[Not Very] New Perspective: Prayer is Powerful. (+ Surgery Recovery Update)

 

A weak point of my relationship with God has always been prayer.

How am I supposed to talk to someone that I can’t hear…?

Dear God… thank you for the food… thank you for my friends and family….zzz

People in the Bible would pray and miracles would happen. I certainly haven’t seen that, nor can I “do” that.

What confuses me the most is prayer with other believers, or corporate prayer.

How is talking to God sincere if everyone in this circle just repeating the same prayer requests again and again? Isn’t once repeated good enough for a God that knows everything? – I still sort of think this way.

I’m so worried about what I’m going to pray about out loud that I’m not even paying attention.

God has certainly been teaching me about the power of prayer during winter break. In Urbana, I learned that “being a prayer warrior matters;” and that when missionaries hear that people are praying for them back home, “knowing they’re not forgotten changes everything.” (Christine Taylor). 

 

Ok. I don’t want to come close to comparing myself to a missionary. They have sacrificed and gone through so much more than I ever have. However, I was recently the beneficiary of prayer, and lots and lots of it. And I felt it.

Last Friday, on 1/8/16, I had “septoplasty” surgery to fix my deviated septum. You can click on the image below to read more details about the surgery.

This will be my update on my recovery, about 5 days later. I have had three oral surgeries before to remove extra teeth (gross, I know right?) and also my wisdom teeth. I would actually say that this septoplasty operation was easier to go through. Unlike wisdom teeth removal where I can’t eat, I could eat almost whatever I wanted after the operation, Friday afternoon. So that’s a bonus.

In short, the aftermath of the surgery felt like someone punched me in the nose real hard with a 3+ day long nosebleed, with sponges shoved deep up both my nostrils. But recovery was already said to take about 2 days, and the 2 days pretty much did it.

I also found out that I always freak out when I wake up from anesthesia. When I had oral dental surgery, I once whined like crazy screaming at my parents to get me a frappuccino or something. This time, I woke up in the recovery room that I stayed at for about an hour and a half. When I first woke up I was screaming and shaking like nuts and asking them to put me back to sleep… LOL. This was also a public recovery/preparation room, mind you. Don’t give me anesthesia, friends. I wonder how I would react to carbon-freezing (I’ve been on a Star Wars kick this last month).

On Monday, 1/11/16, I went back to the doctor’s office and my surgeon/ENT took a look at the result of his handiwork. He pretty much gave a thumbs up, removed the sponges in my nose, and sent me away. Most doctor’s don’t work that fast, but I admire his speed. He’s fast with his patients, but he’s also thorough. An unlikely combination for doctors these days.

Right now, Wednesday morning 1/13/16, there is barely any blood at all, and only minimal soreness in the upper-nose. I’m already working from home doing projects for my help-desk job, and spending time with my family. Since this is a photography blog, I thought I could squeeze in a random photo and connect it to this blog post by saying that I’ve healed enough to go outside and take pictures of birds…? I tried, haha!

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I wanted to thank everyone who prayed for me or wished me a good recovery this last week. I was very encouraged to be reminded that my friends and family were praying for me. My mother put my surgery on the church prayer list, and the entire weekend my mom would tell me “hey! so-and-so is praying for you and asking you about your recovery” She was also forwarding e-mails that people were sending her asking about me. We even received a voice-mail at home from the head-pastor.

I received a batch of cookies from a family-friend- Lee-Ching Aiyi. Her homemade cookies are pretty darn amazing.

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My Sunday School coordinator happened to be subbing for my class. Auntie Glenda got a card and had my class sign it. I couldn’t be more encouraged on Sunday after missing church.

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And I can’t thank my mom and dad enough. They paid for this surgery with their money and insurance. My father stayed next to me in the recovery room when I was going crazy, recovering from the anesthesia and suffering from somewhat of a shock. They fed me all weekend. My mom wouldn’t go to sleep at night until I ate my anti-biotics, and had trouble sleeping because she was so worried about me all weekend. I’m a typical prideful dude and in the moment I am usually very reluctant to accept their help, giving them an “I KNOW” response when they remind me to drink water or eat my medicine. That’s why I’m hoping they can read this and know that I am so thankful for every second and every ounce of care they’ve given me throughout the weekend. Mom and Dad, I know I get annoyed when you care for me and overprotect me, but I am so privileged to have you as parents and I am so grateful for your love this weekend as well as your godly parenting the last 20+ years.

And that is the power of prayer that I have been enlightened with. I had been searching for results of prayer as the one praying, not the one being prayed for. The encouragement of knowing all these people were wishing me well and hoping for a smooth surgery and recovery in Christ. Yes, the prayer was for a result that did end up happening, but the most powerful part for me was knowing that all these friends and family were thinking of me… “hoping” in Christ… for me

blog-2Again, thank you so much for reading my story, and also thank you for praying for me and wishing me a successful surgery and well recovery.

