…Even in gorgeous New Zealand.

We have had a few ‘set backs’ to kick start 2014.

One of the problems with Facebook and social media, we find, is that it leads to superficiality. People only reveal what they want others to view: usually their best-looking photographs, accomplishments, or successes. Not often do people produce genuine, REAL life stories.

Well, Evan and I try to be genuine, and so we are filling you in on the trials we face abroad, in addition to all the incredible travel adventures.

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During and after our amazing 3 week holiday with both sets of parents, I began feeling sore. I had started feeling hip pains, nausea, and pressure on my bladder and other organs. At first, we thought I was pregnant, but weeks of multiple negative pregnancy tests concluded that no, we were not.

Finally, in early March, an ultrasound confirmed that I had a fibroid that was about the size of an orange, maybe a grapefruit. A fibroid, for lack of a better word, is a tumor. Using that word certainly gives a heaviness to the situation. In hindsight, we have since learned that MANY women have these, but I was just unlucky to have a quite large, symptomatic one at an age much younger than most cases. However we were hopeful that, like most fibroids, mine was also benign. Unfortunately, we would not know this for sure until surgeons conducted a biopsy, post surgery.

March and April were filled with research of treatment options, both in New Zealand and in the States. As symptoms worsened and my overall state of well-being declined, we knew we couldn’t wait to have this semi-elective surgery. We decided we couldn’t afford to have an un-insured operation in Atlanta, and we felt confident in the surgeon we had here in New Zealand. We also discovered that, due to the size and location of the mass, we required open-abdominal surgery.

So, the date was set for May 19.

And we waited…and waited…and waited…quietly. It’s amazing how long a few weeks can take when you don’t feel well.

This waiting period was also filled with my own growing fears. I feared (and still do) the implications this might have for growing our family in the future. Every back, hip, or stomach pain turned into my fear of an aggressive malignancy spreading. My body ached. I was exhausted and felt like a horrible teacher, as I tried to produce 100% while physically operating at around 50%. I also knew I shouldn’t worry, so I felt at constant odds within myself-trying to ‘pray away’ my worries, but I continued to worry all the same. My poor optimistic husband had his work cut out for him!

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 So, we planned a trip to Australia to take our minds off the medical drama of the past two months, but our holiday was still a bit shadowed by our looming operation date and my persistent pain. But we still managed to make the most of it!! Check out our previous update at Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.

Finally, the day arrived.

We were very blessed to have my mother come over again (only 4 months since her last visit). We will forever be grateful for this gift. My operation was at St. Georges Hospital in Christchurch, which is only a 10 minute walk from our home. The hospital admitted me on Monday, May 19th and discharged me on Friday, May 23.

Great news! Our biopsy came back officially benign, and the fibroid was removed cleanly and without (hopefully) leaving too much scarring at the site. Only time will tell, but the doctor was “extremely pleased” with the results. God definitely answered a lot of prayers!

IMG_20140519_112220_nopm_My home away from home

IMG_20140519_114551Mom was very impressed with the service when she asked for a simple cup of coffee

20140520_164934The view of the Port Hills at sunset from my hospital room 

I’ll spare you the photos of what I actually looked like in the hospital bed…as well as the many unpleasantries that so often occur while recovering from open-abdominal surgery :)

We celebrated our 5th anniversary, May 24th, on the couch with my Mom! Thankfully it was my first full day returning home from the hospital.

IMG_20140523_221637Happy anniversary Evan!

From the date of surgery, I will have 4 weeks sick leave from work, but Evan bought me seasons 1-5 of The Office TV series, so I am doing alright. Also, for anyone back home who wants to chat, I am free to do so anytime over the next 3 weeks!! We are only a call or Skype call away!

We have had a flood of amazing friends and family pour love, gifts, meals, and prayers over this surgery. I am forever grateful for this. Thank you! What an incredible way we have, yet again, seen God’s provision. We were so moved to know we had prayers coming from many parts of the world.

20140522_140422A small taste of some of the blessings we have received from friends. Thank you!

IMG_20140526_125045Sweet notes of encouragement from friends, family, and students.

So now, a week post surgery, I am trying to enjoy the beautiful Autumn days we have left in Christchurch before winter arrives. I can walk, at about the pace of a snail, for 15 minutes at a time, usually only twice a day. So, I sit on a park bench for an hour or two while Mom and Evan enjoy markets, shopping, and parks.

I just got my final stitches out today, Monday the 26th.

20140524_124209Don’t be fooled, it took a lot of effort (and some pain) for me to make it to that park bench next to the Avon River. And I didn’t move for over an hour! I just HAD to get outside!

IMG_20140526_153722Mom is not only learning to drive on the left side of the road, she is also helping me run errands at the mall.

I realize I haven’t got any photos of Evan. Shout out to my wonderful husband who was always behind the camera, and spent every morning, lunch break, and evening by my side, helping me recover too!

So now we wait, enjoy the remaining few days with my mom, and heal.

Life is still an adventure, just not always the adventure we plan or expect.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. -John 16:33