Update #21: Challenging Decisions
Time flies. It has been another amazing month since my last update. So many marvelous things have happened; I could not wait but to share with you these new, wonderful experiences.
James in China
With our blessings and prayer support, James left Canada on May 11, 2011 for his elective studies at the prestigious Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou. Every day in the past several weeks, we had a good time chatting with him on Skype, sharing his experience inChina. We thank God for his learning opportunity. We are deeply indebted to my Aunt #9 who opened her house to take James in and cared for his daily needs. Thanks to so many relatives and friends both in Chinaand in Hong Kong for making this trip possible for James.
From time to time, James called us up and asked Albert to help him translate some medical terms for his presentation to his team and mentors. He has learnt a lot from this trip. Certainly his experience and understanding of the differences in medical treatment of various illnesses between The West and China have been broadened. He also had a very wonderful time with his mentors, the medical staff, other supporting personnel and patients at the hospital. In spite of some challenges related to the language barrier, James felt that he had been blessed with this trip, and if opportunity arises, he might consider returning to the hospital for more exposure.
During his studies at Guangzhou, James had many opportunities to explore this host city of the 2010 Asian Games. Definitely Guangzhou has changed from its past by a great extent. On weekends, James had the chance to attend official church with his great aunt. All of them encouraged James to be steadfast in his walk of faith. James have many interesting stories waiting to be shared with his friends and church groups when he returns.
Respect & Dignity
On May 26, I was invited by the Alberta Dental Association and College to the 2011 Dental Congress Awards Night at Jasper. I was humbled to be nominated and granted a Distinguished Medal of Service. This award is presented by the Alberta Dental Association and College to a dentist who has provided outstanding service to the profession and/or public at the international, national, provincial, dental society and/or local level. This year, I shared the same honor with another colleague.
In my response speech, I shared with the audience my reflection on “respect” and “dignity”.
People often say that “respect is to be earned.” No matter where we are, people work very hard in their lives in order to gain “respect” from others, perhaps trying to be successful in their careers, research or business. Others may attempt to do more for others, sharing with others their wealth or time and energy in order to earn “respect and recognition”. While most people purposely pursue such earthly ventures, not everyone is fortunate enough to receive the kind of “respect” that she/he is seeking.
However, “dignity” is a gift, owned by everyone as we are all unique and special, created in the image of God. We all possess this dignity, regardless of our wealth and health condition, racial background or social status. God loves us as we are, and everyone is precious in His eyes. That is why we need to respect one another and treat each other fairly and well, as each of us has this dignity, given by God.
Life is a blessing. Everyone has only one life; we all enjoy the same 24 hours in a day. We are given the free will on how to spend our 24 hours, one day at a time. Nothing can rob from us our dignity, especially when Christ died on the cross and restored our noble relationship with Him.
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to study in Canada. In my 30 years of dental practice, I have been blessed to have had so much help and support from my mentors, instructors, specialists, colleagues and dental lab technicians. I enjoy and feel blessed because of my profession, and I have put my heart and passion in my practice and provide the best for my patients and the community. I have also devoted much of my spare time to help out in many community services and overseas work. I love my patients and they love me too.
I pointed out that we would face ups and downs in our life journey, and shared with my audience openly about my lung cancer and current health conditions. I told them that if I could use a glass of water to be an analogy for life, I am grateful that I still have a few drops remaining in my glass. Though it is reaching the bottom, it means a lot to me and my family, as we can spend this little time together. It is indeed a miracle that I have survived the past nine months of chemotherapy, and I just had my medication through intravenous injection only two days prior to my coming to Jasper to receive this honorable recognition.
In closing, I dedicated and shared the award with all who have shaped me and walked with me in my life, whether I was strong or weak. I received a standing ovation at the end of my speech, and I give all the glory to my Heavenly Father who gives dignity to all men.