I am still learning and will always have more to learn about prayer, but I know one thing now: don’t underestimate the power of prayer and the different ways prayer can work in our lives. The God we pray to is real, so our prayer should be just as real.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on prayer for all the Lord’s people.” – Ephesians 6:18

 

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Septoplasty Surgery Today

7:35 AM – Friday, January 8th, 2016. 

As I am typing this out on my phone, I am in my way to get surgery today (septoplasty).


This is a surgery to fix my deviated septum. I like to think a “deviated septum” as a doctor’s nice way of a describing a crooked nose. The septum is the structure the two nostrils, and mine is deviated so much that it affects my breathing very negatively, and also makes it very easy to have a sinus infection with all the congestion. This is also causing a sort of sleep apnea at night because of the hindered breathing, not allowing enough oxygen into my body when I sleep at night.

I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy with Cataplexy only two years ago in the summer of 2014. Narcolepsy is essentially the inability of the brain to process sleep cycles correctly or consistently, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness and unrestful sleep. Cataplexy often comes with Narcolepsy, and it consists of muscle weakness attacks as well as sleep paralysis (body asleep brain awake and conscious) and hallucination. It took me a while to come to grips with it. I would use narcolepsy as an excuse to not be responsible in studies at school and in service at church, and also as an excuse to be selfish and not love others. After a year of difficulty, I am starting to get a hang of this life of constant sleepiness during the day and unrestful sleep at night. I realized that I need to accept the struggles present in my life – especially my sleep disorder – in order to have joy in life.

A year later, this past fall, my general practitioner, Dr. Eck, realized that I have a deviated septum and that it made my sleep at night very unrestful. He suggested a possibly surgery and the ENT doctor he referred me to agreed. So I’m about to have septoplasty.

Here’s one of the many cat scans of my head, haha.


Another diagnoses and a surgery would sound like a disappointing moment, but for my family, my friends, and I, even my doctors, it’s a sense of hope. My condition has a chance to improve, even after I’ve learned to live life with it! It may not help my excessive sleepiness at all, but it would certainly help my breathing and constant sinus infections.

So if you’re reading this, I ask you to pray. Not just a prayer of petition that the surgery will go well and that there may be healing according to God’s will, but a prayer of adoration and thanksgiving- that God has given me peace about the difficulty I have faced, and that He’s given me an amazing family, loving friends, and great doctors to try to help me and give me hope.

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The biggest breakthrough for me was to come to peace with the difficulty God is allowing me to go through.

“Many are the plans in a persons heart, but it is God’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

A New Year’s Celebration Like No Other (Urbana Through A Lens: Day 5, Part II)

Urbana Day 5 part II:

Night Session Part 1: Steve Colby (from Canada, former missionary to Sierra Leone)
“Through global partnerships, God has totally ruined our lives for global missions.”
-“North Americans need to leave home and focus on learning from our global partners.”
-“When we go, (1) we  gain persepective, (2) we grow in faith and character, (3) we obey Christ’s command to go into all the nations, (4) the gospel gets bigger and Jesus gets bigger, and (5) we return with a story to tell… that story we tell challenges our friends as well and the University.”
-“It’s not convenient… Jesus disrupts our self made plans.” 
<– Here Colby echoes one of my all-time favorite Bible verses and proverbs: Proverbs 19:21
“One question: are your bags packed?”

Night Session Part 2: Dr. Patrick Fung returns to conclude the conference (whoo!!):
-People first thought that the earth was the center of the universe, until Copernicus discovered that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. In the same way, “we are not the center of the universe.”
Matthew 28 – cosmic significance.
“Worship is the ultimacy of missions.”
“We have lost the fear of God when we see the work of God.”
-“Without the fear of God there is no revival. [Rather,] there is a place for proper fear of God.”
“Persecution will never kill the church, but a diluted gospel will kill the church [and] the loss of passion to share the gospel will kill the church.”
There must be a “sense of urgency and joy to share the good news.”
“Maybe you think you’re a failure. [But] Jesus came to [the disciples and] received them as they were. [He] trusted them with responsibility and the Great Commission. We must ourselves experience the good news of forgiveness.”
-“Salvation is found in no one else. Resurrection changes everything. We experience the power of the Risen Lord.”
-“[We must] move from self-sufficiency to Christ-sufficiency.”
The Great Commission does not start with a command, but with a statement and declaration that Jesus is lord over everything. Dr. Fung quoted Hudson Taylor again: “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

-Jesus is Lord over:

  1. the church.“we must let go of ethnic pride. We brand the name of Christ, What brand do you carry through your characters, deeds, and words?”
  2. all society and cultures.“a right relationship with God involves a right relationship with people.”
  3. all creation“God cares and created this world. Creation care is not a political agenda.”

