Family, My Kids

Mommy Writes

Mommy’s turn!

The first time I encountered “it” was when Danae was around 2 years old. She wasn’t in any pain. She was actually just singing her heart out in the shower. I immediately called my aunt, who is a pediatrician, and she confirmed my fears. “It” was a hernia. I instantaneously cried over the phone, knowing that surgery was the only way to fix it. I did not want my baby to have to go through something like that.

But because it never gave her any problems — no pain, no changes in her bodily functions — and because I guess we were foolishly hoping it would resolve on its own, it took us 8 years to finally consult a pedia surgeon. The birth defect (not an injury) needed to be closed so that she could safely do gymnastics and other activities. Though it was not an emergency situation, we wanted it done a.s.a.p.

They humored her request! We joked that we are in the business of making dreams come true. She said, yay! Tomorrow, another dream is coming true. My surgery will be done! 🙂

 

I believe in the Lord’s timing, and I believe that though it seems late, Danae’s surgery was done at the right time. She’s more mature now, and she understands why it was necessary. She has always been brave, but God supplied her with so much courage and grace to endure this. I had to put a brave face on for her the whole time because I am not brave! With so many thoughts entering my head and fears threatening to disable me, I enlisted our family and a lot of friends to pray for and with us. That, and the peace of God that transcends understanding, certainly kept me standing.

There was no question that I would be the one staying with Danae in the hospital, and King would be shuttling back and forth to hospital and home. I’m so thankful that when it comes to family matters like this, it’s never hard for King to ask for a leave. It became a time of bonding for me and Danae. She got to have mommy (and daddy at certain hours) all to herself. I was happy to serve and help her. The two younger ones were safe at home with my mom during the day and with King in the evening.

When it was time to have her IV inserted, she was afraid. My outgoing, brave, confident, independent young lady became a timid, nervous, needy baby who wanted mommy to hug and hold her as they put the needle in. She cried in pain. She cried also through the pesky skin test. I wanted to cry too haha, but I was the adult. I needed to be strong for her. I just kept comforting her, encouraging her. It was late, but when she asked for TV, I obliged. As my mom advised, I helped keep her spirits up.

In the morning, while waiting, the anesthesiologist came in. All this time (I even signed papers to consent to it), we thought she would be given General Anesthesia. They could, but because of the asthma factor, it was more risky having a tube in her throat. Apparently that’s how GA is administered. They put you to sleep and then insert a tube in your throat for the gas to go through. When the anesthesiologist suggested spinal anesthesia, since she is physically big enough for it (he said that she’s big for her age — he should see a lot of her taller friends haha), I was not able to hide my apprehension. That was the same anesthesia I received, giving birth to Gianna. Could my Danae handle that? But the doctor assured us that they would do what we were most comfortable with. Thank God we had time to decide. Thank God King was there. I would never want to make major decisions like that on my own. We agreed that spinal anesthesia was safest for Danae.

About to be wheeled down to the surgery unit. Nervous but still smiling. 🙂

 

As she was being wheeled from her room to the surgery unit, she kept calling me, making sure I was right with her. She wanted me to be the one in the waiting area with her, and in the recovery room afterwards. I asked the anesthesiologist if he could sedate her while still in the waiting area, and he was kind enough to do it. He understood that Danae was nervous about being wheeled into the OR without me. He even agreed with me in prayer when I prayed for Danae while he was putting the sedative in her IV.

About an hour and a half later, surgery was done. I was right outside the door when they called for Lucero. The surgeon met me inside, told me that it took longer than expected because her hernia was so small. She said that small hernias are more dangerous because intestines are more likely to get trapped. God’s grace right there! Nothing of the sort happened to Danae all these years! The surgeon was happy also to say that Danae didn’t even flinch when the spinal anesthesia was given to her. She did great!

When I saw Danae, however, I saw her eyes closed but wet with tears. She kept talking but tears kept running down her cheek. I knew she wasn’t in pain, but I guess she was feeling overwhelmed. She couldn’t stop her tears from falling. I encouraged her to sleep, but she didn’t want to in the first hour. She needed to lay flat on her back for 6 hours. We also needed to wait for the anesthesia to wear off. She was hungry, but she eventually slept. She kept repeating that she was hungry when she would wake up. I would fall in and out of sleep too. At times I’d read. I’d pray for the others who were there in the recovery room. 6 hours is a looooong time to wait on a monobloc chair. But I thank God that because Danae’s a child, she was allowed company.

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My facebook post 🙂

 

Back in her room, she said she was happy that the surgery is over. Whew, me too!!!! We thanked God for everything. None of it would have been possible without Him. I was happy that the operation was a success, that her vitals were stable the entire time, that there are no complications, and that SHE’S ALIVE. Today, she is recovering very well. Praise God. 🙂

Through the 3 short days, my daughter learned to be more grateful. She thanked me each time I helped her ❤ ❤ ❤ . I don’t think I’ve ever received so many sincere thank yous that are not because of something material. On the way home, during a moment of quiet inside the car, she said “Thank You Lord.” That was probably the most sincere and meaningful prayer of thanks I ever heard her say. Indeed, our whole family thanks You, Lord. ❤

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First steps at home, with Wowa’s walker. 🙂

 

Thank you so much, family and friends, for standing with us in prayer. Thank you for checking on us as well. God bless each of you.

Click here and here for Danae’s take on her experience. 🙂

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

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. PSalm 136:1

But I will restore you to health

and heal your wounds,’

declares the Lord, Jeremiah 30:17a

My Kids, Parenting

Undeserved 2

Last night, a discussion suddenly became an argument. The intention was to motivate and hopefully produce obedience, but the result unfortunately was the opposite.

Noelle: Mom, I’ll just give Ate (big sister) my prize.

Me: But love, do you think she deserves your prize?

Noelle: (with a smile on her face) Then grace mom. Grace.

 
Wow. The compassion of this one has always been extraordinary. Sometimes her loyalty is misplaced, but her compassion always reminds me of Jesus — willing to give grace, to be generous even after being pained and saddened.

That is something we parents must be willing to do for our children as well. We must love them through the pain. We must teach them through the disappointments. We must discipline them through the heartache, despite the difficulty. We must give whether or not they are capable of giving back, whether or not they are willing to give back. We must initiate even when they do not reciprocate. We must keep encouraging them even when they’ve already given up. We must keep hoping and praying even when we see little or no fruit. Our parenting must always be with wisdom and discernment and many times with godly counsel, and our love must always be without conditions. Lord, help us. ❤

 

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. Isaiah 63:9

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Lessons Learned from Yesterday

There are a few lessons to be learned from our experience yesterday. (Click link for the full story)

>King was calm when he got out of the car. I heard him gently ask the girl if she was okay. He was gentle in speaking with each person concerned, from the witnesses, the neighbor, to the mom. In hindsight, I realize how well he handled all of it. If I were the one driving, I would have freaked out, mad as hell at myself, the situation and everyone else. Yes, I would have felt first before I would have thought. The outcome would have been very different, I imagine. Thank God I wasn’t driving, and I caught myself before I started ranting. IN TENSE SITUATIONS, EVEN AS THE ACCOMPANYING PARTY, WE MUST REMAIN CALM AND USE OUR HEAD.

>King was not and could not have been driving fast given the tight space of where the accident happened. It was not a case of King not seeing the girl cross in front of us because she WASN’T in front of us. She came from the side and hit King’s door. It was clearly not carelessness on our part, but we could not walk away from something like that. We could not walk away from Angel. It did not even cross our minds. We had to take responsibility despite the facts. We just had to do the right thing. PROVING WHO IS RIGHT OR WRONG MATTERS SO MUCH LESS THAN DOING WHAT IS RIGHT.

>”You can’t use that as an excuse. How can a girl hit a car? All expenses should be paid!” I was already starting to get riled up hearing these words from Angel’s mom when she arrived, especially since we did not even think for a second not to take care of the expenses. I actually sort of laughed to myself and told the girls (and myself) to be quiet. I know myself too well. If I start, I may not be able to stop. So I chose not to start. Arguing would have made things worse. It would have made the mom angrier, more defensive, and she would never have accepted anything we had to say. SOMETIMES, IT IS BETTER TO BE QUIET EVEN WHEN WHAT WE WANT TO SAY IS TRUE AND RIGHT.

>Upon talking to the mom, she mentioned that there were a couple of people who kept yakking when she arrived at the scene. She didn’t even know them, but they were telling her to sue us. And to think those people weren’t actually there when it happened! Some people just don’t know that they are not helping, that they are merely adding fuel to the fire. Or maybe some people just want to cause trouble for others. I thank God she did not listen to them, though clearly she was upset with us at first. I thank God she chose to get the facts, instead of letting her emotions rule. Her main concern, she told me, was the welfare of her child. There are many people with different opinions, beliefs, and intentions. WE MUST BE WISE IN CHOOSING WHO WE GIVE OUR EAR TO.

