I was born in the Philippines and came to Canada in early 1986. From birth my life has been plagued by illness after illness. I think that one of the main reasons we came to Canada was because of the great medical coverage.
On August 27, 1998, I found out that I had a congenital heart defect called coarctation of the aorta. I went to several specialists over the next few months after the diagnosis and because of that, my schoolwork suffered. I was frustrated because I was used to being a good student who consistently got A's. During that time, I went through the worst academic stretch of my life. My confidence in my abilities dramatically fell. My hair started falling out from stress and I had trouble sleeping.
When news of my illness went public, I received constant support from the brothers and sisters in Christ meeting with the church in Vancouver. Without their prayer and encouragement, I don't know where I would be now.
The night before the surgery, I could not sleep because I was haunted by the fact that there was only a 98% chance that I would survive. To many people, that would be enough, but to me it was a 2% chance of not waking up. I prayed that night and turned to the Bible. I opened up to the middle of it and pointed to a verse. Remarkably it was Psalm 23:4. I said to myself, "2, 3, 4, what are the odds of that?" I read the verse and it struck me deeply because it said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me." Then I fell asleep.
After the surgery, I stayed in the hospital for two weeks. During that time, I was visited by many brothers and sisters from the church who came and prayed with me. Without them, I do not know how the recovery period would have gone. I am constantly reminded of a hymn based on Noah's experience in the ark that goes, "Praise You Lord! We're safe in You,/ Outside death-waters pour./ Many things that I once loved/ Are on the ocean floor./ Keep me open to You Lord,/ Don't let us miss the mark./ Hallelujah, Praise the Lord,/ We're here within the church, the Ark."