-“He has risen. He is Lord. What story will you tell?”

To send us off, Shaylen Jackson (our coach for the week) gave us these ways to our Urbana journey:

  1. Rest
  2. Process
  3. Move into mission.
  4. Share your story.

I’m doing a lot of the rest (and also processing) right now. Lots of sleep since I’ve gotten home on Friday.

New Year’s Celebration:
Leading up to midnight, Urbana finished off with about two hours of praise, highlight videos, and drama team skits. I’m not going to go into much detail, but with the whole week to get to learn the new songs, as well as this being the last session together as a large group of 16,000, it was a great moment of praise. I was thinking that of all my New Year’s Eve celebrations as a 20 year old, I’ve never experienced one more heartwarming and exciting as this one. No “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve” this year, no watching the famous ball descent, there was a lack of tradition and I was away from family, but I was with a different family, singing my heart out with them together to praise God. What a moment.

After the last session, I waited a bit to run to a bunch of a familiar faces (from church and school fellowship) that I barely had time to say hi to all week. It was so great to give them a hug and say “Happy New Year.”

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A group of roommates from CCF/RCCC/Rutgers/UMaryland/???

I spent a couple minutes after the New Year had kicked off outside, watching those who had taken busses get ready to head home. There were many coach busses lined up in front of the stadium, even Coach from Canada! I took a moment to understand how many people had come to St. Louis from so many different places, and through various modes of transportation.

So in that train of thought, I tried to make a photo to express that feeling. I took a quick long-exposure (oxymoron) of people walking pass this bus. Let me know what you think, haha!

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I also took a quick moment to appreciate the security and policemen working on the night New Year’s Eve. Then I realized that there were also Intervarsity workers and volunteers around the whole city directing traffic and creating a safer environment for us. I stopped by and asked these two wonderful IV workers if I could take a picture of them. I also said thanks :).

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And I think that’s the heart of missions and it’s a good way to sum up all the wonderful things I learned during my Urbana 2015 experience. These two IV workers (I wish i jotted down their name) are so eager to give us college students an safe environment to learn more about God’s mission and worship at Urbana, that they’d give up their Christmas vacation and brave the cold weather. When I was thanking them (and asking them to take a picture for my blog hehe), they were also quick to ask me how Urbana was for me. It’s this selfless love that they were showing us- the lifestyle of showing Christ’s love to others, that I think missions is all about.

Dr. Fung said (and quoted above), “worship is the ultimacy of missions,” and David Platt said that “we manufacture a heart for missions but we miss out on a heart for Christ.” 

Worship is a lifestyle. Missions is also a lifestyle. I am learning now that missions isn’t necessarily just about going into unreached places of the world to preach the gospel (which is very very important), but is an everyday lifestyle of loving others with the love that Christ showed us.

This concludes my Urbana blog post series. Thanks for reading! I will probably post a couple takeaways I had from the conference, as well as my Hack4Missions experience though 🙂

 

The Blessing of Technology (Urbana Through a Lens: Day 5 Part I)

(I’m pulling a Harry Potter Deathly Hallows and Mockingjay here. Part I and Part II for the last day, haha. I’ve been working on this post for like two days and there’s just so much.)

Technology can be such a hindrance in our lives, socially, physically, mentally, spiritually. While I certainly don’t believe social media, Netflix, video games, and the like are bad things- in fact, I love them. However, I can say for sure that I have personally failed many times when it comes to using them in moderation. I have used entertainment and social media as a way to escape reality, and squandered away time I could have used for anything else.

However, on Thursday, I was reminded through the failure of my physical body that technology is a wonderful gift from God, and that as a follower of Jesus, I should do all that I can to use it for Him.

I woke up on Thursday feeling terrible. I had been getting congested more and more every day since before Urbana, and the lack of quality rest must have made it worse. I missed breakfast for the first time during the trip, and slept all the way till about half an hour before the the main morning session at 11 PM.

I was in NO condition to go anywhere. I was tired, sick, and completely congested. I think the word “congested” is as detailed as I’ll go. However, instead of sneezing my way into the stadium, I was able to watch from my hotel room on my laptop, thanks to the online stream Urbana was providing.

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Morning Session Part 1: Christine Taylor (from London)
-“Joseph of Arimathea used what influence he had to honor Christ’s body.”
-Advocacy includes speaking out to influence others, but it also incudes showing care to the hurt parts of the body… to pray.
-“Look to what you can do to help the hurting suffering body of Christ.”
-Bring a prayer warrior matters. Sometimes for missionaries, knowing they’re not forgotten changes everything.”
Morning Session Part 2: Allan Matamoros (from Costa Rica)- “The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few.”
-Allan shared his experience in cross-cultural missions. His native tongue is Spanish, but he has learned English, and now also Arabic.
-He said that there are more Muslims that have come to Christ in the last couple decades than there have been in the 1000 years before. The mission has come to us.
Our purpose is to attract others to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
-“The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Morning Session Part 3:  Urbana director Tom Lin led us in a call to commitment. Here’s an numbers graphic from Urbana’s social squad regarding the responses to this call to commitment.