>Even though it was not our fault, I can totally understand why others would immediately think it is. It does sound silly when we say a girl hit our car. How is that even possible? Well, believe it or not, it is. It just goes to show that what we think, based on what makes the most sense, may not actually be correct. IT IS EASY TO ASSUME AND TO JUDGE, BUT YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW MUCH IF YOU WEREN’T ACTUALLY THERE YOURSELF.

>Accidents happen. Nobody ever plans to get into one, but we can certainly plan to somehow prevent them. What happened with Angel just reinforced what we have been teaching our kids. I get graphic when I tell them that disobedience can cost a life. Crossing the street is no joke. Danae already did that once — she refused to hold my hand and she dashed to the other side of the road as a van was slowly approaching. Thankfully, nothing happened, though it was a potentially disastrous scenario. I am sure that Angel and our experience are now ingrained in my girls’ minds, that they will be extra careful around cars and on streets. TEACHING OUR KIDS IS ONLY HALF THE BATTLE, BUT AT LEAST THEY WILL BE BETTER EQUIPPED FOR LIFE.

>I learned later on that their neighbors who helped us was not even close to their family. They only knew Angel because she frequently bought goods from their small store. It was perfect timing that they just happened to pass by on their motorcycle within those ten minutes, and dropped their plans, so they could help Angel out. The witnesses whom Angel was walking behind, willingly recounted the event to the neighbor who stayed with us. It didn’t have to be a “our word vs their word” type of thing. Add to that, King discovered that Angel’s mom is also a Christian! In all of it, God’s grace was evident.  We are completely thankful that DESPITE OUR INABILITY TO COMPREHEND WHY BAD THINGS HAVE TO HAPPEN, WE CAN BE SURE OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND HIS FAITHFULNESS.

Family, Motherhood, My Kids

good news and bad news

Danae has had fever since Sunday last week. Thinking it was just a common virus, we treated the fever and we were somewhat confident it would be gone by the 3rd day. To make the long story short, she was diagnosed by a pediatrician with acute bronchitis on the 4th day. But because she had fever again this morning, the 8th day, we decided to go to her ever reliable pulmonary pediatrician. After listening to her breathing, an x-ray was ordered. I knew it was going to be BAD NEWS…..DANAE HAS PNEUMONIA, for the 3rd time (but microplasmic this time) in her entire life of 5 years and 11 months. And incidentally, her bouts with pneumonia have always been right before her birthday.

You have no idea (well maybe most moms do) what a roller coaster ride of emotions I’ve been through. I hate that my Danae gets this sick. I’ve already written a blog related to this. I hate that it’s the same disease, sickness, whatever you call it. And if you remember, we spent ten days in the hospital because of King’s slipped disc, beginning August 15. Two days before leaving the hospital, Danae got sick. When she got well, Noelle got sick. When Noelle got well, I got sick. Then Noelle got sick with me. When we both got well, Danae got sick. Then King got sick. His fever lasted only a day, but he still has cough and colds now. 6 days after the onset of Danae’s fever, Noelle got fever too. Now, she also has to nebulize to treat her wheezing. So both kids are sick. It’s already October 3. When will it ever end?!

The GOOD NEWS is there is NO NEED FOR HOSPITALIZATION. With Danae’s other bouts with Pneumonia (click here for full story), it was so bad that we insisted that she be admitted in the hospital. With this one, her appetite decreased but it did not disappear. She’s not like her hyper active self, but she’s mobile, not sluggish. Despite the severity of her case, wherein both lungs are affected, not just one, I guess her body is strong enough to handle it.  Her fever doesn’t go as high as 39 anymore, and there are hours in the day that she is fever-free.

I am still on that roller coaster ride, but I know Danae and Noelle will get well soon. As a mother, I am a natural WORRIER. I wish it were as easy as changing two letters to make me into a WARRIOR. Since it’s not, I must get off this ride and get on another so I can continually flow with the rhythm of God’s grace. Not resigning to the fact that this sickness will come upon Danae regularly, but trusting in God and absolutely fighting with prayer.

