Brief Bio

My photo
Quezon City, Metro-Manila, Philippines
I am a runner, pastor, sociologist, teacher, and missionary. After living in Chicago for 6 years, I discerned a call to go to Manila, Philippines to live and work among the urban poor, and combine my passions for ministry, running, and the oppressed. After serving in the Philippines in 2012 and 2013, I returned to the United States for two years to finish my dissertation, get ordained, spend time with my family, and work at a neighborhood center in Kansas City. Since then, I have been working in the Philippines with Companion With the Poor as a missionary. Each day I look forward to how God will direct my steps as I live into His work of restoring a broken world.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Manila Monthly: Learning to Pick Ourselves Up

August 14, 2017

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 
- Philippians 4:7

Alfred Pennyworth: Took quite a fall, didn’t we, Master Bruce?

Thomas Wayne: And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

As most of you know by now, I too had a fall nearly four months ago. But instead of falling into an old well with bats, I fell down a mountain with sharp rocks and a semi-dried up waterfall. This fall resulted in a crushed fracture in my heel, a burst fracture in my L1 vertebrae, and numerous cuts and scrapes.

I've written about much of my journey on Facebook, so I won't repeat myself here, but I want to use this Manila Monthly update to highlight and thank the people who have been significant in my recovery up to this point (I still have a good 1-3 months of intentional recovery with physical therapy and then likely another 1-2 years after that of building back strength and stability).

Companion With the Poor

The first group of people, who, along with my family, were the first responders to my accident, was my mission community, Companion With the Poor. During my first month in the hospital, and then two weeks at a house in the Philippines, this community provided constant support and encouragement when I needed it most. In fact, the group of 40+ missionaries organized it so that at all times (24/7) for these first six weeks, I had two Companion missionaries at my bedside ready to help with anything I needed. Though I have nothing to compare this experience with, I can’t imagine those same six weeks without these constant companions!

With Companion Missionaries 
at our office in Metro-Manila.

Family and Friends

The second group that have been with me throughout the last few months are my family and friends. As the story goes, my mom, after hearing that my injury was pretty serious, bought a ticket and boarded a plane nearly 24 hours after hearing about my accident (my dad would have joined her too if it weren’t for a procedure he had the day of my fall that prevented him from traveling for a few weeks). After my mom came for a few weeks, my dad replaced her for a few weeks, making my first month much more bearable and getting me through the toughest weeks of recovery. Not too long after I arrived in Manila (after a 10-hour ambulance ride to the hospital), other friends and family from all over the world began writing, sending financial support, and even visiting me at the hospital. Though it has taken me a few months to begin feeling like myself again, it has been all of this support that has kept me moving forward, even if ever so slowly, in my recovery during what are arguably some of the most difficult months of my life.

My parents visiting me at the hospital
during my first month of recovery.

Medical Professionals and Physical Therapists

A third group of people that have helped me over the last few months are all of the medical professionals that have attended to me throughout my hospital stays and checkups, and more recently my two physical therapists. The Filipino staff at St. Luke’s hospital, the hospital that I stayed for 31 days, was amazing from the day I was dropped off in the ambulance until the day that I was wheeled out in a wheelchair. Were it not for their expertise in surgery, bedside assistance, and pharmaceutical knowledge, there is probably a good chance I would have lost my right leg, and may not be alive today. Beyond my Filipino doctors and nurses, my American medical team has been just as helpful and effective. I really owe the most to my two physical therapists (one land and one pool) who have each devoted 1-2 hours a week to my recovery, and doubled as my counselors as they have been just as effective at encouraging me mentally and emotionally as they have physically. If you could only take a snapshot of my attitude from the first day I walked into my first appointment, and another one now, you would be amazed!

Re-learning how to walk at a Physical
Therapy session in Chatham, Illinois.

Christian Community

Finally, I have to give all the credit and honor to Jesus, and His Body, the church, for continuing to pray for me and get me through these last few months. My mom can attest that God’s presence was very real during my first month in the hospital, and His presence rode back with me in the airplane to the States and has been with me here too. Because God chooses to work through local health providers, family and friends, and our Companion missionaries, it may be hard to see every place the Lord stepped in to help, but I believe 100% that my last four months are a testimony to God’s love and mercy, and miracles. I am grateful to be part of this community both for the opportunity to be a blessing, and for the blessing it has been to me!

Fellowship dinner with
missionaries in Manila.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead to the next few months, I have decided to stay in the States at least until November, in order to finish this season of recovery, and be able to go back as physically, spiritually, and emotionally strong as possible. Though my tendency is to get back as soon as possible, I have learned that the race doesn’t always go to the swift, but rather to the one who listens to his or her many advisers, and takes his or her time. As many have said, my recovery is not as much a sprint as it is a marathon. The best advice I got was from a missionary working in Myanmar, who experienced his own 4-6 month recovery in the US from a motorcycle accident while in the field. He said that if I don’t take this season of recovery serious and I try to return to Manila early, I won’t have as much to offer when I get back and I may never be able to recover as fully as if I took advantage of this time immediately following my injury. So, I am determined to be patient, focus on my recovery, and look forward to being back in Manila in as close to full strength as possible.

Over the next few months I plan to attend a few conferences, spend 2-3 days a week doing work for Companion With the Poor in a local office space provided for me, and spend a few hours every day doing things related to my recovery and physical therapy. Of course, I plan to enjoy time with my family and friends, and even things that I miss while I’m in the Philippines, like watching the Cubs, playing with my nieces, and enjoying the great Midwest as much as possible.

Thanks again for all your support and I appreciate your prayers over the coming months as I continue to recover and prepare myself (physically, spiritually, and emotionally) for heading back to the Philippines!

No comments: