Pray for open doors to the Gospel!
We all love birthday presents.
Personally, I don’t even care if they are early, on time or belated. I just love a good surprise!
Most people like to celebrate their birthday, one way or another.
(I say most because I have discovered that there are a few out there that really don’t love birthdays…I can’t say I can relate!)
I have had many memorable birthdays, but there are two that are related to my adventures as a cancer patient.
One was a belated present. A second one was a day early.
I remember my birthday in 2010 like it was yesterday.
I was still healing from my first tongue surgery. It was a perfect day for grilling. As I savored my steak with family I just had this feeling…there was something wrong in my tongue.
The next day I got the call we had not hoped for. The lesion that they had taken out of my tongue was squamous cell carcinoma. Classic tongue cancer.
They scheduled me on the spot for another surgery because they were afraid it could have spread to other parts of my tongue, or worse, to my lymph nodes.
This time they took out more tongue and most of the lymph nodes on that side of my neck, leaving the rather conspicuous scar that I admire when I shave.
God allowed that call to come one day after my birthday. You could call it a belated birthday present. I was able to enjoy my birthday without considering all the ramifications of life after cancer diagnosis.
Six years later here I was, waiting for more news.
How ironic… another birthday diagnosis! This time it was the day before my birthday.
Dr. Riccio is a hard man to read. He knows how to joke around, but when it’s time for the important stuff, you couldn’t find a more serious person.
He felt around my mouth and neck silently, then re-read the ultrasound report, went over six years of charts. Now we awaited the conclusion.
He finally spoke up after a few seconds of eternity. Here goes… *Gulp*
“Six years have passed since your first diagnosis. Only the first tumor was invasive. The other three tumors were “in situ” tumors , therefore non-invasive by definition.
Since it’s been over five years since your first and only case of invasive cancer, you are considered statistically and clinically in remission!
Your lymph nodes were a concern, but both the ultrasound and the checkup confirm that they are just reacting to a less than perfectly functioning system. After all, we can try to fix you up, but your tongue, salivary glands and lymph nodes work poorly. Only God creates things to work the right way!”
I am not sure what excited me more: hearing that the odds of a recurrence are slimmer every day, or that he acknowledged our Creator as the only one that truly can do things the right way!
So what now?
We will continue regular checkups. But now only twice a year. My job is to always be on the lookout for what is going on in my tongue and neck for any suspicious changes.
One last blessing from the day. Probably the most important one.
I thank God for good health news. It seems that for the time being, death is less imminent. Unfortunately, sooner or later, unless Jesus returns, death will take us. As the common saying goes: “it’s like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic”.
But oh, that God would use us to bring souls into eternity with Christ!
There is more celebration in heaven for one sinner who repents than for ninety-nine good health reports!
Please…don’t stop praying for us! We pray that we can make the most of every opportunity.
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I was wishing our dear BMM Administrative Assistant a happy Secretary’s Day and I sent this along. Then I figured the rest of you would enjoy the refresher as well!
Progress is being made on the new Pastors Office. The future is nearer every day!
Thank you so much for praying for us here a the conference in Malta.
The prayer response was overwhelming, just as was God’s answer to the prayers lifted up.
There is undoubtedly a correlation between the the prayers and our ability to minister. Let me explain:
Right after I wrote to you the last time my voice improved considerably. I was able to sing without coughing.
As soon as I would finish leading the coughing would return.
I would wake up with a sore throat and without a voice, but as soon as I had to lead worship, my voice would come back again!
Now, I can’t say that I sang like Pavarotti, but by God’s grace we are now only a few hours away from our last session and I was able to lead in worship in all the sessions. I’m quite certain that without your prayers we would have spent the week in bed!
Pastor Patrick Odle and Ed Sears have led us though some wonderful teaching times. We look forward to going home and applying all that we have learned.
As the conference ends, we thank God for all of our Baptist Mid-Missions Europe family.
We thank God for our administrator, Vernon Rosenau and his wife have been such a blessing in having the vision to encourage us missionaries from all over Europe.
We thank God for the pastors and churches who made this conference happen.
We thank God for the wonderful group from Grace Baptist in Winston Salem (where Pastor Sears is pastor) who minister to our children.
Thank you for being a part of this ministry too through your prayers! I say this time and time again, but you are our lifeline.