Family

SMALL FAVORS & TINY MIRACLES

That Monday, August 15, began as usual, although King had been complaining of lower back pain for a few days. Danae and I were even discussing where we wanted to go since it was (and is for every week) King’s only day off. After breakfast, he bent down to plug in the electric fan in the kitchen and could no longer straighten up completely. I was in the room then and just noticed him inching his way, holding his back and stomach in pain. I didn’t realize it was THAT painful until he laid down on the couch and said he couldn’t move anymore. It was too painful. I asked him straight away if he wanted to be brought to the ER (although my mind was racing, not knowing how on earth I was going to do that). He declined. We didn’t know what it was either, so decided to observe first. I didn’t text anybody, but because I saw my mother-in-law and my friend Michelle online, I decided to ask for their prayers. Immediately both suggested to go to the doctor and both offered to help out. I wasn’t panicked yet at that point because King didn’t want to go to the doctor yet, insisting it was just a really bad muscle pain, but at least I had people available to take the kids in case we needed to go. 1 Advil and 1 Ponstan later, he was able to walk with crutches to the car. Yeng and Michelle Remulla came to get the kids, and the in-laws were on their way to meet us at the hospital. With our situation — no helper, no yaya — that was some favor!

We drove up to the ER around 6pm. I asked if there was a valet because I didn’t want to leave King and drive all the way to the underground parking lot (the nearby one is under construction). The guard told me the valet service was closed for the day already, but after a few minutes, he told me that a valet staff was on his way to help me out. He parked the car for me, got my ticket, and came back to give the key and ticket back to me. I was so thankful!

The ER doctor found no abnormalities in King’s x-ray and so deemed that we were okay to be discharged even though the pain was still there. He assumed that it was just a severe muscle strain. But somehow we ended up with the decision to be admitted, and when we were turned over to our assigned Orthopedic doctor, that doctor immediately ordered for an MRI. If not for that MRI, we wouldn’t know what we’re dealing with. So even though that doctor was that guy (check previous blog), he did one good thing.

The insurance liaison came and told us that the room we wanted, the cheapest private room, was not available because they were fully booked. We had to occupy the more expensive one, BUT at the price of the cheapest one. Like a hotel upgrade! Our room was huge. Beds were uncomfortable (for me, that is) but the space was good for the kids.

And like I said in my previous blog, there was no shortage of kindness or generosity from our families and friends. My mom took Danae to and from school. She and my brother would bring clothes & food for us. I got a few hours off from the girls one night, care of Michelle. My in-laws (King’s parents, sister, nieces, brother, etc) took care of the girls for 3 nights — a first for us, but we were confident that they were in good hands. Our visitors not only asked us what we needed, they brought what we needed and more — food, groceries, supplies, prayers and encouraging words.

King with Paolo the PT

We certainly did not run out of things to be grateful for. I am most grateful for the God that we love and serve, the God who is all-knowing and all-powerful, yet is loving, kind, and good. We were told that if there was no progress in therapy, surgery would be the only option. But He is, for now, HEALING KING THROUGH THERAPY and there seems to be NO IMMEDIATE NEED for him to undergo surgery — for his deteriorated and protruding (slipped) disc to be removed, and then replaced with a titanium cage. Serious as it is, because the disc is impinging a nerve and anything can cause another episode, we have been seeing God move in how King is progressing. On the first day of his therapy, which was twice a day, he could barely even raise up his leg while lying down. There was no way he could push himself to move more without any pain. But on the third day, he sat up! (3rd days are really powerful!) By the fourth day, he stood up….and walked!!! By the sixth day, they already had him on a bike! The hospital’s physical therapists are awesome, by the way. They are friendly, kind, and always encouraging.

First Rehab as Out-Patient

It’s been 12 days since King’s diagnosis and the start of his therapy –17 therapy sessions in total so far, 5 more to go before the Rehab doctor checks him again. Though he isn’t back to normal and cannot go back to work yet, he’s doing great! And though the doctors have said that sadly, he cannot go back to sports anymore or even carry his kids, we are believing for complete healing, whether through therapy only or surgery.

King doing the big march.

We are grateful for the small favors and tiny miracles that we’re being given. I say small and tiny not to diminish God’s strength and power, but to acknowledge that He works in many different ways. We believe He is absolutely able and He knows what is best. So we do our part as we pray, believe, and wait. 🙂

He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those greatand awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Deut 10:21

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jer 32:27

Family, Just My Thoughts, Spiritual Family

HOMEBOUND!