A Well Planned Reunion
A few weeks before the Jasper Dental Congress, we received news that our friends Fred and Aries would come to visit us. Their plan was to fly from Hong Kong to theUnited Statesto attend their daughter’s convocation, and then to make a detour to stop byEdmontonand visit us again. (Fred was here 4 months ago, giving us great spiritual and emotional support when Paula was undergoing first line chemotherapy.) At the last minute, they made a change to their travel itinerary so that they both could attend the Distinguish Medal of Service award ceremony with me at Jasper. That evening, we were honored to have my associates, Dr. Wendy Cheung and Dr. Clara Chiu (with her husband Dr. Herbert Au), my mentors Dr. Donald Yu (and his daughter, Jessica) and Dr. Albert Hoh with us. Albert’s brother Daniel could not make it from Banffto Jasper due to a sudden snow storm in theCalgaryarea, but we deeply appreciate his full intention to join and support us.
While our reunion in Jasper and subsequently inEdmontonwas a short one, all of us had a wonderful time together, catching up on many memories.
Though I felt weak physically due to the side effect of chemotherapy, God gave us many signs to enlighten us, showing us that He is still in control. Here I would like to share a few things that really surprise us:
- My Mother
The day before I left for Jasper, we received notice from our social worker that an opening was available from a senior care facility for my mother. She is having dementia problem, and in the past several months when I was receiving chemotherapy treatment, my brother and sister-in-law took her under their care. However, my mother’s mental state and unexpected activities in the middle of the night have caused much mental stress to their well being. Though it is not our wish to have my mother placed in a senior care facility, the placement needs to be done for her long-term benefit. We were told if we missed this opportunity, my mother would have to wait for her next turn in a very long waiting list, due to the rapidly aging population.
With such a short notice, we had to quickly make arrangements to move her in, coordinating with others to help her cope with the sudden change. Surprisingly, my mom adapted well only two days into the new environment. However, a closer watch is still necessary, because of her language barrier. After all, she has been under our care for the past twenty-odd years, and she may have some challenges adjusting to an entire new group of people.
- A Special Provision
As I mentioned earlier, James is now for a short term volunteer work after his elective studies. This team needed to help the orphanage there to procure a piano for the assembly hall, and we had difficulties finding professional advice on how and where to buy the piano. We did search for help from people in our network to explore options, but to no avail.
Edmonton becomes a busy city in May, as it is convocation time for graduating students of the UniversityofAlberta. Quite a number of students attending our church are this year’s graduates. Our church also has two baptismal services: one of which took place on Easter Sunday, and the other one a few weeks following. James had arranged to have the parents of one of the baptismal candidates to stay in our house. It turns out that they are angels sent by God to us, for the mother is a professional music teacher who runs a studio in Hong Kong. She readily offered her assistance once she learned about our need. The team has now secured a second-hand grand piano ( a gift from a church of North Edmonton) to be shipped to the orphanage. Other people have provided much needed assistance and advice on how to equip the audio-visual system. We were amazed at the timing of all such connection and the provision of all this assistance; they are beyond the understanding and imagination of every one of us.
Romans 8:28 inthe New Testament says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
All of these unfolded before me when I was weak. Our deepest thanks to this Hong Kong couple for what they have done for this work.
After 2 cycles of my maintenance chemotherapy treatment, a CT scan was arranged for me. The radiologist report indicates that my tumor remains in a stable condition; there were neither signs of continual reduction nor a lapse back to further growth. However, a minor ‘glassy’ spot was detected on the upper lobe of my left lung that really troubles me. However, I was told not to worry about it for the time being.
Since the medication has caused me severe fatigue and tiredness, my doctor has agreed that I would take a break temporarily to allow my body a bit more time to recuperate. I am hoping that I could still have the energy to go to China in July, even as a part-time delegate in this year’s medical mission.
Obviously Albert has some reservations, and many of our close friends have also shown their concerns about our decision.
To me, all steps taken so far have been walks of faith, and I do agree that each decision made has been a challenging one. It is only God’s grace that has enabled me to get through all the twists and turns. I am not saying that my decision to go is final. If God does not allow, I will not be going. I will learn to submit to Him.
It is still the same 24 hours a day, but miracles continue to unfold before our eyes.
- Dr. Jao-Yiu Sung
In my Update #16 (posted in January, 2011), I mentioned about Dr. Jao-Yiu Sung, President of theChineseUniversityofHong Kong. CCM Canada has made arrangement for Dr. Sung and his entourage to lead a series of meetings across the country. His first stop was at our church on June 16, 2011. I did say that I wished I could live long enough to have the opportunity to meet up with Dr. Sung face to face.
