September 99

 

September 13, 1999

Dear Friends,

You will see in Life, Health and Other Gifts thatit has been a most unusual summer for Bobby and me. Man proposes but God disposes. There is no guarantee that our best laid plans will ever come to fruition. But when God moves in with his changes, the end result is always an improvement on our own hopes and plans. "All things work together for good to them who love God and are called according to his purpose" Rom. 8:28. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus" I Thes. 5:18.

Last year at this time, we launched our first International Convocation by inviting judges, lawyers, national leaders and other networkers from 26 nations. At the heart of Advocates' approach is The Samaritan Strategy of finding "innkeepers" who are positioned to promote religious liberty, reconciliation and professional ethics. The 51 internationals who participated last year went home energized and equipped to make a difference. Was the 1998 Convocation Worth It? tells the stories of a few of last year's Alumni. It will encourage you!

This year we hope to bring 110 "innkeepers" from over 50 nations. They will be our guests for two weeks, spending one week in San Antonio to participate in the Christian Legal Society conference. They will receive training in Christian conflict resolution and the Samaritan Strategy. They will also participate in the International Religious Liberty Roundtable where those engaged in religious liberty will strengthen relationships. We have invited over 85 groups to come to the Roundtable to meet our guests.

If you could impact one nation in the world, which one would you choose? Our offer to the internationals is that they will be our guests during their stay in the U.S. We are asking all of them to pay some portion of their airfare to the U.S. unless that is not possible. Several colleagues come from nations where their monthly income is only $100. We hope that you will be the "Good Samaritan" to an "innkeeper" by enabling them to come to the U.S. so that we can equip them for service to their nation as we continue...

Living in His-story,

Samuel E. Ericsson
President

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LIFE, HEALTH AND OTHER GIFTS

By Samuel E. Ericsson

 

The summer of `99 did not go quite as planned. Instead of participating at meetings in South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Greece, Romania, Albania and Bulgaria, I witnessed God's handiwork at banquets, in restaurants, at doctors' offices and in hospitals in Northern Virginia. Let me "connect the dots" of His-story.

In early summer I began needing to visit the bathroom more frequently. In my annual physicals I have always received excellent reports with no hint of problems. On a visit to a doctor in July, the blood tests and prostate exam again revealed no problems. I was given antibiotics for a possible urinary tract infection. The doctor saw no reason to cancel my five-week travels to Africa and the Balkans.

In early August, Bobby and I flew to Utah for a week of rest and recreation with friends who work with Bobby in her home-based health and nutrition business with Melaleuca and to attend its annual convention. By that Friday my condition had not improved and we cancelled the Africa portion of my schedule. At the convention banquet the next day, attended by nearly 4,000, I discovered that one of Bobby's friends sitting at our table, Margie, is a nurse practitioner with a highly respected urologist in Pennsylvania. His-story! She encouraged me to see a urologist right away.

On our return to Virginia, I immediately made an appointment with a doctor listed in our insurer's directory. The same day, Bobby's 83-year old mother, who has been battling Alzheimer's for five years, suffered a stroke. We are so thankful that I was not traveling in Africa so that I could help Bobby with the hospitalization, nursing home and other care her parents needed. His-story!

On my visit to the urologist the next day, I filled out a questionnaire and gave him the results from the July tests. He simply gave me some off-the-shelf sample medications for the bladder and prostrate and saw no reason for me to cancel my three-week trip to the Balkans. He suggested that I call him upon my return in mid-September.

Nine days later, on August 19, two days before I was scheduled to leave for the Balkans, Bobby and I went to Kilroy's, a local restaurant. Near the end of the meal, I told Bobby I was feeling light-headed. As an occupational therapist, Bobby has been around people with seizures, and she thought I was having one - or possibly a heart attack. She told me to lie down, but by the time my head reached the bench, I was out cold. It turns out that Kilroy's is the "watering hole" for rescue squad and ER folk. Within minutes they were holding a mini-convention around our booth. His-story! I was rushed to Fairfax Hospital where, three hours and $1,700 later, the CT scan, EKG, and blood tests provided no clues for the fainting spell. I cancelled my plans for a three-week trip to the Balkans.

The next day, I called my urologist to tell him what happened. Bobby and I thought it might have been a reaction to his medication, but he dismissed this because the dose was too small. We set an appointment for the following Tuesday. We were not happy with this physician's cavalier approach, so we called Margie in Pennsylvania for a referral. She recommended Dr. Michael Hardy, the former deputy director for urology at Walter Reed Hospital in DC and one of the best in the area. When we called for an appointment, we discovered that the first available date was September 15, three weeks away. We took it. They said that they would call if anything opened up sooner.

The next day, I visited my initial urologist who "scoped" my bladder and informed me that there were two tumors that were most likely malignant. When I asked about their size, he said that they were somewhere between a quarter and half-dollar. As soon as I returned to the office, the first phone call was from Dr. Hardy's nurse who told me that they had just had an appointment cancel for the next morning. His-story!

As soon as Bobby and I met Dr. Hardy, we felt comfortable with his approach and skills. Bobby has a keen and well-trained eye when it comes to the health professions. It turns out that Dr. Hardy's West Point roommate from 1965-67 was our good friend from church, retired Brigadier General Dick Black and that Advocates' computer consultant, retired Colonel Dave Tye, was also in his class. His-story! Dr. Hardy scheduled me for outpatient surgery to remove the two tumors for Monday, August 30. He said it would take about an hour and that I could go home afterward.

Bobby drove me to Fair Oaks Hospital and waited "the longest three hours of my life." During the three-hour surgery, Dr. Hardy discovered the largest malignant mass he had ever seen in a bladder. The normal size is 5-7 grams. Mine was 90+ grams with volume equal to two softballs! Margie tells me I'm a candidate for some medical journal. Dr. Hardy also discovered that my left kidney was beginning to expand due to tumor blockage. He kept me at the hospital for three days until the pathologists could check out the extent to which the tumors had invaded the bladder wall. Needless to say, Bobby and I were taken aback by the news. In retrospect, we are so thankful that I had passed out at Kilroy's and that I was not in Albania, Bulgaria or Romania at that moment. His-story!

The next day Dr. Hardy shared some very good news: there was no evidence that any of the tumors had invaded the muscle. The 12-18 month growth had attached to the mucous and fatty lining in the bladder. None had taken root in the muscle. Margie called it "miraculous." We agree. It is a gift of God's hand of protection in His-story!

We now have several options. The two primary ones are: 1) the conventional medical approach of putting a harsh chemical solution in the bladder weekly over a six-week period with follow-up procedures for two years, or 2) following a healthy diet (raw fruits and vegetables with no dairy or meat) coupled with exercise. Since the latter approach fits well with our lifestyle, we chose it, and Dr. Hardy is fully supportive of our choice.

We've received scores of cards and letters, hundreds of e-mails and a great deal of prayer. Thank you! One friend reminded me in her card that in 1996 I had chosen Psalm 118:17 to be my theme verse for that year: "I will not die, but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done." It's a verse that takes on new meaning as I reflect on His-story for the summer of `99. Life is a gift. Good health is a gift. We thank the Giver for both.

Finally, thanks to the hard work of Wally Cheney, Lynn Buzzard, Roger Sherrard, Reg Joubert, Latcho Popov, Gary Friesen, Abednego Mambwe, Arne Halverson, Vassilios Tsirbas, Fernando Loja, Elizabeth Batha, Salonica Talos, and others, all of the conferences scheduled for this summer proceeded as planned with great success.