Here’s my take-home as we go home after ten days in the hospital….

COURAGE is not the absence of fear, but STRENGTH IN THE MIDST OF FEAR. I saw this in my husband despite his pain, his fear of feeling the pain, and his fear of what his condition will mean in the future. Although I saw him go through some emotions, I never saw him give in to his fear. I did not see him cower in despair and unbelief. He definitely felt fear and worry at times, but his faith was intact. He was and is secure of God’s love, goodness, power & sovereignty that a few disheartening words did not destroy him. I have courage because he has courage.

ENCOURAGEMENT is something you can’t do without when you’re in the hospital or facing any adverse situation. I did my best encouraging King, but he also drew courage from others. My friends would always ask me not just how King is, but how I am. The family needs just as much encouragement as the patient. Danae broke down at one point and I had to be the one to encourage her that daddy’s going to be okay. THE TONGUE IS INDEED POWERFUL, able to build up or tear down. We are grateful for family and friends who helped build us up by their hopeful messages and timely visits. We appreciate the conversations too, and all the laughter. Nothing like laughter to lift up one’s spirits!

We are also grateful for the few who spoke hopeless words to us because it just showed us that that is not what we want to be, when it’s our turn to be “there” for another. We choose to be encouraging and uplifting, knowing that one discouraging word can bring such gloom to a bright, sunny day (exactly how I felt).

PRAYER is a strong weapon. When that person said those discouraging words to us, it wasn’t anything new. We heard it already, but he just said it in a way that it seemed hopeless. I literally found myself at a loss for words when King and I were alone that night, an hour or two after. I looked at King and I knew that we both felt the same way –DISCOURAGED. We didn’t know how else to deal with it but to PRAY. We fought the discouragement and found courage once again when we prayed. The prayers of our family and friends give us much courage too, to press on and not give up.

SUPPORT from our families and friends was unbelievable. From helping us with the kids and bringing us clothes, to bringing us food and other needs, messaging or calling us, visiting us, praying for us, running errands for us. There was no shortage of KINDNESS  among our families and friends. It makes us all the more appreciative of who we have in our lives.

GRACE is what gets us through each day. THE INCREDIBLE GRACE OF GOD. God gives us the extraordinary ability to be grateful for little things. God gives King the extraordinary ability to push through his fears. God gave me the extraordinary ability & strength to take care of one who, in the first 6 days, could not do anything without my help and of two little ones at the same time. God gives us the extraordinary peace in our hearts, assuring us that everything is going to be okay. God gives me the EXTRAORDINARY LOVE to do everything I never thought I could do for my husband. I now know somehow what my mom went through, taking care of my dad as he received chemotherapy in the hospital. I now somehow know what IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH truly means.

We don’t know yet exactly why God allowed this to happen, but we do know that in times like these, how we respond is always a choice. By God’s grace, we are able to CHOOSE TO BE GRATEFUL. 🙂

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:9

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Family, My Kids, Parenting

TOUGH but GREAT!

Before King left, I didn’t have much expectations or anticipations about what it was going to be like. I anticipated that I’d have some difficult days, but that’s typical of every week. I didn’t psyche myself out by already expecting to be overwhelmed and tired. I guess you could say I took it a day at a time. And by the grace of God, here we are. “Reunited and it feels so gooood….” 🙂

Thinking about the past two weeks, even though it was tough to be without King, it was surprising and rewarding.

My children….ah, my children. Since Noelle’s summer workshop began, I’ve been juggling my daughters’ morning schedules because both their classes start at 10am. One morning of hurrying and trying not to be late, which is usual for us FYI, I discovered that Danae is completely capable of walking herself to her cheer dance class after I drop her off at the school’s entrance. I was somewhat okay with trying that because I know the teacher personally and am assured that my daughter is safe. We’ve been doing it ever since. Not only that, she waits for me at the canteen with her other teacher because I am not able to pick her up on time. We just make sure that she has a few pesos to buy her snack, which she does by herself, and that she has a notebook and a pen to keep herself busy. The first time we kept her waiting due to a miscommunication between her parents was terrible. She was almost about to cry when I got to her. But she’s resilient and confident, and we prepared her, anticipating that I may always be late due to Noelle’s workshop that ends at 12. She’s also adjusting well to her class, making new older friends. She’s the baby in the bunch. I can’t wait for their recital this week — she’s showing off her cartwheeling skills!