It is indeed amazing grace. On June 16, 2011, we were invited by our pastor to dine with Dr. Sung and his entourage, and some special guests before Dr. Sung spoke to a full house of 650 people. I then realized that God has extended my life for another 5 months, and that I live long enough to have a good fellowship time with this special speaker from Hong Kong. This is a miracle.
Also, the fact that we had 650 people squeezed into our small church on a Thursday evening in the middle of a rain storm is equally amazing.
This was indeed an unforgettable experience.
- A Special Korean Bible
On June 18, 2011, the day when the team on team departed, a close couple and former team members of the Medical Mission came for a visit. The man who is a dentist asked where to find a Korean Bible. He has two patients who are husband and wife; both are Korean. Recently the young wife was diagnosed to have pancreatic cancer, the prognosis was not promising. He would like to give a Korean Bible to her with the hope that she will find meaning and the salvation of Christ.
That same evening, we went to the airport to send out the team. We found out that two of the team members were actually Canadians of Korean origin. Their parents also came to the airport to bid them farewell. I talked to this Korean couple, and they told me that we could buy Korean Bibles in either BC or LA. Further discussion led us to the point that they were willing to give us a used Korean Bible, if that was okay with us. We took her offer, and after seeing the team got through the custom check area, we went straight to the home of this Korean family to get the Bible. We were also warmly welcomed into their house for a good fellowship time.
God answers prayers so wonderfully. Suddenly we became part of this chain reaction. It is another miracle.
This Bible is now in the hands of the dentist, to be delivered to his Korean patient. Our prayers go with its delivery, and may she find the living God in a special way.
- Bible Verses in Korean Calligraphy
When we entered the house of the Korean couple, two framed calligraphy mounted on the wall attract Albert’s attention. Looking from a distance, the writing appeared to be Hebrew characters, but on closer examination, it was Korean calligraphy.
That evening, Albert did not sleep well. It was not because we had a long day. The week before, another good friend fromTorontocame into town to visit us, and she had some concern about my intention to go to China again in a few weeks’ time. She has just lost a sister from lung cancer a few months ago, and she has the right justifications to ask us to seriously reconsider our decision. Also, the youngest daughter of my room-mate of my university days suddenly got hospitalized and was in CCU. It started out from a simple infection, but her condition deteriorated so fast that she almost lost her life. Both friends talked to Albert about our decision to go to Ningxia, and both promised that they would drum up all the people in their churches to pray for us, should we decide to take the trip. At 3:14 am, unable to fall asleep, Albert got up and did not get back to bed again. The two wall-mounted frames of Korean calligraphy popped up in his mind. He took his Bible and sneaked into the bathroom, fearing that his turning on the light would wake me up. [I was sound asleep.] He searched the Book of Isaiah, but turned to the wrong chapter. Then he searched for Psalm 121 which reads:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains —
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip —
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you —
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”
It was Sunday morning. Albert made a call to the Korean-Canadian family to find the source of the quotation of the Biblical verse written in Korean calligraphy shown in the first wall-mounted frame. The answer came back, it is Isaiah 41:10 shown below:
“So do not be afraid, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The lady also added that what she liked was not the way the words in the verse were phrased but their essence, which is “God promises to be with you.” She added, “Do you like it too?”
Albert broke down after the call. With these Korean writings on the wall, Albert said he would accompany me to China, if God allows.
Hopes Never Fail
Recently both my mom and my mother-in-law have some troubles at the senior care facilities. Their dementia has got worse. Finding a balance between looking after their needs and that of our own is not an easy task. We need your prayer support for them.
Yesterday, Professor Daniel So and his wife Florencecame fromHong Kong for a visit. All three of us were high school friends. We had good reunion time. Then I receive news that more people have indicated that not only will they pray for us from afar , they will be coming to visit us as well: from Toronto, Beijing, Yuma, Guatemala, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. I am hoping that I could still hold the line and see my friends one by one.
Please pray for Pastor Jackie and Anne Lau. Anne’s mom is now with the Lord. May God grant them peace.
Thank you for reading this long update.
Stay tune for the next update.