Thursday, April 2, 2020

Stories and Sustenance

Debi’s Story

Hey there! I would like to share a couple of stories about how God has changed my life and been so evident by His perfect timing. There are so, so many more stories of His mercy, grace, forgiveness, discipline, and love that we definitely do not have the time for me to share all of them.  I’m just so very grateful and amazed, overwhelmed and humbled by Him and His love for me – for each of us – for His perfect timing. Please listen to this song, “Thy Will’” which has come to mean so much to me these past few years.

There was a young teenage girl that went to our church in Mariposa.  Her name was Susan. When she graduated from high school she was drawn to an orphanage in Hong Kong where she served God and the children for several years.  Whenever she came home she would speak about China and the work God was doing there and ask people to join her for a short missions trip.  I would always say “NO!” My reasons were because I am an American female, and Americans were being kidnapped and killed all over the world.  I had promised myself I would stay safely within her borders and be content with sponsoring missionaries.  She kept asking for several years always receiving an adamant “NO!” from me.

Susan left the orphanage and began working with Youth With A Mission – YWAM. Our oldest son, Jeremy, went on several short term mission trips with Susan and YWAM during this time. When they would come home they would share their stories of how God had used them and blessed them.  But I never felt the calling to go anywhere outside of the US especially to a communist country like China.

Well, in Spring of 2007, Susan was once again home, sharing her stories and asking if anyone wanted to come on a month long trip to Hong Kong and China in the Fall with YWAM. I again was going to say “No.” When she approached me, I was preparing myself to say “No.” Instead, I felt a washing flow over me and overwhelm me.  Tears began gushing out of my eyes. I began shaking. I felt a freedom like I had never felt before, a release from my fears, and I said, “YES! Yes, I will go!  Yes, yes, yes!” Susan and I were both crying, the people around us were hugging us, it was amazing!

The Sunday after that, I announced to the church that I was going to China.  I would need to raise $2,500 for support in order to go.  We took a special offering that morning and God’s people had given me over $3,000, just like that!! I was able to give our son Jeremy, who was going with me, a part of the money from the church with their blessing.  God really threw open the doors!

Hong Kong and China were amazing!  I can’t tell you all the stores about what happened, but I can say my life was changed in so many ways.  We were not able to share about God and we even had to be careful talking to each other while outside in case special “ears” were listening.  But we felt His presence everywhere! I felt safe.
One of the stories I will share with you happened in a small village we stayed in for 1 ½ weeks.  Our “roles” were to be tourists and to form relationship with several businesses so the missionaries living there would then have an in-road to beginning a relationship with them.

One of the things we were taught before getting to the village was that the Chinese people were not huggers.  We were to keep distance from them so as not to offend them. So, keeping that in mind, Susan and I went to the same bakery every morning, and the same bubble tea place in the afternoon.  The workers began to have our orders ready for us when they saw us coming. The last day we were going to be in the village, we tried to pantomime that we were flying home. At first, they did not understand. But as they began to understand what we were saying, they came out from behind the counter and, with tears in their eyes, hugged us!  I mean really hugged us! We were all crying.  It was so hard to leave that special place.  I will always remember them.

The other story I would like to share is about a young woman named Peng Yangui, but her English name is Jessica. She was a senior in high school in Nanning, a large city in southern China. Our group went to a class she was in so we could speak English with them. We enjoyed talking with them. That evening we all met at an outdoor coffee house and talked more, played games, and laughed a lot. Jessica and I exchanged email addresses, even though I would not be able to email her first.  We said our goodbyes that night and went our separate ways.

It was several months later, after I got home from China, that I received an email from Jessica.  We began writing back and forth regularly.  She was coming to the US to go to college in a year. It was also during that time that we moved to Portland, which is another crazy story of God’s timing for another day.  Jessica chose the University of Oregon in Eugene so she could be close to us.  We were all so excited!!

Jessica was to begin attending U of O in January of 2009, so she came to us in Portland the December before. It just so happened that it was during the worst blizzard Portland had in decades! She was stuck in her plane on the tarmac for 3 hours not understanding what was happening.  When she finally got off the plane, I ran to her, both of us crying and hugging.  I think Bruce even got a bit teary-eyed.

And that was the beginning of our relationship with our Chinese daughter. We spent many Thanksgivings, Christmas’, and Spring Breaks together. She calls us her American Parents.
Years later, Jessica graduated from college, had her 22nd birthday and got married to Shifeng all in one week. Bruce officiated their marriage ceremony! We’ve met her parents and spent several visits with them when they’ve come to the US. When Shifeng became a US citizen, he stayed with us and we accompanied him to his ceremony.

They now have 2 small boys, Shuchen and Shudi, who call us Mimi and Papa. We’ve spent some vacations with them, too. Plus, if the Corona Virus hadn’t raised its ugly head, they would be here now and you could’ve met them. But they will come out some other time.

