoy and his parents in this time of sickness. pray that God would give them hope and strength to carry on each day by relying on His grace. pray for me that i’d be willing to offer what i can to help this family…and other staff too…that they will feel burdened to donate blood tomorrow.

Vapor In the Wind

the pouring rain that’s splashing into my balcony tonight is like sharp needles plunging at my heart.

my bag is packed with 2 sets of wrinkle shirts and skirts. ready to leave…for my friend’s funeral…

a man whom i respected and admired…

a man whose smile and playful laughter gave me comfort…

a man who used to pat me in the back and give me a hug when i failed…

a man i so looked up to as my taekwondo coach and a brother…

…passed on into the realm where he will know of no pain and sorrow…

…the place where i cannot go…

although i haven’t been in touch with him since i gave up taekwondo for almost 10 years now, he has always been a hero to me. encouraging, supportive, positive and believing in the best of the people around him, he won the trust and hearts of so many students.

there was one evening i was so upset at myself because i couldn’t play as well as i wanted to…and i felt like i failed myself, my team and my coach. as i was walking down the steps, he ran hurriedly towards me, put his arm around my shoulders and said, “hey, it was okay. you did great.” he earned a place of respect, trust and brotherly love t in my heart that night. not like many other coaches, i wasn’t scared of making mistakes. all i had to do is to commit to doing my best.

when mom broke the news to me this afternoon, i wasn’t sure i heard it right. i was like, “come again, mom?” even though it was so crystal clear that there was no other. stumbling through tears that were uncalled for, i weakly asked, “how?”.

car accident.

he loved motorbike racing as much as he loved life and God. and he died with his beloved.

the force of death scares me. it’s like…there’s that deep dark chasm…and when one falls into it…there’s no coming back. every time i hear of any death news…whoever it might be…a chunck of my heart is stripped away.

only Jesus’ love and resurrection that heal and give me hope. for i know that through death, He has gone to hell and declared to the evil power in the dark dominion that whoever is in Him and believes in Him shall not perish and suffer through eternity. instead, whoever believes in Him will have eternal life and be raised again. Jesus proclaimed life.

and that’s my hope and prayer for those who are lost. that they’ll never fall into the dark deep pit and never come back to life again.

be reminded always that we are only vapor in the wind…

Too Precious to Ignore

well, i hate to say the same thing over and over again but i’m still not rid of this deep exhaustion. i don’t know what i’ve done this past week to put myself in such state. what’s weird is that i have sufficient sleep hours, which is 8 hours a day. i went to bed at 10:30, sometimes 11, and got up at 6:30/ 7:00 for the past 4 days. but even as i’m typing this, i feel my eyelids getting heavier every second. hopefully weekend will restore me…but i doubt it.

this evening, after i packed my bag and was getting ready to bike home, i was unintentionally swept along to visit the “evening home project”, a child center under my friend’s church ministry. there were about 15-20 kids, age ranged from 3-18 years old. everyday, these children from the slum community comes to do their homework, eat dinner and learn art, languages and bible stories. the work team has been there for only a month.

the home is a narrow white building tucked among a row of dingy karaoke bars. there were at least 10 bars that i saw standing next to each other. when we were having a song/ game session, the booming sound of local music made us all jump and distracted some of our boys. as the night fell, lots of women in spaghetti straps and mini skirts with heavy make-up on were strolling the street, sitting on high stools and drinking.

this place, a dark corner in chiang-mai, a spot where drinkers, smokers and prostitutes feel comfortable being in, is the kind of environment many kids are living in. when i looked at the dim red light in one of the pubs, i wondered how the girls would get out of this cycle that would lead them into a sex trade or trap them with the concept of materialism. and the boys, who knows if they will not turn out like other men i saw…drinking, smoking pots, sneering  at the passer-bys…when there’s so much potential in them to become someone God truly created them to be.

a 10-year-old boy was asked to lead his friends in saying grace before meal. he courageously took up the invitation and prayed. a 4-year-old girl, a rebellion at heart, painstakingly followed the dots to form numbers, only in the direction she wanted to go. when i saw her doing that, i knew she’s going to become a great artist in the future. a 6-year-old boy with big brown eyes and huge smile that reveals all the white teeth in his mouth was laughing like he had no care of this world…where it needs such comfort and delight from this kind of guy.

and i breathed thanks to God. amidst the evil-infested community, an aura of hope is shining through this humble “evening home”. i could see God’s love through the tired eyes and weary limbs of all the staff/ volunteers of the home. it’s a tough call to serve the runny noses, the unhappy and stubborn minds, the disturbed and slow learners and the hot-headed bullies.

but God loves them and their life is too precious for us to ignore.