So why can’t I just pick up Danae before Noelle’s class ends? Well, I did a few times but I was still late because Noelle simply won’t let me go. Up until yesterday, I would have to sit with her in class the whole 2 hours! I was the only 33-year old there taking the summer workshop! But if at first, Noelle did not even want to sing or do the actions of “Pitol Pitol” (Twinkle Twinkle), now she participates! Her current favorite song is Row Row Row Your Boat. She stays put in her seat, responds to teacher’s questions, enjoys playing with the materials, enjoys making art. Her favorites, of course, are playground time and snack time! She’s always excited when it’s time to play and always the first to get her snack bag haha! Even though she doesn’t interact much with her classmates yet, she knows them especially the girls, by name, mentioning them in our daily conversations. I left her a couple of times inside the classroom, following through on the “prep talks” I had with her. Though she cried a lot, I think I can expect that today and tomorrow she’ll be more adjusted to not having mommy inside, but being assured that I’m waiting outside. It’ll take more practice for her and more practice for me not to run to her each time she cries, but we’ll get there. It doesn’t matter much if she doesn’t learn all the colors, shapes, and letters yet, but I want her to learn to trust and be comfortable with others outside our family and circle of friends. I want her to associate school with having fun, which she actually already is because she always says “too  too (school), I want too (school)!”

Both my girls are growing up to be independent and reliable little ladies! It’s such a joy to see them grow! 🙂

FEATURED, Spiritual Family

We Love You, Hern Family!

Pastor Robert Leading P&W with King on the bass. (Baguio)

We went to Maileen Hern’s memorial service last night and once again I had no words to say to Ptr Robert. When he thanked us for coming, all I could say was “Of course.” All I knew, going there, was I wanted to support him and his family. We wanted to be there because we love him and his family. We’re not close, actually, but I admire and respect him so much that I felt compelled to be at the wake and the memorial service. King, of course, has known him for many years and worked with him.

I take away many things from the passing of Ms Mai. Number one is her faith. Her faith was amazing, even amidst great physical pain and amidst the pain of leaving her family. When she knew it was almost time for her to be with the Lord, she spoke to her daughters and told them not to be angry with God, but to always be grateful to Him no matter what. Ptr Robert’s faith to fight for Ms Mai’s life and then to let go when God spoke to him, was also remarkable. Even Betthia knew that God prepared her for her mom’s death through a dream. I cannot imagine what they have gone through and are going through, but one thing is evident. The Hern family loves the Lord and trusts in His ways. I hope to have the same strength and faith when I am faced with such adversity.

Among all those that spoke about Ms Mai, there was one that touched me and made me cry the most. She actually did not even speak. It was on video, and Ptr Robert was the one who read her letter to her mom. When I saw Shaunese cover her eyes while her letter was being read, I just felt so sad for her. I could not imagine what she must be feeling at her age, 5 years old I think, having lost her mother. I could not imagine my daughters going through the same thing. That thought just overwhelmed me. And yet her letter was one of pure love for her dear mommy, saying “I love you. Don’t forget us okay?”

I am just so grateful for Victory, my church, my spiritual family. Like what Ptr Steve said last night, we truly are one big family. Ptr Robert said he is able to go through this by the grace of God and because of his spiritual family, who are continually holding them up in prayer, supporting them, encouraging them and just being there for them. I experienced the same love and support when my father died 3 years ago, and so did my mom who isn’t even part of our church (yet).

We always speak of legacy, what we leave behind on this earth. I love what Ptr Steve said about Ms Mai, that her thumbprint is in every building or facility that Victory has ever built. She was an architect and she helped each church with the building of their facilities, including the ENLI building in the Fort. Some foreigners mentioned that the ENLI building still looks new, and Ptr Steve said that that speaks of the kind of work Ms Mai did — excellent. She did not only leave her mark on the buildings, but on the lives of many people as well — her family, her friends, her small groups, her co-workers, and now me.

Last night, even though we were crying, we were also laughing, remembering Ms Mai and as Ptr Robert was speaking. Oh yes, even in this sad time, Ptr Robert could smile, laugh and make others laugh. It’s pretty amazing. It is because of the assurance that Ms Mai is in heaven already, pain-free, resting and enjoying God. They did not fear death because death is not the end. All the more that I am grateful for Jesus. He saved me, gave me a new life, and I can also look forward to being with Him in heaven when I die.

Hern family, we love you! Thank you for your awesome faith. God bless you! 🙂