Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Surf Texas: World Burn Congress

Jake and I recently found out that we will be attending the World Burn Congress. This is an annual gathering of more than 700 burn survivors, families, care givers, burn professionals and firefighters put on by the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. It is a forum of encouragement and facilitation of stories, support and increasing knowledge of burn recovery. For many it is the first opportunity to meet and share with others who have experienced burn trauma.

This year it is in Galveston, Texas, and though as a family we all really wanted to go, we do not have the finances to make that work. What a blessing it was when Scott from the the San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation called Jake and offered to send him and me. Jake and I are excited for a father-son trip... Jake did some googling and was excited to see it is a surf town.

Surfing Texas may not happen because a few weeks ago Jake got an infection in his thumb. He was surfing and hit it slightly on a rock. It was a good reminder that anything "normal" is not really "normal" around these injuries. Jake only has one blood vessel instead of two so infection is more likely. Plus he was in the ocean - not a very sterile environment. Debbie took him to the hospital and he was almost admitted. They had not seen a thumb like this before - grafted, fused, swollen, red... they put Jake on some anti-biotics and followed up a few days later with a plastic surgeon. Things are a ton better but as of yesterday he still has not been cleared for the ocean - suffering surfer! Today he is getting a new splint made to better protect his thumb when he is using it - have you ever tried not using your thumb for a day?




For me personally being able to attend the World Burn Congress is an opportunity to open up the ministry door a little wider as we continue to explore what God has for us. It is a humbling joy to weekly serve as a chaplain to the Burn Unit and other ICU's at Valley Medical. I get to visit nurses, doctors, therapists and patients in a place that was a significant part of this journey. I remember each time I walk in how hard it was to be there - how I could at times only stay in for minutes - while I watched Jake struggle for life. Now I get to engage in conversation with others on their journey. Though each story is different - there exists a bond in the suffering. The best ministry that we can have is by simply being present - showing up - listening - loving.

Recently in the burn unity I was able to visit with a woman who had been badly burned. The first time I visited her, she could not talk so I shared a bit why I was there which included a brief story about Jake. Each week as a came in - there was huge improvement. You know how it is when you do not see a friends kids for while - your amazed at how they have grown? Growth when we are up close seems so slow...we need to step back and remember. The last time I saw her she was in a wheel chair sitting up and smiling. I was so excited and told her so. We talked for a while and I honestly do not remember if I prayed with her or not and I went to the next room. As I was gowning up, her husband poked his head in the door: "you can come back anytime - that is the first time I have seen her smile in a week." I really did not do anything - I just showed up.

The best ministry that we can have is being present - showing up - listening - loving.

God continues to direct us in creating this Santa Cruz Compassion Network - not in our timing but in His. Stepping forward in faith is about being present - showing up - listening -loving. We are still in the development stage as we raise funds and engage in conversations, forming to what God is leading. But honestly, each day I remember what we have been given by the community and that leads me to a vision of providing that ministry to others. One step at a time.

Grace and peace,

Tom (daddy)