All of this happened by the grace of God and in His perfect timing by setting me free from my fear of going outside of my protective borders. I would never have met Jessica. We would never have been a part of her story. We wouldn’t have 2 adorable little grandsons.  All because of God’s grace and His perfect timing.

I’ve shared a bit about my cancer and God’s timing, but let me tell you a bit more.
In December of 2013, my Dad, who lived in Fresno, CA, was very ill so we went to visit at Christmas time. I went to visit him in January, 2014, and again in February. My annual physical was supposed to be in January, but I had cancelled it. When I went down to visit in March, it was to say goodbye to him because he was in a coma until he died on March 16. Hard times.

Bruce had stopped working for the Church of God District Offices by this time, so we no longer had health insurance.  When he began teaching at Warner Pacific College in the Fall we once again had health insurance beginning in August. I was working for Parkrose Hardware in Portland and had been for a while as a salesperson for lawn & garden. We needed some help in the purchasing department so I applied for the job.  I began working in purchasing in August, working M-F, 8-5, instead of irregular floor hours as a salesperson.

On Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, I called to make an appointment for my physical and was told there were no openings until October. But Wait!! A cancellation just opened up for the very next Monday, Sept. 15 so I took it.

During my physical my doctor, a beautiful Christian woman, found the lump in my right breast.  She immediately set up a mammogram and an ultra sound for the next day, Tuesday.  I was numb.

At the same time, our daughter-in-law, Jody (Chione’s mom), had developed a lump on her neck that we were concerned with.  Her grandmother, mother, and uncle had all died from the same stomach cancer.  She was scheduled to have a biopsy Tuesday, the same day I had my mammogram and ultra sound. I hadn’t told anyone, but a few weeks earlier when we found out about Jody’s lump, I prayed that God would take her cancer and give it to me because Chione needed her mom more than she needed me.

We were told that I had a lump that was still Stage 1, so we did a biopsy on Wednesday.

Thursday, we found out Jody did not have cancer! I praised God for that, but as I was praising Him, I realized that if she didn’t have cancer, I did.

Friday we got the phone call that confirmed what I believed already.  Ductal Carcinoma of the right breast.  So began the appointments:  meeting my oncologist, meeting my surgeon, making plans for surgery. We were told that since it was still Stage 1 that I would not need chemotherapy.  Probably  just radiation.
The surgery was on October 7th. The lump ended being bigger than first believed and there were also some cells in my sentinel lymph node, thus taking it into Stage 2.  But we were still hopeful about the treatments.

My tumor was sent to be analyzed to find out how aggressive it would be in my body. We found out it was extremely aggressive and I would have to go through 2 rounds of chemo and 5 weeks of radiation – not what we wanted to hear, but we knew WHO was in control and WHO was guiding those involved with my treatments.

My first round of chemo began the last Friday of October.  I lost my hair the first week – bummer.  But I actually liked not having hair:  no shaving legs or underarms, lots of hats, no shampoo. Chione liked to pat my bald head.  She was 3 at the time.  November was rough as I was hospitalized for dehydration. But the first round ended the last part of December.

My bosses at Parkrose Hardware were amazing while I went through all of this.  They were very gracious about my schedule for I was allowed to work four 9 hour days M-Th, and Friday mornings for 4 hours to keep up my full time schedule because of chemo on Friday afternoons. God’s timing once again because if I hadn’t gotten the job in purchasing, it’s very doubtful that I could have worked full time during my treatments as a salesperson on the floor.
My 2nd round of chemo began in January and ended the first of April. It left me with numb spots on the bottom of my feet and my left shin and calf.  But I felt alright during that round.

I began radiation in April and ended on May 4, 2014.  EVERY DAY that I went in for radiation, KLOVE played Keri Jobe’s song “I Am Not Alone,” either on my way there or going to work after treatments. Once again God’s timing with KLOVE and His music was perfect. And I am very excited to let you all know that my 5 year anniversary of being cancer free is this coming May 4th!! To God be the glory!!
God’s timing was so perfect through all of this.  If Dad hadn’t been sick, I would’ve had my checkup in January when the tumor hadn’t started yet.  By the next January, it might have been too late.

I would not have been able to work full time if I hadn’t gotten the new job in purchasing.

Bruce’s insurance with WPC began in August and ended the 31st of May.
The timing between the discovery of the tumor and the surgery to remove it and my sentinel node in my right arm was September 15 through October 7th, less than a month.
You called us here to 2nd St. just 6 months after my treatments ended.
If we hadn’t moved to PDX in 2008, I probably would not have survived because of the lack of cancer specialists in our area.

If I hadn’t gone to China in 2007, we would not have Jessica and her family in our lives today.

So many things would be so different for our family if not for God’s perfect timing.  I’ve learned how to rest in Him and trust Him more.  I’ve learned that He created me to be a warrior.  I’ve learned that I need Him more and more each day.  I’ve learned that He is all I need.  He will not leave me or forsake me.  He is love. And His timing is perfect. Please take a moment and reflect on His perfect timing in your lives as you listen to Kari Jobe sing “I Am Not Alone.” Thanks! 

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