Friday, April 22, 2011

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,
Having left my dear Theresa the previous evening, the early morning return flight to Kona was almost scrubbed before I even made it to the airport.  Recall that when we transferred from Craig Hospital in Denver, the flight only went as far as LAX where the CNS shuttle picked us up for the normally two hour (actually 5-hr) drive to their rehab facility.  So not having flown into Meadows Field Airport, I was now driving there based on vague directions provided by a rehab aide -- it's on Hwy 99 north of town.  In hindsight, it still seems obvious to take the "Airport Rd" exit which I did and then became hopelessly lost looking for any hint of the next directional sign.  At 0500h, not much is open but I finally came upon a truck stop oasis (a suitable name since I was literally lost in the desert of the San Joaquin Valley) and then given proper directions to take the "Merle Haggard" exit.  Of course that makes sense, but only if you know the connection between the country singer and the airport, which still eludes me.  In any case, I did make it in time to catch the puddle jumper to San Francisco where my next obstacle was a short 37m connection to the Kona flight.  The Lord must have wanted me to be on that plane because I sprinted through the terminal and was the second last to board.  But the cost was my overwhelmed brain as I screwed up the Halfway to Hawaii calculation and missed by exactly 10m again.  Thanks go to our dear friend Geoff for donating the double airmiles that covered my last-minute flight to Denver and the return from Bakersfield.  Without his generosity, those tickets would have cost over $2800.
The outpouring of blessings continued upon arriving at the Kona-Keahole Airport where I was met by Al & Linda, our pastor and his wife.  In addition to providing a ride home, they also took me to lunch at a Kona favorite of theirs, Quinns - almost by the Sea.  I had really missed not being able to attend our local community church services the past four weeks so it was wonderful to catch up with them and to renew my faith.  As a special blessing, Theresa even joined us in her own way for lunch, phoning shortly after Pastor Al finished saying grace.  So as we enjoyed the meal and passed the phone around, it really was a wonderful time spent with Theresa engaging all of us with her good spirits and lively conversation.  One day in the near future, it will be our turn to have Pastor Al and Linda along with some other dear friends over for dinner and I just know that Theresa will enjoy planning and preparing a culinary masterpiece.  When I consider how far she has come along her healing journey in these fast five months that I could even contemplate a dinner party, it is truly a gift from God for which we offer our praise and thanks.
With the 3-hr time difference between us, for the rest of the week there wasn't too much contact except for the occasional text message arriving at 0500h, likely sent during breakfast time and just before boarding the shuttle to the rehab clinic; or the late afternoon phone call as Theresa was preparing for bed.  In addition to sharing some of her rehab successes like sorting out a pile of items into 12 boxes in record time, or walking for over 100' with the EVO-walker, Theresa also took part in several outings including a haircut, enjoying Soul Surfer -- the new movie by our friend, Roy, the executive producer of Princess Kaiulani, and a much anticipated trip to the Murray Family Farms.  As Theresa recounted, she was somewhat disappointed by this farm as it did not have nearly as much fresh produce as our local Waimea Farmers' Market.  Given that most crops besides citrus, strawberries and winter veggies are not in season yet, that's to be expected here.  Still, she is looking forward to the cherry season coming up in May as Murray Family Farms boasts 17 varieties of God's own candy.
Last Wednesday evening, I attended the monthly Pacific Head Injury Support Group Meeting and listened with fascination to the story of Dan, a local Kona coffee farmer who is recovering from a recent experimental surgical procedure to increase bloodflow to the side of his brain damaged by injury.  Having met and spoken with Dan before the surgery that was performed at the Duke University Medical Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, it's quite noticeable how his speech and cognitive abilities have improved so quickly.  It's too bad that it took almost two years of battling with his health insurer to cover this but the results already show much promise.  In a related story, the office of Gaby Giffords, the Arizona member of Congress that suffered a brain injury from an assassination attempt, is pushing for a bill to demand post-acute treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as basic care covered by health insurers.  This would allow anyone with a TBI to gain access to the same level of care she received as a government official and a cause that we should all support.
The past week was busy for the both of us as I dealt with seemingly neverending insurance issues and the looming tax filing deadline while Theresa concentrated on her rehab therapies.  My elbows may be sore after a marathon week of entering data but I'm sure it's minor compared to Theresa's aches.  On a daily basis, she is performing sit and stands almost continuously and beginning to practice walking without the EVO-walker for support.  That puts most of the weight on her hips which exacerbates the pain from the pelvic fracture.  Bless her heart and thank the Lord, she may grimace and take breaks but she mostly refuses the pain meds, knowing that they dull the pain but also hinder her processing speed.
With Theresa's birthday approaching on April 22, which also happens to be Good Friday and Earth Day, I've been monitoring the airfares closely, praying and hoping that the price would drop below $1200 but instead watching it go the other way.  So with most flights to/from Hawaii still full with last-minute Spring Break visitors, it was not looking like we'd be celebrating together.  At least it seemed that way until our dear friend Hylton offered up his airmiles and miraculously, one award seat opened up last night.  Taking full advantage of this dual blessing, I'm making the Pacific crossing yet again and will be spending tomorrow with my dear wife on that most special of days.  For this among many other gifts of grace, we are most thankful to our Lord and Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
P.S.  In this week's update, I have attached an interview with Rick Warren, author of A Purpose Driven Life.  While I do not usually forward e-mail chain letters, these words ring true to me.  If nothing else, reading this letter saves the cost of buying the book.  As our Hawaiian friends like to say, the "pake" in me is always present.

You will enjoy the new insights that Rick Warren has, with his wife now having cancer and him having 'wealth' from the book sales. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren, 'Purpose Driven Life ' author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California . 
In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said: 
People ask me, What is the purpose of life? 
And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. 
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. 
I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act-the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity... 
We were made by God & for God, & until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. 
Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. 
The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. 
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness. 
This past year has been the greatest year of my life, but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. 
I used to think that life was hills and valleys---you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. 
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, & at all times you have something good & something bad in your life..
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. 
And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. 
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems: 
If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is 'my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself & onto God & others. 
We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her--- It has been very difficult for her, & yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him & to people. 
You have to learn to deal with both the good & the bad of life. 
Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. 
It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. 
So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. 
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit.. We made no major purchases. 
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. 
Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call 'The Peace Plan' to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. 
Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, & I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free. 
We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? 
Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)? 
When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed & say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more & love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. 
That's why we're called human beings, not human doings. 
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD. 
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD. 
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. 
Painful moments, TRUST GOD. 
Every moment, THANK GOD.. 
If you do not pass it on, nothing will happen. But it will just be nice to pass it on to a friend....just like I have done. 
God's Blessings 

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