thoughts on experimental health care, drug companies, MS, hope, diet soda, and God (part 4 of who knows how many)

so i’ve been a little worried, due to some of the stuff that i’ve been writing lately, that our friends think that our entire lives are doom and gloom, nothing but heartache and pain and struggle. while it’s obviously true that we are in a difficult season in our lives with lots of anxiety around health issues, it’s also true that in the midst of all of that, and quite possibly because of it, we are still enjoying life and have lots of day-to-day joy. while these blogs are an attempt to outline the journey i/we are experiencing on the road to costa rica, and that involves articulating some of the harder stuff, i’d hate people to think that the hard stuff is eclipsing how wonderful our lives have been and continue to be. life truly is good for us and we have so many wonderful moments of happiness, love and community that we feel very honestly priviledged to have been given the many gifts that this life has brought us.

so having said all of that, i’ll try and keep this one completely pain free and attempt to articulate a couple of the many moments of pure joy that we have experienced lately. actually, i’ll just focus on today’s events alone.

erinn and i stood up in front of the wonderful folks of our church last week and outlined the two biggest prayer requests on our hearts these days (erinn’s mother elaine who had a very serious and beautifully successful surgery on friday and my upcoming surgery in 10 days time). the church has responded so wonderfully. today yet another 2 members of our church community showed up with meals for us to enjoy at dinner times so that we don’t have the added day to day concerns of making food in the midst of getting through the days.

then again today, something else so incredibly wonderful happened to us that it will be impossible to say how much it really means. most of you know that erinn and i have both committed our lives to journeying alongside people who, for one reason or another, have ended up living lives of dire poverty either on the street or in marginal housing. for me it’s as the director of the salvation army gateway, a 108-bed shelter for men who are currently homeless. for erinn it’s as the managing director of parkdale neighbourhood church (pnc), located in one of toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods. this is a small community where over 90% of the members are experiencing significant mental health issues, many of whom are homeless or living in very poor housing conditions; most do not and cannot work and therefore they have very little money to get by on.

incidentally, our career choices are another case where many people looking in on us from the outside think that our jobs are all about pain and brokenness and that we must therefore be so selflessly sacrificial to be giving of ourselves all the time. but the reality is, we get so much more out of this work than we bring to it. i know i do this out of quite selfish motives in many ways. the things that we’ve learned, the relationships that we’ve formed, the way that our faith has grown, and the joy we receive from having the priviledge of befriending such amazing people that most others have left behind, is a gift that very much brings us joy unspeakable. today was no exception.

you will all know that we needed to raise a lot of money in order to go to costa rica and have the procedure done. well, the folks at pnc love erinn so much that they wanted to contribute financially to this as well. this little group of lovely people who have almost no money, who most people would look at and feel pity and even some loathing for, have for weeks been secretly taking up offerings so that they could give some money to erinn today at church before we leave. in a little plastic baggy full of loose change and some bills (including a ton of pennies that were so obviously all that some of the folks owned but yet were willing to part with out of their love for erinn) was an amazing $157.98. this little baggy of money is more precious than gold to us- it speaks volumes to us about how deeply we really are loved by so many people. now we are faced with the sacred responsibility of spending it well.

so today, one week from the day we leave for costa rica to hopefully be set free of this disease, i feel loved and blessed.

to end this entry today, my prayer to the creator and sustainer of all things is simply this:
thank-you.
amen

we leave one week from tomorrow

2 thoughts on “thoughts on experimental health care, drug companies, MS, hope, diet soda, and God (part 4 of who knows how many)”

  1. tsreitsma says:

    Dion,
    Your strength never ceases to amaze me !!! I am so proud to be able to call you my friend ! My prayers go with you & Erin on your journey next week.

    Shelly

  2. Doug Koop says:

    Dion and Erinn,

    Margaret and I are hoping and trusting for the best possible result for you from the liberation treatment. While Margaret's symptoms are not so severe as yours, she too yearns to be released from these chronic restrictions on ordinary life. Your attitude is inspiring. May God choose this treatment to restore your body.

    Blessings,
    Doug and Margaret

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