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Merry Christmas! & Update From Michael
Just wanted to touch base with everyone and let you all know I made it back safe last week and have been resting / dealing with health issues since. I've been in to see a doctor and have had multiple tests done, and while they haven't been able to pinpoint it specifically, the good news is that I am getting better and my appetite and strength are slowly returning. My hunch is that the second time I got sick, there were so many meds pumped into me, anti-biotic, anti-parasite, anti-ameoba, etc that my system was just overwhelmed. Im still dealing with nausea, headaches, and now a head cold, but Im hopeful that the worst is behind me.
I know some will question me in that it may or may not be worth it to go into these areas like the Philippines after a disaster because there are clearly some dangers in regards to getting hurt, sick or even killed. I've been through this enough to know that, I personally must take every precaution for my own safety first, then for those I am with and helping. I'm very careful about not putting myself into a situation I cannot get out of, and if I wasn't confident I could get medical help or get out of there, I wouldn't go.
All this said, on the flip side, I also accept the fact that even with all these precautions and calculations, things still happen. I was asked today "Knowing what you know now, would you still go?" and the answer is "Of course." Without question the most rewarding work I feel I am involved with, it is deeply meaningful, significant and in face of the risks, I just have to the best I can to be careful, and whatever happens, I submit myself to those consequences. I think I was more worried about mobs in Haiti, or the radioactive fallout in Japan, but my reasoning is that there are a lot of suffering people there and someone has to get in there.
I try not to get too religious on the blog, but this might be insightful for those of you who are curious and actually read these rambling posts I occasionally write. Maybe I'm just caring less and less about what people think about me, or I am sick of tippy toeing around what is viewed as "proper" by society. I'm starting to feel that life is too short to not say what you really mean when it is appropriate and even if it conflicts with others views there are still appropriate ways to express yourself. This is my blog, so I should be able to really say whatever the heck I want. Right?
I pretty much say a little prayer before each of these trips that goes like this: "Heavenly Father, I feel like I need to get over there and help my suffering brothers and sisters, I feel like you want me to go, and I am going with the belief that you will lead and guide me over there. I pray that I can be a tool in your hands, and whatever it is you want me to do, I just ask that you lead me, guide me, protect me, help me to know your will and whatever it is you want to do to me in the process, I also accept this."
The reason why this is important to me is because it allows me to go with confidence (believing that God wants me to go and is guiding me) as well as humility (because I am relying on Him for help and submitting to whatever the consequences are, including death or disease).
Maybe it sounds crazy, but that mindset in a disaster situation has really helped me overcome my fears, accept my shortcomings & failures, find a plan, connect the dots and do as much good as humanly possible in the time I am working there. It is such a wonderful opportunity to wake and think "Lets see how much good we can do today" and then find every possible opportunity to make something happen. It might be on a large scale for thousands of people, it might be something very small, maybe for a single person, or even a child. We just cannot measure the positive effect it will have, it is impossible to measure the potential of a good seed sown in soil that is ready to accept it and how it will change.
I also know that I benefit beyond measure as well, learn to be grateful for so many things, have a deep appreciation for health now, to use my time wisely, to focus on what matters. Ill eventually get over whatever it is that has made me so ill, and in the end Ill be a better person for it too. I learned a lot of important things over there, need to have my 5301c ready to go for the next time (paperwork being resubmitted now) and also need to put together a video showing what we did and how we did it, simply for the sake of accountability.
Im also starting to re-pack my "go bag". It came back almost completely empty. It sure takes a lot of time to get everything I need together in there, but I think I am back to about 85%. Ive already made some changes as to what is in there, just keep on trying to make it lighter and smaller. Need to order a huge amount of MREs.
A huge thank you to Kate Justice, my assistant for running everything while I was gone, with the blog and support emails, contest. She ran the whole show while I was gone. Also a big thank you to Adam Pope for helping with editing and the video conversions.
I also want to wish everyone a very Happy and Merry Christmas. I thank you all so much for your support over the years and it really means more to me than I could ever express.