Friday, May 8, 2009

Living Abroad with God

Have you ever prayed for something that when given, it’s not what you really want? Or perhaps, you wanted the end but not the means? This unfortunate experience of mine taught me one thing and that is, "Be careful of what you asked in prayer. You might get it the hard way."

Living Abroad with God

"What cannot be changed shall be endured." This was the thought playing in my mind while waiting for the result of my blood and urine tests in that lonely chair of the surgery section. I was waiting for the decision of the doctors. I was praying that God, by His divine power, would take the pain away from my abdomen so that no serious medications shall be needed. I didn't have money, no family around; I was in a foreign land.

I was twenty-two years old. I was eager to see beyond the fence of my native land that I decided to leave my two-year-job as a Math instructor in one of the Universities in the Philippines. With earnest prayer, I went to Thailand where I heard was in need of teachers. I didn't know anyone in the country. I was a total stranger. For forty days I struggled to find a job. I was met with too many hardships, including the difficulty in communication where not many local people speak or comprehend English. But before my money was entirely finished, God gave me a job just within the capital city where I could have easy access to everything, especially the church.

However, my struggle didn't end there. Barely a month in my new job, I woke up one morning with a kick of pain in the right side of my abdomen. It was terrible. I lay still observing if it would go away. But it didn't, so I prayed. That entire day the pain grew neutral but it didn't go away. I was hoping it was nothing. The next day, Monday, I still went to school appearing everything was normal. After the second period however, at around ten o'clock in the morning, the most terrible pain erupted which I couldn't bare anymore. The owner of the school provided me a van to bring me to the hospital. Nobody accompanied me to the hospital except the driver who drove back to school right after I got off the van. I held my breath to control the pain. After some interviews, I was ushered to the surgery section where everything was checked. While waiting for the result of the tests, I was instructed not to eat or drink anything.

No exact words can explain what I felt then while hearing those words from the doctor, "treatment, surgery". Surgery was the last thing I had in mind. The doctor explained that the situation was an emergency. I was suffering from an acute appendectomy. I made a quick call to my foreign head teacher, an American, who was very nice to me. He tried to comfort me by saying it would be a quick surgery, an easy one. And before I knew it, I was on a stretcher on my way to the operating room with dextrose and anti-infection attached to my veins. I was sedated and operated. It was on the first of August 2005, at 6:30 in the evening.

I was dreaming. I heard voices from afar. I heard people talking but I couldn't understand. Then I heard my name called, "Miss Lee, wake up!" I awakened but I couldn't open my eyes. Then a terrible pain hit me. It was from that section of my abdomen. I was shouting, "Mama! Papa!” I was begging for help. But all I could felt around me were people talking in a foreign language. The pain was unbearable even though I had already a shot of morphine. It was an awful four hours before I was given another shot of painkiller. I didn't realize it then that my eyes were fixed on the wall clock, counting hours, and waiting for the mercy of painkiller. If given however, it's another horrifying thing. The dextrose was removed and the drug was injected in the needle connected to my veins. The feeling of contraction of my veins as the drug makes it way in was unforgettable. My other hand held that arm hard. But those pains were even blessings. Fifteen minutes of pain in exchange to four hours of ease free pain. Another struggle I had to face was sitting up and going down of bed to go to the toilet to pee. The muscles in the abdomen contract making the wound shouting of pain. After forty-eight hours with no food intake, I was starving. But then I had to wait for the signal of the doctors when I would be ready for fluid intake.

I was blessed with kind-hearted surgeons and nurses. They treated me well and took good care of me. They giggled every time they had to talk to me because of their English, broken and mispronounced. But they really did their best to comfort me especially if I cried. Even the low profile crews were very dear to me. They took turns in assisting me whenever I needed to go to the toilet. I stayed in the ward where I could save money. I saw other patients whose situations were even worst than me. It was then that I stopped focusing on my pain. I started looking at my co-patients who were suffering more than I did. I felt strength grew inside me and I wanted to comfort them. With small steps, and with my other hand holding the stand of my dextrose, I walked bed to bed to visit the other patients in the ward. They couldn't speak English. It was amazing making friends with them mainly through smiles, actions and warmth.

I went home on the third day. The school paid my bills first which I paid back with my salaries. I didn't get any insurance yet by then since I was still under provision. After two weeks of rest, not fully recovered but strong willed, I pushed myself to go back to work. I needed money to survive my expenses especially for my visa. I needed to go back to work as soon as possible.

I asked God why He allowed me to suffer that much in the very early part of my living abroad. But He answered me back. He reminded me that I had asked Him to remove my fear of hospitalization. I was always terrified even only with the idea of needles, blood and hospitals. My fear was too much it could cause me to faint. But after the experience, I was transformed into a brave strong-willed woman ready to accept fate yet dependent to God's protection. I learned that I must be careful of what to ask in prayer because I might get it the hard way. But above all, I was comforted with the idea that no matter how heavy the challenges that await in my way, God will always be there to help me endure and overcome.

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