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taken from the Instagram page of @UrbanaMissions

Hack4Missions Presentations:

Getting a real quick lunch at the restaurant downstairs, I quickly passed out again. However, I mustered enough enough energy to get up around 3 P.M. for my team’s Hack4Missions presentation. There were three awards: Best Technology, Most Impactful, and Crowd Favorite. Our team actually ended up winning Most Impactful! Our team was called #UrbanaRouterHack. There’s a brief summary about the project here:  http://hack4missions.org/routerhack.html. I’ll be posting about it later in a post dedicated to this my time in this track.

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#UrbanaRouterHack team. Thanks to my friend George for taking the photo!

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#UrbanaRouterHack prototype.

Here’s a video I made for our team’s presentation. I was given 45 seconds out of our 3 minute presentation and demonstration, so I tried my best to do what I could with that time!

Even though all these teams were in some sense competing against each other, there was a sense of unity among all of us participating in Hack4Missions. We were all putting our time, effort, and tech-experience together to further God’s kingdom. It’s technology that was bringing us together.

Technology is such a wonderful gift from God. But because of sin, humans take God’s gifts and use it for their own gain. Thursday afternoon I was thinking: How can I use technology for Christ? 

 

Don’t Miss A Heart for Christ. (Urbana Through a Lens: Day 4)

God has been touching lives all week, but on Wednesday morning, lives were changed right in front of my eyes. Day 4 was centered around Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation.

Morning Session: David Platt, author of Radical (on Matthew 26):
“Does your heart belong to Jesus?”
-“Selfless love for others spring from supreme selfless love for God.”

“We have the sinful propensity to advocate for justice while ignoring Jesus.”

-The woman with the alabaster jar realized two things:

  1. She realized the significance of Jesus’ death… eternal heaven and eternal hell are real.”
  2. She realized that the purpose of her life is to pour out her heart in sacrificial, selfless love for Christ. “She hears that Jesus is her reward… Jesus is worth giving everything for… Jesus alone is worthy of all your life.”

“Don’t manufacture a heart for missions and miss the heart for Christ.”

David called out something most people wouldn’t be comfortable talking about. He said that YES, it’s right to work to stop sex trafficking, but we are still watching pornography, which creates a demand for more prostitutes, which increases the amount of sex trafficking. He said “There is a clear link between pornography and sex trafficking. We’re not fighting injustice. We’re fueling it.” I think it’s easy to think: “pornography doesn’t hurt anyone else, so what’s so wrong about it?” But it’s the exact opposite. Watching pornography fuels sex trafficking.

When David Platt asked “Does your heart belong to Jesus,” he asked those who wanted to accept Christ into their hearts for the first time to stand up. And people stood up all around the arena. They were given glow sticks. and one by one glow sticks were broken and shone around the arena. I couldn’t help but smile. There was a sense of joy seeing members added to my spiritual family right in front of me. And I think that this joy is what should drive me and all of us to continue and spread the gospel even in my hometown.

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People all around the stadium came to Christ Wednesday morning.

I recall hearing a story this week about someone who came to Urbana for the “Hack4Missions” hackathon, and because of the conference, he gave his life for Christ. Praise the Lord.

618 people came to Christ during the entire conference.

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Lunchtime: The Bookstore. 

David Platt stopped by for a book signing.

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I decided to line up to have my book signed by David Platt… and I got to say hi to him! 🙂

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Story: While I was standing in line, I asked the person behind to take a picture with my Sony digital camera. His name is Josh. He then asked me if I could take a picture for him on my camera and send it to him via e-mail (instead of using a phone). Of course, I said yes! In a quick conversation afterwards, I learned that he was part of the Marine Corps, almost done with his service. This is where it gets exciting. Continuing our conversation, a girl walked up to us and interrupted us and said something in the lines of: “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but did I hear that you’re part of the military? Because I joined and I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out.” At that point I was happy to leave them to talk. I was witnessing a brother helping a sister he didn’t know out with her worries about the future. Wow.

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A new friend Josh (right) sharing his military experience.

The bookstore had so many books. And most of them were significantly discounted.

Afternoon: Hack4Missions (blog post about Hack4Missions will come later)

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Night Session: Testimony and Communion
-we heard a testimony that I can’t go into detail about. However, the anonymous speaker encouraged us the reach out the international students, because they might be the ones who will bring the gospel back to their homes!
we also had a communion at Urbana Wednesday night

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Communion at Urbana 2015

Keep in an eye out for Day 5. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂 Happy New Year!