From the monthly archives:

November 2005

Give No Thought for Tomorrow…

by Original Author on November 8, 2005

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

If I could put into words the extreme ups and downs we have experienced the past six weeks since the first confinement at St. Luke’s Hospital I would, just for those who may indeed experience the same thing in the future. But I cannot put it into the right words…

We have cried, we have prepared our financial profile so that I would know how to manage this huge household without Gus… I know there are so many of you that have had this same experience. Or maybe you did not even have the time to plan before your love one died unexpectedly.

Just at the time we had resigned ourselves that this was our lot, another doctor would walk in the room and say, “Gus, we are not sure, maybe it is not cancer”. After many such experiences the past six weeks we would not know how to react. Should we be excited or should we wait until the next “shoe to fall” and another doctor would tell us that there had been another mistake!

You know, if you have followed our journey through the “unknown” that we were told that a hospital in the United States had confirmed their diagnosis that they were 99% sure Gus had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. And so, we came to Manila with enough clothing to last at least three weeks, understanding that Gus would probably have surgery to remove this large tumor and then start Chemotherapy treatment.

The first thing that happened when we settled in our room was that, Gus was to undergo another CT scan. The results were astounding!!! This tumor that was supposed to be malignant had actually decreased to half the size it was before! How could it be medically? You and I both know that God knows and I believe He heard the prayer of the saints!

The doctors were still not convinced it was not cancer but doubting. The next step was a bone marrow biopsy. The initial “first look diagnosis” was that there were aggregate lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Must be malignant, but we were told to wait for the official results in four days.

Since they appeared to still be in doubt, the hospital that did the diagnosis in the U.S. requested an open biopsy for a larger piece of tumor. It would have been a ten inch incision going through a lot of tissue and life threatening since the tumor in question is between the Aorta and the Kidney. We said, “No”. There is not enough evidence to warrant that. The tumor which we thought to be malignant IV stage cancer had decreased. It would certainly have grown if it was malignant. The next step was to undergo a PET scan. A wonderful diagnostic machine which picks up cancer anywhere in the body. If he had lymphoma surely the PET scan would show cancerous lymph nodes in other places in his body.

Once again as I sat next to him while he was in the machine I lost it! The music in the room was horrible. Like funeral music! They had to measure him to make sure his “shoulders” would fit through the machine and then they wrapped him. He looked like he was in a coffin. I just wanted out of that room but the door was locked. I wanted to run out into the streets of Manila and scream until I could not scream anymore. Everyone thinks I am so strong, so independent. I am not independent, I am not strong. I depend on Gus. “Who am I going to discuss scripture with?” I thought. And just who am I going to fuss at when they can’t find their glasses which are always on top of his head. And the “silly things” kept racing through my mind. And then the young attendant said, “Mom Betty, the test is over”, No, I thought it is never over. This test of faith or lack of it is never over. But one day, thank God we will see Him face to face and everything will be a reality. Don’t you long for that day? I do.

We went back to our room waiting for the results. This could be our conclusive evidence one way or another. The doctor called us on the telephone immediately. The PET scan revealed only one isolated problem which was the tumor and that it looked more like an “abscess” than cancer. Thank you! Thank you God! When the doctors all finally gathered in our room and admitted that they and the doctor in the U.S. have been confounded with all this. I said, please we all need to take note of a lesson here. We are not in control. God is and He is letting us all know it!

Recommended treatment? The same antibiotic they gave him when we were in St. Like’s last time to be taken for one month. We will return in six weeks for another CT scan. They will not find a trace of the abscess next time, I am convinced!

Thank you my dear friends!

Mom Betty

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Philippines More and Recent News of Brother Gus Harter

by Original Author on November 1, 2005

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter

I send a letter each month to those who have requested it and also for any who have contributed to this work. I have received so many emails and calls who are concerned and prayerful regarding the diagnosis of cancer. I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for your prayers and concern. Also this letter will update you as to the current development in this difficulty. This is a copy of this month’s letter

