Monday, August 18, 2014

Encouragement for the The Healing Process

Just Some of the Cards and Notes from Kansas and GA

How does one begin the healing process from a traumatic experience?

One thing for sure, it is not alone. 

Encouragement from You
Many people reached out to us to help in the midst of pain and loss. I am grateful for all of you--for your messages via Facebook, emails, and all the wonderful cards and notes that arrived with our counselors when they came (having traveled through Kansas).I have taken my time to read over them many times--all the cards from my church and my LIFE group in Kansas, as well as from special people in Georgia! Many people from my home church wrote to Jennifer, too, when they did not even know her personally. She was deeply touched!

I want you all to know that I cherish every card and note I received, every email message, every message on Facebook, and every prayer you have prayed on our behalf. 

I was especially touched by the Scripture passages that many of you sent, as well as the words of the cards you carefully picked out (or handmade) as well as all the affirming comments. Each encouraging word and every prayer served as a force to buoy my faith and stamina upward.

Encouragement from our Counselors

We were so blessed to have our counselors (Ned and Marlene McGrady from WGM) arrive from the U.S. to be with us for four days. (In the picture to the right you see Ned when he first arrived at the Lagos airport, wearing a clerical collar to help speed through immigration and customs. And, he really is an ordained minister. It sure helped!) We spent the first day in Lekki, away from our home, debriefing. The second day, we traveled in to Ipaja to the Guest House (where the robbery took place). We were with our counselors as we went in and processed what it was like to be back. On the third and fourth days we also had sessions with our friends at WATS, many of whom were also hurting greatly. Nigerians care very much about their guests. To have their guests harmed in any way grieved them deeply. Our counselors sought to serve the officials at WATS as well as us.

Our counselors helped us to engage in a holistic way of processing the acute post-traumatic stress. We reflected upon how we are doing cognitively, emotionally, behaviorally, and spiritually. This was a very helpful way to begin to work  through the stress.

Encouragement from our Regional Directors
Jon and Vera Steury, pictured on the left, have been in the U.S. and in Kenya during this past month since the robbery. But, they have been virtually by our side each step of the way in our recovery process. They will arrive this Friday, the 22nd of August, to spend five days with us and to go with us back to the Guest House as we move back to live there full-time again. Their Skype sessions have been invaluable throughout the last month and we are so happy they are coming soon. 

Encouragement from Security Improvements
Seeing concrete changes in security efforts also serves as an encouragement. Alarms (with panic buttons), two-way radios, as well as new training for security guards and structural changes in the house (installing a bullet-proof door at the base of the steps that lead to our rooms) all serve as an encouragement that an intrusion such as we experienced should not happen again. 

We are still staying in a safe location while security improvements are completed. At the suggestion of our counselors, we are going back to work gradually, 2 days last week, 3 days this week and next week, full-time. We are commuting from Ikoyi this week.

Encouragement from Progress
Our counselors explained that while going through acute post-traumatic stress as we have been experiencing, we should sense a lessening of stress in frequency and intensity. For instance, we should have fewer and fewer flashbacks to that night. And the flashbacks should begin to fade and not be so intense. Anxiety over being in our bedrooms should lessen in the same way over time. I believe this is, indeed, happening for us. 

I am also experiencing less intensity and frequency of physical pain. I had a set-back last week when I developed costochondritis--an inflammation of the cartilage between the sternum and ribs (see picture above). This condition is from the blunt force trauma to my ribs I experienced during the assault. It should go away in a week or so, but it has  been very painful. Jennifer has been an excellent doctor to diagnose and treat it. I sense that I am getting a little better each day--a lessening of the frequency and intensity of the pain!

Encouragement from the Work Ahead
Jennifer and I are energized by the work ahead. We are eager to go back, to rejoin our friends at WATS on a full-time basis because we know this work is meaningful,  important, and urgent. Students are waiting to take the course I had to postpone. Even though I need to recreate all the materials I had prepared for that course that was on the stolen computer, I am eager to get to it. Scripture tells us to work now while we can. 

The time is coming when no one can work. The doctor I saw in a Nigerian hospital told me that since the thieves were angry that they did not find a bigger treasure in our missionary compound, they might have easily killed us. I am very aware of the fact that my life is like a mist or a vapor that is here today and gone soon. I want to make the most of all the days I have on this earth. 

Encouragement from the Word 
In the early 90s, I remember reading the message on a T-shirt that a young college student was wearing. It was long ago, but I can see that T-shirt clearly in my mind's eye. It said, "Life is short. Read the Book. Pray hard."

As I "Read the Book, (the Bible)" I am encouraged. Kristey Wiebers, a good friend from my LIFE Group in Kansas, sent me a card that has key things that God wants me to remember. She said inside the card that she is sure I know these things, but that it is good to have a visual reminder. She is so right. Here are some of those things I will remember from God's Word which encourages me: God says to me

            • I am for you.
            • I love you.
            • I believe in you.
            • I will not fail you.
            • I will provide for you.
            • I will be with you.
            • I will bless you.
            • I will give you rest.
            • I will strengthen you.
            • I will answer you.
In the 17th chapter of Gospel of Luke, we read that 10 lepers called out to Jesus for Him to heal them. He gave them a command--Go and show yourselves to the priest. This command required them to believe they would be healed as they went because the job of the priest was to look at their healed bodies and pronounce them clean. The 10 men had to believe their healing would come as they walked to the priest. The Scripture says that they were healed as they went.

I am not totally healed. But, I am encouraged, and I believe I will be healed as I go. 

Thank you for your prayers, well wishes, notes, email messages, and cards. They were like a life line to me. May God return the blessing upon you in the same way you have blessed me.