Please forgive the delay in this letter. I have been waiting for a medical report from the U.S. before sending my letter. In September my wife was hospitalized in Manila for test on her heart for fear of a stroke or heart attack. We are thankful after several tests the Physicians decided to allow her to return home with medication. During my stay with her I developed some intense stomach pain. My wife’s physician advised me to undergo certain test which revealed a large tumor in my abdomen between my left kidney and the aorta artery. The first diagnosis was that it was cancerous but later they changed and admitted they could not determine the cause. The material gained from the biopsy was sent to the United States to aid in the diagnosis. Yesterday the report finally arrived. It was positive, the tumor is malignant. It is called large cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. On November 2, 2005 I will be leaving for Manila for treatment. At this time I am ignorant as to the method of treatment, time of recovery, rate of remission, stage of decease or host of other factors. But the Lord willing I do not plan to go back to the United States. In Manila they have an excellent hospital and most of the doctors were trained in the U.S. Hopefully by December I will be able to continue my labor among the ministry and churches. As of the last month we have 132 congregations and there seems to be no end in sight to our continued growth. Please pray our Lord will be our physician. The softest pillow for a sick man is the belief in the sovereignty of God. Please pray for us and the work ahead.

Thank you for your continued support in our work. Beauty for Ashes is very effective in their work of mercy. We presently have to turn down children who desire a permanent home for lack of room. The appreciation from the both the community and the children we help is a constant source of encouragement. The twelve little ones who are all under four years of age and we keep in our home are a daily blessing but sometimes overwhelming. As I view the ones who are physically impaired I often think of the book written by Dale Evans, “An Angel Unaware”. She wrote the experience of caring for her daughter who had Down Syndrome. She explained the blessing brought to her by her care of this child and entitled her book from Hebrews 13:1 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”. Many of these children are our angels.

With the many ministers conference I have held through out the Philippines we give out literature, both books and pamphlets with my name, address and telephone numbers. I am now receiving both mail and text messages from interested ministers, especially on the doctrines of grace. I look at this type of ministry as an excellent tool of evangelism. We are presently using a slow copier, collate and putting it together by hand. I do plan in the near future to purchase a copier that will aid in printing more books and pamphlets.

In September and in October we enjoyed and rejoiced in excellent ordinations. In September we ordained three men in Surigao City and in October we ordained three men in Molave. Both of these cities are on the island of Mindanao. All six of these candidates answered their question with clarity and completeness. These men were trained by two of our national ministers. In Surigao City they were mentored by Elder Tony Decena and in Molave by Elder Manolo Dalman. Both Brother Manolo and Brother Tony are true Kingdom men and have a genuine concern for the cause of our Lord.

Several months back we purchase 6 acres from donations and our personal money from the sale of our home in the United States. One of the reasons for this land is to have a farm to provide food for the children, clinic and our large family. Our purpose is to make the compound as self-sustaining as possible. Because of expenses and medical problem we have not proceeded in building on our property. I am burdened even more since learning of my cancer to build housing for all of us. Our rental house where we have the clinic and 18 of our children is much too small and in disrepair. Also our home with the remainder of the children needs to be located on the farm with all the children. We are going forward with the farm. We are both clearing the land and planting some crops. In my last letter in September I mentioned how you can help. Elder Travis Housley has two containers with electrical supplies that will be shipped from Nicholesville, Kentucky and from Newman or Jackson, Georgia. They will both be shipped the last of November. He has graciously offered to allow us to freely ship in this container any farm tools that any would like to donate to us. This will include hand tools, rakes, hoes, shovels, pitchfork, axes, hammers, wrenches, and machine tools, old lawn mowers, chain saws, edger’s, weed eaters, etc. This is a fix it society in the Philippines so if it is old or even broken that’s alright we will fix it. From Kentucky call Allan Hisel in Lexington, Kentucky, home number; 859-983-4313 or his cell phone; 859-255-8780. If you have anything to donate from Georgia call Dave Bergman home number; 770-619-1878 or cell phone; 404-375-8533. Thank you for anything you would like to donate.

In spite of the difficulty medically, excluding the few days I had stomach pain, I have felt good. I became restless waiting for the results from America. I left home on two preaching trips with success. I did not become excessively tired even driving over rough roads 5 to 10 hours a day. When the results arrived I had a difficult time accepting them as accurate. However our doctor assured me they were correct and that treatment should start now. I realize that cancer is no respecter of persons and that our Lord is in control. He will not give us more than we can bear. Therefore pray for us as we face these difficult days.

Gus Harter

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